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|Living in Crete
Crete & Greece
July - September 2009
30th September 2009 ekathimerini
Two foreigners and a Greek national charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a 50-year-old
Cretan businessman in May were remanded in custody yesterday after several hours of testimony before an
investigating magistrate on the island. According to sources, the 27-year-old Syrian suspect has denied any
involvement in either the abduction or the killing of Yiannis Kypriotakis. The other Syrian suspect, aged 25, and
the Greek reportedly admit to involvement in the kidnapping but not the murder.
Fire service lacked coordination - Investigation into last month’s fire in Attica reveals breakdown in
communication at all levels
29th September 2009 ekathimerini
A failure to communicate between senior fire service officers, the lack of up-to-date technology to track
wildfires and absence of some basic equipment for firefighters are some of the main reasons that some 17,000
hectares of land went up in flames northeast of Athens last month, according to a report into the blaze.
The probe was carried out at the government’s request by Leandros Rakintzis, the general inspector for public
administration. He has submitted his findings to the prosecutor who is investigating whether criminal charges
should be brought against anyone involved.
Sunday’s Kathimerini has seen a copy of the report, which outlines how there was a complete breakdown in
communication between the head of the fire service Athanassios Kontocostas and his deputy Stelios
Stefanidis, who was monitoring the blaze from up close. According to Rakintzis, the pair did not exchange a
single phone call during the effort to put out one of the biggest wildfires ever seen in Attica.
The report also suggested that the chief of the Attica fire service, Apostolos Gerokostas, failed to communicate
with Stefanidis on the ground and in fact by passed him completely and instead spoke to Kontocostas to
provide instructions on where water-bombing airplanes were needed.
Rakintzis also underlined that there were some crucial delays in putting out the fire when it first broke out as
the fire engines had trouble finding the location because they were not fitted with global positioning systems
29th September 2009 ekathimerini
Two men were arrested in Kilkis, northern Greece, yesterday after allegedly trying to sell undercover officers
50,000 euros’ worth of forged banknotes. The officers agreed to buy the 20-euro notes in return for 3.50
euros for each banknote. As soon as the two suspects, aged 37 and 39, accepted 8,250 euros in marked
banknotes from the undercover officers, they were arrested. Police said that, during questioning, the men
revealed that the forged banknotes had been produced in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Four charged in Greece over bombing attacks
26th September 2009 IOL
A Greek prosecutor on Friday charged four people with carrying out bomb attacks including one against the
shadow finance minister's home this week, a justice source said.
The group, three men and a woman aged 20 and 21, were charged with participation in a criminal
organisation, possession of explosives and causing a series of explosions, the source said.
They were detained ahead of a scheduled court appearance next Tuesday and will be prosecuted under the
terms of Greece's anti-terrorism laws which carry a maximum lifetime sentence.
Arrest warrants were also issued for another six suspects including a woman.
26th September 2009 ekathimerini
The Supreme Court yesterday issued a ruling that private companies that sack employees must do so based
on objective criteria, as it annulled the firing by a publishing firm of a woman who had an indefinite contract.
The court said that companies have to take into account the number of years served by an employee, their
age, financial situation, productivity and how difficult it will be for them to find another job. The court also ruled
that companies have to offer employees facing dismissal the option of working in a more junior position.
Greeks opt for studies abroad
26th September 2009 ekathimerini
The number of Greek students who choose to attend university abroad is the largest in the world as a
proportion of the country’s population, a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) has revealed.
According to the OECD’s report for 2009, a total of 51,000 Greeks are currently studying abroad. With 4,784
Greeks at foreign universities per 1 million of its population, Greece is “exporting” the most students
proportionally. Four in 10 Greeks who choose to study abroad opt for a course at a university in Britain, with
16 percent matriculating in Germany, 13 percent staying closer to home in Italy and 5.3 percent relocating to
the USA. Another 5 percent choose courses in France, while 2.3 percent go to Turkey.
At the same time, according to the OECD, Greece has seen limited success in attracting foreign students to
study at its universities, a fact linked to the relative lack of postgraduate courses offered in the English
Murder of abducted Cretan businessman solved
25th September 2009 ANA-MPA
Security police in Heraklion, Crete, on Thursday announced they had solved the case of the abduction and
murder of businessman Yiannis Kypriotakis on May 18, whose charred body was found in his car two days
later, after the family had paid a 155,000 euros ransom.
The perpetrators of this unprecedented, for Greece, crime are two Syrian nationals aged 25 and 26 and a 33-
year-old local Greek housepainter. The two foreign nationals were working for the businessman, while the 33-
year-old had worked for him a year ago.
Police had traced the crime to the three approximately two months ago, but were waiting for the appropriate
moment in order to make the three arrests simultaneously.
The 26-year-old Syrian was arrested on Wednesday night at the Nikos Kazantzakis airport as he was
returning from Syria, while the other two were also arrested in a simultaneous operation.
Both cell phones used for negotiating the ransom with the victim's wife were found in the detainees'
possession, as well as several marked bills of 50 and 100 euro denominations from the ransom money.
According to police, the 25-year-old Syrian and the Greek housepainter have confessed the crime, but not the
26-year-old. he detainees will be led later in the day before the local public prosecutor.
The body of the 50-year-old businessman found dead in the trunk of his car two days after his abduction,
although the family had paid the ransom demanded by the kidnappers.
Kypriotakis, the owner of a paint factory in the Heraklion Industrial Zone and the father of three children, had
been abducted in the Vasilies district of Heraklion, where he had been lured to by a telephone call from an
unidentified person posing as a prospective customer in order to supposedly undertake the painting of a
All traces of the businessmen disappeared after he went to the appointment, and his family reported
Kypriotakis as missing after a search by his wife and relatives failed to find him. The family was later contacted
by the abductors, who asked for a ransom.
The businessman was allowed to contact his wife, asking that she not involve the police in the case.
The abductors later asked for a larger sum of money, but after negotiations the sum agreed was 155,000
euros, which was dropped off the day after the abduction by the wife, accompanied by relatives, at a remote
spot in the Gouves area. The abductors then contacted the family again, saying that they would find the
businessman two hours later at a remote spot in Potamies, Heraklion.
Shortly afterwards, the local fire department and police were informed that a jeep was on fire in the Potamies
area, where they found the businessman's charred body in the trunk of the vehicle, which belonged to
24th September 2009 ekathimerini
A driver in Hania, Crete, who was asked yesterday to move his car after double parking on a main road
responded to the demand by punching the municipal police officer who made it. The officer was taken for
treatment to the local hospital but was soon discharged, after which he filed a suit against his attacker, who
was still at large last night.
24th September 2009 ekathimerini
Hundreds of teachers rallied in central Athens yesterday, demanding the disbursement of several months of
unpaid salaries. A total of 5,000 teachers say they have not been paid since last September. A representative
for the Athens regional education authority said yesterday that the teachers would receive the first installment
of their outstanding wages over the next few days.
