Blackmail probe moves on

A new round of questioning in the Zachopoulos affair is expected to begin today after a magistrate called on several people linked to the case to give depositions as part of the investigation into the attempted suicide of the former Culture Ministry general secretary. The magistrate is also expected to re-examine Christos Zachopoulos’s former assistant Evi Tsekou and the head of the prime minister’s press office, Yiannis Andrianos. Other people set to be questioned are Christos Nikolitsopoulos, who represented Tsekou in a dispute she had with the Culture Ministry over her contract. Nikolitsopoulos worked until recently as legal adviser to Greece’s largest trade union umbrella organization, GSEE, which however has temporarily suspended its cooperation with him. The magistrate will also call an unnamed lawyer who is alleged to have collaborated with Tsekou in an attempt to blackmail Zachopoulos. Another attorney, Iraklis Koutelidas, will also be questioned about his part in the alleged plot. Koutelidas was still recovering in hospital yesterday after apparently trying to kill himself on Friday by throwing himself in front of a truck. Meanwhile, doctors performed a tracheotomy on Zachopoulos yesterday to help him breathe. He has been in hospital for 19 days following his suicide attempt and has yet to regain consciousness. The previous vice president of the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), Theodoros Dravillas, was named as Zachopoulos’s successor yesterday. Seventeen PASOK MPs last Friday called on all culture ministers who have served since ND came to power in March 2004 to appear in Parliament for questioning over possible corruption at the ministry, but 22 conservative deputies countered yesterday by requesting that all culture ministers from 1996, including those from the previous PASOK governments, face questioning.