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NEWS Archive
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OVERNIGHT EXPLOSIONS
Banks, cars damaged in coordinated Athens, Thessaloniki bomb attacks
31st May 2008 ekathimerini

Police said banks and cars were damaged in coordinated arson attacks in Athens and
Thessaloniki early yesterday. Nine separate attacks took place in Athens in a space of 15
minutes, targeting banks, a post office, two car dealerships and an office of the ruling New
Democracy party. Meanwhile in Thessaloniki banks and several cars were damaged,
including a vehicle belonging to the Russian consulate. There were no reports of injuries
from the attacks, which were carried out with small gas canisters. No one has claimed
responsibility for the incidents.


Sanidas moves to stop gay wedding
31st May 2008 ekathimerini

Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas moved yesterday to block the country’s first gay
marriage after the mayor of the island of Tilos said he was willing to go ahead with the
ceremony.
Sanidas intervened to stop the ceremony that has been planned to take place this summer
by declaring same-sex marriages illegal.
“Marriage between gays is not provided in current legislation and the Constitution,” said
Sanidas in a circular sent to prosecutors in Rhodes. The prosecutor also said the mayor of
Tilos, Tassos Aliferis, would face criminal charges if he went ahead with the wedding.
Aliferis said on Thursday he would carry out the ceremony for two gay men who took the
first official step toward marriage by posting a wedding notice in a Greek newspaper.
Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis also said he believed gay marriages could not take place.
“This is not possible. It would not be legal,” he told state-run NET television.
Legal experts disagree, however, saying that legislation regulating marriages does not
refer to gender.
“Existing legislation does not explicitly forbid holding a wedding between people of the
same sex,” said Theofano Papazisi, law professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Greece’s Orthodox Church has expressed strong objections to gay marriage in the past.


Blue flag beaches up; Greece takes 2nd place
30th May ekathimerini

The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN) said the number of blue flags
awarded to Greek beaches this year increased to 430 from 428 previously, ranking the
country in position No 2 on a list of 40 nations.

Blue flags, awarded to beaches on qualitative criteria, were placed in regions throughout
the country, with many being granted in Rhodes, Crete and Halkidiki. Swimmers interested
in going for a nearby dip in Attica have nine blue-flag beaches to choose from, including
Varkiza and Voula. HSPN runs the flag program for Greece, which rates beaches based on
the quality of the seawater and organization of the swimming area, among other factors.
Denmark’s Foundation for Environmental Education, a non-governmental group, operates
the Blue Flag scheme internationally. It assessed more than 3,300 beaches last year across
Europe, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and the Caribbean.


Olympic Airlines Fares Go Up
27th May 2008 ert.gr

Due to the increase of fuel prices, Olympic Airlines will increase its fares as of 2 June.
Specifically a two-euro rise will be introduced per domestic flight and a five-euro rise for
flights abroad. Fares for transatlantic flights will rise by 25 euros per flight.

A relevant announcement reports that the fuel increases are necessary as jet fuel has risen
by 58.8% since the beginning of the year that is a bigger rise in prices of crude oil. If the
price of petrol remains in the present level, then the cost of fuel for the company will rise in
2008 by 64% in relation to 2007.


ATM lifted
26th May 2008 ekathimerini

A ring of robbers removed an ATM from a bank in the Cretan port of Iraklion early Saturday
and fled without being noticed, police conceded yesterday. Locals found the facade of the
bank badly damaged and the ATM missing later on Saturday. Police believe the hit was the
work of a gang that had been removing ATMs from banks in Crete for months until last
November when police staged a crime crackdown on the island


Killer remanded
23rd May 2008 ekathimerini

A 30-year-old man from the Cretan region of Mylopotamos was remanded in custody
yesterday for the murder of a 21-year-old student last week. The 30-year-old, who served
time in jail for manslaughter committed during an armed robbery 12 years ago, allegedly
stabbed the student last Thursday night during a brawl outside a restaurant in Rethymnon.


Family feud
23rd May 2008 ekathimerini
A 53-year-old man was being treated in hospital in Hania, Crete, yesterday after allegedly
being shot by his 29-year-old nephew. Police said that the older man was shot five times
with a hunting rifle from a distance of some 35 meters as he tended to his sheep. The victim
was injured in the chest and arms. Police suspect that the man’s nephew was behind the
shooting as the pair had differences over land and livestock.


Olympic Flights back to normal
22nd May 2008 ekathimerini

Olympic Airlines domestic flights are set to return to normal today following three weeks of
strike action by pilots that had provoked daily cancellations and delays. The pilots, who are
in a dispute over their collective work contract, said they are suspending their action as an
“act of good will” to passengers as the tourist season begins.


Murderer's Arrest
19 May 2008   NET 105.8

The murderer of a student in Rethymno was arrested on Monday afternoon in Vrahasi,
Lasithi. Residents in the area informed the Lasithi Police Crime department. The culprit of
the abhorrent crime was transferred to Heraklio.


Taxi charges, intercity coach fares increase by 5 percent from today
19th May 2008 ekathimerini

Taxi charges and tickets for intercity coaches are 5 percent dearer from today, the
Transport Ministry said. The decision to increase the fares followed talks with taxi drivers
and coach drivers who had originally sought a 15 percent hike due to rising petrol costs.