Authorities revoke licences of five insurance companies
21 Sep 2009 Phantis.com
Greece's insurance market watchdog on Monday announced it was permanently revoking the operating
licenses of five insurance companies, Aspis Group, Aspis Life Insurance, Aspis General Insurance, General
Union, General Trust and G.H. Skourtis Insurance, after the five companies failed to cover the necessary
The watchdog said in a statement that it reached this decision after the companies failed to meet their
financial obligations towards their customers and workers. The watchdog also said that Pavlos Psomiadis,
chairman and chief executive of Aspis Insurance Group presented a letter of guarantee, worth 550 million
euros, by HSBC which proved to be fake.
The Private Insurance Supervisory Commission said that according to Greek law, a supplementary fund to offer
cover to all five insurance companies� customers for 30 days, while a Supervisor of Life Insurance Portfolio will
take over the management of Aspis Life Insurance to ensure that customers maintained their contract rights
and money saved.
Greek police find pot plants in high-way median
19th September 2009 AP
A man has been arrested in northern Greece for allegedly growing marijuana in the median strip of the
country's main, um, highway.
The pot plants weren't little seedlings, either, nor were they well-concealed. Police say the 35-year-old was
caught Thursday in the middle of a six-lane highway linking Athens with Thessaloniki, harvesting 42 marijuana
plants up to 5.9 feet (1.8 meters) tall.
A small quantity of dried pot was found in his home, as well.
Police said the marijuana had been planted in a 1-meter-wide wide median near the town of Katerini, 43 miles
(70 kilometers) south of Thessaloniki.
Girl, 11, forced to have sex with relatives and ‘clients’
19th Sep 2009 ekathimerini
A 30-year-old man alleged to have been raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter for the past nine months was in
police custody in the Cretan port of Hania yesterday. Police said they were also seeking the girl’s 42-year-old
uncle and an 85-year-old man alleged to have paid to have sex with the girl. The 11-year-old arrived on Crete
two years ago from a Balkan country, police said without providing further details.
Professors planning college suit
18th September 2009 ekathimerini
The two unions representing university teachers and technical college professors have joined forces and are
planning legal action to block the recognition of private colleges that have received permits to operate in
Greece as franchises of foreign universities, it was revealed yesterday.
The appeal, prepared by the Hellenic Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (POSDEP) and the
Federation of Technical College Professors (OSEP), reportedly calls for the revocation of permits granted by the
Education Ministry to 41 different colleges.
In their appeal, the academics reportedly focus on a legislative provision that allows Greek private colleges to
negotiate contracts with European universities, meaning that inspections and evaluations can only be carried
out by the “mother” university and not by the Greek ministry.
Flood barriers go up in burnt areas
18th September 2009 ekathimerini
Just hours before heavy rain fell across Attica yesterday, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias visited some of
the sites that were razed by last month’s devastating wildfires northeast of Athens to inspect the anti-flood
works taking place there.
During his visit, the minister also revealed the true extent of the damage done by the blaze, which tore
through 18,300 hectares of land, much of which was forested, or at least wooded.
Some areas were almost completely destroyed by the fire. For instance, some 72 percent of the Marathon
basin was scorched in August.
But Souflias was principally there to check on the progress of work to prevent soil erosion from the charred
areas and the creation of flood barriers.
He said that the work to stop soil being washed away is due to be completed by the end of the month. About
240 specialist forest workers have been working on this project. They began work at the beginning of this
month and have already constructed some 180 kilometers of natural barriers using felled tree trunks and
Souflias also told journalists that older forests would be allowed to regenerate naturally, whereas areas
where the trees are much younger, because they have been replanted following fires in the past, will be
replanted once again.
Athens MacDonald’s evacuated
17th September 2009 ekathimerini
Police evacuated a branch of MacDonald’s in central Syntagma Square and cordoned off the surrounding area
yesterday after an anonymous telephone caller told police that a bomb was due to explode outside the fast-
food branch just after noon. The call, which was made at 11.30 a.m., said that a bomb would go off in 40
minutes. But a police search of the evacuated area did not locate any suspect device.
17th September 2009 ekathimerini
Police on Crete yesterday were seeking an armed robber who fled with 150,000 euros after holding up a
branch of the Pancretan Cooperative Bank in the small town of Patelles near the port of Iraklio. No one was
injured in the raid.
Swine Flu Kills French National in Greece
16th September 2009 express.gr
A French tourist, 29, who was infected with the swine flu while enjoying his summer vacations in Greece,
breathed his last in the early hours of Tuesday at the Sismanoglio Hospital. After his being infected with the
swine flu, the patient developed pneumonia and acute respiratory insufficiency and finally died of multi-organ
It is the first death recorded in Greece, since the French tourist did not suffer from any other disease, as was
the case with a 23-year-old male who suffered from a cardiovascular disease.
In the meantime, news from the USA is rather alarming, as two new studies released Tuesday suggested that
some people we were infected with the H1N1 virus could be carrying it even eight days after the fever, longer
than experts thought.
Father drags son after car to discipline him
14th September 2009 ekathimerini
A house painter from Larissa, central Greece, was arrested on Saturday after tying his 14-year-old son to the
back of his car and dragging him along the road in order to discipline him.
Police said they arrested the man, a foreign national who was not named, after neighbors alerted them to the
incident, which is said to have taken place after the suspect had been drinking heavily.
According to officers, the painter looped a piece of rope around his son’s shoulders and then tied him to his
car. The father drove off, forcing his son to run behind the vehicle. But when the teenager fell, his father
continued driving, dragging the boy for dozens of meters along the road.
Police said that during questioning, the boy’s father insisted that he had done nothing wrong and had only
been trying to teach his son a lesson.
Policeman drowns in flood on Greek island
12th September 2009
A police officer died as flash floods engulfed homes and cut off roads on the Greek island of Evia, officials said
Police said the officer’s car was swept off a flooded road and into a nearby river.
The body of the 39-year-old man was recovered early today.
Local authorities in Evia said dozens of homes and businesses had been flooded, several main roads were cut
off, and a bridge was destroyed following heavy overnight rain.
Read more: http://www.breakingnews.ie/world/eycwgbauojey/rss2/#ixzz0QtEJrwNY
Hania sees its tourism suffer loss
11 September 2009 ekathimerini
Foreign arrivals at the airport of Hania in western Crete showed a 9.3 yearly drop in the March-August period
this year, according to a survey by the Economic and Business Administration Department of the
Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Hania and the Financial Engineering Laboratory of Crete Polytechnic.
The survey, which focused on the impact of the international economic crisis on Hania tourism, found that
arrivals dropped from 437,358 last year to 402,911 this year.
It also found that one-third of tourists (33.3 percent) reduced their spending during their stay in Hania
prefecture due to the financial crisis. As for the purchase of local traditional products, some 21.1 percent of
foreign tourists reported that they had reduced their spending in that direction, with 57.9 percent of British
tourists in particular cutting this expenditure.
There was also a decline in the use of rented cars and taxis by just over 20 percent, the survey found.
