NEWS

Kidnap claims challenged

Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras denied in Parliament yesterday that Pakistani migrants had been abducted by agents and said that kidnapping was a «national sport» in Greece’s Pakistani community – a comment which was labeled as being racist by opposition parties. Polydoras was locked in a heated exchange with the leader of Left Coalition Synaspismos, Alekos Alavanos, when he made the comments. The minister said that a prosecutor’s investigation had cleared the National Intelligence Agency (EYP) of any involvement in the alleged abductions. Polydoras produced a sheet of police data which showed that there had been 10 cases of kidnapping between Pakistanis living in Greece from 2003-2006. He suggested that the allegations concerning 28 migrants being abducted and questioned after the terrorist bombings in London last year were a similar case. «Mutual kidnapping is the national sport in which members of the most amiable Pakistani community in our country indulge,» said Polydoras. «Stop this story-telling and racism. The [prosecutor’s] report rules out the possibility that the kidnappings were carried out by the Pakistani community,» Alavanos replied. PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis also rebuked Polydoras, saying his comment was «racist» and «unacceptable.» In his report, prosecutor Nikos Degaitis concluded that «state officials» had probably carried out the abductions but he was unable to clearly identify the involvement of Greek or foreign secret agents. Degaitis filed criminal charges against «unknown persons» – Polydoras called this a «legal paradox.» Alavanos asked Polydoras if the British and Greek governments had discussed the possibility of covering up the affair. «I do not know and even if I did, I would not tell you,» Polydoras replied. Three of the Pakistani migrants filed a lawsuit this week against Giorgos Voulgarakis, who was the public order minister at the time the alleged incident took place.