Smoking ban in 2010
19th May 2008 ekathimerini

Parliament is expected to soon pass a bill banning smoking in all public areas as of 2010.
The ban will apply to all indoor areas, including restaurants and nightspots, and will impose
a 300-euro fine for those caught breaking the law. Business owners will, however, be
obliged to offer a suitable area for smokers or risk being penalize. The new law will also
ban cigarettes from being sold to those under the age of 18.


SUNFLOWER OIL - Firm accused of importing bulk of tainted shipment is shut down
17th May 2008 ekathimerini

Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Vlachos yesterday ordered the closure of a firm called
Manos, believed to have imported two-thirds of the contaminated sunflower oil found on
the Greek market. The firm, believed to have refined and sold the suspect oil to retailers
including Minerva and Elais, had been operating without a license, Vlachos said. The
sunflower oil in question had been contaminated with mineral oil, a by-product of the
distillation of petroleum that can be harmful if consumed, particularly by children.


Murder in Rethymno
16th May 2008 Hellenic Radio (ERA) & Haniotika Nea

A Rethymnon University student from Chania was stabbed in the chest in outside a shop
near the port of Rethymno at dawn.
The student was transferred to the hospital, where his death was confirmed by doctors.
The culprit escaped, while as per first reports a minor brawl preceded the murder.
The police have identified a 30 year old suspect from information given by a number of
people present at the scene and have issued a warrant for his arrest. He is still being
sought.
The tragic victim has been identified as 21 year old Manolis Horevtakis.


Power play
16th May 2008 ekathimerini

Appeals prosecutor Christos Markoyiannakis yesterday recommended that the five board
members of the Public Power Corporation’s workers’ union GENOP-PPC should face charges
of impeding the company’s operation and causing blackouts when its members went on
strike in March. A court of first instance prosecutor recommended less than three weeks
ago that no charges be brought because the union was merely exercising its right to strike.


Ecological Power Plant in Ikaria
16th May 2008 ΝΕΤ 105.8

Construction of the first environmentally friendly power production plant in Europe, with the
use of renewable energy sources, starts today in the Pezi Rahes region, on the island of
Ikaria. The construction of the Pilot Hybrid Hydro-Electric Plant of a total 20 million euros
budget is expected to be completed in two years and provide 100% of electricity in winter
months and 70% in summer months. Electricity need in the region is near 3.5 MW in winter
and 9MW in summer. The Greek state will cover 75% of the construction cost and the EU
25%. The plant will use both wind and flowing water from a near artificial dam while the
water will flow back to the dam.


Gas on market after split in strike
15th May 2008 ekathimerini

The process of supplying gas stations across Greece was due to begin yesterday after
tanker truck owners decided to break ranks with the owners of public service vehicles and
end a strike that had caused motorists serious problems.

The two groups were demanding from the government the right to increase their charges
by more than the 5 percent stipulated last month. The ruling conservatives have refused to
allow higher increases.

However, they conceded ground on a number of other issues, including allowing trucks to
travel on national roads on Fridays and tanker trucks to travel through tunnels. Both had
been banned for road safety reasons and the government's decision to reverse its position
prompted complaints from transport experts yesterday.

Gasoline should be widely available again after several days during which hardly any fuel
was available, but another round of strikes today is expected to cause more disruption,
particularly in the center of Athens.


OTE sale deal clinched -
Gov’t to share ownership, management of incumbent with D. Telekom
15th May 2008 ekathimerini

The government agreed yesterday to sell part of its stake in OTE telecom to Deutsche
Telekom and will share management of the former state monopoly in one of the largest
foreign investments to take place in Greece in recent years.
Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the Greek state and Deutsche Telekom would
each control 25 percent plus one share of OTE while the German company could raise its
holding.
The German group agreed to pay 29.75 euros for each OTE share, about 45 percent above
current prices, for 3 percent of the government’s holding in the company.
The minister said each side would control five seats on OTE’s 10-member board.
In March, Deutsche Telekom had agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in OTE from Marfin
Investment Group.
Greece has been struggling to attract foreign investors since French lender Credit Agricole
bought a majority stake in Emporiki Bank back in 2006. The OTE deal will also earn the
government 442 million euros which will go toward paying off the country’s large public debt.
The sale will only come into effect after it is approved by Parliament, where the
conservatives have a slim one-seat majority in the 300-member house


Gas Pumps Run Dry - Strike continues
13th May 2008 www.phantis.com

Fuel truck drivers decided to extend a strike that has left fuel pumps dry across the country
and disrupted transport until at least Wednesday.

The week-long strike has left the majority of gas pumps across Greece dry as drivers press
for higher distribution fees from the government.
Thousands of Greeks could be seen queuing outside the rare gas station which still had fuel
across the Greek capital.
Some queues could be seen stretching more than two kilometres and drivers were willing
to wait even as gas stations had set a limit of 20 euros per vehicle in order to serve more
cars.
Transport sector drivers are seeking increases in state regulated charges to offset
increases arising from soaring petrol prices.