Greek socialists increase poll lead over ruling conservatives
11th September 2009 DPA Earthtimes
With nearly three weeks to go before Greece's general election, the opposition Socialists (PASOK) have
consolidated their position as front-runners, according to a poll published in Greek media Friday. Under their
leader Giorgos Papandreou, the Socialist Party has increased its lead to 41 per cent, according to the survey.
The centre-right Nea Dimokratia (ND), led by Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, polled 35.5 per cent.
If the survey proves correct, the Socialists would have a narrow majority of 151 in the 300 seat parliament.
Karamanlis set the October 4 election at the beginning of September. In the face of the international economic
crisis, he said his government needed "a fresh mandate."
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) could overcome the three per cent hurdle to win seats in the parliament
with 8.5 per cent, according to the poll.
The religious, ultra-conservative People's Orthodox Alarm (LAOS) also managed 7 per cent.
By contrast, two smaller parties, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Ecologist Greens Party, may
struggle to win enough votes.
The poll was conducted by polling company Public Issue.
Schools start year under flu watch
12th September 2009 ekathimerini
Both Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited primary
schools yesterday, the former in Athens and the latter in Thessaloniki, to express their support for teachers
and pupils who are starting the new academic year amid fears of a possible swine flu pandemic.
In schools across the country , children and parents were given leaflets with guidelines on minimizing the risks
of contracting swine flu. School staff have been asked to provide regional authorities with regular updates on
pupils displaying symptoms of swine flu and absences. Parents can call a telephone hot line on 1150 for more
11th September 2009 ekathimerini
An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded off the coast of Evia early yesterday but there
were no reports of injuries or damage. According to Athens Observatory’s Geodynamic Institute, the tremor
struck just after 9 a.m. It was felt in parts of Athens.
Beach construction ‘killing’ baby turtles
9th September 2009 ekathimerini
A construction boom in the Gulf of Kyparissia, in the Peloponnese, has caused the deaths of dozens of
newborn loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the area, which is theoretically protected by the European
Union, conservationists say.
The lights on a new road linking the beach of Agiannaki to the central road and in new homes springing up in
the area disorient the baby turtles, which usually follow the reflection of the moon on the sea, according to a
spokesperson for the sea turtle protection society, Archelon. “These baby turtles, of which we have found
dozens dead, are confused by the lights and head toward them instead of the sea,” said Niki Diogou of
Archelon. A majority of the turtles were found squashed on the road. Some 50,000 of the endangered species
are born in the Gulf of Kyparissia every year but only about 1,000 survive into adulthood.
Migrants rescued - Burst dinghy leaves 17 at sea
8th September 2009 Earthtimes
Greek coastguard officials rescued 17 illegal immigrants after the boat in which they were travelling capsized
off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Samos Monday. The immigrants, all males, told officials they had
departed from the eastern shores of Turkey before their inflatable boat capsized, throwing them into the
rough waters of the Aegean.
Overall, officials said more than 100 illegal immigrants, among them 25 children, were also caught sneaking
into the country after arriving on the islands of Lesvos and Samos.
In a separate incident, more than 25 illegal immigrants were detained on the eastern Aegean island of
Agothonisi after arriving from Turkey.
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants attempt to sneak into European Union member Greece from
neighboring Turkey, mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Athens police bust human trafficking ring
4th September 2009 ANA.gr
The Attica Aliens department on Friday announced the bust of a ring of human traffickers that had kept nine
illegal immigrants imprisoned in an underground garage in Menidi for five months in order to force their families
to pay additional money for bringing them to Greece.
The unlucky victims, eight from Pakistan and one from Bangladesh, were subjected to daily beatings, sexual
abuse and threats that they would be killed unless their families paid at least 2,000-4,000 euros more than
the original sum of 7,000 euros that had been agreed on.
The case was uncovered on Thursday afternoon when Attica police arrested five members of the ring, while
another four are still being sought.
The suspects placed under arrest include four Greek nationals, two men aged 57 and 36 years old,
respectively, and two women aged 55 and 33 years old, and a 28-year-old Iraqi. Along with the four now
sought by police, the ring picked up illegal immigrants arriving by boat from Turkey and shut them up in various
houses around Attica, demanding money for their release.
Greek PM calls snap election for October 4th
3rd September 2009 Reuters
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who is grappling with an economic crisis, scandals and low poll
ratings, on Wednesday called a snap election which he will struggle to win.
Karamanlis said he needed a fresh mandate to deal with the economic downturn.
But his conservative New Democracy government trails the main opposition PASOK socialists by about 6
percentage points, indicating he is set to lose the Oct 4 vote.
Analysts said, however, that he might face a more embarrassing defeat six months down the road.
PASOK may not gather enough votes in this snap vote to form a government alone, which would plunge
Greece into political uncertainty as it struggles to cope with the global slowdown.
On the day that a large bomb exploded outside the Athens stock exchange, causing heavy damage and
wounding one woman, Karamanlis ended weeks of speculation on his intentions as his party kept dropping in
Elections were not due before 2011 but PASOK had said it would force one by March, when parliament elects a
new president, pushing Karamanlis to pick a moment. His four-year term would normally end in 2011.
The socialists, themselves burdened with scandals during decades in government, advocate a "green growth"
Metro link to airport reopens
3rd September 2009 ekathimerini
Athens metro services to and from Athens International Airport resumed yesterday as a brand-new station
was opened that is destined to become a major transport hub for the greater area of the capital.
Metro services linking Athens and the airport had been suspended since February to allow construction of new
stations, the first of which – Nomismatokopeio – was inaugurated yesterday by Environment and Public Works
Minister Giorgos Souflias. The station takes its name from the adjacent national mint in the northeastern
suburb of Kato Halandri.
In two weeks, the bus terminuses presently operating at Ethniki Amyna and Katehaki will be moved to the
Nomismatokopeio location, effectively turning it into a busy transport hub for the city and its environs.
Souflias said an estimated 30,000 commuters will use the Nomismatokopeio station daily, traveling to central
Athens in just 10 minutes, as opposed to at least 40 minutes by car.
Bombs explode in two Greek cities
2nd September 2009 Aljazeera.net
Two bombs have exploded in separate attacks in Greece, one outside the Athens stock exchange and another
outside a government building in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
The attack in Athens, Greece's capital, exploded outside the city's stock exchange, causing serious damage to
the building and nearby cars, and left one woman with minor injuries.
"The blast caused extensive damage, to the stock exchange building itself
and to nearby cars, five of which were completely destroyed," Panayiotis Stathis, a police spokesman said.
He added that the "methodology" of the blast pointed to the Revolutionary Struggle, a far-left group, although
no one has yet claimed responsibility.
The second bomb, hidden in a cooking pot, exploded near a government building in Thessaloniki, causing some
damage but no injuries.
Phone warnings to Greek media were made before both blasts, in what appears to be a series of attacks
against financial insitutions and government buildings.
Greece seeks investors for 1 bln euro Crete airport
1st September 2009 Reuters
Greece said on Tuesday it is inviting would-be investors to bid for a concession to build and manage a 1 billion
euro airport on the resort island of Crete.
