|Copyright © 2004-2017 All rights reserved. Carol Palioudaki Living in Crete www.livingincrete.net
|Living in Crete
|Deadly Ambush In Sougia
26th February 2009 Haniotika Nea
A deadly ambush took place late yesterday afternoon in East Selino in the municipality of Sougia ,
south of Chania. A gunman on the road near the village of Livadi began shooting indiscriminately at
passing cars. A 48 year old man Eftichis Zampiakis was found dead in his car near Sougia. After
apparently being hit by the gunmen, he'd carried on driving before collapsing. Another victim, who
was shot in the face and shoulder, was transferred to Hania hospital in a serious condition. A third
car was hit but the drive escaped injury.
The offender ran off but was identified as a local 23 year old man, who works as a guard at Chania
courthouse. Police apprehended the suspect later in the evening and said he appeared to be
suffering from psychological problems.
26th February 2009 ekathimerini
Two vans parked outside the premises of a company that services air-conditioning systems in
Hania, Crete, were completely destroyed in an explosion early yesterday. Police said that an
explosive device, possibly containing dynamite, was placed under one of the vehicles. The firm’s
windows were also damaged in the attack, as was a lawyer’s office and a house nearby. A
municipal vehicle also suffered minor damage. Meanwhile in Iraklion, a blast destroyed a car and
damaged two other vehicles. The windows of two homes and a shop were also smashed. Police
did not comment on any possible motives for the attacks.
New Crete airport to open in 2014
25th February 2009 ANA- MPA
A new airport in Kastelli, Heraklion on the large island of Crete, is scheduled to open in 2014,
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said during a meeting with
local administration officials in Irakleio, Crete on Tuesday.
Tenders will be considered in May and a contractor will undertake the 1.2-million-euro project by
the end of the year. Construction of a new road linking the airport with the north and south road
axes on Crete will be included in related infrastructure projects.
The airport, auxiliary facilities and infrastructure will cover an area of 600 hectares, including a 3.8-
km-long runway to accommodate large aircraft and meet the island's needs in air transportation.
Roughly 1,000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, while 2,500 people
will be employed as airport staff.
Thirty major projects with a total budget of 500 million euros are currently under scheduled for
Terror group now targeting journalists
23rd February 2009 ekathimerini
The terrorist group Sect of Revolutionaries on Saturday claimed responsibility for an armed attack
on the premises of private television station Alter last Tuesday and issued a new proclamation, this
time vowing to target journalists.
In the proclamation published in Ta Nea, the group said that journalists were “no longer
untouchable.” An extract of the proclamation reads: “Let the slugs of media journalism be aware
that apart from the mucus they leave behind... soon they will also shed blood.” The proclamation
describes the attack on Alter TV as “an ultimatum to all journalists.”
“This time we came to your door, next time you will find us in your homes,” it said. In its first
proclamation, the group, claiming an attack on a Korydallos police station earlier this month, said it
was avenging the fatal police shooting of a teenager in December. Its new proclamation describes
the first two attacks as “a prelude of what will follow.”
The development comes as police struggle to trace the perpetrators of an attempted attack
against the Citibank headquarters north of Athens last week. The more established Revolutionary
Struggle is believed to have planted the 60 kilos of explosives in a car outside the bank.
Greek government criticised over prison break
23rd February 2009 Reuters
The helicopter escape of Greece's most notorious prisoner for the second time in three years has
dealt a new blow to the conservative government, still reeling from riots and a ratings slump.
The government, which has seen its popularity decline amid the world financial crisis, sacked three
justice ministry officials and arrested three guards over the spectacular escape but drew scorn
comments from the media and opposition parties.
The main opposition demanded the justice minister's resignation after Vassilis Palaiokostas, 44,
and his Albanian accomplice Alket Rijai staged the getaway.
Palaiokostas was serving a sentence for robbery and kidnapping when he first escaped with Rijai
in 2006 in a helicopter. He was arrested again in August and accused for organising the kidnap of
He was due in court to face charges over the first escape on Monday. But on Sunday, a helicopter
approached the roof of Greece's maximum security prison, threw down a rope ladder and whisked
the two convicts away as prison guards watched.
Police found the pilot in the helicopter in a northern Athens suburb but there was no trace of the
fugitives. He said he was hijacked by three people who had hired the helicopter.
Media asked how it was possible for two prisoners in isolation to stage such an escape. A public
prosecutor has asked for an investigation into prison employees' bank accounts.
Homeless figures up as crisis bites
20th February 2009 ekathimerini
The impact of the financial crisis has resulted in thousands more people becoming homeless in
Greece, chiefly in Athens, where an estimated 9,000 people have no fixed abode.
According to figures made public by the European Observatory on Homelessness, the number of
homeless people now exceeds 20,000, compared to 17,000 a year ago. A breakdown of the 2007
figures referred to around 1,000 sleeping rough on an almost permanent basis, 2,000 residing at
hostels run by the Orthodox Church or nongovernment organizations, another 2,000 living in
abandoned houses while some 8,000 are described as asylum-seeking foreigners.
There are fears that many more homeless are not accounted for in these statistics. “Of course, not
all homeless people, particularly youngsters, are registered as such,” Vassiliki Tzanakou of the NGO
Homeless Support told Kathimerini. “These are the invisible homeless people who have not quite
hit rock bottom but do not have far to go,” she added. According to Tzanakou, many of these
people are on the street because they have fallen into excessive debt or have had their homes
repossessed as they have been unable to keep up with mortgage payments as the financial crisis
Experts say that although immigrants account for a large proportion of homeless people, an
increasing number of Greeks are joining their ranks. Many of the young and old homeless people
on the streets are believed to have suffered family problems, while others claim not to have any
family at all. Some are believed to have mental problems.
Bomb found outside Citibank in Athens
19th February 2009 Reuters
Greek police are investigating a failed bomb attack at Citibank's (C.N) headquarters in Athens on
Wednesday, hours after gunmen shot at a television station in what appeared to be the latest
outbreak of left-wing violence.
Police carried out a controlled explosion on a car left in the car park of Citibank's offices. The car
contained a home-made explosive device. The timer had failed. Police were alerted by a security
guard who spotted three men breaking into the car park.
