NEWS

In Brief

CRIME RING

Magistrate visits jailed suspects, allows extension for testimony A magistrate investigating the activities of the so-called «Gang of 16» yesterday granted an extension until August to the group's suspected leader Panayiotis Vlastos and another two suspected ring members, Vassilis Stefanakos and Yiannis Skaftouros, so that they may prepare their defense on charges of participating in a criminal gang, manslaughter and kidnapping. The magistrate visited the three in jail in Trikala, Larissa and Thessaloniki, respectively, to avoid potentially troublesome transfers of the inmates. Vlastos and Stefanakos are to testify on August 9 and Skaftouros on August 10. SIEMENS PROBE Fresh appeal to Italians for files The magistrate leading the Siemens bribery investigation is expected to lodge a new request with judicial authorities in Italy where a probe is believed to have unearthed information about three suspects under the microscope in Greece. According to sources, Nikos Zagorianos is planning to seek a large block of files with details of an Italian bank account from which payments are alleged to have been made to suspects being probed by Greek authorities. Evia fire Water-dropping aircraft yesterday aided the efforts of firemen near Kymi and Avlonari on the island of Evia to bring two forest fires under partial control. Strong winds hindered the efforts of firefighters battling the blazes, each of which developed two fronts. The rescue effort was suspended at nightfall but a core of firefighters remained on standby to tackle a likely rekindling. Turkish violations Three formations of 16 Turkish fighter jets entered Greek air space yesterday in the latest violation to take place over the northern and central Aegean this week. Greek fighter jets were dispatched to chase off the Turkish planes, eight of which were armed, and there were three simulated dogfights. Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday reiterated calls on Ankara to curb its aggressive tactics in the Aegean. New passports New passports being issued by the Greek police, which feature a digital fingerprint of the holder, are expected to facilitate negotiations between Greek and US authorities aimed at including Greece on America's US Visa Waiver Program, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. One of the chief prerequisites by US authorities in considering Greece's application to join the VWP is that Greek citizens carry reliable travel documents. Hunger striker Politicians and members of human rights groups yesterday held a joint press conference, calling for the release of a 22-year-old man detained during the December riots in Athens who has been on a hunger strike for the past 20 days. Theodoris Iliopoulos is the only one of those detained during the riots who is still in custody. 'Pimp' arrested Police on the island of Kos yesterday detained a 33-year-old Romanian man alleged to have been offering fellow countrymen the sexual services of his 19-year-old Romanian girlfriend in exchange for cash. The woman, who had a 4-month-old child with her alleged procurer, managed to escape from their apartment and inform police.

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