NEWS

Pavlidis’s daughter questioned

The preliminary judicial investigation into former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis moved a step closer to completion yesterday with the testimony of his daughter, as the government braces for a crucial post-Easter period. With the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal beginning to rear its head again, New Democracy is expecting a rough ride after the holidays. The conclusion of the investigation into whether Pavlidis accepted bribes from the owner of the SAOS ferry company, Fotis Manousis, to award him contracts for state-subsidized routes to remote islands is likely to coincide with Parliament having to vote on whether to delve deeper into the Siemens affair. Although a probe into whether the Greek branch of the German electronics and engineering giant paid bribes to politicians to secure state contracts is likely to embarrass PASOK as well as New Democracy, the incumbent conservatives stand to lose more from any damaging findings. For now, the Pavlidis investigation is grabbing more attention, especially after the testimony of his daughter Angeliki yesterday. She was obliged to answer questions about the purchase of an apartment in the northern Athens suburb of Neo Psychico in July 2005. The property has become an issue of some importance in the investigation, as it has been alleged that Pavlidis used some of the bribe money that Manousis claims to have paid to buy the apartment. According to sources, Angeliki Pavlidi told MPs on the investigative committee that her uncle in South Africa gave her the money to buy the property. However, this appears to contradict evidence that suggests the instructions to transfer the money were faxed from Kos. Pavlidi’s uncle, Anastassios, who is the ex-minister’s brother, is due to face the panel of MPs today. Other witnesses who testified yesterday included the president of the Coastal Shipowners’ Union (EEA), Apostolos Ventouris, who told deputies that he has never been asked to pay a bribe in return for being awarded a contract for state-subsidized routes.