NEWS

Suicide scrutinized as pressure mounts over phone tapping

PASOK demanded the resignation of government ministers yesterday over their handling of the phone-tapping affair, as the mobile telephony company at the center of the issue denied that one its technicians met with company executives a day before he allegedly committed suicide. Prosecutor Yiannis Diotis has been put in charge of investigating the death of Costas Tsalikidis, who was a top technician at Vodafone. Tsalikidis was found dead, apparently having hanged himself, on March 9 – two days after spy software was discovered in the company’s central system. Vodafone issued a statement denying allegations that Tsalikidis was involved in a meeting with the company’s CEO Giorgos Koronias and other top executives the day before his alleged suicide. Diotis yesterday questioned Lieutenant General Stelios Syrros, who is the police superintendent for southern Greece, about the case. Tsalikidis’s brother is expected to meet with Diotis today. The prosecutor also intends to get permission to look at Tsalikidis’s phone records in the hope that they might shed more light on his death. Meanwhile, PASOK went on the attack, demanding the resignation of Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis and Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras. The Socialists said that the two men had not handled the matter properly. Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that PASOK also felt questions should be asked about the future of Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis and Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos since the issue was also in their areas of responsibility yet neither was informed about the phone tapping before last Thursday’s press conference. PASOK MPs criticized the fact that the preliminary investigation by chief prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos had taken 11 months. «I think the case should be given to another prosecutor who is objective and independent from government dictates,» said Theodoros Pangalos. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos denied that the ruling conservatives were exerting any influence over the judiciary. PASOK was backed by Synaspismos Left Coalition in asking for an investigative committee to be set up immediately by Parliament to look into the matter. The government has said that it will ask for one to be formed once the judicial investigation is over. Voulgarakis and Papaligouras are due to brief today the permanent parliamentary committee on matters of transparency about the phone tapping.