NEWS

In Brief

Road ahead

Maliakos Gulf section of national highway opens to drivers About 32 kilometers of the new section of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway near the Maliakos Gulf was opened to traffic yesterday. The new parts of the national road are in three sections near Kammena Vourla and Aghios Constantinos. Work on some 55 kilometers of the treacherous Maliakos Gulf section of the highway began last year and was due to be completed in three months. More than 100 people have been killed in traffic accidents along this section of road since 2000. The Public Works Ministry did not say when the remaining sections of the improved highway would be open for use by drivers. In good health Greeks believe they are among fittest in EU, survey shows Greeks believe that they are among the healthiest people in Europe, according to a Eurobarometer survey carried out by the European Union and made public yesterday. Eight in 10 Greeks said that they feel they are in excellent health. Only the Irish, Danes, Dutch and Belgians claim to be healthier than the Greeks. Only 24 percent of Greeks said they had a longstanding health problem - 5 percent lower than the EU average. Also, 8 percent of Greeks said they suffered from allergies, compared to an EU average of 17 percent. Extortion ring 49 indicted to trial in Larissa A group of 49 suspects, out of 55 implicated in an alleged usury and extortion racket based in Larissa, have been indicted to trial, it was revealed yesterday. Of the 49 suspects, 23 face serious charges, including forming part of a criminal organization, money laundering and extortion. Most of the suspects come from Roma families based in Larissa, according to the indictment which is 2,000 pages long. The indictment was issued following a 21-month investigation and depositions from around 180 witnesses. One of the ring members' most common tactics was allegedly stealing cars and then getting the car owners to pay for their return. A trial date was not set. Organic market A new street market, selling organically produced goods, will start operating in Piraeus as of next Monday. The license for the market, which will be based in Pigada Square, has been granted to the producers by the municipal authorities. Authorities also said they were planning to cooperate with the producers for an initiative aimed at introducing biological projects in kindergartens. Fisherman drowns A fisherman who had been missing since Tuesday was found dead yesterday off the coast of Nafplion. Coast guard officers said that the body of the unnamed 52-year-old was found in his fishing boat, the Glaroni, at a depth of some 40 meters below the surface of the sea. It was not immediately clear what caused the vessel to sink. Youths released Two teenage boys accused of stealing from and physically attacking two of their peers at a school in Nea Philadelphia, northern Athens, have been released from custody, according to authorities. The teenagers, a 14-year-old Albanian and a 15-year- old Ukrainian, told authorities they were provoked by their alleged victims. The younger of the two boys has allagedly been linked to the case of 11-year-old Alex Meshivili in Veria, northern Greece, who has been missing since February last year. Drug-related arrests Three farmers near the northern Greek city of Serres have been arrested on charges of cultivating and selling cannabis, police said yesterday. The suspects, aged between 39 and 46, are believed to have been growing cannabis plants in the village of Skoutaris. Meanwhile, police in Athens said they had arrested four members of a suspected drug-trading ring in western Athens. The men, aged between 35 and 49, are believed to have been trading in cannabis and cocaine.

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