Election candidates pledge to push for separate environment ministry Fifty-two candidates for Parliament have promised to pressure the government to set up an independent environment ministry to implement a more effective environmental policy, if elected. The candidates were responding to a questionnaire submitted to them by four environmental groups, including WWF Hellas and the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage. The majority of those interviewed said they were in favor of banning construction activity without planning permission and putting together a land registry that will include forest areas. Most expressed their opposition to a revision of Article 24 of the Constitution, which foresees the protection of forestland, and called for the use of more renewable sources in energy production. Fire controlled Large blaze near Ioannina destroys farmland but not homes Firefighters partially controlled a fire that broke out in Neohoropoulo, near Ioannina, in northwestern Greece, late yesterday. The fire destroyed 30 hectares of land but was contained before it could threaten nearby homes, authorities said. Two airplanes and a helicopter were involved in the firefighting operation. The cause of the fire was not known. Plates returned Motorists facilitated for elections Drivers who had their car license plates confiscated due to traffic offenses will have them returned in order to help transport for Sunday's national elections, the Public Order Ministry said yesterday. Plates will not be returned to those caught driving under the influence of alcohol or running a red light, the ministry added. Illegal immigrants The coast guard yesterday arrested 25 illegal immigrants found off the Aegean island of Samos traveling in a plastic boat, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The immigrants, two infants and five women, told authorities they were from Afghanistan and Lebanon. The immigrants were taken for medical checks before being led to a detention center on the island. Courts short Courts in Athens are still severely short of judges and court staff, it was revealed yesterday. The Athens Court of First Instance is short of 25 judges and the appeals court needs five more justices. This does not include judges who have taken leave for health reasons, court staff revealed. Racism trial The trial of lawyer Costas Plevris and the far-right newspaper Eleftheros Cosmos on charges of breaking the anti-racism law was yesterday postponed until December 3 due to the increased workload of judges ahead of the general elections. Plevris, the author of the book «Jews: The Whole Truth,» has been accused of publishing several anti-Semitic articles in the newspaper and «inciting actions that could provoke discrimination, hatred and violence against persons and groups of persons, solely because of their racial and ethnic origins.» Plevris denies the charges. Farmer dies A 74-year-old farmer from Yiannitsa, northern Greece, was killed after being crushed beneath his tractor yesterday. The farmer was driving along a country road when the vehicle overturned, killing him instantly. It was not immediately clear what caused the accident. The farmer was not named. Fatal crash A 30-year-old woman was killed early yesterday when the car she was driving on the Patras-Athens national road collided with two vehicles in the region of Panagopoula, on the border of Achaia prefecture. The woman's car first crashed into a vehicle ahead of her in the Athens-bound lane and then veered into the Patras-bound lane where it hit a truck. The driver of the truck and his female passenger sustained minor injuries. It was yesterday unclear what provoked the collisions.