Bill to extract museum from legal quagmire

In a bid to dig its key project for the new Acropolis museum out of a legal quagmire, the government has drafted a special bill that would legalize the controversial building, a report said yesterday. Greece has staked much credibility on repeated pledges to build the 50-million-euro museum (in which it hopes to display the fifth-century-BC Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles should the British Museum ever return them) before the 2004 Olympics. But critics who argue that important ancient ruins found on the museum plot will be destroyed during construction have successfully challenged parts of the project before the Council of State. Yesterday's Eleftherotypia daily said an amendment in a bill tabled in Parliament on Thursday would allow Parliament to approve the project, thus circumventing the court. Construction is already 17 months behind schedule.