The anti-terrorist squad is investigating links to militant groups which have launched a wave of
attacks since the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy in December sparked Greece's worst riots in
decades and rocked the fragile conservative government.
"It is the first time such a device is used in Greece," said a police official who declined to be named.
"It seems a part of it was missing and this may explain why it did not go off immediately."
Last week, unknown arsonists targeted the offices of Greece's anti-terrorism prosecutor, a former
minister and a Supreme Court magistrate, causing only minor damage.
Alter Private Television Hit
18th February 2009 ERT
Gunmen opened fire at the premises housing Alter private television in Athens on Tuesday evening.
According to flash indications, the four gunmen opened fire at the cars in the parking lot and hurled
an object, probably an improvised explosive device which did not went off. The hit caused damage
only. All political parties blasted the attack.
Wearing helmets, the assailants approach the channel's premises from the rear, when a technician
was exiting the place.
They told him to go away and then hurled an object, resembling to a beer bottle, at the parking
They also opened fire at the cars, causing damage to four of them. They then vanished into thin air
on their motorbikes.
Both the government and the political parties condemned the attack.
18th February 2009 ekathimerini
A 32-year-old male model believed to have been the final intended recipient of 4 kilos of cocaine
smuggled into the country last week arrived in Athens late on Monday after Bulgarian authorities
responded to an extradition request by their Greek counterparts. The well-known model had been
stopped at Sofia International Airport with someone else’s passport. It is thought that he had
intended to flee to Dubai.
Watchdog says bribes in Greece increased in 2008
17th February 2009 Associated Press
A global watchdog says Greece has failed to reduce corruption, with an estimated €750 million
($950 million) paid in bribes in 2008 in both the public and private sectors.
The Greek branch of Transparency International says that was €110 million ($140 million) higher
than in 2007.
Spokesman Costas Bakouris said Tuesday the majority of bribes — 60 percent of the total — are
related to doctor's fees, tax evasion and building permits.
Bakouris urged the government to enforce existing laws and create an anti-corruption task force
answerable to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
In 2008, Greece ranked 57 out of 180 countries — with Somalia 180th — in Transparency
International's Corruption Perception Index.
Quake shakes southwest Greece, no casualties
17th February Reuters
An earthquake shook parts of southwestern Greece Tuesday but there were no immediate reports
of casualties or damage, police said.
The quake measured 5.4 on the Richter scale and struck just after 1 a.m. (2300 GMT), said the
Athens Geodynamic Institute. Police said the epicentre was south of the island of Zakynthos in the
17th February 2009 ekathimerini
A government initiative aimed at training the parents of primary school-aged children to use the
Internet safely gets under way this week. Parents of more than 330,000 primary school pupils are
entitled to register for the free initiative, which includes home learning courses, administered by
visiting teachers, and e-learning courses conducted over the Internet. More information about the
drive can be found at www.goneis.gr.
16th February 2009 ekathimerini
Hundreds of protesters took part in a demonstration in central Athens on Saturday demanding the
release of all those arrested during December’s unrest in the capital. During the protest, which had
a strong leftist presence, organizers said that dozens of people are being kept in custody unjustly
and that it is unjustifiable for 18 suspects to be facing trial based on anti-terror laws. There was a
heavy police presence around Parliament, the scene of heavy clashes in December. The rally ended
16th February 2009 ekathimerini
The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) said on Saturday that the breakfast cereal Chocolate Crunch
Muesli, sold by Lidl supermarkets in Greece, and produced by the British firm Mulder Natural Foods,
is being withdrawn from the market after chemical substances from the packaging were found in
the product itself. The food safety watchdog advised consumers against eating the cereal, as there
are no data about whether the substances found in the cereal pose a health risk.
Greece increases taxes on tobacco and alcohol
12th February 2009 Associated Press
Greece's conservative government said Thursday it would hike taxes on tobacco and alcohol to
compensate for easing taxation on the self-employed.
Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said the cigarette tax would rise from 75 to 80 percent,
and the tax on alcoholic drinks — except for wine — would increase by 20 percent. Greeks are
among the heaviest smokers in the European Union.
The ministry has reversed a decision to abolish a euro10,500 ($13,400) tax-free income limit for
Last week, the Economy Ministry scaled down Greece's 2009 growth forecast to 1.1 percent from
2.7 percent as a result of the global crisis, and said budget deficits would exceed EU limits for the
next two years.
Papathanassiou said the government would cut spending and slash hiring in most of the public
sector apart from health and education in an effort to restrain the deficit, which is expected to have
reached 3.7 percent in 2008 — compared with the budget forecast of 2.5 percent.
Greek police report series of firebomb attacks
12th February 2009 Associated Press
Suspected anarchists carried out a dozen firebombings Thursday, targeting the homes and offices
of a top anti-terrorism prosecutor, a prominent politician and judge, in attacks that heightened
concern over the police's ability to deal with escalating political violence in Greece.
Authorities said one person suffered minor injuries during the firebomb attacks that occurred in
Athens, all using makeshift bombs made with camping gas canisters.
The attacks did not cause serious damage, police said, but most were carried out in daylight — in a
brazen departure from the arsonists' usual pattern of nighttime strikes. There was no claim of
responsibility for the attacks, identical in type to ones frequently carried out by local anarchist
groups against symbols of state authority, banks and cars. Arrests are rare.
Thursday's attacks were carried out at the home of Dimitris Papangelopoulos, a senior prosecutor
in charge of terrorist offenses and organized crime, and the office of former Socialist Foreign
Minister Theodoros Pangalos, as well as the offices of a communist daily newspaper.
Also targeted were a prosecutor and lawyer involved in the appeal trial of Greece's deadliest
terrorist group, November 17. The far-left group is blamed for 23 killings and numerous bombings
in Athens between 1975 and 2002. The appeal ended in 2007 with judges upholding convictions
for 13 group members.
1.5kg Heroin Haul in Hania
11th February 2009 Haniotika Nea
In one of the largest cases of hard drugs trafficking in Chania, police yesterday discovered 1.5kg of
heroin and arrested a family of four Albanian nationals, one of whom is a 16 year old minor.