The Greek government will contribute 220 million euros ($315.9 million) towards construction of the new facility
at Kastelli (Heraklion) which will replace the existing airport at Heraklion, Crete's biggest city, Environment
Minister George Souflias said in a statement.
The government will hold a 55 percent stake in the new airport's operating company. The winning bidder,
which will provide the bulk of the funding, will have the remaining 45 percent and operate the airport for 35
The new airport will have a capacity to handle between 5.5 and 10 million passengers per year and is
projected to start operations in 2015, Souflias said.
Greece, one of Europe's biggest tourism destinations, is seeking private investment to help improve its
infrastructure and attract more visitors.
Concession contracts have financed infrastructure projects in Greece, as the government is faced with chronic
budget shortfalls and a high public debt. Athens airport, the country's biggest, is managed under a concession
held by German engineering firm Hochtief .
Investors must submit bids for Kastelli airport by Feb. 9, 2010. The government expects to pick the winning bid
in the first half of next year, Souflias said.
Belgian man held for hotel thefts in Hania
1st September 2009 ekathimerini
A 33-year-old Belgian man has been arrested on Crete on suspicion of stealing 18,000 euros in cash, jewelry
and mobile phones, along with an accomplice, from several rooms in a hotel in Hania where he had been
staying. Police said that the man, who was not named, is suspected of breaking into the rooms of five guests,
either by climbing onto their balconies or forcing the door open in a way that did not leave any marks. The
name of the hotel was not made public. Officers are also looking for a 33-year-old Frenchman who was staying
in the hotel along with the Belgian.
Man with shotgun lets fly in Crete pharmacy
31st August 2009 ekathimerini
A pharmacist was injured in the face and hand in the Cretan city of Hania on Saturday when a robber armed
with a shotgun opened fire in his store.
Police said that the pharmacist, who was not named, was in the shop with an employee on Saturday evening
when the robber walked in and demanded cash from the register.
The pharmacist approached the armed man in an attempt to disarm him, at which point he fired his shotgun.
The shot missed the pharmacist but he was injured by shards of glass that were sent flying when the pellets
hit the store’s computer.
The gunman fled immediately and the victim was taken to the local hospital where he was treated for his
injuries. Police arrested a suspect soon after the incident took place.
Greek fire-fighting plane crashes, pilot killed
28th August 2009 Reuters
A Greek fire-fighting plane crashed Thursday while battling a blaze on the Ionian Sea island of Kefalonia on
Thursday, killing the pilot, authorities said.
The accident happened three days after fire fighters managed to bring under control a wildfire that destroyed
150 homes and thousands of hectares of forest and farmland near Athens.
The 1983, Polish-made PZL plane crashed nine minutes after taking off from the Kefalonia airport to fight a
forest fire, officials said. Nobody else was on board.
The 55-year-old father of two had thousands of hours of flight experience on several types of aircraft.
"I'd like to express my devastation, our grief and my condolences for the loss of the pilot, who died while doing
his duty selflessly," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said.
Cretan Mr Fix-it ‘doing well’ after 4-story fall
28th August 2009 ekathimerini
A 50-year-old man who fell off the roof of a four-story building near the Cretan port of Hania was in the
intensive-care unit of a local hospital yesterday but reportedly in surprisingly good health.
The 50-year-old is believed to have climbed onto the roof of the apartment building to fix a television antenna
and to have subsequently slipped and fallen.
According to witnesses, the man landed on the hood of an agricultural vehicle that had been parked next to
the building. Local residents and store owners who saw his spectacular plunge called an ambulance which
arrived quickly and transferred him to Hania’s general hospital.
According to a doctor at the hospital, the 50-year-old had been conscious and in “a relatively good condition”
when ambulance workers collected him from the scene of the fall.
Schools to open under swine flu watch
27th August 2009 ekathimerini
Authorities said yesterday that schools would open as scheduled on September 11 despite fears of a swine flu
pandemic but would remain under strict supervision by means of daily briefings with school staff.
The Health and Education Ministries and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be kept abreast of
these briefings and will have the right to intervene and suspend the operation of any schools where suspect
cases of infection with the H1N1 virus appear, it was revealed.
“According to international guidelines, schools are reservoirs for the propagation of the virus,” a Health
Ministry statement said yesterday. The statement added that the chief aim of authorities was “to delay as
much as possible the development of a pandemic... as we are not yet aware when the World Health
Organization will authorize the administering of vaccines.” Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said
yesterday that the first batch of vaccines is due to arrive in Greece on September 15. Meanwhile authorities
said that 208 new cases of swine flu had been confirmed, bringing the total in Greece to 1,839.
Earlier this week a 23-year-old man with serious heart problems died from complications related to swine flu.
The man had been moved to the intensive-care unit of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center last Friday after
being diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. A statement issued by the ministry at the time said the man’s death
“could not technically qualify as a swine flu fatality according to international scientific principles as the virus
was contracted within the previous 48 hours.”
Greeks shocked by Athens fires
25th August 2009 Euronews
With the fires now being damped down and extinguished, Greeks are measuring the extent of the damage.
Athens has seen its future through the clouds of smoke, and it will be a barren one for years say the experts,
with worse air quality and higher temperatures for the capital’s four and a half million people.
The equivalent of 20 000 football fields of forest has been lost from around a city that already has few green
spaces, and anger is mounting that developers may be to blame.
“Burn to build” has been used for years to declassify forest for residential development, often on the coast.
Some areas have been burnt-out for the fourth time in 15. Desertification becomes a possibility under this sort
There is also anger that despite the loss of 77 lives and a quarter-million football fields two summers ago in
southern Greece, promises to reform the system have not been followed up.
For example, authorities have not joined some new buildings to infrastructures – the result? No water for the
firefighters if they arrive.
25th August 2009 ekathimerini
Some 800 passengers were trapped for hours on a high-speed ferry sailing into the port of Aghios
Constantinos, central Greece, late on Sunday after the vessel's ramp got stuck. Ferry workers eventually
managed to open a passenger door for travelers to disembark. Yesterday morning another 195 passengers
were delayed when a high-speed ferry en route to Piraeus from Hydra suffered engine failure. The vessel was
towed to Poros where passengers boarded buses to Piraeus.
Fires reach Athens suburbs, thousands evacuated
23rd August 2009 AP
A massive wildfire tore through outlying suburbs north of Athens early Sunday, destroying homes and forcing
thousands to flee in dramatic overnight evacuations, Fire Service and local officials said.
The fires near the capital raged for a third day, blackening thousands of hectares of rugged land covered by
pine forest or thick bushes. Anti-aircraft missiles at a nearby base were removed as flames approached, the
"The situation is tragic. Fires are out of control on many fronts," greater Athens local governor Yiannis Sgouros
A state of emergency was declared in greater Athens, in the worst destruction seen here since massive fires
struck southern Greece in 2007 and killed more than 70 people.
