ND puts squeeze on PASOK

The pressure on PASOK over alleged abuse of authority by some of its members while in government is set to increase after a chief prosecutor took an interest yesterday in a probe into apparent misconduct by the Socialist party’s current general manager, Yiannis Papaconstantinou. It is claimed that while Papaconstantinou was the head of the Organization for Vocational Education and Training (OEEK) between 1999 and 2000, his wife was appointed to teach 10 different courses at two state-funded vocational colleges even though she had no qualifications as a teacher. There are similar allegations against two other relatives of Papaconstantinou, who denied the claims yesterday and said that his wife had been employed to take roll call and not as a teacher. A prosecutor began investigating the case in 2003 but chief appeals prosecutor Panayiotis Poulios stepped in yesterday to ask for more information on the probe. The appeals prosecutor’s office is also considering whether allegations about Papaconstantinou in relation to bond purchases should also be investigated in conjunction with its probe into the recent bond scandal involving four pension funds. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis produced documents during a parliamentary debate late on Monday that he claimed proved Papaconstantinou approved bond deals worth 700 million euros when he was head of the National Road Fund (TEO) that caused losses to the fund, which manages money for the construction of highways. The PASOK general manager denies the accusations and has said he will take legal action against his accusers. The allegations have been part of a ramping up of mudslinging between the two main parties as general elections, possibly as early as September, near. PASOK’s spokesman Petros Efthymiou accused members of the ruling New Democracy party of «using mud to build political confrontation.»

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