Ex-minister’s aide charged

A prosecutor yesterday charged the man in charge of the political office of former minister for the Aegean Aristoteles Pavlidis with blackmail in connection with claims by a shipowner that he paid 1 million euros annually in bribes to secure state subsidies for routes to remote islands. The owner of the SOAS ferry firm Fotis Manousis, who claims to have evidence that shows he bribed the ex-minister, alleges that he paid the money to Pavlidis’s assistant, Panayiotis Zachariou. Pavlidis denies the claims and has filed a counter-suit against Manousis, but in his preliminary investigation, prosecutor Isidoros Doyiakos found there were grounds for bringing criminal charges against Zachariou, who also maintains that Manousis’s allegations are a fabrication. The case will now be assigned to an investigative magistrate who will also look into whether Pavlidis, who lost his ministerial post following last September’s general election, has any case to answer.