NEWS

Government fears Pavlidis graft probe

A former Cabinet minister whose close aide has been charged with blackmail yesterday repeated that he had no involvement in the case. The government expressed support for former Aegean Minister Aristoteles Pavlidis but privately officials are concerned lest the investigation lead to Pavlidis’s involvement and are planning a strategy should this occur. On Thursday, prosecutor Isi-doros Doyiakos, following a preliminary investigation, charged Panayiotis Zachariou in connection with claims by shipowner Fotis Manousis that he paid 1 million euros annually in order to secure state subsidies to run ferry services to remote islands. Pavlidis had earlier accused Manousis of pressuring him to provide one of his ships with a permit to ply one of the lines to remote islands, saying he was the victim of blackmail. «I would like to remind everyone that it was I who went to the Supreme Court prosecutor, asking for an investigation, which will lead to the bottom of the case,» Pavlidis told the Alpha and ANT1 radio stations yesterday, repeating past claims. In investigating the minister’s claims, it appeared that Manou-sis’s allegations that he had given money to Zachariou were confirmed with the lifting of the confidentiality on his bank accounts. Officials of Manousis’s SAOS Ferries also reportedly testified that they had given Zachariou checks on specific dates. The Communist Party yesterday said that «the scandalous case revealed the chronic, sick relationship between the government and shipping companies.»