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NEWS Archive
More news from Living in Crete on:
Greek Strike Action
26th November 2007

A series of strikes start today as unions protest against pension changes and other government 'austerity
measures'.

Primary and secondary school teachers started a 24 hour strike today while journalists strike tomorrow,
Tuesday - there will be no TV or radio news tomorrow and no newspapers on Wednesday. Engineers and
architects are also expected to join the strike action.

Several unions are organising a General Strike for December 12th.


Another arrest in Zoniana
26th November 2007 ekathimerini

Police arrested yet another suspect yesterday during raids on homes in the village of Zoniana on Crete,
near where a police officer was shot in the head earlier this month.

A man, who was not identified, was taken into custody after officers found a shotgun, 17 shells and a
small amount of cannabis following a search of his home and cafe. Police searched a total of five homes
and businesses yesterday as they continue their almost daily raids on the village and the surrounding
area of Mylopotamos since the shooting on November 5.

Officers said that a number of other weapons, including six knives, were discovered and confiscated during
yesterday’s operation.

A 24-year-old man from Zoniana who turned himself into police last week was remanded in custody on
Saturday on suspicion of dealing drugs. The livestock farmer is also being investigated for money
laundering.
The farmer, who has not been named, denied the charges.


Replanting trees - Drive on to reforest fire-hit region
23rd November 2007 ekathimerini

The process of replanting 10,000-15,000 trees around the area of Kalyvia, east of Athens - hit by wildfires
this summer - is set to begin tomorrow with the support of Skai TV and Radio. A number of local schools,
environmental organizations and municipal officials have put their names down to take part in the
replanting but the process, due to begin at 10 a.m., will be open to volunteers who want to come along
and take part.


Cretan resort - Campaigners protest hotel, golf plans
22nd November 2007 ekathimerini

Campaigners in Crete revealed yesterday that they have written to the government asking it to withdraw
approval for British company Loyalward Limited to build a vast hotel and golf resort at Cavo Sidero. The
Pan-Cretan Network of Environmental Organizations (EcoCrete) said that it has written to 11 ministries.
The group claims that the project, which includes at least three golf courses, would have a damaging effect
on the environment of the area in Lasithi, eastern Crete, particularly in terms of its demand on water
resources. EcoCrete also said it doubts the validity of the contract that has allowed Loyalward to lease
some 2,600 hectares of land for 80 years.


Journalists’ strike
21st November 2007 ekathimerini
Greece’s newspapers, television channels and radio stations are set to suffer severe disruption next
Tuesday after the journalists union ESIEA decided that its members should stage a 24-hour strike from 6 a.
m. The action has been called in the wake of government plans to merge the journalists’ pension fund with
other funds as part of a bid to tackle Greece’s retirement problems. ESIEA said that the government has
not provided any assurances about the level of pensions that journalists will receive in the future.
Journalists are also set to strike on December 12 as part of a general strike against pension reforms.


Young workers can’t afford to fly the nest
20th November ekathimerini

The difficulty of finding a job and working in poorly paid positions are among the main reasons preventing
25- to 30-year-olds from moving out of the family home, according to the results of a study published
yesterday.

The survey, conducted by Athens University, showed that two in three respondents, or 68 percent, in the
above age group were staying at home for purely financial reasons.

Roughly one in four wage earners in Greece earn a monthly salary of just 500 to 700 euros.
Greece also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the European Union, with persons under the
age of 30 affected in particular.

Despite dropping in August to 7.6 percent from 8.6 percent the previous month, Greece’s jobless rate was
the second highest in the eurozone.


Storms Cause Flooding in Greece
18th November 2007 Ekathimerini

Hours of heavy rain over the weekend caused serious flooding in many parts of the country, killing one
person and damaging hundreds of homes, farms and roads.
The hardest hit region was that of Rhodope, in northeastern Greece, where prefectural authorities
declared a state of emergency. In Komotini, Rhodope’s capital, dozens of residents abandoned their
homes after heavy rain turned the roads into rivers. Cars and agricultural vehicles in nearby farms
disappeared under water.
The region of Evros, near the Turkish border, was badly hit after the Ardas River burst its banks.
Flooding also hit parts of the Peloponnese that had been ravaged by catastrophic fires in August. One
bridge collapsed and several more were damaged by torrents of floodwater after the Alfeios River
overflowed. Anti-flood barriers, hastily erected in the area after the fires, minimized damage but local
authorities feared they would break if the rain continued.
Roads and crops were also damaged, while there were reports of landslides in some areas.
A small tornado caused havoc in the village of Loutoufi in Viotia prefecture, central Greece, uprooting trees
and wrecking the roofs of houses.
The fire service was stretched to the limit, receiving hundreds of calls over the weekend from residents
trapped in cars or homes. Two men trapped in a car swept away by floodwater near Trikala were
eventually rescued after the vehicle struck a large rock by the roadside.
Rescue workers reported one death, that of a 30-year-old Indian man who was swept away by floodwater
after a stream broke its bank in the area of Megara. His body was found in a field.
The army was mobilized to provide assistance at the weekend, sending military trucks to evacuate citizens
from dozens of isolated villages, chiefly in northeastern Greece .