Talks between unions and the government have failed to reach an agreement so far.
Truck drivers, including those transporting fuel and food supplies, have asked for a 13-per-
cent rise in distribution charges, while the government has agreed to a 5-per-cent hike.
Gas-station owners who were still supplied with petrol on Monday had reportedly upped
prices by as much as 35 per cent to take advantage of the high demand while press reports
said there were cases of stranded drivers stealing gasoline from parked vehicles.

The protest has also had an impact on food supplies as fruit producers, mainly from the
southern Mediterranean island of Crete, were unable to transport their goods.

The lack of fuel also forced many passenger ferries to the islands to be docked at the port
of Piraeus.


OTE DEAL - Green light expected on Thursday
13th May 2008 ekathimerini

An interministerial committee is expected to meet on Thursday to rubber-stamp the
government’s deal to sell 3 percent of its holding in OTE telecom to the German company
Deutsche Telekom, sources said yesterday. Government spokesman Theodoros
Roussopoulos indicated yesterday that New Democracy will demand that all its MPs vote in
favor of the agreement when it comes before Parliament, even though some have
expressed reservations.


Fun Run
12th May 2008 ekatherini

Some 25,000 people took part in the 25th annual Athens Fun Run yesterday, which was
dedicated to Greek mothers on the occasion of Mothers’ Day.


Olympic Airlines cancels more flights as pilots' action continues
10th May 2008 Associated Press

Greece's Olympic Airlines says it is canceling more flights and rescheduling others because
of a work-to-rule slowdown by a pilots' union.
The pilots are refusing any work beyond that strictly required by their contracts, and that
has forced dozens of flight cancelations over the past 10 days.
On Saturday, the majority state-owned airline announced it will cancel 14 domestic flights
on Sunday and 25 on Monday. Most of them are flights to Aegean Sea islands.
Olympic Airlines also says a Sunday international flight from Thessaloniki to Istanbul and
back will be canceled, and other flights will be rescheduled.
The pilots began the job action to protest the airline's demand that they fly more flights
each week than now required by their contracts


Sunflower oil contaminated
10th May 2008

Companies began recalling bottles of sunflower oil yesterday after it was discovered that a
batch imported into Greece had been contaminated with potentially harmful mineral oil.
Some 1,200 tons of sunflower oil were imported from Ukraine, possibly via Switzerland, by a
Greek company called Manos, which then refined the oil and sold it to a number of other
local firms, including Minerva, which announced yesterday that it was recalling 1, 2, 5 and
10 liter bottles of its sunflower oil. Minerva assured consumers that its other products are
safe.
Elais-Unilever followed Minerva in saying that it would withdraw its bottles of sunflower oil
from stores but assured consumers that it was only a precautionary measure. Elais
received some 250 tons of a batch of 935 tons of Ukrainian sunflower oil thought to have
been contaminated.
A second batch of oil that was imported by Manos is being examined as is a batch brought
in by another company, Agrotiki. Mineral oil, a by-product of the distillation of petroleum, can
be harmful, particularly for children, if swallowed.


Khat seizure – Briton arrested
10th May 2008 ekathimerini

A British national was arrested at Athens International Airport yesterday after being caught
in possession of 18 kilos of the drug khat, a stimulant produced from leaves grown in
African countries, such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, where its use is legal. The 53-year-
old had just arrived on a flight from London. A 43-year-old British man was arrested at
Athens airport in January after being caught with 14 kilos of khat. Police in Athens also said
yesterday that they had arrested a 26-year-old Albanian man in the city center after
catching him with more than 39 kilos of cannabis.


Vessel carrying 1,200 people docks at Milos after sustaining gash
9th May 2008 ekathimerini
A cruise ship carrying more than 1,200 people docked safely at the island of Milos yesterday
afternoon several hours after sustaining damage to its hull while departing from the Cretan
port of Iraklion. None of the 872 passengers or 407 crew aboard the Aquamarine were
injured. The ship’s captain reportedly contacted the Merchant Marine Ministry shortly after
the ship scraped against a pier while leaving Iraklion. The Aquamarine belongs to the Louis
Group which owns the Sea Diamond, a cruise liner that sank off Santorini last April after
hitting a reef. The Aquamarine had been bound for Santorini as well.


TAX Deadlines for submitting completed forms have begun this week
6th May 2008 ekathimerini

Hundreds of thousands of working and retired people have started preparing their income
tax forms as the first week of deadlines for submitting completed papers begins. The
deadline for submission of the forms depends on an individual’s tax registration number
(AFM). The first deadline – for those with an AFM ending in 1 – was yesterday and the final
deadline – for those with AFMs ending in 60, 70, 80, 90 and 00 – is June 2. Forms can be
presented at the local tax office, mailed by registered delivery or submitted online (www.
taxisnet.gr).  Also see here for important latest tax information.


