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|Living in Crete
|Greek blog causes uproar
28 February 2008 AFP
A Greek news blog site hosted by web search giant Google is under investigation after a
series of defamation lawsuits by ministers, lawmakers and journalists, police and media
Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Merchant Marine Minister George Voulgarakis
and government spokesperson Theodore Roussopoulos are among around 100 plaintiffs to
have filed complaints against the site, press-gr.blogspot.com, a police source said.
Google has pledged to cooperate with Greek cybercrime police on the case, according to
the To Vima daily, whose politics reporter Vassilis Hiotis also claims he was slandered and
blackmailed by users of the site
Stolen tombstones in Crete walkway reveal names
28th February 2008 Reuters
ATHENS (Reuters) - When the names of the dead started appearing on a pedestrian
walkway in the Cretan capital Herakleion, city officials were shocked to discover that stolen
marble tombstones had been used in its construction.
"This small pedestrian walkway in the city ... was created about 20 years ago, but until now
we did not know this material had been used," Herakleion deputy mayor Konstantinos
Mamoulakis told state television on Thursday.
Cretans realised the white slabs of marble were tombstones only when the tread of many
feet wore away the dirt on the slabs and revealed the names of the dead, he said.
"We found out that some names had started to appear so this week we immediately
started replacing the stones," he said.
It was not clear who had ordered the use of the tombstones -- not the first time marble
gravestones have been removed illegally from crowded Greek cemeteries and recycled.
Officer stabbed in Rethymnon nightclub brawl
26th February 2008 ekathimerini
An off-duty police officer was stabbed in the stomach on Saturday night in a fight that broke
out in a Rethymnon bar on the island of Crete, it was revealed yesterday. The police officer,
who suffered minor injuries, is believed to have been stabbed by a 23-year-old man whom
police are searching for. Police did not disclose any information regarding the cause of the
Salesman caught in prescription scam
25th February 2008 ekathimerini
A 50-year-old pharmaceutical company salesman is set to be charged with defrauding social
security funds of more than 200,000 euros, police on Crete revealed this weekend.
Officers raided the unnamed suspect’s home in Hania, Crete, on Saturday and confiscated
19 allegedly forged doctors’ stamps and 34 patients’ health booklets, which are also not
thought to be genuine.
Police believe the salesman would write phony prescriptions for non-existent patients. He
would collect the drugs for free, as the social security funds paid for them, and then sell the
Officers said the suspect was taken into custody for questioning, during which he admitted
to his part in the scam but it is not clear if any doctors or other health officials were involved.
Police blame eight-member gang
25th February 2008 ekathimerini
Police have broken a gang of thieves believed to be responsible for at least nine armed
holdups of service stations and retail stores in southeastern Athens in the last year,
authorities said on Saturday. The thieves, who are also believed to have targeted homes,
allegedly held up stores in the morning hours or broke into homes while the owners were
sleeping, police added. Police found in their possession different weapons, including guns
and clubs. The eight suspects, Albanian males aged between 19 and 26, were expected to
be charged over the weekend.
Police foil citizenship subterfuge
23rd February 2008 ekathimerini
Police said yesterday they have arrested four women believed to have been in charge of a
racket selling Greek citizenship to hundreds of illegal immigrants.
The gang, accused of naturalizing at least 500 mainly young women from South America
and Africa, allegedly operated by bribing Greek men to recognize the migrants as their own
illegitimate children, police said.
The suspects arrested include a 36-year-old woman from Sierra Leone and a 40-year-old
woman from the Dominican Republic, who are also accused of coercing some of the
migrants into smuggling drugs into the country.
A three-month investigation found that the racket involved bribes being given to at least 20
Greeks to falsely confirm fathering the immigrants. Each of the Greeks was allegedly paid
between 3,000 and 5,000 euros.
A total of 93 people are suspected of involvement in the racket, including a foreign consular
official serving in Greece, a Greek civil servant, notaries public and lawyers.
EasyJet says revenue to increase; GB loads over 85 pct
2oth February 2008 Bloomberg
EasyJet Plc, Europe’s second-biggest discount carrier, said average revenue per seat
should rise 3 percent to 5 percent this month and that bookings for the Easter holiday
period are “encouraging.” The airline’s load factor, or the proportion of seats filled, is
“broadly” unchanged from a year ago, EasyJet said yesterday in a statement. The load
factor at GB Airways, the UK carrier EasyJet bought to expand at London’s Gatwick Airport,
is expected to be higher than 85 percent in February and March.