Crete shootings
Four men shot in a Rethymnon nightclub suffer minor injuries
18th November 2007 ekathimerini

Four men, aged 22 to 27, were hospitalized on Saturday after being shot and slightly injured by
unidentified assailants in a nightclub in the Cretan port of Rethymnon. It is unclear what provoked the
shootings, which occured shortly before 5 a.m. Police were still looking for the perpetrators late yesterday.
Meanwhile, specially trained officers continued their investigation in and around Zoniana for the gunmen
who opened fire on a police convoy outside the village earlier this month. Caches of assault rifles and
sacks of cannabis have so far been discovered in farms and caves.


Cretan probe heads abroad
17th November ekathimerini

Suspects involved in organized crime such as drug-trafficking activities in the Cretan village of Zoniana are
believed to have been laundering their money through international real estate investments, sources said
yesterday.
The Finance Ministry’s Special Investigations Service has ordered the opening of bank accounts belonging
to suspects from Zoniana and believe that money from illegal activities has been plowed into investments
abroad.
Police have launched large-scale investigations in the village after last week’s shooting of a police officer
during an attempted raid on drug dealers.
Sources said police have narrowed down the suspects believed to have taken part in the shooting to five
men aged between 25 to 30.
Almost two weeks of investigations have uncovered cannabis- and cocaine-processing workshops, large
quantities of dynamite and guns.
A team of internal affairs officers from Athens has also been sent to the island to probe local money-
laundering activities and possible links between police and criminals.
According to press reports, a senior police officer stationed in Crete has been suspended, pending an
investigation into alleged links to local criminals.
Meanwhile, the condition of a 28-year-old special forces officer who was shot in the neck during last
Monday’s ambush had improved yesterday, doctors said.


Thousands march in Athens to mark anniversary of 1973 uprising against military dictatorship
17th November 2007 Associated Press

Some 20,000 demonstrators marched through the Greek capital Saturday to mark the anniversary of a
student uprising 34 years ago against the country's military rulers.
The march began at the Athens Polytechnic, where students staged a pro-democracy uprising in 1973 that
was crushed by the military dictatorship then ruling Greece.
The march ended at the embassy of the United States, which offered some support to Greece's 1967-74
junta.
A small group of protesters briefly scuffled with police but no injuries or arrests were reported.
A large protest was also held in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki, where minor scuffles also broke
out.
Police had said up to 8,000 officers would be deployed to provide security at the annual march, which in
the past has been marred by violence. But authorities appeared to scale back the deployment because of
heavy rain Saturday.
Demonstrators chanted, "The Polytechnic Lives," as they filed through the city center, where streets were
closed to traffic for most of the day.


Police shake-up for Crete
Officers close to identifying eight of the Zoniana ambush suspects
16th November 2007 ekathimerini

The government yesterday said it was committed to combatting organized crime in Zoniana and anywhere
else in the country, stressing that police on Crete would be restructured and subject to closer control.
«The scourge of tolerance and suppression will be purged,» Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told
parliament's transparency committee, adding that authorities were targetting «specific enclaves of
criminality.»
As far as the village of Zoniana is concerned, Pavlopoulos said, the government's four priorities are:
imposing order, investigating other parts of the island, improving residents' quality of life and establishing
whether cases of drug trafficking had been shelved by local prosecutors.
Pavlopoulos's deputy, Panayiotis Hinofitis, said a presidential decree, providing for the restructuring of
police on Crete and the creation of a special counter-terrorism unit in Iraklion, would be drafted within the
month. The decree also stipulates that officers will not be able to serve in their native village and
envisages regular monitoring of police operations.
Meanwhile, officers investigating last week's bloody assault on a police convoy outside Zoniana said they
were close to identifying eight of the 20 gunmen that opened fire on it with Kalashnikovs. Police yesterday
continued to search homes, stores, farms and caves in the broader area of Milopotamos, discovering more
guns and cannabis.
A team of internal affairs officers from Athens arrived on the island to probe local money-laundering
activities and possible links between police and criminals.
A probe meanwhile continued into claims that anti-tank rocket launchers maybe hidden on the island,
similar to those used in an attack on the US embassy in Athens in January.
Also yesterday, Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas requested the results of an inquiry into
Rethymnon's former chief of police, Ilias Mantas, who has been charged with abuse of power.


