PASOK official resigns

PASOK’s general manager Yiannis Papaconstantinou resigned yesterday after the government made several allegations of abuse of authority against him this week. Papaconstantinou said in a statement that he was stepping down so he could give his «undivided attention to the fight to protect my esteem and the PASOK movement.» The outgoing general manager did not hold a political position but since the allegations about his previous activities were revealed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday, pressure has grown on PASOK leader George Papandreou to dispense with Papaconstantinou’s services. Papaconstantinou accused Karamanlis of making the allegations against him «to hide the crimes of the burned forests in Parnitha and Pelion… and the pillaging of pension funds.» The head of PASOK’s political council, Nikos Athanassakis, said that Papaconstantinou’s resignation had been accepted so he could «use all the legal means available to confront this defamatory attack, which is also being aimed at PASOK.» Papandreou did not comment publicly on the matter but is thought to have initially been reluctant to dismiss his general manager. 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 but had no teaching qualifications. Papaconstantinou denies the claims and said that his wife had been employed to take roll call and not as a teacher. Prosecutors are investigating the allegations. Papaconstantinou has also been accused of approving damaging bond deals when he was head of the Greek National Road Fund (TEO), which manages money for the construction of highways. Papaconstantinou denies the accusations and has said he will take legal action against his accusers. The head of the Athens prosecutor’s office, Giorgos Koliocostas, returned from his holiday yesterday to oversee an investigation into the claims.

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