Judges reject Zoniana claims

The Union of Judges and Prosecutors yesterday hit back at allegations that its members may somehow have been involved in corrupt practices that helped keep criminals from Zoniana village in Crete out of jail. «We will not tolerate the creation of a false climate, regardless of where it is coming from,» the union said in a statement following persistent speculation about how the alleged illegal practices of some residents, which are thought to include drug dealing, possession of firearms and money laundering, have gone unpunished even though some suspects have previously appeared in court. The union objected to leaks about previous court cases involving potential suspects before authorities decide who will be charged following their recent raid on the village. The judges and prosecutors insisted that its members had not provided «cover» for any suspects and would not do so in the future. A 28-year-old policeman, Efstathios Lazaridis, remains in critical condition after gunmen opened fire on a police convoy that attempted to enter Zoniana earlier this month in a bid to stamp out lawlessness in the area. The officer underwent another neurological operation yesterday as he remains in an intensive-care unit with severe head injuries. Police are waiting for the results of forensic tests on 45 weapons seized in the village following the raid so they can have a better idea of who shot at the officers. High-ranking officers told Kathimerini yesterday that they were skeptical as to whether the forensic tests would yield enough evidence to lead to arrests. Police yesterday searched Amari, a village near Zoniana, and arrested one person for firearms offenses after shotgun shells were found in his house. Authorities are by Friday expecting replies from every Greek bank as to whether any of the 22 suspects from Zoniana held accounts with them.