Murder probe
16th November ekathimerini

Police on Crete yesterday said they expected the results of forensic tests to shed light on the death of a
59-year-old farmer found dead in his farmhouse in the Cretan prefecture of Iraklion. Costas Kounalis,
found by his nephew, had been hit on the head with a chair, according to police. Forensic experts are
analyzing cigarette butts found at the scene of the crime and a piece of broken chair, believed to be the
murder weapon.


PASOK polls
Papandreou secured 55.6 percent of votes, final results show
14th November 2007 ekathimerini

The final results of Sunday’s PASOK leadership elections were released by the party yesterday, showing
George Papandreou with 55.6 percent of votes, Evangelos Venizelos with 38.5 percent of votes and
Costas Skandalidis with 5.8 percent. A total of 738,078 PASOK supporters voted on Sunday, according to a
party statement. Of these, 407,407 backed Papandreou and 282,230 voted for his main challenger
Venizelos. The leadership elections were a success and “unprecedented even by European standards,”
party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said.


Counterfeit ring
13th November 2007 ekathimerini

Police have arrested five people in Serres, northern Greece, in connection to a counterfeit ring, authorities
said yesterday. Three men and two women were arrested after allegedly passing off more than 2,000
euros in fake notes. Police also found in their possession another 49 200-euro notes. Authorities said they
are investigating possible links between the suspects and international counterfeit operations


All Greek Ports closed
11th November 2007

Winter weather hit the whole of Greece yesterday bringing wind, rains and storms. A blanket closure of
ports was in place across Greece and the islands; ferries & ships were confined to dock as strong winds
reached speeds of 10 Beaufort.  


Aegean quake
Strong 5.6-magnitude tremor shakes area of Chios; no injuries
10th November 2007 ekathimerini

A strong undersea quake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale was recorded yesterday morning in the
northeast Aegean, off the isle of Psara and close to Chios, but there were no injuries or damage reported.
The quake, whose epicenter was about 20 kilometers from both Chios and Psara, was felt as far away as
Athens. It occurred shortly before 4 a.m. yesterday and was followed by two aftershocks, measuring 5 and
5.3 Richter respectively, just after 9 a.m. Seismologists said they were monitoring the area.


Police gains in Zoniana
Search turns up narcotics facilities, explosives, massive bank deposits
9th November 2007 ekathimerini

Police searching the lawless mountain village of Zoniana in Crete yesterday discovered cannabis- and
cocaine-processing workshops, large quantities of dynamite and cash machines that had been ripped out
of bank walls.

Hundreds of officers stepped up their investigation – in the wake of Monday’s bloody ambush of a police
convoy by gun-toting locals – scouring homes, farmhouses and even caves for weapons and drugs.
“Certain stages of the investigation are over and more are being planned,” said government spokesman
Evangelos Antonaros.
An initial examination of bank accounts indicates that some residents have deposits of between 2 and 5
million euros, sources said.

Authorities said residents were more cooperative yesterday, boosting their efforts to trace the
perpetrators of Monday’s attack that left three officers injured, one seriously. The 28-year-old officer shot
in the neck on Monday remained in critical, but stable, condition yesterday.
Nine people arrested in the aftermath of the attack have been charged with attempted murder, drug
trafficking and possession of explosives.

Police yesterday detained more residents for questioning as many locals complained that they were paying
for the sins of a few criminals, most of whom are believed to have fled the village.

Other residents said they welcomed plans by authorities to establish a permanent police presence at
Zoniana. “We want it a thousand times more than they do,” an elderly resident said.

Parliament is next week to probe alleged links between politicians and local criminal gangs. Asked
yesterday about possible political links, Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki said, “I do not rule out
possible links to politicians at all levels but further investigation is needed.”


Special forces hunt Cretan gunmen who injured 3 officers during drug operation
5th November 2007 The Associated Press

Special police units joined a large hunt on the Greek resort island of Crete for gunmen who shot three
officers during an attempted drug crackdown Monday in a lawless mountain village.
Police said a convoy of jeeps carrying about 40 officers was ambushed outside Zoniana by up to 20
suspected drug gang members armed with assault rifles. The policemen, accompanied by a prosecutor,
had been planning to search the home of a local drug suspect. There were no immediate arrests.