After daybreak, planes and helicopters resumed water drops following an eight-hour pause that allowed the
wildfire to spread across parts of Mount Penteli and reach suburban homes. Clouds of black smoke filled the
capital's skyline and obscured the sun.
Authorities evacuated two large children's hospitals, camp sites, and homes in villages and outlying suburban
areas threatened by blazes that scattered ash on streets across the city.
Deputy Fire Chief Stelios Stefanidis said no casualties had been reported by early Sunday, despite the
overnight evacuations of hundreds of hillside homes on the outskirts of the city.
The fires, which started late Friday, were reported in an area more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) wide.
Residents were seen fleeing the fires on foot, by motorbike and in cars, amid blackouts and water supply cuts.
Winds of up to 50 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour) were forecast Sunday, while Stefanidis said the thick
smoke was hampering water drops.
Ferry Investigation - Cancelled sailings prompt probe
22nd August 2009 ekathimerini
An investigation has been launched into why the Seajet ferry company has canceled some of its sailings to
Piraeus from August 5, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. This has created problems for hundreds of
passengers who had bought tickets in advance. Meanwhile, the sailings of the Superjet, Seajet and Highspeed
3 ferries were canceled yesterday for the second day in a row due to strong winds in the Aegean.
Greece brings forest fires under control
21st August 2009 RIA Novosti
Greek firefighters have brought under control a series of forest fires that hit the country earlier this week,
national media reported on Friday.
Wildfires hit the country on Thursday afternoon, with the first outbreak registered in the town of Magoula,
some 25 km (15.5 miles) west of the country's capital, Athens. The fire broke out near a cement plant,
destroying some storehouses and trucks, national newspapers said. No casualties were reported
Large fires were also successfully tackled overnight in the Ionian Sea's island of Kefalonia, in the western
region of Etolia and Akarnania, and in Greece's central region of Thesprotia.
The total number of fires registered over the past 24 hours, both on the mainland and in the islands, exceeded
100, the Naftemporiki newspaper said, adding that eighty-six of them were quickly extinguished.
Greek pilots see red from laser pen pranks
20th August 2009 AFP
Greece's civil aviation pilots on Wednesday called for a crackdown on laser pen pranksters who have
endangered a growing number of plane landings around the country.
The pilots' association raised the alarm after a spate of incidents where teenagers flashed laser pens at
incoming plane cockpits.
"This has been going on for around two years, apparently it's become fashionable among certain youngsters
and the incidents are increasing in frequency," association chairman Grigoris Constantellos told AFP.
Around 30 laser pranks have been recorded this year, and the situation is more dangerous in summer when
pilots need to be particularly careful due to seasonal high winds, Constantellos said.
"Having the pilot blinded for three or four seconds during landing can really create a difficult situation," he said.
The two last incidents occurred on the islands of Rhodes and Crete, two of Greece's main travel destinations
which thousands of tourists visit every year.
Police arrested two teenagers on Rhodes over the weekend after they forced a domestic flight to abandon its
first landing approach.
Another teenager in Iraklio, Crete, was placed under judicial supervision earlier this month.
Incidents have also been reported on the island of Corfu -- another major travel destination -- and in the
northern city of Thessaloniki, where in June the local prosecutor ordered police to step up patrols around
Displaying symptoms of swine flu.. aboard Ocean Village 2
19th August 2009 ekathimerini
The British cruise ship Ocean Village 2 docked in Piraeus yesterday and the first people on board were doctors
appointed by the prefecture to check passengers and crew members that were displaying symptoms of swine
flu. Authorities said that 10 people on board were confirmed as having contracted the virus and that another
13 had been placed in isolation because they were also showing signs of the disease. It was also revealed
yesterday that a 53-year-old Frenchman has been admitted to an intensive-care unit in a hospital in Rio, the
Peloponnese, after developing swine flu while on holiday in Greece.
Torched British tourist's trial postponed
18th August 2009 AFP
The trial of a Greek woman who allegedly set a British tourist on fire for sexual harassment on the island of
Crete has been postponed by nine months, a local court source said on Tuesday.
17th August 2009 ekathimerini
Two men were admitted to hospital on Crete with gunshot wounds on Sunday after an argument outside a
bar in the village of Kavro, near Hania. It is not clear what sparked the row but witnesses said both men, aged
27 and 33, pulled out handguns and fired at each other. One was shot in the stomach, the other in the arm. In
Athens, a 25-year-old man was admitted to hospital after being shot in the chest during an argument over a
woman in the northern suburb of Acharnes.
Body of teenager found in Crete
13th August 2009 BBC
A British teenager has been found dead in Crete after a night out, the Foreign Office said. The body of 17-
year-old Andre Young, from Saffron Walden, Essex, was discovered on Wednesday morning in Malia. It is
understood his parents have flown to Crete to identify their son, who was found with serious head injuries. A
Foreign Office spokesman said the teenager had been reported missing on the Greek holiday island on
A spokesman for the police in Crete said they were not treating the death as suspicious and it was believed
the 17-year-old had fallen and hit his head.
His death was not being treated as suspicious.More than 200 people have joined a group set up in tribute to
Andre on the social networking site Facebook.
12th August 2009 ekathimerini
Five men have been arrested in Athens after a shipment of 143 kilos of hashish was found hidden in the trailer
of a truck on the island of Corfu. The drug was concealed in 128 airtight packs. Police said that two of the men
arrested are Greeks aged 25 and 34 and that the others are a Belgian, an Albanian and a Romanian.
Aegean Airlines to switch link to Heathrow
11th August 2009 TTG
Greek carrier Aegean Airlines is to switch its twice-daily London-Athens service from Stansted to Heathrow on
Outbound flights will depart Heathrow at 1245 and 1720 with inbound flights leaving the Greek capital at 0910
Airline bosses said they believed the departure times would suit both business and leisure travellers and
would allow for connections to domestic destinations in Greece.
Flights to Heathrow will be operated by a new Airbus A321 offering a full meal and inflight entertainment
Business-class passengers will have a larger and more comfortable seat, a choice of meals and coffees.
Aegean expects to become a member of the Star Alliance airline consortium by June next year.
Delay in torched tourist case
11th August 2009 ekathimerini
The trial of a Greek woman accused of setting fire to a British tourist who allegedly made lewd advances
toward her in a bar in the Malia resort of Crete was yesterday adjourned after the Briton returned to the UK in
apparent fear for his safety.
Marina Fanouraki, 26, is accused of throwing an alcoholic drink over 20-year-old Stuart Feltham in the Electra
bar along the busy Malia strip, and then setting fire to him.
Fanouraki denies setting Feltham, a plumber from Swindon in Wiltshire alight, but accepts that she threw her
sambuca drink over him after he allegedly fondled her. The 26-year-old’s reaction has gained some support in
Crete, where many locals are fed up with the behavior of some British tourists, and Feltham’s father
suggested yesterday this was why his son, who suffered second-degree burns to his chest and stomach, flew
back to England.
“The local people are stirring things up so much,” said Ian Feltham. “She’s a martyr. I think it does cause a
However, the plumber’s lawyer suggested his client returned home for other reasons.