Winter storm leaves Greece blanketed in snow
17th February 2008 Associated Press
A winter storm left Greece blanketed in snow overnight, cutting access to villages and
disrupting travel across the country.
Temperatures were forecast to plunge to minus-11 degrees Celsius (12 degrees
Fahrenheit) in parts of northern Greece. In the capital, with its snow-covered ancient
Acropolis, the temperature was not expected to rise above freezing, while conditions were
expected to deteriorate later Sunday, meteorologists said.
About two dozen villages, most on the island of Evia north of the capital, were snowed in,
while authorities worked to keep major highways open. Other villages across the country,
including on the southern island of Crete, reported problems with power and water
The civil defense authority was on alert throughout Greece, while police banned all trucks
from highways, except those carrying fuel, salt to deice the roads and perishable goods.
Authorities issued appeals for people to remain indoors and avoid unnecessary travel.
Snow chains were needed for vehicles traveling on many roads across the country,
including secondary roads in the capital, strong winds reaching gale force in areas
disrupted ferry services.
Flights to five islands were canceled, while other flights from Athens international airport
faced delays, although the airport itself remained open.
Owner of sunken ferry says it was not at fault, won’t lift wreck
16th February 2008 ekathimerini
Louis Hellenic Cruises, the owner of the Sea Diamond ferry that sank off Santorini last year,
said its insurance will not cover the cost of a salvage operation, as the ferry operator was
not responsible for the accident. The Sea Diamond has remained at the bottom of the sea
near the popular island since April, with tons of fuel still in its tanks. The operator has
blamed incorrect markings on maps as being responsible for the ship crashing into rocks.
Experts have warned that if the fuel leaks from the tanks, it will cause a serious
Hania blast - Dynamite under police chief’s car causes damage but no injuries
16th February 2008 ekathimerini
A homemade explosive device that had been planted under the car of a local police chief in
Hania, Crete, detonated early yesterday morning, destroying the car as well as two other
vehicles and a motorcycle parked outside the officer’s home. There were no injuries caused
by the blast, which launched the hood of the policeman’s car onto the roof of a nearby
apartment block. The device had been made using dynamite, police said.
16th February 2008 ekathimerini
Police said yesterday they had arrested three men in Hania, Crete, found in possession of a
number of weapons, including four handguns. The weapons were uncovered during a raid
on a home and store in the center of Hania. Other weapons uncovered included a rifle, a
hunting gun, a large number of knives and bullets. Police did not disclose what they believe
the weapons were for.
Greek experts appeal for calm after two big quakes
14th February 2008 AFP
Greece's earthquake protection organisation on Thursday called for calm after two powerful
quakes jolted the south of the country, as no injuries or damage had been reported.
The government said it would keep schools closed on Friday in the immediate area where
the quakes struck as a precaution, as inspectors went to work checking for damage to the
The main quake measured 6.5 on the Richter scale with its epicentre just off the southern
coast of the Peloponnese peninsula -- an area of frequent tremors -- sending worried
residents into the street.
The experts' warnings of violent aftershocks came true exactly two hours later when a
second jolt of 6.4 on the open-ended Richter Scale was reported with virtually the same
The bigger quake was felt across the peninsula, in Crete to the south and up to the capital
Athens as well as in Italy across the Adriatic Sea. But no casualties or serious damage were
reported, said the Geodynamic Institute of the Athens Observatory.
Costas Athanassopoulos, deputy mayor of Kalamata, told Greek radio the shock was
prolonged and initially caused panic among the population of 60,000 in the city where 20
people died in a quake 22 years ago.
Many officials in the region were relieved to have escaped major damage despite the size
of the jolt. Firefighters said some walls were cracked.
Schools were evacuated at Tripoli in the centre of the peninsula, Net television reported,
urging people to stay out in the streets in case of a new aftershock.
The first quake struck at 12:09 pm (1009 GMT) with the epicentre just off the coast of the
Methoni region, said the Geodynamic Institute in Athens.