The 16 year old, who was driving his father's car without a licence, was stopped in a routine traffic
check. Police then discovered 100 grams of heroin in the car. Further investigation at the family
home in Perivolia led to the discovery of another 1,395 grams of heroin. The 16 year old plus his
older brother and parents were arrested.
Talks with MIG over OA
11th February 2009 ANA-MPA
The Greek government and Marfin Investment Group (MIG) on Tuesday officially launched
negotiations over the sale of Olympic Airlines. The first phase of the talks included the state’s
advisors in the sale and MIG’s representatives and mainly cover technical issues related with MIG’s
interest in a procedure to buy the national carrier.
Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, responsible for the privatization of Olympic Airlines,
recently commented that an invitation to participate in the privatization procedure was open to any
investor. Transport and Communications Minister Euripides Stylianides speaking to reporters, on
Tuesday, expressed his optimism over the outcome of the negotiations.
Marfin Investment Group, in its statement expressing its interest in buying the national carrier has
said that if negotiations were successfully completed it would offer an option to the Greek state to
repurchase Olympic Airlines within three months after the next general elections in the country and
has stressed it was open to cooperate with any other investor interested in the sale, or even
withdraw from the procedure if another serious candidate were to appear.
PM to decide on polls next month
10th February 2009 ekathimerini
With pressure on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis mounting as top-ranking ministers clash over
the government’s strategy for tackling the impact of the global financial crisis, sources have told
Kathimerini that the premier is awaiting certain anticipated developments next month before
deciding upon his course of action.
According to well-informed sources, Karamanlis’s decision will be influenced by the National
Statistics Service’s forecast on unemployment rates, the decisions by the council of the European
Union’s finance ministers (Ecofin) about whether to put Greece under supervision, the first
indications regarding tourism activity as well as the findings of opinion polls regarding citizens’
Several high-ranking ND cadres are reportedly concerned that the trend of mass redundancies
across Europe will spread to Greece. Another worry is the outlook for the tourism industry, which
accounts for about one-fifth of Greece’s gross domestic product. With the impact of the financial
crisis delaying early bookings, experts think it will be at least another month before any reliable
forecasts can be made regarding this year’s tourism activity.
Karamanlis is expected to await developments on all these fronts before deciding on whether to
bite the bullet and go for early elections or to hold out for 2011, when polls are due but by which
time the repercussions of the global crisis could be far worse.
10th February 2009 ekathimerini
A presidential decree setting out the terms and conditions for the introduction of cremation in
Greece will be published by the end of the month, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told
Parliament yesterday. Pavlopoulos said the decree took a year to prepare as it presupposes the
creation of a new institution in Greece and the settlement of certain issues regarding the
protection of the environment. A law paving the way for cremation facilities to be built in Greece
was approved by the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, last September.
9th February 2009 ekathimerini
A cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert engulfed much of Attica on Saturday, causing problems for
those with breathing difficulties. The dust, which usually arrives in the spring, came early this year
due to unseasonably early southerly winds. Yesterday the dust cloud had moved on to Crete, the
Peloponnese and Epirus.
CAVO SIDERO - Court to hear appeal next month
7th February 2009 ekathimerini
The Council of State, Greece highest administrative court, is due to meet on March 5 to assess
whether the construction of a large tourist resort in Cavo Sidero, Crete, should go ahead or be
canceled. Protesters claim that the project – which would comprise five holiday villages, a string of
luxury hotels and three golf courses – would damage the environment and be a heavy drain on
water resources. British property developer Minoan Group (formerly Loyalward Limited) is planning
to invest 1.2 billion euros in the project, which has been approved by the government.
‘Disturbed’ officer remanded
7th February 2009 ekathimerini
A 37-year-old policeman who on Wednesday shot a private security guard outside the home of the
US ambassador in Athens, was yesterday transferred to the psychiatric unit of Korydallos jail after
appearing before an investigating magistrate on charges of attempted murder.
Meanwhile police revealed that US Embassy officials had made three requests to the head of their
local police station to replace the 37-year-old. Citing concern at the policeman’s “unusual
behavior,” the officials had asked the chief of Ambelokipi police station to provide a replacement to
guard the residence of Ambassador Daniel Speckhard, police sources said.
During his 30-minute deposition before a magistrate yesterday, the 37-year-old allegedly claimed
to have fired his gun in the air after being startled at the sight of the armed security guard walking
The lawyer representing the policeman said that his client’s mental health had deteriorated in the
past 24 hours.
The policeman’s mother, who also testified yesterday, confirmed that her son had seen a
psychiatrist a few days before the shooting and had been taking medication, but she did not clarify
what kind. In her deposition, she allegedly said that her son had been suffering from anxiety since
1996 when the now disbanded November 17 carried out a rocket attack against the US Embassy.
“He was scared that he would be targeted,” she was cited as saying. “He would say, ‘Mother, they’
re going to kill me,’” she added.
The mother expressed her regret to the relatives of the 29-year-old security guard shot in
Wednesday’s attack who yesterday underwent an operation for the removal of a bullet from his
Farmers return to Crete ‘vindicated’
4th February 2009 ekathimerini
Hundreds of Cretan farmers were on their way home last night after a second day of clashes with
riot police at the port of Piraeus that included two top-ranking PASOK officials getting sprayed with
Yesterday’s unrest erupted when police blockading the port tried to restrain a new boatload of
about 100 farmers who had arrived to support their fellow Cretans. Riot police fired tear gas to
keep back protesters wielding wooden bats, shepherd’s crooks and other improvised weapons.
Opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who arrived at the port in an unscheduled visit to
talk with protesting farmers, got a bit of a surprise himself when he was engulfed in tear gas.
Blinking through the smog, he told farmers that the Socialists supported the farmers. “The
government doesn’t want to talk or listen to your demands,” he said. Earlier in the afternoon
Piraeus Prefect Yiannis Michas, who is affiliated with PASOK, threatened to take legal action after
allegedly receiving a faceful of tear gas himself. “They sprayed me in the face at a distance of 15
centimeters while I was trying to tell them that the PASOK leader was on his way,” Michas said.
