PM aide in suicide attempt

Christos Zachopoulos, a close aide of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and general secretary at the Culture Ministry until he resigned on Wednesday, was in critical condition in hospital last night after attempting to commit suicide. The 54-year-old suffered serious injuries, including broken legs and ribs, as well as a substantial loss of blood after falling from the balcony of his fourth-floor apartment in Kolonaki, central Athens. Zachopoulos appears to have been alone in the apartment at the time of the incident, which occurred between 1.30 and 2 p.m. Witnesses told police that Zachopoulos struck an exterior staircase and an awning before hitting the ground. Police did not find a suicide note in the apartment. The Culture Ministry announced on Wednesday that Zachopoulos had resigned from his post as general secretary, which he has held since March 2004 and where he was essentially in charge of the ministry’s finances. Zachopoulos said that he was resigning for health reasons but no further details were given. He was seen returning to his home at around 11 a.m. yesterday. His wife said that the couple had been to the hospital as Zachopoulos had been suffering from high blood pressure. Police intend to examine his computer and mobile phone records in an attempt to find clues about why the former official might have wanted to kill himself. Officers will also be investigating reports that a female colleague of Zachopoulos had in the last few days been trying to sell to TV stations videotapes with material that could have been damaging to the 54-year-old. The government remained tight-lipped about the affair yesterday, knowing that any scandal could damage the prime minister, who has been closely associated with Zachopoulos for the last 10 years. «When someone reaches the point where they try to commit suicide, a huge question arises,» said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. «I hope that the police will be able to answer this question.»