Fires will get worse, experts say
6th May 2008 ekathimerini

Firefighting experts yesterday told an Athens seminar that Greece must take the necessary
measures to fight increasingly fierce blazes as temperatures rise and land dries out.
Interior Minister Pro-kopis Pavlopoulos told delegates that hundreds of illegal landfills
across the country are often the site of blazes, either accidental or intentional.
Pavlopoulos’s comments came hours after firefighters managed to control a large fire at
Attica’s main landfill, northwest of the capital. It is unclear whether the blaze, believed to
have started from four smaller fires, was caused by arsonists or by a methane explosion
triggered by the rotting garbage. There were no reports of injuries in the Ano Liosia blaze.
Pavlopoulos said the government had earmarked 35 million euros for the firefighting coffers
of local authorities.
Greek fires are expected to “increase in size and intensity” over the coming years,”
according to the country’s fire chief Atha-nassios Kontokostas


Man suspected of smuggling heroin in stomach ends up in Greek hospital
5th May 2008 Associated Press

Police say a Greek-Lebanese man suspected of swallowing heroin-filled capsules in a
smuggling attempt is in a hospital in Greece after some of the capsules burst in his stomach.
Police say the 44-year-old man swallowed more than a half-kilogram (1.1 pounds) of the
drug.
He fainted soon after arriving Sunday at Athens International Airport on a flight from Beirut
and was taken to hospital.
Police say surgeons removed 93 intact capsules from his stomach, containing a total of 514
grams (18 ounces) of heroin.
The man is under police guard in the hospital. Police also have arrested his 39-year-old wife


Arrested suspect runs away from police, hijacks a bus, kills bus driver
4th May 2008 Canadian Press

THESSALONIKI, Greece — A man arrested for stealing a wallet broke free of police, then
hijacked two cars and shot a bus driver to death in his effort to escape, police in the
northern Greek city of Thessaloniki said Saturday.
The 30-year old suspect, who police said was a drug addict with a lengthy record of thefts,
was eventually cornered in a furniture shop and arrested again, police said.
The Interior Ministry said six police officers have been charged with negligence.
The man was first arrested early Saturday afternoon, police said. But in the patrol car, he
stole an officer's gun that was lying within reach, threatened the officers and escaped,
police said.
According to police, the suspect then hijacked a car, but the driver drove it into a ditch. The
suspect hijacked another car, forced the driver out, and sped off with several police cars
giving chase, police said.
"I was just right outside my house, getting ready to leave, when he jumped in my car, put
the gun into my ribs and told me, 'Let's go,"' the driver, who was not identified, said on TV.
"A hundred meters down the road, he told me to get out."
After that, police said, the suspect boarded a bus, shot the 59-year-old driver to death,
smashed a window and climbed out.
Next, the suspect stole an unmarked police car, which he drove for a short distance before
getting out, police said.
He was cornered in a furniture shop, police said. A gunfight ensued, no one was injured,
and the man was re-arrested, police said.
A statement from the Interior ministry said that six policemen - two precinct captains, the
two patrol car policemen, and the two officers who had their unmarked car stolen - had
been suspended for "gross negligence in carrying out their duties."
An Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed the suspect had not been handcuffed in the
patrol car when he was first arrested and that a policeman's gun had been placed by the
hand brake, within easy reach of the suspect.


Rent reduction
3rd May 2008 ekathimerini

The Supreme Court has ruled that landlords should reduce the rents of tenants renting
homes or businesses if the owners do not maintain the properties. Sources said yesterday
that judges ruled in favor of a lawyer who asked for his rent to be reduced after the
property he was leasing was damaged and the landlord refused to pay the cost of repairs


AIR DISRUPTIONS
Hundreds stranded after protesting OA pilots ground domestic flights
3rd May 2008 ekathimerini

Hundreds of Olympic Airlines passengers were stranded at Athens International Airport
yesterday as 12 domestic flights were canceled with a further 20 due to be canceled by late
last night. OA's management blamed the union representing the pilots of planes used for
domestic flights - small twin-propeller aircraft - for the disruption. According to OA, the pilots
were not on strike but many claimed to be sick and an unusually large number of technical
problems with the planes were reported. The protesters reportedly object to the stance of
another union - representing pilots of modern jet aircraft - in negotiations for a collective
work contract


Shredder awaiting red tape
3rd may 2008 ekathimerini

Bureaucracy is the bane of the lives of many Greeks but the government said yesterday
that it aims to begin cutting back on red tape, which costs the equivalent of 6.8 percent of
the country’s annual gross domestic product.
The Economy and Finance Ministry has joined forces with the Interior Ministry, it was
announced yesterday, in a bid to reduce bureaucratic costs by a quarter over the next five
years.
This would help boost public coffers by 4 billion euros, according to government estimates,
as it would stimulate economic activity by increasing competitiveness and productivity.

Following a meeting yesterday between the relevant ministers and Prime Minister Costas
Karamanlis, it was revealed that a 631-million-euro program, called Politia, would be
implemented to reduce red tape.
The Politia scheme will focus on several key areas that include the simplification of
administrative processes, improving the legal framework, better training for civil servants,
the use of new technology in all branches of the public sector and the modernization of
Citizens’ Advice Bureaus (KEPs), which are one-stop shops for applicants to obtain a wide
range of paperwork needed for dealings with the public sector.
Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said that tackling bureaucracy was an
issue of “immense significance” for the general public.


