NEWS

A few answers to many questions about the Zachopoulos case

Some of the explanations given about the case have been convincing, others less so, as the judicial investigation continues. Is it just a sex scandal? The government insists it is. Goverment officials note that nothing criminal has emerged from the investigation so far. Still, the way the prime minister’s office has dealt with the case and, above all, the secrecy surrounding the origin of the incriminating DVD, has given the case the tinge of a political thriller. Zachopoulos’s former friendship with the prime minister has provided fertile ground for rumors of a scandal within the ruling New Democracy party. Why was Evi Tsekou remanded? At least three witnesses have testified that she was blackmailing Zachopoulos with the DVD that shows intimate moments between them, so that he would give her permanent tenure at the ministry as her contract was to expire at the end of 2007. A note was found at Zachopoulos’s home bearing her bank account number. Did the prime minister’s office know the contents of the DVD before Zachopoulos’s suicide attempt? According to government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, no one in the prime minister’s office had seen the DVD and that is why it was not sent immediately to the public prosecutor’s office, even though it was allegedly the means used by the blackmailer(s). Still, Zachopoulos’s friend Giorgos Mylonas said that in a meeting with him on December 17, Zachopoulos had told him that the prime minister’s office was aware of the material. What is on the DVD? According to the criminal investigation, the DVD contains solely sex scenes and conversations between Zachopoulos and his former associate Evi Tsekou, 35, who is accused of blackmailing him. It appears to have been edited so as to focus solely on Zachopoulos and not on Tsekou. The scenes take place in a private space, although it is not clear where. It appears that the filming was done from a microcamera in Tsekou’s bag. Still there is some confusion as to why there are frequent changes in the angle of the camera and the quality of the image. Who edited the film? There are three possibilities. It was either done by a journalist who handed the film over to the prime minister’s office, or by some unidentified person who gave it to the journalist. Also it cannot be ruled out that the material was edited somewhere between the prime minister’s office and the public prosecutor’s. In that case, the question arises as to what happened to the scenes that were cut. How many DVDs are there? It is rumored that there are three more. None of them, including that deposited with the public prosecutor, have been released. It is extremely likely that there is other footage, given police experts’ observation that the DVD has been edited. How did the prime minister’s press office director, Yiannis Andrianos, get involved in the case? The DVD was handed to him three days before Zachopoulos’s suicide attempt. As he himself testified, he was given the DVD by a journalist at a meeting in the Hilton Hotel’s Byzantino cafe. Andrianos did not reveal the journalist’s name, citing protection of sources. Was he justified in citing that? In contrast to other European countries, journalists working in Greek government press bureaus are not obliged to hand in their press cards. So formally, Andrianos was justified. However, he was made party to extremely important evidence that was not the result of journalistic research and came into his possession by virtue of his political position. The evidence, moreover, concerns a case that affects the public interest. Will Andrianos be called to give supplementary testimony? That is considered certain as soon as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis returns from his official trip to India. According to reliable reports, this time Andrianos will have to reveal the journalist’s identity in order to avoid any criminal charges himself and to bring a halt to the rumors that the prime minister’s office is involved in the case. Why is it important to reveal the source? A main part of the investigation is to find the identity of the person or persons who edited the DVD, in order to discover the identity of those persons who were blackmailing Zachopoulos. Even indirectly, the investigator may be able to learn the perpetrators of the blackmail, via the DVD. What part did the three lawyers play? Two of them, Iraklis Koutelidas, who also attempted suicide, and D.M. are referred to in Mylonas’s testimony as allegedly handling court cases for Zachopoulos. They allegedly introduced Tsekou to Zachopoulos as Tsekou had been a witness at his wedding. Mylonas has testified that they put pressure on Zachopoulos regarding the declassification of listed buildings and had encouraged him to give in to Tsekou’s financial demands. Tsekou allegedly approached the third lawyer over an unofficial competition and it was he who had accompanied her to the television stations and the courts when she was accused. What does the second suicide attempt have to do with the Zachopoulos affair? In one of the notes left by Koutelidas, he called himself a «scapegoat» in the case and detailed his relationship with Zachopoulos and Tsekou. He said he could not face returning to prison, having once already served time for fraud and forged checks. What is the prosecutor investigating, apart from the questioning of witnesses? A preliminary investigation that was ordered after charges made by Culture Ministry staff and officials to the press concerns the validity of certain contracts and the direct commission of projects during Zachopoulos’s term of office. Suspicious subsidies by the ministry to non-governmental organizations are also under investigation.