Police tactics were the subject of a tense exchange in Parliament, with PASOK calling for the
resignation of three top Interior Ministry officials and the government condemning the opposition
party for exploiting the unrest for its own political gain.
As for the farmers, they said they were returning to Crete with their “heads held high,” despite
failing to receive assurances from the government regarding their subsidies. But unionists claimed
to have “won over the public.” On Crete, thousands of islanders were said to be preparing a hero’s
welcome for the returning farmers.
Greek police shoot security guard outside U.S. embassy in Athens
4th February 2009 The Canadian Press
A Greek police officer shot and seriously wounded a private security guard outside the U.S.
Embassy in central Athens today.
The Brinks Security employee, hired by the embassy, was shot outside the U.S. ambassador's
residence next to the embassy building in central Athens. The 31-year-old Greek national suffered
a gunshot wound to the neck and is in serious condition at a nearby hospital.
Police and U.S. embassy officials have ruled out terrorism but Greek authorities say the shooting
did not appear to have been accidental, as initially believed.
Police say the 38-year-old police officer who pulled the trigger has no prior history of misconduct
and has been taken into custody for questioning.
U.S. embassy officials say they are working with Greek authorities to investigate the shooting.
The U.S. embassy is one of the most heavily guarded sites in the Greek capital.
The building was targeted in a terrorist attack in 2007. A far-left domestic militant group claimed
responsibility for firing a rocket-propelled grenade.
Police come under fire again - Revolutionary Struggle suspected in armed attack on Korydallos
station, the third of its type since December.
4th February 2009 ekathimerini
An armed attack at dawn yesterday on a police station in the Athens suburb of Korydallos in which
two officers narrowly escaped being shot, was likely the work of the Revolutionary Struggle
terrorist group, which has already targeted law enforcement twice in the last 40 days, sources said.
According to police, three armed men wearing hoods opened fire on the police station at 4.15 a.m.
Two officers were guarding the building at the time. One sought cover inside the station, while the
other dived into a guard post.
The assailants also threw a grenade, which did not explode, before they left the scene.
The attack is reminiscent of a January 5 raid on three riot police officers who were guarding the
Culture Ministry in Exarchia, which left one of them seriously injured.
Revolutionary Struggle has claimed that attack as well as a strike against a police bus on
December 23 in which there were no injuries.
However, police said that the weapons used in yesterday’s attack had not been used in any crime
before. At least 19 shots were fired, three of which hit the guard post, but the two guns used were
not those that have been connected to previous Revolutionary Struggle strikes.
In its proclamation following that strike, Revolutionary Struggle made it clear that it intended to
continue targeting the police as a result of the killing of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos by an officer
on December 6.
Sources said that police are treating this latest attack as the work of Revolutionary Struggle but
are not ruling out the possibility that it was the work of a splinter or copycat group
Greek riot police quell farmer protest
February 2 2009 The Financial Times
Riot police took over the port of Piraeus on Monday to stop about 1,200 olive oil producers from the
island of Crete from driving tractors into central Athens, as protests by farmers moved into a third
A Socialist opposition member of parliament was slightly injured when police fired tear gas at a
group of farmers trying to break through a dockside barrier.
“We came to Athens to pursue our rights but the police blocked us from holding a peaceful
demonstration, so we will stay here,” said a farmers’ representative.
The arrival of the Cretans with more than 200 tractors transported by coastal ferries, threatened a
renewal of unrest after most protests ran out of steam at the weekend.
Cretan producers are demanding a larger share of a proposed €500m government support
package to compensate growers for crop damage and falling commodity prices.
Sotiris Hatzigakis, Greece’s farm development minister, on Monday presented the package in
Brussels for approval by the European Commission.
In Crete – the largest and wealthiest Greek island that exports olive oil worldwide – protesters on
Monday blocked the main west-east highway and surrounded the regional governor’s office in the
Producer prices for high-quality olive oil have fallen to about €1.80 a kilo from €3 last year,
according to farmers.
The stand-off in Piraeus paralysed coastal shipping operations to Crete and several Aegean
islands. The farmers said they would remain in the port after reaching a deal with ferry operators
to stay aboard ships overnight.
EU still waiting for details of Greek farm aid
31st January2009 Reuters
The European Commission said on Friday it needed more details from Greece on a planned 500
million euros ($654 million) of aid to farmers before making any decision about whether it complied
with EU rules.
It can declare the payments illegal and ultimately insist they are paid back.
The Greek government offered the aid on products such as cotton and wheat to farmers on
Thursday after they blockaded roads in protest at slumping commodity prices.
The farmers want higher subsidies and tax rebates to compensate for the slump.
"There is not enough information now to determine what it is. We are waiting for Greece to provide
that information before taking a decision," Commission spokesman Michael Mann said.
"There have been contacts on an informal level between staff in (the Commission) and officials in
the Greek agriculture ministry," he added.
The blockades, which have caused travel chaos across Greece and angered Bulgaria, have shaken
a conservative government struggling to cope with the economic slump and recover from the worst
riots in decades last month.
Greek Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis defended the aid package on Thursday, saying it does
not break EU state aid rules.
The minister is scheduled to meet EU Commission officials on Wednesday next week.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; writing by Mark John)
Farmers are standing their ground in Crete and said they would not budge until the government
had made more specific proposals relating to their products.
Drug death fuels university immunity debate
31st January 2009 ekathimerini
A 26-year-old woman was found dead of a drugs overdose in the grounds of one of Thessaloniki’s
Aristotle University faculties on Wednesday night, fueling debate about the exploitation of
university immunity for illegal and dangerous activities.
The woman’s body was found by guards on the site of the university’s theological faculty alongside
that of a male companion who was unconscious, also due to drugs. It was unclear whether either
were students. The man recovered. The woman is believed to have died after taking a cocktail of
drugs but a coroner had yet to issue a verdict by late yesterday.
According to the university’s rector, Anastassios Manthos, there is a problem with youngsters
taking drugs on faculty grounds, though he said fatal overdoses were rare. He said the university
had seen a surge in crime which he described as a “byproduct of the social unrest in December.”
The dean of the university’s technical faculty was more outspoken, describing the university
grounds as “in a state of total lawlessness.” “Things cannot go on like this – the university cannot
be a place where the law ceases to apply,” said Nikos Mousiopoulos. He added that the university
senate had discussed the need for order to be imposed in the institution’s faculties.