Samaria Gorge Opens
2nd May 2008

The Samaria Gorge on Crete opened  to visitors today for the first time this year after
preparation work was completed. Extra staff will be hired over the next few weeks as
thousands of tourists are expected to trek through the gorge during the summer


Cavo Sidero - Foreign academics lead petition to stop huge tourism project on Crete
2nd May 2008 ekathimerini

Two academics, an American and a Briton, who are spearheading a petition opposing the
construction of a massive tourism complex in northwestern Crete, had managed to collect
nearly 6,000 signatures by yesterday. Oliver Rackham, of Cambridge University, and
Jennifer Moody, of the University of Texas, are trying to drum up support for their cause
ahead of next Friday when the Council of State is to hear the case of local residents and
ecologists against the Cavo Sidero project. Protesters argue that the project is
“unsustainable” as it will demand “huge quantities of water.”


Missing farmer in Crete
2nd May 2008 ekathimerini

A 51-year-old farmer who had been missing on Crete since last Friday was found dead in a
ravine near the village of Sassalo yesterday. Police said that it appears the man, who was
not named, lost control of his scooter and drove off the road. Officers said that his
disappearance was not reported until Wednesday morning, which hampered the search
operation. Authorities had called in a helicopter to help with their efforts.


May Day marches
2nd May 2008 ekathimerini

Workers took part in demonstrations in Athens yesterday as part of international Labor Day
celebrations against a backdrop of conflict arising among the country’s labor groups.
GSEE, which represents about 2 million private sector workers, called off its march after a
small group of workers affiliated with the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) gathered
outside GSEE’s offices and accused the umbrella group of failing to take proper action to
support worker rights.
“GSEE was created 90 years ago. Do we have to wait another 90 years before it does
something?” said a pamphlet handed out by the protesters, who also threw eggs at GSEE’s
offices.
In response to the incident, GSEE officials called off their march in order to avoid trouble
breaking out between its members and the SYRIZA-affiliated protesters.
Meanwhile, some 10,000 people took part in the march organized by the Communist Party-
affiliated PAME union to the US Embassy.
With banners reading “1,400 euros basic wage; no to compromising,” protesters took part
in a peaceful rally.


Taxi and bus fares to increase from 19th May
April 25th 2008 ekathimerini

The cost of traveling by bus and taxi will rise by 5 percent next month, it was agreed
yesterday, but cabbies vowed to press for further hikes in the near future.
Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis issued a statement saying that the price rises, which
also affect the charges for deliveries made by tanker trucks, were agreed upon as a result
of the spiraling cost of fuel.
“The rise in fuel prices is creating an extra burden for all professionals in the transport
sector,” said Hatzidakis. The measure means that the cost of KTEL intercity buses and taxis
will increase as of May 19.
Representatives of taxi driver unions said afterward that they were not particularly satisfied
by the amount of the increase but would accept it for now. Cabbies had been pushing for
an inflation-busting rise of more than 10 percent.


Greece not intending to lift its ban on cultivating genetically modified crops
24th April 2008 ekathimerini

Greece has no intention of lifting its ban on the cultivation of genetically modified (GM)
crops, Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos said yesterday. The minister
said Greece would renew its ban on GM maize produced by US biotech giant Monsanto and
would extend it to include 70 types of seed. Kontos said that data showed the genetically
modified organisms were “a potential threat to human health and to the beekeeping
industry.” He was speaking after Greenpeace activists protested outside the ministry,
claiming that recent random checks had revealed that some Greek farmers were preparing
to plant genetically modified cotton seeds.


Two injured after OA helicopter develops mechanical fault
23rd April 2008 ekathimerini

Two people, including a popular Greek singer, who had been aboard an Olympic Airlines
helicopter that disappeared from radar screens yesterday lunchtime were found safe near
Mount Parnitha later in the afternoon. The helicopter, which had taken off from Athens
International Airport, had been forced to make an emergency landing after suffering a
mechanical fault. Singer Costas Makedonas reportedly sustained a spinal injury and pelvic
fractures while the pilot suffered broken ribs. The pair had been flying in the area of Avlona
and Tatoi when the helicopter went off radar screens.


Firms bid to salvage shipwreck
23rd April 2008

The process of removing the sunken Sea Diamond cruise liner from Santorini’s caldera got
under way yesterday, more than a year after the ship foundered off the island’s coast, as
eight companies made bids for an international tender to salvage the 22,000-ton vessel.
A local port authority committee is to convene next Tuesday, after the Orthodox Easter
celebrations, to decide on how the offers by the various companies – Greek and foreign –
will be assessed.
Meanwhile, sources said that additional companies may throw their hats into the ring too.
Committee representatives said their aim is to move ahead with the best candidate as
quickly as possible so that the wreck can be raised without delay. They said that the fuel
leaking from the Sea Diamond wreck has been “controlled.”
Earlier this month residents of Santorini – one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations
– staged a protest on the anniversary of the cruise liner’s sinking, calling for the vessel to
be salvaged and all spilt fuel to be pumped out of the sea



Ship collision  - No passengers injured after empty vessel hits full ferry leaving Piraeus
22nd April 2008 ekathimerini

An empty passenger ferry conducting a trial journey crashed into the side of another ferry
leaving the port of Piraeus with 115 passengers on board yesterday evening but no one
was injured. The Rodanthi had just cast anchor, due to sail to the Cyclades, when the
Aeolos Express slammed into its bow for reasons that were unclear late yesterday.
Passengers disembarked and were due to board another ferry to their destinations later in
the evening. Two boats were dispatched to bring both vessels into port.