One of the injured officers was hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound in the neck. The
other two were out of danger.

The ambush, in a remote, marijuana-growing area with a history of recent bank robberies, highlights the
darker side of the southern resort island whose coastal regions attract hundreds of thousands of foreign
visitors every year. Illegal gun ownership is silently accepted as part of traditional Cretan culture, and
parts of the island are effectively off-limit to law enforcement.
A group of 75 special police officers flown in from Athens was helping local forces comb the Zoniana area
for the gunmen. Police Chief Anastassios Dimoschakis also arrived on Crete to coordinate operations.
The attempted crackdown followed the arrest Friday of a suspected drug dealer near the island capital of
Iraklio, when police seized marijuana and cocaine. A second suspect evaded arrest, and Monday's
operation targeted his home in Zoniana.

Gun ownership remains widespread on Crete despite several attempted police crackdowns and public
awareness campaigns spearheaded by prominent Cretans, including Mikis Theodorakis, the Oscar-winning
composer of the score for "Zorba the Greek."

Drugs gangs at Zoniana, in the mountains of central Crete 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of Iraklio,
frequently shoot at police helicopters or cars patrolling their area.

In June 2006, 25 officers looking for a marijuana plantation spotted by helicopter came under fire. Nobody
was injured then and there were no arrests, despite a large-scale operation by special police forces.

Earlier this year, a helicopter carrying guests to a baptism ceremony on a mountaintop chapel made a
forced landing after unknown gunmen mistook it for a police spotter aircraft and opened fire.


Poorly marked map blamed for Santorini sinking of Cruise ship
4th November 2007 ekathimerini

The operators of a cruise ship that sank in April, killing two passengers, blamed an error in official maps
yesterday for the accident off the Greek island of Santorini.
The Sea Diamond hit rocks off Santorini on April 5 and sank hours later. Some 1,600 people, mostly
American tourists, were evacuated from the ship, but two French passengers were never found and are
presumed drowned.
Operator Louis Hellenic Cruises said it commissioned a seabed survey of the accident area and found that
rocks hit by the ship were not marked on official charts. “The ship’s captain maintained a distance of 130
meters from the shore and should have been 57 meters clear of the rocks. But something very different
happened,” said George Koubenas, the company’s head of operations.
Asked why no other ship trying to moor at the busy island had struck the reef, Koubenas said every cruise
ship’s approach was different. Company lawyer Giorgos Iatridis-Ramadanis said the new finding did not
affect insurance payments as Louis had already collected the insurance for the accident.


Greece asks for selective tax relief
4th November 2007 ekathimerini

The Finance Ministry has submitted a request to Brussels for approval to cut the rate of value added tax
(VAT) on selected consumer items such as motorcycle helmets and computers.
Deputy Finance Minister Antonis Bezas submitted the request to lower the tax on farming equipment,
helmets, computer software and hardware equipment sold to students.

Bezas had made the same application to the European Commission in early 2006 but the assessment
procedure became bogged down due to enlargement of the EU bloc.
Before taking a decision on the procedure, the European Commission has requested a report on the
potential impact the tax cuts might have on the Single Market.

It was not clear what the impact on the government’s budget might be from the proposed tax cuts, which
mainly involve the education sector.
The Commission is expected to begin assessing the request in a procedure that will start in January next
year and run through to September.
The government has been implementing a tight fiscal policy in a bid to keep the budget deficit to below 3
percent of gross domestic product (GDP), in line with EU rules.
Greece is aiming for a balanced budget by 2010.
Greece’s highest VAT rate currently stands at 19 percent but there has been widespread speculation that
the Finance Ministry will increase it to 21 percent to help support budget revenue growth. Government
officials have declined to comment on the issue.

Stubborn ATM
31st December 2007 ekathimerini
A would-be robber failed in his or her attempt to prize open an ATM near the Technical
University of Crete in Hania on Saturday night, police said. Someone tried to force the cash
machine open with a crowbar but gave up, possibly after injuring themselves, according to
officers. Drops of blood were found at the scene. There has been a spate of ATM robberies
on the island this year but police said that they do not believe Saturday’s raid was linked to
previous thefts of cash machines.