31st January 2009 ekathimerini
A doctor who holds a senior position in a welfare organization for disabled children as well as a
businessman have been remanded in custody after being charged with involvement in a child
pornography racket that had been operating over the Internet. It was unclear whether the racket
was the same as the ring busted earlier this week in which an Orthodox priest and two doctors as
well as several businessmen have been implicated.
Pirates kill Greek ship captain off Cameroon
27th January ekathimerini
The captain of a Greek-owned, Cameroon-flagged trawler was killed on Saturday while trying to
repel an attack by pirates off the coast of Cameroon, the Merchant Marine Ministry said.
According to the ministry, Theodoros Mastaloudis was shot at by gunmen aboard one of two
vessels that closed in on his ship and another Greek trawler off Douala, Cameroon's largest city.
The remaining crew members of the two ships, including another Greek, were safe.
Several other Greek vessels have recently come under attack from pirates, particularly off the coast
of Somalia. Early this month, seamen aboard a Greek-flagged crude oil tanker fought off pirates'
attempts to board the ship off Somalia with the help of a European Union force. In October, a
Greek tanker carrying chemicals was seized by Somali pirates and released the next month after a
ransom was paid.
Unrest returns to Athens
26th January 2009 ekathimerini
Unrest returned to the streets of the capital on Saturday when dozens of self-styled anarchists
clashed with riot police during an anti-government protest.
According to police, about 150 hooded youths broke away from the main body of the march,
comprising about 1,000 people, and started throwing rocks and other objects at police. Riot officers
responded by firing tear gas and detained three people for questioning. There were no reports of
The rioters, demanding the release of those arrested during last month’s ferocious riots, torched a
newspaper kiosk and a bus station and smashed several storefronts. They then proceeded to
Exarchia, the district where a teenager was killed by a a police bullet last month, where they set
fire to several trash cans and a car and smashed up sidewalks.
A similar march took place in the western city of Patras, causing damage to a newspaper office and
In Thessaloniki late on Saturday, self-styled anarchists firebombed a riot police van parked outside
state television offices. There were no injuries or arrests.
Greek farmers block more roads in growing protest
January 26, 2009 Associated Press
Greek farmers blocked another major highway Monday as they stepped up their eight-day
campaign against the government that has crippled road transport across most of the country and
shut down border crossings with Bulgaria, Turkey and Macedonia.
Around 400 farmers closed a busy highway south of Athens, severing the main road link to the
southern Peloponnese peninsula, while thousands of farmers with tractors continued to block
dozens of highways in central and northern Greece.
Farmers are demanding government action to help their industry, which has been hit by lower
prices and winter storms. The Agriculture Ministry has promised a €500 million ($640 million)
support package, but unions say that does not address key demands such as minimum sale prices
for various crops.
The action has forced two border crossings with Bulgaria to be closed for days, leaving hundreds of
trucks stranded on either side of the border. Bulgarian transport companies say they have lost €10
million ($13 million) so far as a result of the protests.
Bulgaria has said it will ask the European Union for help to deal with the situation.
On Monday, Greek farmers closed a third crossing with Bulgaria, as well as two with Macedonia and
one with Turkey.
Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hadzigakis will meet with farmers' unions Monday but said the
government will not make further concessions.
"The state does not haggle," he said after a meeting with union representatives Sunday. "(The
farmers') immediate demands have been met."
23rd January 2009 ekathimerini
Passenger ferries remained moored at the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion yesterday as winds
reach gale-force intensity in many parts. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate further
over the next few days, with winds set to reach up to 10 Beaufort in the eastern Aegean and
thunderstorms likely in western Greece and much of the Aegean.
Farmers reject aid offer, push on with action
23rd January 2009 ekathimerini
Protesting farmers yesterday rejected a 500-million-euro aid package offered to them by
Agricultural Development Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, saying that it did not offer a clear solution to
their problems, and pledged to increase the number of blockades at key road junctions across the
country unless a better offer is made.
Farmers, who have been protesting falling commodity prices, last night kept their tractors parked
at key road junctions for a fourth day and threatened to also block access roads to major highways
unless authorities make a better offer.
Hatzigakis said yesterday evening that the package was “the maximum” the government could
offer. His proposal was submitted to unionists at lunchtime following several hours of negotiations
with them in talks that also involved Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou and
Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias.
The farmers’ demands include higher subsidies and pension payments as well as lower fuel taxes.
They complain that the plunging prices of cotton, corn and wheat, set by the European Union,
mean they are struggling to make a living.
Reacting to Hatzigakis’s offer yesterday, one unionist said that an overall figure was inadequate,
noting that farmers wanted to know how much their subsidies would increase per hectare.
Protests in Crete were more low-key than earlier this week when Iraklion airport was occupied by
some 1,500 local farmers. The action, which led to countless flights being canceled, could be
repeated if farmers’ demands are not met, some unionists warned yesterday.
Greek farmers maintain highway blockades
22nd January 2009 AP
Greek farmers maintained highway blockades in several parts of the country after the agriculture
minister on Wednesday failed to meet their demands for stronger government support.
Earlier, farmers ended a blockade at the airport of Iraklio, on the island of Crete. The airport,
Greece's third-busiest, closed Tuesday when farmers drove tractors inside the flight area and set
tires on fire.
A meeting late Wednesday between farming association leaders and Agriculture Minister Sotiris
Hatzigakis failed to produce a breakthrough.
"These problems cannot be solved immediately," Hatzigakis said after the talks.
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said the government was "studying" farmers'
demands, but was constrained by the effects of the global economic crisis.
The farmers are demanding a list of measures including higher subsidy and pension payments and
lower fuel taxes.
"We reached a point where many farmers can no longer make a living," protest organizer
Thanassis Kokkinoulis said in the central city of Larissa. "The government must provide these
people with assistance."
Elsewhere, farmers used thousands of tractors to stage sporadic blockades along highways
including the main one linking Athens with Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki. They also
maintained closures at two border crossings with Bulgaria.
