MPs to decide Pavlidis’s fate

MPs are due to reconvene tomorrow following the Easter recess to decide how they will proceed with the compilation of a report that could decide the fate of former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis as well as that of the government. The 13 deputies who have been investigating corruption allegations against Pavlidis are due to deliver a report to Parliament, in which they will recommend whether the former conservative minister should have his immunity lifted. Pavlidis denies that he demanded money from Fotis Manousis, owner of the SAOS ferry firm, in order to allow the latter to successfully compete for state-subsidized contracts. The minister insists that he will not voluntarily step down, which means that, should he face trial, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis may have to call early elections. Based on the report’s recommendations, all 300 MPs will vote whether to continue to pursue Pavlidis. PASOK has already indicated that its representatives feel there is enough evidence to demand that Pavlidis be further investigated. However, the majority of MPs on the investigative committee are from New Democracy and sources have indicated that they will push for Pavlidis to be charged with lesser offenses. It has been alleged that some of the money that Manousis claims he paid was used to buy an apartment for Pavlidis’s daughter. The ex-minister denies this, but conservative MPs may suggest that he should be investigated for not paying tax on this property rather than face trial for blackmail and accepting bribes. The outcome of the Pavlidis case will decide whether Karamanlis will, against his wishes, call a snap poll on June 7, when Greece will hold its European parliamentary poll or whether he will hold out for longer in the hope that ND can close the gap on PASOK in the opinion polls.

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