NEWS

Pavlidis probe reports disagree

There is no evidence to suggest that former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis should be indicted, the New Democracy members of a parliamentary committee that investigated the Dodecanese MP said yesterday, in contrast to the opposition deputies on the panel, who recommended that the House lift his immunity from prosecution. The 13 committee members delivered their findings to Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas yesterday after three weeks of probing allegations by shipowner Fotis Manousis that Pavlidis demanded bribes for a state-subsidized contract to run ferries to remote islands. The seven ND MPs on the committee said the investigation had not uncovered any evidence that suggested the ex-minister broke the law. They argued that Manousis was not a reliable witness and that he had changed his story several times. They also pointed out that between 2004 and 2007, when Pavlidis was minister, he issued 37 tenders for nonprofitable routes and Manousis was awarded 12 of those contracts. This was in contrast to the three PASOK MPs who said that there was enough evidence to indict Pavlidis on charges of instigating the blackmail of Manousis, receiving a bribe, money laundering, breach of faith and breach of duty. The Communist Party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) also recommended that Pavlidis appear before a special court. It is now up to the plenary session of Parliament to decide the ex-minister’s fate on Monday. Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros insisted that ND deputies are not being forced to vote against indicting Pavlidis. «In such cases, there is not and there should not be a party line,» he said. «All MPs, including New Democracy’s, vote according to their conscience.»