The US Geological Survey estimated it at 6.7 on its moment magnitude system.
A quake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale also hit the peninsula on January 6. No
casualties or major damage was reported then.
Greece has more quakes than any other European country -- accounting for half the seismic
shocks recorded on the continent -- and experts at the Athens institute said the population
should be wary of more aftershocks.
"We are expecting some strong follow-ups," said institute director Georges Stavrakakis.
The epicentre of the latest quake was at a depth of about 30 kilometers (18 miles). A depth
of less than 70 kilometers is considered fairly shallow, Randy Baldwin of the US National
Earthquake Information Center said.
General Strike To Paralyse Greece Wednesday 13th February
The public sector will be closed Wednesday due to GSEE and ADEDY 24-hour strike.
Public employees, prefecture and municipality employees, tax officers, bank employees,
primary and secondary education teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists,
pharmacists as well as Urban buses employees and Public Enterprises and Organizations
(DEKO) employees will participate in the strike.
There will be no flights and ship departures on Tuesday midnight until Wednesday midnight.
TV Channels-ERT and private ones- will not broadcast news reports tomorrow.
There will be no circulation of newspapers Thursday, February 14.
Albanian man is 18th suspect linked to drugs and drug running
12th February 2008 ekathimerini
An Albanian man is being sought in connection with the crimes carried out by gangs in the
Cretan village of Zoniana, police said yesterday. Officers said the man is the 18th suspect
to be linked to drugs and gun running on the island but, unlike the other 17 suspects, is still
on the run. Sources said that the suspect is known to police and goes by several surnames,
including Bakoulas, Perparim, Perpatinim and Roustemal. Sources said his fingerprints were
found on a package containing a kilo of cocaine, which was discovered near Zoniana last
November. Greek authorities have informed Interpol that they are looking for the suspect
12th February 2008 ekathimerini
A prosecutor and a magistrate yesterday failed to reach an agreement about whether to
remand in custody a 24-year-old Roma man accused of attempting to kidnap a 10-year-old
boy in Hania last week. According to the boy’s parents, the suspect tried to push the 10-
year-old into a car just a short distance from their home. The suspect denies the charges.
Stores agree to bin plastic bags
12th February 2008 ekathimerini
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and the country’s top nine supermarket chains yesterday
signed an agreement to phase out the use of plastic bags and introduce environmentally
friendly ones, joining a growing trend in Europe.
The new reusable bags will be available in supermarkets from mid-April at a small cost –
which was not determined yesterday – along with plastic bags. From June 1, the scheme
will be extended to other cities and supermarkets will begin withdrawing plastic bags. The
initiative is to run for five years before being reviewed, Kaklamanis said.
Every day, Greek consumers use some 8 million plastic bags – non-biodegradable refuse
that ends up on thousands of landfills.
“The development of environmental awareness... affects society as a whole and each of us
individually,” Kaklamanis said.
The supermarkets participating in the initiative are Vassilopoulos, Atlantic, Veropoulos,
Galaxias, Carrefour Marinopoulos, Dia, My Market, Sklavenitis and Bazaar.
“We need to persuade people to stop using plastic bags,” said Christoper Giokas, sales
manager of My Market. “We frequently see shoppers taking five spare bags home,” he
Kaklamanis said that other retailers have also expressed an interest in implementing the
scheme, both in Athens and other cities. “We must realize that time is not on our side,” the
mayor said. “We determine the world of tomorrow through the choices we make today,” he
Similar initiatives restricting, or banning, the plastic bag from supermarkets have been
implemented in several EU countries, including France, Belgium and Germany. A tax on the
use of plastic bags in Ireland has been particularly successful
Greek Church Elects New Leader
8th February 2008 AP
Senior clergy elected Metropolitan Bishop Ieronymos of Thebes as the new leader of
Greece's powerful Orthodox Church on Thursday to succeed the late Archbishop
Christodoulos, the church announced.
Church bells rang out and the lights outside Athens Cathedral, where 74 bishops had
gathered for the vote, came on to announce the election of a successor to the popular
Christodoulos, who died of cancer last month.
Ieronymos, 70, won 45 votes after two rounds in an election that began Thursday morning.
Four bishops of the 78-member Holy Synod, the church's governing body, were absent, the
church said in announcing the results.