“I asked for the postponement of the case as Mr Feltham had to return home for medical issues and to gather
more evidence with the help of his father,” said Giorgos Koundourakis.
The trial has been postponed until August 17 but Koundourakis suggested that there could be a further delay
so he can gather more witness statements. Feltham claims the attack was “completely unprovoked” and
denies making any advances or speaking to Fanouraki before the incident. However, the 26-year-old
yesterday decided to press charges of sexual assault, molestation and using insulting language against the
CRETE CRASH - Man killed, woman loses baby
11th August 2009 ekathimerini
One person was killed and a pregnant woman lost her baby in a six-car pile up on the Rethymno-Iraklio
highway late on Sunday. The deceased was identified as a 64-year-old man from Rethymno but he was not
named. Traffic police said that the 64-year-old lost control of his car and crashed into oncoming traffic. Officers
said it was not clear what caused the man to swerve. The pregnant woman was one of six people injured. She
suffered a miscarriage on her way to the hospital. An Italian tourist was also slightly injured in the crash.
7th August 2009 ekathimerini
Two men have been arrested on Crete after police discovered that they had been hiding a suitcase full of
drugs on a plot of land containing orange trees. The two suspects, both Albanian nationals, aged 26 and 27,
had allegedly placed the suitcase, which contained 2 kilos of unrefined cannabis, next to a chicken coop on
some land they were renting in the Kyrtomados area in Therisos Municipality. Police said that they acted
following a tip-off.
Scouts Critical - Two boys and one girl remain in Iraklio hospital after accident
5th August 2009 ekathimerini
Three members of a scouts group from Crete two boys and one girl, aged 11 to 13 were in critical condition in
an Iraklio hospital yesterday after sustaining serious injuries when a motorist crashed into them, and several
other children, at a bus stop near Ierapetra. The girl’s condition is of particular concern, as she sustained
serious head injuries, while the boys have multiple fractures. Police are questioning the 20-year-old foreigner
who was driving the car. It is believed that he had been trying to overtake a motorcycle when he lost control
of the vehicle. Another 11 children who were hit sustained less serious injuries.
5th August 2009 ekathimerini
Two Czech tourists, both aged 28, who had gone missing in Crete’s White Mountains last Saturday were found
on Sunday afternoon by a team of rescuers. The two had to be carried out of rugged gorge on the backs of
rescuers, but were in good health.
Greek tourism holding up in global downturn: minister
4th August 2009 AFP
Greece's vital tourism industry is holding up in "satisfactory fashion" against fears of serious losses due to the
global economic downturn, the Greek tourism minister said on Monday.
"Despite the economic situation things are proceeding in satisfactory fashion... the disaster scenarios
fortunately have not been fulfilled," Tourism Minister Costas Markopoulos told reporters after briefing Prime
Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Economic slowdown and job losses in the United States, Britain and Germany, which generate the bulk of
Greece's tourism income, had alarmed local operators with one prominent association warning in April that the
industry stood to lose five billion euros (7.1 billion dollars) this year and thousands of jobs.
At the time, the association of Greek tourism enterprises (SETE) said early bookings indicated a 20-percent
drop in arrivals and cruise ship demand.
Markopoulos on Monday said the latest figures pointed to a drop "between one and two digits."
The Bank of Greece recently reported that tourism proceeds in the first five months of the year fell 17.9
percent -- or 1.7 billion euros -- compared with the same period last year.
The country's main source of income after shipping, tourism makes up 18 percent of the Greek economy and
employs over 850,000 people directly or indirectly, according to the tourism ministry.
3rd August 2009 ekathimerini
Police in Crete on Saturday arrested two Albanian nationals in the act of hiding a package of drugs,
presumably for collection by a prospective customer, after several days of monitoring the suspects. Spotting
the two men, aged 23 and 27, leaving their apartment in Akrotiri, police followed the car, which stopped in a
remote spot off the Hania-Rethymno national road. The pair were then seen hiding a package, which turned
out to contain drugs, under a shrub. A subsequent raid by police on their home turned up 1.4 kilos of cannabis,
a smaller quantity of cocaine and three sets of scales.
Greece to vaccinate entire population for new flu
31st July 2009 Reuters
Greece will vaccinate its entire population of 12 million against the H1N1 swine flu pandemic which has swept
around the world in weeks, killing hundreds of people, the country's health minister said on Friday.
The Mediterranean country, which receives about 15 million tourists every year, has confirmed more than 700
swine flu cases and no deaths, but world health experts say the true number of cases globally is far higher as
only a few patients get tested.
"We decided that the entire population, all citizens and residents, without any exception, will be vaccinated
against the flu," Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said after a ministerial meeting.
Greece has already earmarked 40 million euros for vaccines and has placed orders with Novartis, Glaxo and
Sanofi for 8 million vaccine doses, to be received gradually by January.
Vaccine experts say people will likely need two doses of vaccine to be protected from H1N1 swine flu, so
Greece would need a total of 24 million doses to vaccinate its entire population. Other countries are taking
"Greece will order 16 million more doses from the same companies in the future," a health ministry official who
declined to be named told Reuters. "We are only waiting for the European Union's approval to start
The European Medicines Agency has begun reviewing pandemic flu vaccines under development, aiming to get
them approved before the flu season starts, sometime in September.
The health ministry official said children, the elderly and ailing would be the first to be vaccinated.
Tourists rescued near Sougia
30th July 2009 ekathimerini
Two Spanish women, aged 25 and 26, were in good health yesterday after being rescued by Cretan firemen
from an inaccessible spot near Sougia, in the island’s west, where they had become trapped during a
mountain hike. According to Haralambos Koukianakis, the head of civil protection for Sougia prefecture, the
women had telephoned the European emergency number 112 for help from one of their cell phones but their
directions had been vague and rescue workers needed several hours to find them. When they located them,
the women had run out of water and their cell phone batteries had died. Koukianakis appealed to tourists to
take all necessary precautionary measures when going on expeditions.
No flights to Northern Cyprus
30th July 2009 ekathimerini
The British High Court yesterday overruled an appeal by Cyprus Turkish Airlines and tour operator CTA
Holidays against a ban on conducting flights between Great Britain and the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus.
Cypriot Minister for Communications and Works Nicos Nicolaides welcomed the decision, saying it showed that
Turkey’s occupation did not eradicate the legal rights of the Republic of Cyprus.
Baptism of fire
27th July 2009 ekathimerini
Four men were arrested and three policemen slightly injured in the area of Mylopotamos, near the Cretan city
of Rethymno, on Saturday when a party to celebrate the forthcoming baptism of a child got out of hand. More
than 20 policemen arrived at the party after some of the guests began firing guns in the air. A brawl ensued
and officers made the arrests. However, one of the men who were arrested was later released as he was the
grandfather of the child that was to be baptized.
Heat and wind stoke blazes
25th July 2009 ekathimerini
As temperatures soared and winds remained high across much of the country yesterday, firefighters battled to
control serious blazes in Livadia, north of Attica, and in southern Crete.
