NEWS

‘Silly’ claims swept aside

Claims that Pakistanis migrants were kidnapped in Athens and questioned by Greek authorities working with British agents are «groundless» and «silly,» the public order minister said yesterday as the government asked for an urgent investigation into the allegations. «This never happened, does not happen and will not happen,» Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said yesterday after meeting with the Pakistani ambassador in Athens. Prominent lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis submitted a file to Parliament on Tuesday claiming that seven Pakistanis living in Athens had been abducted in the wake of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London and interrogated at a secret location. Ragousis alleged that British agents were involved in the operation. Voulgarakis called these claims «silly.» «These types of accusation are being treated by the Public Order Ministry as possibly suspicious or deliberate,» Voulgarakis said. «They have the aim of damaging the good atmosphere and security that members of the Pakistani community feel in our country.» The minister added that Pakistani Ambassador Rashed Saleem Khan assured him the embassy had no knowledge of the allegations. Sources at the Public Order Ministry said it was impossible for the alleged abductions to have taken place without Greek authorities knowing about them. «This matter is totally groundless,» said Voulgarakis, pointing to a statement by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw late Tuesday night labeling claims that British agents were involved «absolute nonsense.» Meanwhile, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras sent a letter to the Supreme Court asking for an immediate preliminary investigation into the abduction claims and to find out if judicial authorities or security forces dragged their feet when the initial complaints were filed. Ragousis submitted a file to Athens prosecutors on July 29 claiming that the seven migrants were abducted from an apartment in Petralona on July 15. Prosecutors in turn wrote to the police, asking them to look into the incident. The police said they only received the request on Tuesday. Papaligouras said he was first informed about the matter on the same day.