Three fishermen rescued near Crete
31st December 2007 ekathimerini
Three fishermen were rescued by a US warship on Saturday as their boat was sinking in
international waters, south of Crete, after springing a leak, authorities said. The warship
came across the Libyan and two Tunisians 60 nautical miles south of Crete and alerted
Greek authorities. The men were transferred to a Greek patrol boat and taken to Crete,
where they were given medical treatment. The men told authorities they had set sail from
Derna in Libya


Morning raid nets Zoniana suspects
31st December 2007 ekathimerini
Police arrested eight people in Crete on Saturday in connection to a series of bank heists
on the island in a move that also targets criminal gangs based in the village of Zoniana.
Authorities said they searched 10 homes in the mountainous area around Zoniana in an
early morning raid that was “well organized” by the police, prosecutors and officers of the
Special Investigations Service, the government’s financial crimes unit. Among those
arrested is a woman believed to be the wife of a key suspect involved in the bank thefts
who is currently in custody on drug charges.
Police have stepped up investigations in the broader area of Crete after a series of recent
bank robberies and thefts from cash machines. On a number of occasions, the thieves
would carry away the ATM by lifting it onto a small truck using a crane before emptying its
contents in a remote mountainous area.
Police said seven of the eight suspects arrested were from Zoniana along with one person
from a nearby village.
While the operation was taking place, residents attacked police, throwing rocks and metals
bars at them, which resulted in the injury of two officers, said a source.
Some residents then gathered outside of the police station in Iraklion, where the suspects
are being held, and demanded their release on the grounds that no warrant had been
issued for their arrests.


Mother, baby in fatal leap
31st December 2007 ekathimerini
A 29-year-old woman committed suicide by leaping some 60 meters into the Corinth Canal
with her 3-month-old son, who was also killed, police said yesterday.
The woman’s body was found in the sea at about 2 a.m. yesterday while a local fisherman
recovered the corpse of the child later in the morning. The woman probably jumped from
the road bridge that passes over the canal, with the child in her arms, according to officers.
The highest point of the cliffs that form the canal is 63 meters.
Police did not name the 29-year-old but said that she worked at the casino in Loutraki,
west of Athens.
The woman’s family alerted officers after relatives found a handwritten note at her home.
The details of the note were not made public.
Police found the woman’s car near the bridge and called in rescue workers and the fire
service to help look for her. The 29-year-old’s family told police that she had


Blackmail suspect, in PM Aide attempted suicide, jailed
United Press   29th December 2007
A Greek magistrate ordered a woman accused of causing an official's attempted suicide with
a blackmail campaign to be kept in custody pending trial.
Evi Tsekou, who denied blackmailing Culture Ministry General Secretary Christos
Zachopoulos, a close ally of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, before his attempted
suicide last week, was ordered by the magistrate to remain in Korydallos Prison until a trial
can be held, Kathimerini reported Thursday.
Tsekou is accused of having an affair with Zachopoulos and threatening to release video
tapes depicting private moments between the two unless he paid her nearly $300,000.
She claims to have approached media outlets to discuss plans to hire 148 employees at the
Culture Ministry -- which she said violated regulations -- and not to discuss airing the videos
of her with the official.
Zachopoulos, who plunged from a fourth-story balcony at his Athens apartment last week,
is listed in critical condition at a local hospital.


Milk prices prompt fines Watchdog finds anti-competition practices.
29th December 2007 ekathimerini
Four dairy firms and six supermarkets were fined a total of 28.6 million euros for fixing retail
prices of dairy products, the country’s competition watchdog said yesterday.
The Competition Commission said milk producers, distributors and supermarkets made
agreements which had a direct impact on prices paid by consumers.
“Dairy producers often outline in cooperation agreements concluded with distributors the
prices that supermarkets will be charged... violating the basic rules of competition,” the
commission said.
“Additionally, dairy producers to a large extent dictate the level of retail prices (charged by
supermarkets), which weakens competition among retailers to the detriment of consumers.”
The largest fine announced yesterday – 21.8 million euros – was imposed against food
conglomerate Vivartia.
Fines on the other three dairy companies – Mevgal, Fage and Olympos – ranged from
–40,000 to –3 million.
Supermarkets Carrefour Marinopoulos, Alfa-Beta Vassilopoulos, Veropoulos, Atlantic
Supermarket, Sklavenitis and D. Masoutis will be required to pay up to 1.07 million euros in
penalties with the lowest fine set at 68,000 euros.
Prices charged for dairy products in Greece are believed to be among the highest in the
European Union, despite the country’s relatively low level of per capita income


Greek OTE to cut ADSL internet tariffs by 44.5 pct, and upgrade speed for free
AFX news 20 December 2007
Greek telecom incumbent Hellenic Telecoms (OTE) said that it will cut the tariff on its ADSL
internet service Conn-x by 44.5 pct effective from Dec 17 to all new and existing customers.
OTE explained that it will also upgrade connections speeds from 768/192 Kbps to 1024/256
Kbps free of charge.
In addition, OTE will offer new, faster, internet access speeds of up to 24 Mbps, at the price
of 29.90 euro per month.