Forest Fires in Crete
21 April 2008 Source: ΝΕΤ 105.8

Air and ground forces have joined firefighters in the area of Orthouni, Crete, in an effort to
contain a forest fire that is ravaging the area, due to constant rekindlings.
Crete regional governor Nikos Barbarousis told NET radio station that the wild fire in Meskla
had been contained. However, a mountainous village was evacuated for precautionary
reason.
The wild fire in Lousakies has also been brought under control, while another in the area of
Analoukas, eastern Crete, has also been contained.



Euro causing drop in UK tourists to Greece
Hurriyet 17th April 2008
Greece expects a big drop in the number of tourists this year from Britain, its most frequent
visitors, because of the strong euro, Tourist Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos warned Tuesday.

Like other Mediterranean economies with major tourism, Greece was set to suffer from a
"financial crisis in Europe" and the euro's strength against the dollar, Spiliotopoulos told
journalists.

Tourism is Greece's most important industry after merchant shipping.

A busy international sports timetable this year, with the Olympic Games in Beijing and the
European Football Championship in Austria and Switzerland, also coincides with the tourist
season to Greece’s disadvantage.

Greeks expect a particular drop in the numbers arriving from Britain where the pound has
suffered heavily against the euro, the minister said. Greece is one of 15 members of the
euro zone.

Britain leads the number of foreign tourists to Greece every year, with some 16 percent of
overall numbers.

But he said there were positive signs from Germany, also a member of the euro zone.
Germans form the second largest number of tourists to Greece each year after Britain.



AIDS cases
17th April 2008 ekathimerini

A casual approach to AIDS means that there has not been a significant drop in the number
of people in Greece who are being infected, doctors said yesterday. “The messages we are
getting from the big disease treatment units around the country are disappointing because
it seems that the number of new AIDS cases being reported is growing,” said the head of
the Greek Society for the Study and Prevention of AIDS, Panayiotis Gargalianos. There was
a rise of 25 percent in 2005, which was repeated in 2006. Figures for 2007 show that the
number of people infected remained roughly the same.


Tax officials caught red-handed with bribe
17th April 2008 ektahimerini

Two tax officials were arrested in Patras yesterday after allegedly asking for a 30,000-euro
bribe from a businessman in order for him to avoid having to pay a fine, authorities said.
The businessman, who also heads a local business group, told authorities a clerk and a
manager at the tax office had accused him of failing to keep his books in order.
The two officials then asked for a 50,000-euro bribe so he could avoid a heavy penalty. A
few weeks later, the businessman contacted the tax office again, where he was told the
bribe would be lowered to 30,000 euros.
The man handed over the cash in marked bills and the police moved in and arrested the
two suspects. Authorities said they are searching for a third tax office official in connection
to the incident.


Britain presses on colleges
16th April 2008

Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis met yesterday with Britain Higher Education Minister
Bill Rammell, as Britain turns up the pressure on Greece to recognize qualifications obtained
by students at some of the country’s private colleges that collaborate with British
institutions.
It is the third time this year that the two men have met and, speaking at an event
organized by the Association of Greek Colleges, Rammell suggested that Greece had to do
more to ensure that the university franchise system operates smoothly. “It would be
suicidal for a British institution to enter into a cooperation of questionable quality with a
college if the high standards required are not met,” he said.
During his meeting with Stylianidis, Rammell raised the issue of the Greek public sector
automatically recognizing, as the private sector does, degrees obtained at British
Universities as being equivalent to Greek degrees.


Threats’ forced official to jump
16th April 2008 ekathimerini

Former Culture Minister general secretary Christos Zachopoulos believes that he was
blackmailed by a ring of at least four people that was led by his former assistant Evi
Tsekou, according to the ex-public official’s deposition.
Sources said that during his deposition over the last two weeks, Zachopoulos identified
Tsekou as the ringleader and named lawyers Dimitris Balerbas, Iraklis Koutelidas and
Christos Nikoloutsopoulos as accomplices in the alleged effort to blackmail him over a video
that showed him having sex with his assistant.
Tsekou and Nikoloutsopoulos have been remanded in custody over the allegations but
Koutelidas and Balerbas have yet to face questioning.
Zachopoulos allegedly told magistrate Dimitris Economou that Tsekou demanded 200,000
euros and a permanent position at the Culture Ministry in return for not making the video
public.
He also claimed that Balerbas and Koutelidas pretended that they would try to smooth
things over between Tsekou and Zachopoulos but were in fact trying to get favors out of
him.
Nikoloutsopoulos is alleged to have helped Tsekou come into contact with journalists with a
view to selling the video.
Zachopoulos claimed that he tried to commit suicide last December in a bid to stop his
alleged blackmailers from making the footage public after he heard rumors that the media
had got hold of the video.