Tycoon freed after record ransom paid
21st January 2009 ekathimerini
Elderly shipping magnate Pericles Panagopoulos, abducted by gunmen eight days ago, was
released unharmed early yesterday by his kidnappers, who are believed to have pocketed a
ransom of 30 million euros.
Police found the 74-year-old in a remote spot of Aspropyrgos, west of Athens, after the kidnappers
telephoned his wife to reveal his location. Panagopoulos had been transported to Aspropyrgos in
the trunk of his kidnappers’ car, police said.
Police did not confirm reports that a 30-million-euro ransom had been paid to the kidnappers but
said the sum is the largest to have been paid in a kidnapping case in the country. Sources told
Kathimerini that the ransom was delivered to the kidnappers in eight suitcases weighing a total of
Police, who believe the kidnappers are professionals, have said they will intensify their
investigation now that Panagopoulos is safe. Officers are scrutinizing cell phone records to check
for any calls made in the area of Panagopoulos’s home in the coastal suburb of Kavouri before or
after his kidnapping.
Immigration red tape snipped
20th January 2009 ekathimerini
A series of tweaks to Greece’s immigration laws that were approved yesterday by Interior Minister
Prokopis Pavlopoulos should lead to people applying for residence permits to live in the country
needing substantially less paperwork.
In a bid to cut down on the red tape involved in the immigration process, the amendments to an
existing law mean that non EU citizens applying for residence rights for the first time or looking to
renew their permit will not need to submit any health certificates for children born in Greece nor will
they have to provide photocopies of every page of their passport or a photocopy of their previous
residence permit if that has been adhered in their passport.
For any applicant who has full-time employment, a signed statement from his or her employer
rather than a copy of their contract will now be necessary.
The amendments will also lead to foreign students obtaining a residence permit for the duration of
their studies rather than having to renew it each year. They will also be able to obtain residence
rights for any children who are born in Greece.
The children of migrants in Greece will also no longer have to produce a birth certificate from their
country of origin when they reach 18 years of age nor have to apply for their own residence permit.
Tycoon’s fate still in balance
19th January 2009 ekathimerini
The fate of kidnapped businessman Pericles Panagopoulos appeared unclear last night after his
wife made a public appeal on Saturday for the abductors to get in touch with her or even to take
her hostage in place of the 74-year-old.
Katerina Panagopoulou called several TV channels on Saturday to plead with the gang that last
Monday kidnapped her husband, the founder of Greece’s largest ferry operator Attica Holdings, to
call her after a deadline for the ransom to be paid had passed without any contact.
“I was ready to satisfy their demands 24 hours ago but they have not called,” she said. “I offer
myself in exchange.” The size of the ransom has not been made public.
Unconfirmed reports yesterday suggested that the abductors had contacted Panagopoulou after
her emotional plea. Panagopoulos suffers from a serious health problem, which has heightened
concerns about his condition.
Two arrests in Chania for 600 grams of hashish
19th January 2009 Haniotika Nea
A quantity of 600 grams of cannabis was seized by drugs police, with the help of a sniffer dog, at a
home in Pemonia, Fres, Chania at noon on Friday, with the arrest of a local man and a French
woman. Also found were precision scales, empty plastic wrappings of various sizes and an illegal
semi-automatic weapon. The police investigation was a result of tip off that a Greek resident of the
Apokoronou province was distributing drugs to users in the wider area of Chania.
LAWYERS SUE - Anger over police behavior
17th January 2009 ekathimerini
More than 20 lawyers filed suits yesterday against police officers in connection to events at the
end of last Friday’s education protest. Riot police took a number of lawyers into custody during a
standoff between protesters and authorities in Exarchia that resulted in some lawyers being taken
into custody. The 22 lawyers claim the officers were guilty of breach of duty, attempted bodily harm
and unnecessarily exposing people to tear gas and swearing. Representatives of the Athens Bar
Association said that they would meet with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to discuss the
Universities want better guards
16th January 2009 ekathimerini
University lecturers and rectors are calling for reforms that would enable them to increase the
number of guards protecting university faculties and to recruit individuals who are better equipped
– physically – to deal with intruders.
According to sources, some academics are even proposing the creation of a “university police force”
that would have the authority to monitor and stop suspect visitors.
Another proposal reportedly under consideration is cooperation with private security firms, which
some institutions have already begun.
The current problem, according to academics, is that most university guards are recruited through
the state’s Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP), whose criteria do not include physical
requirements or special training. “This year we have had nine vacancies filled for us through ASEP,
six of whom are women,” a university professor told Kathimerini, clearly suggesting that tackling
potentially violent intruders is a task better suited to men.
But many believe that, irrespective of gender, guards recruited through ASEP do not have the
training to deal with intruders. “The most recent damage was caused by four of five gangs which
infiltrated the faculty simultaneously from different locations with the aim of looting,” Andreas
Yiannakoudakis, vice rector of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, told Kathimerini.
Though looting of university faculties is rare, their occupation by self-styled anarchists is frequent
and academics believe guards should have the training – and authority – to be able to stop ill-
TEENAGER SHOOTING - Ballistics report points to ricochet of fatal bullet
16th January 2009 ekathimerini
The magistrate investigating the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police
officer on December 6 has been handed a ballistics report, which indicates that the bullet that killed
the teenager ricocheted before striking him in the heart, sources said yesterday. The report
indicates experts believe that Grigoropoulos was standing in one of three spots when he was shot
and, in each case, the bullet would have ricocheted, either off a wall or, more likely, off a round
concrete bollard. The findings seem to back the officer’s claim that he did not fire directly at the
teenager. However, they also appear to refute his claim that he fired warning shots in the air.
Group claims attacks
Revolutionary Struggle says it fired on police officers this month and last
14th January ekathimerini
The terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle has claimed responsibility for the armed attack earlier
this month which left a police officer in a critical condition, as well as firing at a riot squad bus in
December and placing an explosive device outside the offices of Shell oil company in southern
Athens in October.
In an 11-page proclamation made available to the Pontiki weekly newspaper, which also published
its previous statements, the group explained that the January 5 attack in which more than 30
shots were fired at three riot squad officers, leading to the injury of 21-year-old Diamantis
Mantzounis, was a response to the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police
special guard on December 6.
