NEWS

Government: Prosecutors helping ND

Incensed by the filing of corruption and fraud charges against officials responsible for compiling Greece’s first-ever land register, the government yesterday openly accused a public prosecutor of collaborating with the main opposition party to sabotage the 600-billion-drachma project. But the fledgling land register is already in trouble. Work is already far behind schedule, while the budget has more than doubled since work started seven years ago, prompting the EU, which is covering part of the cost, to freeze funding this year. Today, Prime Minister Costas Simitis will discuss the matter with Environment, Town Planning, and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis, who is responsible for the project that is being handled by the state-owned company Ktimatologio SA. On Friday, the PM is to meet visiting EU regional policy commissioner Michel Barnier, under whose jurisdiction the project’s funding comes. Yesterday, Laliotis claimed that prosecutor Giorgos Gerakis, who tabled corruption charges on Friday against the entire board of Ktimatologio – and fraud charges against officials with two of the project’s contractors – of working with conservative New Democracy (ND) to undermine the government. At the most crucial point in the government’s negotiations with the EU on the course of the national land register, ND, in cahoots with prosecutor Gerakis, is bringing to a head its joint campaign to slander and undermine the national land register, Laliotis said. During yesterday’s press briefing, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was asked whether the government felt that the group of prosecutors was working with ND to undermine it. The ruling socialists have repeatedly claimed that judicial investigations into allegations of government malpractice are politically motivated. If a series of acts by prosecutors and other members of the judiciary cannot be explained as coincidences, we must seek an interpretation for these acts on another level, Reppas replied. And he accused Gerakis of having undertaken similar initiatives in the past to make an impression. These came to nothing, he added. ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said Laliotis’s ravings proved that where there is smoke, there is fire.