"I accept this high office and honor to uphold the holy traditions of the Greek Orthodox
Church," Ieronymos said in accepting the post.
He was one of the main contenders for the church leadership in the previous election in
1998, when Christodoulos eventually triumphed over him after three rounds of voting. He is
considered a reformer like his predecessor and a capable administrator, but has been much
more low-key than the outspoken and often combative Christodoulos.
Christodoulos frequently criticized government decisions — a break in church tradition —
and accused political liberals of attempting to erode Greece's religious heritage.
"The successors are called upon to build on the archbishop's positive work and avoid the
pointless friction," the top-selling daily Ta Nea commented
The succession was closely watched in Greece, where Orthodox Christianity is recognized
as the "prevailing religion" in the constitution and is the faith of some 97 percent of the
country's native-born population.
Tens of thousands of people visited Athens Cathedral when Christodoulos' body lay in state
for three days before his funeral on Jan. 31.
Two tremors, 5.4 and 5.5 Richter, hit Patras, causing fear but no damage
6h February 2008 ekathimerini
Two moderately strong earthquakes, measuring 5.4 and 5.5 on the Richter scale, struck the
area south of Patras late on Monday night within less than two hours of each other. There
were no injuries or damage reported. The first of tremor occurred at 10.25 p.m. and the
second at 12.15 a.m. Seismologists who described the tremors as “twin quakes” due to
their proximity to each other and similarity in magnitude, said it would take 48 hours before
they could rule out the possibility of another stronger quake. The quakes were felt across
the region and even in Athens.
General strike – February Wednesday 13th
6th February 2008 ekathimerini
The Federation of Bank Employees’ Unions (OTOE) said it will take part in a February 13
general strike planned by the country’s largest union group GSEE over disputes to pension
reform plans. Bank employees also said they are striking to push demands over pay hikes.
Additionally, the Athens Bar Association said it will strike today and on February 13 over the
government’s pension reforms
Gov’t to set up ministerial committee on Olympic Air
5th February Bloomberg/Ekathimerini
Greece’s government will establish a committee of ministers this week and hire advisers
with the aim of finding a buyer to keep indebted Olympic Airlines flying.
Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis will head a committee of ministers to coordinate the
effort “with the aim by the end of 2008 of finding a viable solution for a new healthy
Olympic Air,” he said yesterday after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in
Hatzidakis has said he’s speaking with the European Union’s executive commission about
closing the airline and restarting it free from its estimated debt of –2.5 billion ($3.7 billion).
The company would keep its name, airport slots and logo of six interlocking rings.
“We want the rings; we want the name,” Hatzidakis said today, according to an e-mailed
transcript of his comments from the ministry. “We believe we will manage to keep those.
We don’t want the deficits.”
Greece is trying to find a way to keep its biggest airline flying even as the European
Commission investigates whether the company has received state aid. In December, the EU
opened a new probe into Greek government support to Olympic, saying extra aid may have
violated EU competition rules.
The EU has already ordered Greece to recoup at least –130 million in illegal state aid the
company received before 2004. Greece has still failed to enforce that decision, the
Commission said last year. Olympic is not allowed to receive any state support because one-
time aid for Olympic Airways, its predecessor, was approved in the 1990s.
Workers at the carrier oppose a sale to investors and have threatened to disrupt air traffic
across the country if the company is shut down and reopened over its debt.
The Commission is under pressure to act on Olympic from Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s
biggest discount airline. Ryanair has lodged complaints against the EU’s executive
regarding illegal state subsidies to four carriers, including the Greek company.
Thousands flock to archbishop’s funeral
February 1st 2008 ekathimerini
Thousands of Greeks filled the center of Athens yesterday to pay their last respects to
Archbishop Christodoulos, who was given a state funeral following his death from cancer on
Monday at the age of 69.
President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as well as ministers, bishops
and a 12-member delegation from the Vatican attended a requiem mass at Athens
Cathedral, where the archbishop’s body had lain in state.
The mass was led by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, who flew to Athens from his base
in Istanbul. “With his actions our brother enriched the Church of Greece... (his) death is a
great loss for the Orthodox world,” said Vartholomaios, whose relations with Christodoulos
had been strained due to a dispute over the management of certain Greek dioceses.
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