PM targets graft for 2008

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made an effort to disperse the clouds that have gathered over his government in the wake of the Christos Zachopoulos affair by insisting in his New Year message that he is committed to fighting corruption. «Nothing and nobody can cast shadows over the agreement of honor that we have co-signed,» said Karamanlis in the pre-recorded address that was televised on Monday. «I am and we are in a constant fight against corruption.» The fact that the attempted suicide of the former Culture Ministry general secretary came very soon after the departure of former Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas, following revelations about his illegally built home, has put the government under pressure in recent weeks. Having been voted into power in 2004 on a pledge to fight graft, Karamanlis is aware that mounting scandals could jeopardize the future of his government. «I draw my strength and support from the trust you have shown in me and I assure you again that I am determined to protect this relationship of trust,» the prime minister said. Karamanlis’s pledge came as PASOK leader George Papandreou used his New Year message to launch an attack on the government. «A more just society cannot be created by a government that covers up scandals, appoints cronies, takes endless kickbacks, makes the strong even stronger and forgets the weak,» said Papandreou. Meanwhile, the magistrate investigating the Zachopoulos case is expected this week to begin a new round of questioning after police handed over the DVD that allegedly shows the former public official engaging in sexual activity with his erstwhile assistant Evi Tsekou. Sources said that the four minutes of footage on the DVD has been shot from a fixed position, possibly on a mobile phone, from the corner of a room or office. However, police analysis showed that the footage has been edited from a longer sequence, which suggests that other such videos may exist.