Zachopoulos suspects lined up

Magistrate Dimitris Economou is expected to ask four people suspected of being involved in the blackmail of former Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos to testify in the first week of February, sources said yesterday. The four, who do not include Zachopoulos’s former assistant Evi Tsekou, are most likely to be asked on February 7 to answer the charges. Tsekou has already been charged with blackmail and contributing to Zachopoulos’s attempt to kill himself last month. The magistrate will in the meantime investigate further the circumstances in which some 5 million euros were deposited in the bank account of journalist Themos Anastasiadis. Economou wants to find out if the money is in any way connected to the Zachopoulos case. Anastasiadis, the co-owner of the Proto Thema newspaper, insists that the money came from his own assets and was in no way connected to the blackmail allegations. The magistrate is also looking into a possible dereliction of duty by the financial crimes squad, and its head Spyros Kladas, which was investigating the money trail. Anastasiadis is due to be questioned today about the deposit, and Kladas, as well as officials working under him, could also be asked to give evidence. Anastasiadis’s former colleague and co-owner of Proto Thema, Makis Triantafyllopoulos, alleged that a New Democracy MP approached him to ask the newspaper to stop connecting Kladas to the Zachopoulos case in return for the probe into the journalist’s bank account being dropped. The name of parliamentary deputy Costas Koukodimos has been linked to the allegation and the ruling conservatives were growing uncomfortable with the fact that the former long-jump champion had not yet issued a full denial or explanation.