Greek lawmakers will vote on Monday on whether to investigate a former minister's possible connection to a shipping scandal, in a move that could threaten the government's one-seat majority.
A Greek shipowner has accused an aide of former Aegean Minister Aristotle Pavlides of seeking bribes in exchange for subsidised ferry routes.
Pavlides denies any wrongdoing. "I'm not exposed, I'm not afraid, I'm not apologising," he said in parliament on Friday.
Under Greek law, only parliament can investigate acting or former ministers for possible criminal offences, so prosecutors have sent the case to parliament.
Pavlides is still a deputy and a member of the parliamentary group of the ruling conservative New Democracy (ND) party. Were he to leave or be expelled from the group, the government's slender majority would evaporate.
It is the first time since the conservatives swept to power in 2004 vowing to fight corruption that the parliament has moved to bring charges against a ruling party deputy.
Facing social unrest as the global crisis bites, the government said it would not block the opposition motion for a probe into Pavlides.
"Cases concerning the honour and reputation of public persons must be fully investigated," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Friday.
Lawmakers are scheduled to hold the vote late on Monday and with the two main parties supporting the move, it is expected to easily pass.
During its five years in power, the government has been rocked by scandals ranging from controversial land swaps between the state and a wealthy monastery to suspect government bond sales to state-run pension funds.
Although some government ministers have resigned in connection with the affairs, no official has been convicted.
The scandals, coupled with the economic downturn, have helped the opposition socialist PASOK party take a lead over the conservatives of up to 5 percentage points in opinion polls.
The Monday vote is to decide whether to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate Pavlides. If it concludes that charges should be brought, the case will be heard by a special court.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Nisan 2009, 17:32