PM aide in suicide attempt
Former Culture Ministry official critical after jumping from fourth floor
21st December 2007 ekathimerini
Christos Zachopoulos, a close aide of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and general
secretary at the Culture Ministry until he resigned on Wednesday, was in critical condition in
hospital last night after attempting to commit suicide.
The 54-year-old suffered serious injuries, including broken legs and ribs, as well as a
substantial loss of blood after falling from the balcony of his fourth-floor apartment in
Kolonaki, central Athens.
Zachopoulos appears to have been alone in the apartment at the time of the incident,
which occurred between 1.30 and 2 p.m.
Witnesses told police that Zachopoulos struck an exterior staircase and an awning before
hitting the ground.
Police did not find a suicide note in the apartment.
The Culture Ministry announced on Wednesday that Zachopoulos had resigned from his
post as general secretary, which he has held since March 2004 and where he was
essentially in charge of the ministry’s finances. Zachopoulos said that he was resigning for
health reasons but no further details were given.
He was seen returning to his home at around 11 a.m. yesterday. His wife said that the
couple had been to the hospital as Zachopoulos had been suffering from high blood
pressure.
Police intend to examine his computer and mobile phone records in an attempt to find clues
about why the former official might have wanted to kill himself.
Officers will also be investigating reports that a female colleague of Zachopoulos had in the
last few days been trying to sell to TV stations videotapes with material that could have
been damaging to the 54-year-old.
The government remained tight-lipped about the affair yesterday, knowing that any scandal
could damage the prime minister, who has been closely associated with Zachopoulos for
the last 10 years.
“When someone reaches the point where they try to commit suicide, a huge question
arises,” said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. “I hope that the police will
be able to answer this question.”


Illegal Immigrants Located in Gavdos
18 Dec 2007 ert.gr   
The port authorities in Gavdos located six Egyptian illegal immigrants on the island of
Gavdos on Monday. The illegal immigrants had arrived on the remote island, south of Crete,
in a boat which was located by the authorities and towed to Agia Galini port. The young
Egyptians received first aid, food and water from the locals, while later they were
transferred to Chania port. The six will be hosted at the Political Protection Department of
the prefecture of Chania and then they will be sent back to Egypt.


Further arrests made on Crete
14th December 2007 ekathimerini & cretetv.gr
Police continued their clampdown on criminal activity on Crete yesterday with the arrests of
seven people, one of who is alleged to be a major gunrunner on the island.
Sources said that the main suspect was caught in the village of Frangokastelo and is
believed to have a previous conviction of selling illegal weapons in the USA as well as in
Greece. Sources added that 250,000 euros was found in the suspect’s bank account.
The other six men were arrested on firearms offenses in the village of Palaiohora, near
Hania, after officers searched 21 homes in the area.
Searches were also made at addresses in Akrotiri, Keramia and Apokoronas.
Police are believed to be linking the arrests to their operation in the village of Zoniana
where, since November, they have been attempting to smash a local criminal gang that is
involved in the illegal gun trade, drug dealing, money laundering and various other offenses.
Authorities have pledged to beef up the police presence on the island as they attempt to
catch the criminals. Sources said yesterday that some 60 officers from mainland Greece
would be sent to Crete by Monday.
They will help set up an operations center in the area of Mylopotamos, near Zoniana.
Authorities have also been looking at suspect transfers of property ownership on the island
over the last month as they believe some criminals may be trying to cover their tracks.
Some lawyers and accountants might face charges.


Hania thieves steal guns from gun club
14th December 2007 ekathimerini & cretetv.gr

Police on Crete were yesterday questioning members of the Hania  gun club after
unidentified thieves managed to remove 25 firearms from the high-security site while the
alarm system was out of order.
The theft, which took place early on Tuesday at the National shooting range, Kampani,
Akrotiri, was carried out by “individuals with close links to the gun club,” a local officer told
Kathimerini, adding that seven people were probably involved. The  gun club has 380
members, of which 35 are police officers.
Police ruled out any connection between the theft and the alleged crimes being
investigated around Zoniana, where police were attacked during an attempted anti-drug
raid last month.
The arms taken were mostly 9-millimeter and 45-millimeter guns “which are easier to sell
and fetch a better price on the black market,” the local officer said.