“Our decision to strike the armed riot squad murderers on January 5 was a response to the murder
of Alexandros Grigoropoulos and our choice to act in this manner was mainly political,”
Revolutionary Struggle said in its proclamation.
“We have decided to take on the regime’s uniformed thugs, ready even to engage in an armed
struggle with them,” the group added.
Mirroring a practice adopted by Greece’s most deadly terrorist organization, November 17,
Revolutionary Struggle also described in detail the January 5 attack, claiming that one of the three
officers cowered behind a car and failed to fire back at the two gunmen. It also claims that riot
police sitting in a parked bus nearby failed to act, preferring instead to “save their skins.”
The group also calls on other extremist organizations to take up arms and hits out at leftist parties
and Exarchia-based anarchists.
Pontiki was told the proclamation had been left in an abandoned house in the eastern Athens
neighborhood of Kaisariani on Monday. Anti-terrorism officers are examining it for clues.
As migrants are saved, Greece seeks EU aid
15th Janaury 2009 ekathimerini
As authorities in the Aegean rescued 53 would-be immigrants from a foundering boat off the island
of Milos yesterday, officials from Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Malta urged the European Union to
support them in their efforts to stem a relentless tide of illegal immigrants.
The rescue effort, which began on Tuesday night, involved commercial vessels, a navy frigate, a
Super Puma helicopter and a military transport aircraft. Initial attempts to save the migrants were
hampered by strong winds but success came shortly before 3 a.m. The immigrants, whose ethnic
origin was unclear, were all said to be in good health.
Meanwhile, a document seeking additional EU support in the fight to curb illegal immigration, co-
signed by Greece, was sent to Brussels. Greece’s Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos and his
counterparts from Cyprus, Italy and Malta signed the text in Rome on Tuesday.
13th January 2009 ekathimerini
Police in the Cretan port of Hania were seeking the perpetrators of a firebomb attack on the main
local post office in the early hours of yesterday that caused serious damage to the building but no
Earthquake rattles Crete and southern Greece
12th January 2009 Associated Press
An earthquake struck southern Greece on Tuesday morning, rattling Crete and the Cycladic islands
but causing no damage or injuries, Greek authorities said.
The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.3, and the U.S.
Geological Survey gave it as 5.2. The magnitudes recorded by different seismology centers often
The quake struck at 8:12 a.m. (0612GMT) Tuesday and had an epicenter 220 miles (350 kilometers)
southeast of Athens, beneath the seabed west of the island of Karpathos.
Local authorities said the quake was particularly felt on the island of Crete. The epicenter was 70
miles (110 kilometers) east of Crete's main city of Iraklion.
Prominent Greek ship owner abducted by armed men
Jan 12th 2009 Reuters
A prominent Greek ship owner was kidnapped near his home in Athens Monday by three men
armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, in the third such high-profile abduction in Greece since June,
The founder of Greek ferry operator Superfast Ferries, Pericles Panagopoulos, was abducted as he
was being driven to work in a coastal suburb. No-one was injured in the incident, which is being
investigated by anti-terrorist police.
"Panagopoulos and his driver were stopped and forced into another car by three gun-wielding
assailants," a police official who declined to be name told Reuters.
"The driver was then set free and subsequently informed the police of the event."
Police found a burned van and a car northeast of Athens, believed to belong to the abductors.
Police sources said they thought the kidnapping was the act of criminals seeking a ransom.
In June, the chief executive of aluminium company Alumil and chairman of the Federation of
Industries in the northern city of Thessaloniki, George Milonas, was kidnapped before being
released two weeks later after a ransom was paid.
Police arrested Greece's most wanted fugitive, Vassilis Palaiokostas, in August for Milonas'
kidnapping. He escaped from prison in 2006, where he was serving a sentence for robbery and
Last month, a well-known Athens doctor was also kidnapped but has yet to be found.
Superfast Ferries, which operates mainly routes between Greece and Italy, is a subsidiary of
Greece's largest ferry operator Attica Holdings.
Bureaucracy worst in EU
12th January 2009 ekathimerini
The bureaucracy and complex procedures of the state system lead to more lost working hours in
Greece than in any other European Union state, two new studies indicate.
Each Greek spends an average of 207 hours per year waiting in lines at public service offices,
according to research by international consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Interior
Aspiring entrepreneurs also have more problems here than in the rest of Europe, according to the
studies that say 30 laws and 15 procedures are involved in getting a private investment off the
ground. As for acquiring an operating license, 50 percent of would-be entrepreneurs visited public
service offices more than 10 times to get the crucial document, the ministry’s report reveals.
According to PwC, Greece spends 16.7 billion euros, or 6.8 percent of its gross domestic product
(GDP), on bureaucratic procedures. In the EU, only Hungary has such a high rate, while the lowest
rates are in Britain and Sweden, which spend just 1.5 percent of their GDP on red tape.
Parliament to lead the way with smoking ban
10th January 2009 ekathimerini
In a bid to set an example for diehard Greek smokers who will be obliged to curb their habit in all
public places as of July 1, Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas yesterday declared that a smoking
ban would come into force in Parliament by the end of this month.
Sioufas, reportedly a heavy smoker himself, said the ban in Parliament would apply not just to the
plenary session hall but to all parts of the building, except for the canteen and club house.
According to sources, smoking will be forbidden in Sioufas’s office too. Sioufas is said to be
optimistic, noting that other countries with a large proportion of heavy smokers have managed to
enforce the European Union-dictated restrictions. The Health Ministry decided to adopt EU reforms
six months ahead of the original deadline, January 1 2010, as it is thought smokers will have fewer
problems adapting to the measures in the summer.
Greek police fire teargas at stone throwing youths
Fri 9th January 2009 Reuters
Greek police fired teargas at hundreds of stone-throwing youths after an anti-government march in
Athens Friday, sparking fears of a return to the street violence which rocked the country last month.
Several thousand students, teachers and public sector workers marched to parliament in protest at
the conservative government's policies, just over a month after the police shooting of a teen-ager
unleashed the worst riots in decades fed by anger at youth unemployment and political scandals.
