The government and the union representing the country’s judges yesterday hit back at strong criticism by opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou suggesting that some magistrates were serving the ruling party. The comments made by Papandreou in Parliament on Wednesday were «unprovoked, offensive and unacceptable,» the Union of Judges and Magistrates said yesterday. In his speech, Papandreou had accused «certain carefully positioned judges» of serving the government, a dig linked to the ongoing Zachopoulos probe. The union representing Greece’s prosecutors also objected. «The judiciary cannot be exploited as an alibi for political conflicts,» it said. «What would happen if a prosecutor publicly accused an MP of serving shady interests?» it added. Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis also condemned Papandreou in Parliament yesterday despite the presence of only two PASOK MPs in the house. «(Papandreou’s) attack constitutes a great lapse and cause for shame,» Hatzigakis said, chiding the opposition party for «using scandalmongering to protect flimsy political positions and overcome internal problems.» The minister accused PASOK of using the same tactic in the wake of a string of crises that have beset the current government, including the phone-tapping scandal and the structured bonds fiasco.