Ministry official’s assistant charged

A prosecutor in Athens on Saturday charged a former colleague of Christos Zachopoulos with blackmail and «involvement» in his suicide attempt, as it was revealed that the Culture Ministry’s ex-general secretary had left three notes behind before trying to end his life. The 35-year-old woman, who worked under Zachopoulos at the ministry, has denied the charges. She has been accused of trying to use video footage of Zachopoulos in a compromising situation in order to blackmail him. The unnamed woman had allegedly been trying to pass the tape to TV stations in the days prior to Zachopoulos’s attempted suicide. The suspect admits approaching the stations but said she wanted to report an improper tender issued by the ministry, sources said. She is due to appear before a magistrate today. Meanwhile, the former Culture Ministry official and close aide of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis last night remained in critical condition in hospital. However, it was revealed that he had left notes to his wife, son and a close friend before jumping from the balcony of his fourth-floor apartment in Kolonaki. In the letter to his friend, Zachopoulos wrote that a «moral indiscretion» on his part had led to «blackmailers obtaining material.» «They have asked me for money and, indirectly, assistance in archaeological matters,» wrote Zachopoulos. «They gave me a bank account that belongs to one of the ringleaders.»