Two water-dropping aircraft and two helicopters helped firefighters to tackle a blaze that broke out early in
the afternoon near Livadia in the prefecture of Viotia. Fanned by strong winds, the fire spread toward the
village of Davleio but had been brought under control by late yesterday. Another fire near the popular Cretan
resort of Ierapetra also kept firemen busy for several hours but had been contained by late afternoon.
Meanwhile, prefectural authorities in Athens closed all roads leading to Hymettus and Pendeli mountains to
protect forestland from would-be arsonists or accidental fire starters. The Peloponnesian prefecture of Ileia,
the worst hit by the catastrophic fires of 2007, has seen 68 blazes so far this year, most believed to have
been started through negligence.
25th July 2009 ekathimerini
Two men who held up a civil engineering office in Hania, Crete, yesterday made off with some 25,000 euros,
according to police. The two robbers, who had covered their faces, entered the building shortly before 2 p.m.
brandishing a sawn-off shotgun. They asked all four employees and the civil engineer who owned the office to
lie facedown on the floor as they took the money. There was a large amount of cash in the office as it was pay
day for employees and suppliers. The two suspects made off on a scooter.
Tourist deaths - Scot drowns in Zakynthos; cliff-fall victim may be British
24th July 2009 ekathimerini
A 31-year-old Scottish national drowned in a hotel swimming pool on the first day of his holiday on the Ionian
island of Zakynthos, the Scottish press reported yesterday. According to the reports, Ryan Bain drowned on
Sunday after going for a swim in the pool of the hotel where he was staying. His 29-year-old wife Natalie was
not poolside at the time of the drowning, according to the report, which did not give further details about the
circumstances of the incident. Meanwhile a local newspaper on Zakynthos reported that police were trying to
identify a man whose remains were discovered at the foot of a 25-meter cliff. A British passport was found
next to the body.
Illegals detained on Crete
22nd July 2009 ana.gr
Forty three of a total of 45 illegal migrants, detected in the southern coast of Hania prefecture on Crete, are
temporarily being hosted in a school building in the village of Kountoura, while two suspected migrant
smugglers have been arrested.
Late on Monday afternoon, 20 of the illegals were spotted by locals wandering along a rocky coast and,
according to their testimonies, they had reached the island on board a sail boat, which was later intercepted.
A total of 25 illegal migrants were found on the vessel, including two women, one of which was pregnant.
The would-be migrants had set off four days ago from Antalya, southern Turkey, with Italy as their destination
22nd July 2009 ekathimerini
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday heralded measures that are designed to ensure that Greeks
insured with the IKA social insurance fund get better service. He said that, as of September, a pilot program
would begin at eight IKA units whereby those insured with the fund could get free health checkups.
He also announced that the 184 hotline, on which callers can book appointments to see IKA doctors, would
soon have its software upgraded to provide more efficient service.
House fire in Chania
22nd July 2009 ekathimerini
Firemen who visited a house in the Cretan prefecture of Hania yesterday morning following reports of a fire on
the first floor of an apartment block discovered the charred remains of a 49-year-old woman in her bed. The
woman's husband and son had left the house in the morning, according to local police, who said they had
found the door of the apartment locked. It is unclear what caused the blaze, though firemen said that it was
likely that the mattress caught fire, possibly from a dropped cigarette.
Call for vigilance on swine flu symptoms
21st July 2009 ekathimerini
Health authorities yesterday called on all those with symptoms of swine flu to remain at home, noting that the
only way to avert the spread of the H1N1 virus is for those who have contracted it to isolate themselves.
The symptoms of H1N1, many of which resemble less-threatening forms of flu, are a high fever, sore throat,
respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea and chills.
According to Panos Eustathiou, a spokesperson for a committee coordinating health authorities’ response to
the spread of the virus, the overwhelming majority of those who have tested positive for swine flu in Greece
have only mild symptoms. According to Eustathiou, most of these cases are tourists whose numbers are rising
as the summer season gets into full swing.
It is unclear exactly how many cases of swine flu have been recorded in Greece, as the authorities stopped
daily announcements of the rising toll after the 300 mark, saying that this tactic might have a
counterproductive effect and actually discourage people from taking precautions.
In a related development yesterday, the results of a report by the National School of Public Health predicted
that a swine flu pandemic in Greece could cost the national economy up to 3 billion euros in healthcare costs
and work absenteeism over the next year.
Forest fires - Heat and wind pose major risk
20th July 2009 ekathimerini
Sweltering temperatures and strong winds resulted in several fires breaking out in different parts of the
country yesterday. One of the worst blazes was on the Ionian island of Zakynthos. Six water-dropping aircraft
helped firemen on the ground to bring the blaze under control by yesterday evening. Local authorities are
today on standby in many parts of the country following a warning yesterday by the General Secretariat for
Civil Protection that stronger winds will pose a serious fire risk in many parts.
Temperatures to hit 40 Celsius with high humidity
17th July 2009 ekathimerini
Meteorologists yesterday warned of a heat wave this weekend, noting that temperatures on Saturday were
set to rise to 39 Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) in Attica and 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in central Greece.
Northerly winds are set to intensify on Sunday, reaching 7 on the Beaufort scale, but high humidity levels are
expected to counteract their cooling effect. Temperatures are expected to ease off early next week but then to
rise again, probably bringing another heat wave.
EU Commission: Greece slow to incorporate EU directives
16th July 2009 express.gr
Greece and Poland are the worst performing of the 27 European Union countries in terms of incorporating EU
directives for the internal market into domestic law, according to figures released by the European Commission
By May 11, Greece and Poland had missed deadlines for incorporating 2.1 percent of Community directives into
national legislation, with Greece having failed to incorporate 34 directives out of 1,606.
Garbage truck driver beaten for ‘speeding’
16th July 2009 ekathimerini
A Cretan garbage truck driver was in hospital yesterday with five stitches in a head wound he suffered after
being set upon by a group of cafe patrons in Mouzoura, in Hania prefecture, early in the morning.
The driver said he had been en route to the local landfill when a group of men sitting at a table outside a cafe
ran into the road in front of the truck, forcing him to stop and accusing him of speeding. Two of them are then
alleged to have dragged him out of the vehicle and onto the road before beating him up. It was unclear
whether the irate group, one of whom is reportedly the president of the local council, had been under the
influence of alcohol.
The truck driver, whose union has lodged an official complaint over the attack, has said he will not press
charges if the assailants apologize.
15th July 2009 ERT
Kicking off 15 July, summer sales will run through the end of August. Consumers have focused their interest in
price reductions, which in some case they are expected to stand at 75 percent of the original price. The
Development Ministry has advised consumers to be cautious with misleading offers, and suggested traders to
make the best of the period to revive the market.