Liquidation may be best for Olympic
10th December 2007 ekathimerini

State-owned Olympic Airlines (OA) could be headed for liquidation rather than being shut
down in a move that will help protect the employment positions of its thousands of
employees, according to Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis.

Hatzidakis told Sunday's Kathimerini in an interview that negotiations with the European
Commission and OA are expected to wind up in 2008 but that many possibilities are still
open.
«I have not used the word 'shutdown.' Declaring insolvency leaves the workers
unprotected. Insolvency is legally different from liquidation. If, of course, we reach this
stage,» said the transport minister.

Last week, Hatzidakis said the government will replace OA with a trimmed-down
«healthier» air carrier in coming months in comments widely interpreted as meaning the
company will be closed.
«We may for some reason have certain developments that will avoid reaching even this
(liquidation) and the company may be sold debt-free,» he said without adding further
details.
The minister's comments follow a recent meeting in Brussels with EU Transport
Commissioner Jacques Barrot after a complaint had been lodged by Ireland's low-cost
carrier Ryanair Holdings against the European Commission concerning Olympic.

The complaint charges that the Commission has failed to recover hundreds of millions of
euros in unlawful state aid to Olympic.
Greece has spent years negotiating with the European Commission on how to deal with
OA's longstanding debts, estimated at 2.4 billion euros amid annual losses of 245 million
euros.
The minister reiterated that the government will protect OA jobs which number around
10,000, including full-time, part-time and contract workers.

«Some of them will be offered voluntary retirement, while others will be transferred to other
state services. Others will be absorbed by the new company,» he said.

The airline continues to operate as normal and said last week that bookings are currently
at normal seasonal levels.
In his interview with Kathimerini daily, Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis asserted that
Greece’s national air carrier, Olympic Airlines, would not halt its air services in the coming
summer no matter the solution. The OA standoff, which has sparked a spat between the
Government and the OA personnel over the company’s final regime, seems to bother
Greeks, with the majority of them claiming state-owned Olympic Airline, in its present form,
cannot burden the taxpayers any longer.


Man on life support after mushroom meal
10th December 2007 ekathimerini

A Cretan man was on a life support machine in the hospital yesterday while six others
needed emergency medical treatment after eating poisonous mushrooms.
The seven residents of the village of Mochos near Iraklion were admitted to the hospital on
Saturday after eating the mushrooms, which had been picked by the 60-year-old man who
is now in a critical condition.
Doctors said that the man, who was not named, had suffered liver and kidney failure and
had been placed in the intensive-care unit. The lives of the six other locals were not
considered to be in danger and they are due to be discharged from the hospital.
Authorities did not say exactly what type of mushroom the villagers had eaten. Two years
ago, a 4-year-old Greek boy had to be flown to Italy for a liver transplant after eating a
poisonous mushroom


Hunter found
10th December 2007 ekathimerini

A 47-year-old man who had been missing since Friday afternoon after going to pick
mushrooms in an area near Ierapetra, Crete, while carrying his hunting rifle, was found
dead later in the day, police said on Saturday. Police said the body did not show any signs
of physical injury and that the rifle was loaded but had not been fired. An autopsy will be
performed on the body, however, authorities believe the death was due to natural causes.


Cretans sense graft in Zoniana
10th December 2007 ekathimerini

Roughly three in four Cretans believe that politicians, police officers, lawyers and judges
have been involved in allowing criminals based in the village of Zoniana to act with impunity
for a number of years, according to a survey conducted for Sunday's Kathimerini.

The results of the opinion poll were made public as police revealed that they had
discovered more weapons and ammunition during searches of abandoned houses on the
outskirts of the Cretan village, which appears to have been a hive of criminal activity such
as drug dealing and money laundering.

Officers said they found four AK-47 assault rifles, a Zastava machine gun, three handguns,
five samurai swords, two Second World War rifles, six Cretan knives, a bulletproof vest and
a variety of ammunition during their searches.

The weapons have been sent for forensic tests as police continue to search for those
responsible for the shooting of 28-year-old policeman, Efstathios Lazaridis, last month.

Lazaridis is still in critical condition and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos visited him in
the hospital on Saturday before checking on the progress of the police investigation.
«It is important that there is an in-depth probe, not immediate arrests,» said Pavlopoulos.
He pledged that authorities would purge the island of its criminal element.

