Cretans sense graft in Zoniana

Roughly three in four Cretans believe that politicians, police officers, lawyers and judges have been involved in allowing criminals based in the village of Zoniana to act with impunity for a number of years, according to a survey conducted for Sunday’s Kathimerini. The results of the opinion poll were made public as police revealed that they had discovered more weapons and ammunition during searches of abandoned houses on the outskirts of the Cretan village, which appears to have been a hive of criminal activity such as drug dealing and money laundering. Officers said they found four AK-47 assault rifles, a Zastava machine gun, three handguns, five samurai swords, two Second World War rifles, six Cretan knives, a bulletproof vest and a variety of ammunition during their searches. The weapons have been sent for forensic tests as police continue to search for those responsible for the shooting of 28-year-old policeman, Efstathios Lazaridis, last month. Lazaridis is still in critical condition and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos visited him in the hospital on Saturday before checking on the progress of the police investigation. «It is important that there is an in-depth probe, not immediate arrests,» said Pavlopoulos. He pledged that authorities would purge the island of its criminal element. However, according to the poll by Public Issue, 78 percent of Cretans believe that politicians have been helping protect criminals from Zoniana over the years. Virtually the same percentage of islanders feel that policemen, judges and lawyers have also been involved in the cover-up. Just under half (49 percent) of the 819 Cretans questioned said they were satisfied by the job the police have been doing during the last few weeks.