Pavlidis probe rattles ND

Shipowner Fotis Manousis, whose allegations of blackmail led to the creation of an investigative committee to probe former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, yesterday caused further headaches for ruling New Democracy by claiming to have met with another former minister, as the mayor of an Aegean island lodged fresh charges against Pavlidis. In his second day of testimony yesterday, following a seven-hour session on Wednesday, Manousis reportedly claimed to have had «very good cooperation» with former Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and called on him to back his claims. Kefaloyiannis reacted immediately, expressing surprise that his name was mentioned and claiming to have never met with Manousis. Adding to the woes of the slim-majority New Democracy government, the mayor of Tilos, Tassos Aliferis, lodged fresh charges against Pavlidis. According to sources, the mayor claims to have submitted a joint bid with a local shipowner for a tender to serve a local ferry route but to have been excluded as a result of the tender having been tailor-made for another firm. Meanwhile, there was widespread discussion about the content of the lengthy testimony given by Manousis, who has alleged that Pavlidis and his aide at the time, Panayiotis Zachariou, demanded 700,000 euros in bribes in return for contracts to service state-subsidized routes to remote islands. Manousis yesterday explained what prompted him to take legal action against Pavlidis: Manousis claims to have paid Pavlidis for the Kavala-Lemnos-Samos route which was eventually awarded to a Bahamas-flagged vessel belonging to an offshore firm in 2005. Manousis also claims to have sent a letter in July 2007, with a full account of his allegations, to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and to have subsequently informed two of the premier’s aides about the affair. Meanwhile, in a related development expected to fuel a clash between the two main parties, the local magistrate investigating the Siemens scandal was said to be preparing to bring charges against specific individuals in Greece.

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