However, according to the poll by Public Issue, 78 percent of Cretans believe that politicians
have been helping protect criminals from Zoniana over the years. Virtually the same
percentage of islanders feel that policemen, judges and lawyers have also been involved in
the cover-up.
Just under half (49 percent) of the 819 Cretans questioned said they were satisfied by the
job the police have been doing during the last few weeks.


Greek coast guard rescues immigrant ship off Crete
ATHENS, Greece, Dec. 8 (UPI)

The Greek Coast Guard towed a cargo ship to shore after receiving a distress signal,
rescuing 192 passengers believed to be illegal immigrants from Egypt.

One man died. A Greek coroner said he was diabetic and his blood sugar fell precipitously,
Kathimerini reported.

The Silver Wave, sailing under a Bolivian flag, called for help around noon Wednesday. The
Coast Guard located the vessel in rough water off the southwest coast of Crete early
Thursday and towed it to shore.

Seven people, including three members of the crew, were charged with human smuggling.

The passengers said they were Iraqi nationals. But officials said the vessel is believed to
have sailed from Egypt and those on board are more likely to be Egyptian.

Cretan crime
Muggers net 30,000 euros and thugs strike as police busy elsewhere
6th December 2007 ekathimerini

Unidentified assailants yesterday got away with two crimes on Crete as police continued
their investigations into the drug and arms trade. In the first case, armed robbers snatched
a bag containing 30,000 euros from a security guard in the area of Aghios Andreas, in
Rethymnon. Meanwhile in Ammoudara, Iraklion prefecture, two assailants smashed up a
bar after the owner refused to give them protection money, police said

Ex-policeman, wife in sex trade arrests
6th December 2007 ekathimerini

A recently retired policeman and his Russian wife have been arrested for allegedly running
a human-trafficking ring that pushed young women from Russia into prostitution in Greece,
police said yesterday.
The 51-year-old former officer and his wife, 47, as well as the 53-year-old owner of a strip
club were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of bringing two 19-year-old Russian
twins into the country so they could exploit them.
The woman’s 17-year-old niece in Russia is suspected of convincing the teenagers to come
to Greece while her 22-year-old son allegedly arranged to secure the necessary forged
documents.
Police said that the twins were kept locked up on arriving in Greece a week ago and told
that they had to work at a strip club to pay back 1,600 euros to their captors.

To Sfakia.... by tunnel!
4th December 2007 Haniotika Nea

The road to Sfakia is to  incorporate 3 tunnels as part of the upgrading of the whole Vrisses
– Sfakia route. The Askifou by-pass has long been completed and other works on improving
the route from Vrisses to Askifou are nearing completion. That will leave the Imbros to
Sfakia leg where the 3 new tunnels will be dug through the mountains. The first tunnel will
be 96m long, the second 32m and the third 75m. Each tunnel will be 7.20 m high and 8.50m
in width with 2 lanes.  

The tunnels are expected to be open by the end of 2008, while the Mayor of Sfakia has
stated that they could be finished even sooner.

Help on way for Crete probe
2nd December 2007 ekathimerini

The judicial investigation into illegal activity in the village of Zoniana on Crete is being
stepped up after the Supreme Court yesterday assigned a prosecutor to the probe and
asked him to travel to the island to oversee the process.
Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas has asked his colleague, and one of the court's
deputy prosecutors, Kyriakos Karoutsos to head the investigation taking place in the
Mylopotamos area of Crete.
Authorities are looking into the illicit drug trading allegedly taking place in Zoniana and the
illegal possession of firearms among villagers. They are also hunting for the person or
persons who shot at a police convoy earlier this month, seriously injuring an officer in the
head.
One of Karoutsos's tasks will be to establish whether criminals in the area have been
enjoying the cooperation of members of the police force, judiciary or any other authority in
order to engage in illegal activity on the island.
Karoutsos will remain on Crete for «as long as necessary» as there is no indication how
long the investigation will take.
Searches of 14 abandoned homes and four new properties yesterday failed to yield any
more evidence of criminal activity but a number of weapons were found in a cave. Seven
people were charged yesterday with forming a gang after police raids in the area of
Mesara, which can be reached from Zoniana via a dirt track.
Police have arrested three of the suspects who, officers claim, were part of a gang which
extorted money from local store owners. The gang was also involved in procuring women,
according to police. One of those accused has alleged business links to a former Iraklion MP

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News Archive
Crete & Greece
2007
November - December 2007