Saudi attack
Second embassy car firebombed

A car belonging to a diplomat from Saudi Arabia was destroyed in an arson attack in
Gerakas, northeast of Athens, early yesterday. No one was injured in the attack which was
later claimed by a group calling itself “Anti-State Action.” The blast was the second in as
many days to target property of the Saudi Embassy. Monday’s blast was claimed by a group
calling itself “Subversive Cell.” The attacks are both believed to be in support of a suspect
implicated in a bank robbery last year who faces trial this week.


Hania arrests
14th April 2008 ekathimerini

Police arrested 28 people during an operation in the early hours of Saturday morning in
Hania, Crete. Officers stopped and searched almost 700 people and conducted checks on
dozens of stores and vehicles. Of those arrested 17 were Greeks and 11 were foreign
nationals. Police did not give details about the offenses the 28 were alleged to have
committed.



Child thrown from balcony
12th April 2008 ekathimerini

A 3-year-old boy was being treated at a hospital in Athens last night after allegedly being
thrown from the second-floor balcony of his parents’ apartment by a childminder.
The boy suffered head injuries and a broken leg after hitting the ground outside the block
of flats in the central Athens neighborhood of Aghios Panteleimonas. His life was not
reported to be in any danger.
The 27-year-old childminder, an unnamed Romanian national, was arrested. She allegedly
told police officers that she dropped the child from the balcony because his crying had
annoyed her.
The boy’s mother, who was working at a nearby grill house, rushed home after being
informed of the incident. The child’s father, a laborer, is currently in the hospital after being
injured in a workplace accident.



Hania Robbers use assault rifle for holdup, injure 2 bystanders and an employee
11th April 2008 ekathimerini

Two bank robbers in Hania, Crete, fired more than a dozen shots and injured three people
as they made a getaway after holding up a branch of Piraeus Bank in the city. The raid
occurred at about 2 p.m. when a man wearing a crash helmet walked into the bank armed
with an AK-47 assault rifle. He ordered staff to hand over an unspecified amount of cash
while his accomplice waited outside on a scooter. One robber used the butt of a gun to
strike a couple outside the bank before the assailants sped off. A bank employee
attempted to stop the robbers but they shot at and injured him. They also fired 12 times at
a patrol car that unsuccessfully tried to stop them.


Another Crete Earthquake
AFP 11th April 2008

An undersea earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale shook the southern Greek
island of Crete early on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries,
the Athens Observatory said.
The quake had an epicentre north of the island capital of Iraklio, 275 kilometres (171 miles)
south of Athens, and struck at 2:14 a.m. (2314 GMT).
“The tremor is part of the area’s usual seismic activity...and should be no cause for
concern,” geology professor Efthymios Lekkas told state TV NET.
Greece experiences more seismic activity than any other European country.


British Tourists sentenced in Cyprus
11th April  AFP

Two young British tourists found guilty of complicity to manslaughter for the hit-and-run
death of a Greek-Cypriot teenager were sentenced to three years in jail yesterday. Michael
Binnington, 21, and Luke Atkinson, 22, from Essex, southeast England, did not appear
before the high court in Nicosia but Cypriot authorities are seeking to bring them back to
the island. A Cyprus arrest warrant has been issued, with a European warrant to follow.


Coach denies doping Greek weightlifters - Iakovou blames Chinese company
10th April 2008 ekathimerini

Suspended national weightlifting coach Christos Iakovou yesterday protested his
innocence, insisting that he did not knowingly give 11 weightlifters banned substances.
Iakovou appeared before a Greek Weightlifting Federation disciplinary committee as part of
an investigation into how 11 of the 13 members of the national team failed doping tests in
March.
Sources said Iakovou submitted a written statement insisting he did not give the
weightlifters any substances without the federation’s approval. He blamed the Chinese
company that allegedly supplied what he thought were approved food supplements for the
mix-up. Iakovou said he was also prepared to face questioning as part of the judicial
investigation. “Whatever I have to say, I will tell the court when I am called to give
evidence,” he said. “My father taught me to love sports, ancient Greece and to always tell
the truth. That’s what I did today: I told the truth.”
Iakovou’s lawyer has claimed the Chinese firm has already accepted responsibility for
sending tainted food supplements.
A Larissa-based food supplement importer, Panayiotis Katselos, backed this version of the
story. He claimed yesterday that Iakovou asked him to source some amino acids. Katselos
said he ordered the supplements from a Chinese firm over the Internet.
Chinese authorities, however, were continuing investigations and were “willing to
cooperate with Greece to get to the truth of the situation,” Jiang added.
Meanwhile, Asterios Deliyiannis, vice president of the Greek anti-doping organization
(ESKAN), tendered his resignation yesterday at the request of Culture Minister Michalis
Liapis. Deliyiannis had suggested this week that a number of other athletes had failed
drugs tests and that their names would be revealed at a press conference.
Deliyiannis was deemed to have ignored protocol, which requires the relevant federations
to be notified first. He also suggested some Greek cyclists had tested positive for drugs, but
this was denied yesterday by ESKAN president Pavlos Papadopoulos