15th July 2009 ekathimerini
The central station of Omonia was closed down for two hours early yesterday afternoon, disrupting services
on the metro and Kifissia-Piraeus urban electric railway (ISAP) after an anonymous caller warned that a bomb
had been planted at the station. Services between Thiseio and Attiki stations were suspended shortly after 3
p.m. and resumed at 5 p.m. Police were alerted immediately and dispatched bomb disposal experts who
scoured the area but found no suspect device.
Silence of the lambs
14th July 2009 ekathimerini
Police from Hania yesterday were seeking the perpetrators behind the slaughter of 152 sheep from a farm
near the Therisos Gorge on Sunday. The local mayor condemned the attack, believed to be an act of revenge,
but stressed that it was an “isolated incident” in an otherwise law-abiding municipality.
Swine Flu symptoms in Crete
13th July 2009 ekathimerini
A 45-year-old British woman who is on holiday on Crete is being treated for swine flu symptoms, hospital
authorities revealed yesterday as the number of people suffering from the potentially fatal disease in Greece
rose to 258 although 128 of them have been given the all clear by doctors. Officials said that 16 new cases of
swine flu were confirmed in Greece yesterday. Ten of these cases were foreigners.
Hania cabbies in drive to improve reputation
11th July 2009 ekathimerini
In a bid to ensure that tourists are not taken for a ride, local authorities in the popular Cretan resort of Hania
have forged an unusual alliance with the island’s taxi union, setting up signs with a list of estimated charges
for common trips at key locations in the prefecture.
“The idea is for customers to know roughly how much they are going to pay and for us to provide better
services by stopping opportunistic taxi drivers from overcharging,” the president of the local taxi drivers’ union,
Ilias Karapatakis, said.
The initiative also aims to boost the standing of Hania, and Crete in general, during a tough time for tourism,
which brings in around a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product. “Signs are going up at taxi stands and
busy tourist spots with the aim of upgrading the tourism product,” said a spokesperson for the local tourism
Greece arrests policemen for sex trafficking ring
8th July 2009 Reuters
Greek authorities have arrested four policemen for trafficking hundreds of Eastern European women for
prostitution, police said on Wednesday.
"It is Greece's biggest trafficking case in the last 15 years," a police official said, adding that a retired police
officer, who recruited the women, was also arrested.
"All five were the masterminds of the ring," said the official, who requested anonymity.
The ring was responsible for bringing about 300 women to several night clubs in Athens over the past few
months, he said.
In a separate case, Greece arrested another policeman for human trafficking and drug dealing on Wednesday,
the official said.
International pressure is rising on Greece to fight trafficking. A U.S. government report released last month
said Greece needs to do more to punish offenders, whom it said often include government officials and
Despite 21 convictions last year, many offenders are released pending lengthy appeals and courts often give
them suspended sentences, the report said.
Greece is a destination and transit country for trafficking of women and children from countries including
Eastern Europe and Nigeria.
Police close down two city drug workshops
7th July 2009 ekathimerini
Five Albanians and two Iranians, believed to be key members of a drug-trading ring churning out some 50 kilos
of heroin onto the streets of the capital every month, were in custody yesterday following a police raid on a
sophisticated drug-cutting workshop in the city center over the weekend.
Officers confiscated all the workshop equipment, nearly 6 kilos of heroin, a smaller quantity of cocaine, three
sets of scales, 10 cell phones and a car believed to have been used to carry out drug runs.
Officers also detained a 30-year-old Albanian believed to have been running a similar workshop from an
apartment in the Athens district of Nea Smyrni. A search of his home unearthed two Kalashnikov assault rifles,
an MP5 submachine gun, a revolver, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and about 5 kilos of explosives.
Sex sting - Cretan bar owner detained
7th July 2009 ekathimerini
Police on Crete have arrested a 55-year-old bar owner and a 22-year-old Nigerian woman in a vice sting
operation in the district of Nea Kydonia, Hania. A policeman posing as a customer entered the bar in the early
hours of Monday. The owner introduced the officer to the Nigerian who led him to a back room where she
performed a striptease for 30 euros. The woman then offered “other services” for a fee of 80 euros but was
Police attacked again in Crete’s Zoniana
6th July 2009 ekathimerini
Police officers have been assaulted and threatened in the notorious Cretan village of Zoniana, the scene of a
botched raid two years ago, in an incident that has been kept quiet for several weeks, sources told Sunday’s
Three local police officers were allegedly beaten and threatened that they would be killed after they followed a
pickup truck that had crashed into their vehicle and then drove off into the village.
The incident occurred on June 18 but authorities chose to keep it quiet, as there is already a highly tense
atmosphere in the area since the trial of 42 locals began earlier this year in connection to the shooting of a
police officer in November 2007. The policeman was left paralyzed after locals opened fire on officers.
Sources said that some of those who attacked the policemen last month are suspects in the ongoing trial.
Large bomb strikes branch of McDonald’s
4th July 2009
A time bomb that exploded outside a branch of McDonald’s in the central Athens district of Ambelokipi early
yesterday, causing extensive damage to the premises of the fast-food outlet and to a tax office located above
but no injuries, was yesterday attributed by police to the terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle.
There had been no claim of responsibility for the blast by late yesterday but police said the “force and
methodology” of the blast pointed to the group, which bombed a branch of the US conglomerate Citibank in
March and fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the US Embassy in January 2007, both bloodless attacks. After
the Citibank hit in the affluent northern district of Filothei, Revolutionary Struggle had issued a proclamation,
warning of more attacks using timer-controlled explosive devices.
Yesterday’s bomb which, according to initial reports, comprised 2 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, had been
placed under a ramp for wheelchair access outside the fast-food outlet. It detonated shortly after 4.30 a.m.,
half an hour after an anonymous caller had alerted two mass-circulation newspapers about the impending
explosion. The blast destroyed a large section of the restaurant, which had been empty at the time, and a tax
office on the first floor, showering the sidewalk with broken glass and rubble.
Police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said it was clear that the US retail chain had been the intended target.
“The McDonald’s restaurant was definitely the target... the warning call also named the restaurant,” Stathis
Officers yesterday did not rule out the possibility of the attack being planned to coincide with America’s
Independence Day on July 4. One well-informed police source told Kathimerini that the McDonald’s bomb might
have been placed to distract police so that terrorists can plan a larger, more spectacular attack in the near
Queries choke smoking hotline
2nd July 2009 ekathimerini
Health Ministry workers manning a special telephone service providing clarifications to owners of bars and
restaurants as well as other citizens regarding smoking restrictions introduced yesterday were overwhelmed
with more than 10,000 calls between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., the ministry said.
Of the 10,086 calls made to the 1,142 telephone line, around 8,000 were reportedly owners of establishments
unclear about the precise implications of the European Union-imposed restrictions on their businesses. A total
of 44 complaints, about alleged violations of the new regulations, were lodged on the same number.
Official inspections of establishments began on the first day of the new restrictions though offenders were
given warnings, according to the general inspector for health matters, Michalis Sabatakakis. “We will be lenient
with fines in the first phase,” he told Kathimerini.
However Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos made it clear that the new regulations would be enforced
despite failed attempts to impose similar controls in the past.