Hundreds of anarchists waving black flags and wearing gas masks broke away from the march
outside the university and threw stones and bottles at police, who responded with teargas.
Riot police with shields shut down roads and detained dozens of demonstrators in central Athens,
where business groups estimate last month's riots caused 1 billion euros in damage and lost
"Thousands of protesters walked peacefully to parliament until anarchists threw bottles and
stones at police," said a police official who declined to be named. "Police are chasing them around
the city centre and have begun to make arrests."
The protest came two days after Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announced a cabinet reshuffle
aimed at shoring up the popularity of his government, which has fallen well behind the Socialist
opposition party in opinion polls.
Newly-appointed Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos pledged Thursday to listen to all sides
before implementing controversial education reforms, which would allow the introduction of private
universities in Greece
Local media reported that a policeman shot with a Kalashnikov assault rifle by an unidentified
gunman Monday was in a serious condition in hospital Friday.
Authorities have said the weapons used in the attack in the central Athens Exarchia district was
the same used by the left-wing Revolutionary Struggle guerrilla group.
Greek Premier to Shuffle Cabinet
8th January 2009 Wall Street Journal
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said he will replace nine of his 16 cabinet members,
including the finance minister seen as the architect of the government's unpopular austerity
The reshuffle comes after two weeks of violent protests and riots last month, which were triggered
by the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, but which coincided with broader public resentment in
Greece over recent tax increases and corruption scandals.
In a televised press conference, a government spokesman said Finance Minister George
Alogoskoufis would be succeeded by his deputy, John Papathanassiou, an electrical engineer by
training and past president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Many analysts say they expect the government to continue with its economic program despite the
replacement of the finance minister.
Mr. Karamanlis also replaced Development Minister Christos Folias with current Transport Minister
Costis Hadzidakis, who has presided over the privatization of Greece's deficit-ridden flag carrier,
The Transport Ministry portfolio will be assumed by Euripides Stylianides, currently the education
minister. However, both Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Defense Minister Evangelos
Meimarakis were reconfirmed in their posts, as was Interior and Public Order Minister Prokopis
Pavlopoulos, who had offered to resign last month following the police shooting of 15-year-old
Student-teacher demos set to return to streets
8th January 2009 ekathimerini
University students, high school pupils and their teachers are due to pick up tomorrow where they
left off in December with the first protest of 2009, prompting some institutions to try to protect
themselves from possible rioting.
The rally was planned last month and aims to keep up opposition to the government’s education
policies, which was voiced repeatedly during almost daily demonstrations following the shooting of
teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos in Exarchia by a police officer. Teaching unions will stage work
stoppages between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at morning schools and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at afternoon
The National Technical University of Athens, which suffered widespread damage during rioting last
month, invited students, lecturers and employees to form a protective cordon around the school to
prevent further vandalism or rioters using the premises to hide from police.
Greek police conduct Vigil for Colleague
6th January 2009 Associated Press
About 700 police officers have gathered outside a hospital in Greece where a policeman is being
treated following a shooting attack linked to a domestic terrorist group.
The 21-year-old officer was shot and seriously wounded in central Athens on Monday. Police
matched recovered bullet casings to a weapon used in the past by a far-left Greek militant group,
The attack followed serious riots last month after the fatal shooting of a teenager by police.
Police officers on Tuesday gathered outside an Athens hospital, staging a silent vigil to support
their wounded colleague. The wounded policeman remains in critical condi
Gunmen shoot policeman in Athens
5th January 2009 BBC
A Greek riot policeman has been seriously injured by two men with Kalashnikov automatic weapons
in central Athens, officials say.
The officer was part of a unit guarding the culture ministry when the pre-dawn attack took place.
The policeman was taken to hospital and undergoing surgery.
A huge manhunt is under way. Last month Greece saw its worst riots in decades after the fatal
shooting by police of a teenager in Athens. Police say 20 shots were fired by the attackers.
They say the 21-year-old officer spotted the gunmen and warned his colleagues shortly before he
was hit by two bullets, one in the chest, the other in the leg.
A number of people have been taken in for questioning. The incident took place in the Exarchia
district, close to where Athens teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot by a policeman last
Russia to hold wargames in Greek airspace, off Crete and Rhodes
3rd January 2009 Reuters
A Russian aircraft carrier will conduct military exercises in Greek airspace later this month, the first
such wargames to take place in the NATO member's area, Greece's Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The carrier Kuznetsov will operate southeast of the Greek island of Rhodes on Jan 3, 4, 8 and 10
and south of the island of Crete on Jan 11, it said.
"The Kuznetsov, which is sailing in the southeast Mediterranean, asked Greece's civil aviation
authority to operate within the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR)," the ministry said in a
statement. "The request was granted."Greek defense officials said that Russian Sukhoi 25 and
Sukhoi 33 fighter aircraft would take part in the operations, as well as Kamov helicopters.It was
the first time that such a request was made, officials said.
New Year in Greece mostly peaceful
Jan 2nd 2009
The New Year celebrations in Athens included fireworks over the Akropolis and a concert in
Syntagma Square, which was attended by hundreds of people. Despite fears of protests turning
violent, the event passed off peacefully.
However arsonists attacked more than 20 banks and businesses in Athens and Thessaloniki early
on Thursday after New Year celebrations.
Despite the series of arson attacks, the Christmas tree in Syntagma Square survived unscathed,
even though some online bookmakers had been accepting bets on it being razed for a second
Greek Tanker Escaped Hijacking
2nd January 2009 ert.gr
Greek flagged tanker "Crete Episkopi" escaped being seized by Somali pirates while sailing in the
Gulf of Aden. Its 29 member crew, among them 6 Greek officers avoided hijacking due to the
captains manouvers and the crew's prompt response to attacks by heavily armed Somali pirates
bombing them with water pumps. The arrival of a Danish frigate and a Spanish helicopter brought
the final halt to the attack. The Emergency Management Crew informed the Defense and Foreign
Ministries as well as the international centers to combat piracy. In parallel, the chief of Port
Authority was in continuous contact with the chief of the Armed Forces while the EU Military
operation "ATALANTA" was also informed. Coordinated actions prevented two Somali pirates
attacks to seize the tanker.
in Crete & Greece
January & February 2009