ND backs harassed ex-minister

There is no question of any action being taken against former Aegean Minister Aristoteles Pavlidis as long as there is no evidence that he has been involved in something illegal, government sources insisted yesterday. The ruling conservatives were boosted yesterday by a statement by Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas denying earlier reports that a case file compiled after allegations of blackmail against Pavlidis had been sent to Parliament in 2006 but was ignored. «I asked the relevant Parliament department to investigate when and whether a case file concerning the former Aegean minister had been sent by the Justice Ministry to Parliament. The search showed that such a file never reached Parliament,» said Sioufas. Earlier this month, an aide of Pavlidis was charged with blackmail after claims by shipowner Fotis Manousis that he paid 1 million euros annually to secure state subsidies to run ferry services to remote islands. Pavlidis had earlier accused Manousis of exerting pressure on him to give one of his ships a permit to ply one of the unprofitable routes, saying he was the victim of blackmail. Tilos Mayor Tassos Aliferis claimed at the weekend that he sent the government a letter in January 2006 detailing the alleged wrongdoing and that a Rhodes prosecutor sent Parliament a request for Pavlidis’s immunity to be lifted in October that year. The government said yesterday the report by the Rhodes prosecutor was sent to the Supreme Court, which decided there was no case for Pavlidis to answer and returned the case file to Rhodes without forwarding it to Parliament. «Simply referring to the then Aegean minister did not justify the file being forwarded to Parliament,» said Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis. He accused PASOK of trying to kick up a fuss over the affair without having any evidence. Pavlidis reiterated his intention to remain in his role as an MP.