Firecrackers found
9th April 2008 ekathimerini

Police arrested a man in Argos, eastern Peloponnese, after finding 1,250 firecrackers in his
car. A further inspection of his home uncovered 6,000 additional fireworks, which were all
confiscated, police added. The unidentified suspect was taken to a local police station for
questioning. Firecrackers are let off at Easter celebrations around the country, often
causing serious injuries. Police crack down on the illegal trade in fireworks in the lead-up to
the Easter holiday


Taxpayer resorts to arms to settle claim
8th April 2008 ekathimerini

A 50-year-old man fed up with bureaucratic delays at the tax office took the law into his
own hands yesterday and forced the manager to settle his matter while holding him at
gunpoint, police said.
The taxpayer, armed with a loaded hunting rifle, stormed into the manager’s office at the
tax office in Tripolis, in the Peloponnese, locked himself and the manager in an office and
demanded that his outstanding tax business be settled.
Police were notified, and, after evacuating the building, encircled it.
Shortly afterward, the gunman gave himself up without anyone being hurt.
He has been charged with disturbing the peace, illegal gun possession and threatening
physical harm.


EMERGENCY LANDING
EasyJet Boeing, carrying 123 people, returns to Athens safely
8th April 2008 ekathimerini

An easyJet Boeing 737 carrying 123 passengers on an Athens-London flight malfunctioned
shortly after takeoff late on Sunday and returned to Athens for an emergency landing.
Authorities say the pilot of easyJet flight 2002, bound for Luton Airport in England, reported
a problem with one engine shortly after takeoff at 11.05 p.m. and asked for an emergency
landing. The plane landed safely at Athens airport where rescue workers where on standby.


Underworld hit in Hania
7th April 2008 ekathimerini

Police said yesterday a 25-year-old Iranian man had been killed in Hania, Crete, after being
shot in the back of the head. Authorities said the man was killed as part of criminal activity
in the area and questioned about 15 suspects in connection to the murder.


Sea Diamond - One year on, Santorini protest
5th April 2008 ekathimerini

Residents in Santorini will gather today to demand the removal of the sunken Sea Diamond
ferry that still contains hundreds of tons of fuel, exactly one year after the cruise ship sunk
off the popular island. Boat owners and local fisherman will hold a protest at sea to demand
the removal of the ship, that poses a serious ecological threat to the area. Louis Hellenic
Cruises, the owner of the Sea Diamond, has said its insurance will not cover the cost of a
salvage operation, as the ferry operator was not responsible for the accident. The operator
has blamed inaccurate maps for the ship running aground on a reef.


DNA sheds light on Minoans
3rd April 2008 ekathimerini

Crete’s fabled Minoan civilization was built by people from Anatolia, according to a new
study by Greek and foreign scientists that disputes an earlier theory that said the Minoans’
forefathers had come from Africa.
The new study – a collaboration by experts in Greece, the USA, Canada, Russia and Turkey
– drew its conclusions from the DNA analysis of 193 men from Crete and another 171 from
former neolithic colonies in central and northern Greece.
The results show that the country’s neolithic population came to Greece by sea from
Anatolia – modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria – and not from Africa as maintained by US
scholar Martin Bernal.
The DNA analysis indicates that the arrival of neolithic man in Greece from Anatolia coincided
with the social and cultural upsurge that led to the birth of the Minoan civilization,
Constantinos Triantafyllidis of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University told Kathimerini.
“Until now we only had the archaeological evidence – now we have genetic data too and
we can date the DNA,” he said.


Couples law not for gays
2nd April 2008 ekathimerini

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said yesterday that the government is not intending to
extend its plans for a cohabitation law to homosexuals as well as unmarried couples.
Hatzigakis plans for a law to give partners who live together the same rights as a married
couple just by signing a standard notarial contract have proved controversial.
The Church of Greece’s Holy Synod responded by labeling any form of union other than that
of a married couple as “prostitution,” even though Archbishop Ieronymos had already given
his consent to the law being enacted.
A committee was set up last week to also look at the possibility of extending the rights to
gay couples, prompting reaction, particularly from the Church.
However, Hatzigakis said yesterday that the cohabitation law would only apply to straight
couples and not gay ones.
The minister told Parliament that the imminent law aims particularly to protect children that
are born to unmarried couples. A growing number of couples are choosing cohabitation over
marriage and 120,000 babies (5 percent of the annual total) are born out of wedlock.
Unmarried mothers face “major problems,” Hatzigakis observed, noting that the new law
would grant them all the social benefits that their married counterparts enjoy.


DASSIN BURIAL
Film director to be buried next to wife at Athens’s First Cemetery today
2nd April 2008

The burial of film director Jules Dassin is due to take place at Athens’s First Cemetery today.
Dassin died in Athens on Monday night at the age of 96. Greece became Dassin’s adopted
homeland after he married Greek actress and later Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri.
Dassin will be buried next to Mercouri, who died in 1994. “Greece mourns the loss of a rare
person, an important creator and a real friend,” said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in a
statement. “We mourn the loss of a first-generation Greek who along with his partner, the
dear departed Melina Mercouri, never ceased to show his love for everything important and
real that was born in the country.”

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News Archive
in Crete & Greece
April & May 2008