Earthquakes in Greece, natural and also sex scandals, bribes, corruption, Olympic security, Siemens, etc., etc., Business as usual
An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck Thursday southern Greece and its epicentre was about 61 km southwest of the city of Kalamata, announced the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS).
This has nothing at all top do with Divine judgement or the hard working Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos, 54 who resigned his post then jumped (in an apparent suicide attempt) from his 4th floor balcony and is now recovering in state-run Evangelismos Hospital where staff are keeping investigating magistrate Dimitris Economou at bay.
Meanwhile Zachopoulos's financial records are being carefully examined - the former teacher who was hand-picked by Karamanlis, and was close to the prime minister and his wife and held powers almost greater than the minister -- distributing large amounts of Greek and EU funds... it is said Prosecutors are fascinated by ministry decisions to allow construction on or near historic sites.
"When I needed anything from the Culture Ministry, it was made clear to me that I should go to Zachopoulos, not the minister," a European ambassador to Athens told Reuters, also on condition of anonymity. "It was clear he was the man in charge."
Also unable to go out and about is, delightful, charming, sultry, curvaceous 35-year-old archeologist Evi Tsekou who has been charged with blackmail and is held in jail pending trial. Raunchy DVD's (of over 100 hours) of their laisons apparently surfaced in PM Karmanlis's office in which Zachopoulos bad mouths his boss.
Proto Thema newspaper co-owner Themos Anastasiadis gave Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s press office, Yiannis Andrianos last December a DVD showing Zachopoulos having sex with his assistant.
Her reason for disclosing his activities ?. The promised job if she slept with him didn't materialise.
A small and unexpected result of this scrutiny has been the discolsure that Social Minister Vassilis Manginas was employing an Indian immigrant family who were illegal immigrants . He had also built a mansion with a swimming pool on land with with a building permit for a Snackbar.
The political rider is, that as the Government slips to 26.8 % in voter preference in the polls on the back of rafts of corruption scandals. Also New Democracy MP Costas Koukodimos alleged to have acted as a go-between the journalist who handled the DVD release with Proto Thema newspaper and the financial authorities resigned under pressure from his parliamentary group
Thus, with a majority of 151 in the 300 house, a snap election may soon arrrive with the spring sunshine. The government just passed an electoral law - which will take effect two elections from now - that gives the leading party a 50-seat bonus and requires only 39.5 percent (versus the current 41.5) - to secure a parliamentary majority.
Then yesterday thousands of demonstrators marched in freezing weather through Athens and Thessaloniki on Wednesday to protest about government social security reforms as a Greek general strike shut down schools, hospitals and all public services. Banner bore the demand "hands off our pension funds"
Port workers and air traffic controllers joined the second 24-hour general strike in about two months, forcing authorities to cancel all flights to and from Greek airports, and all regular ferry routes to the islands.
There are some 170 separate pension funds for state employees in Greece collectively facing estimated future deficits of between $165 billion and $550 billion — sums that are expected to affect the budget within a decade. Karamanlis is due to announce a consolidation of these funds into 5/6 big funds.
On top of this there is some unpleasant debris raining down from a bribery probe of Siemens, currently under investigation in Germany where German prosecutors suspect the German group of making pay-offs of about €100m ($146m, £72m) over 17 years to politicians from both the conservative and socialist parties. Prosecutors are due to scrutinise a €250m deal under which Siemens installed a secure communications system for the Athens summer Olympics in 2004.
Alleged kickbacks for the C4I security system for the 2004 Olympic Games became the subject of a public blame-game between Pasok's ex-public order minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and ex-finance minister Yannos Papantoniou.
The contract was signed by the socialist government but executed by its conservative successor.
See Financial Times today
For the prurient you can examine the Greek Sunday paper “Proto Thema” (The Lead Story - it bundles soft-core pornographic DVDs with its issues) with it's 46 explicit stills of Zhopoulos with Evi Tsekou his lover and a 9 page paper with the findings of the Police analysis of the DVD. A journalist who testified to magistrate Dimitris Economou that there is more secretly filmed footage of Zachopoulos and Tsekou.
Proto Thema is run by 3 ex journalists and was responsible for exposing on Sunday 25 December 2005, page 10 the torturing of Pakistani prisoners took place in July in Athens - proving that the kidnapping and interrogations of Pakistanis living in Greece, didn\'t just take place, but were a result of the total collaboration between the British secret services and the National Information Service of Greece (EYP).
Nicholas Langman, a British Embassy diplomat named as the Athens station chief for the secret service agency MI6, is claimed to have been present as 28 Pakistani immigrants were beaten and tortured after being kidnapped.The ministers of Public Order, G. Voulgarakis and Foreign Issues, Petros Moliviatis, were fully informed about the entire situation, since the very beginning.
Close companions of the Prime Minister, and chairmen of his office, Yannis Aggelou and Kostas Staikouras were also involved. (The UK Gubment have issued a "D" notice on this story) at the time Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said such claims of British involvement were "complete nonsense'".
As a final rider it is now known that Anastasiadis, who is under investigation for a deposit of some 5 million euros in his bank account, was stopped by French customs officers on October 29 after the car he was driving was involved in a "minor accident."
The French authorities informed the financial crimes squad that a search of the car revealed 1.1 million euros in cash (euros and dollars) and bank checks.
The implication (and allegation by Proto Thema co-owner and his friend Makis Triantafyllopoulos) was kick backs from head of the financial crimes squad, Spyros Kladas on behalf of MP Costas Koukodimos and "friends".
Is that clear ?