Blackmail case deepens

A probe into the alleged blackmail of a top Culture Ministry official who tried to kill himself last month has taken a new turn after one of the two lawyers involved in the case was hit by a truck on Friday in an apparent suicide attempt. Iraklis Koutelidas, 53, was in a «serious but stable» condition in hospital yesterday after allegedly throwing himself in front of a truck on coastal Poseidonos Avenue. Koutelidas, who had been due this week to testify in connection with the alleged blackmail of former Culture Ministry General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos, reportedly left a note saying he feared he would be made a scapegoat. Koutelidas allegedly gave another letter to two far-right LAOS deputies hours before his apparent suicide attempt. In this document, given to a prosecutor by LAOS deputy Adonis Georgiadis, Koutelidas claims he is «being used as a scapegoat» due to old convictions against him. There is also a reference to Evi Tsekou, Zachopoulos’s 35-year-old former aide, who has been linked to the alleged blackmail of her boss. Tsekou, who was maid of honor at Koutelidas’s wedding, is to testify again this week after her lawyer indicated that she is ready to admit to an affair with the 54-year-old Zachopoulos. Tsekou had previously denied having a personal relationship with her former boss but the circulation of a DVD that allegedly shows her having sex with Zachopoulos might have changed her mind. The DVD has been handed over to investigating authorities by the head of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s press office, Yiannis Andrianos, who has refused to say who gave him the DVD. The private lives of Tsekou and Zachopoulos are to be probed further after the green light was given to prosecutors to access the pair’s bank transactions and mobile phone conversations between November 1 and December 20. Meanwhile, opposition parties seized the opportunity for criticism. «Karamanlis… leads a government that has produced only a series of scandals,» PASOK leader George Papandreou told yesterday’s Eleftherotypia.