LOCAL ELECTION COSTS
Last month’s 24.4-mln-euro total four times as much as in 1998 The government spent 24.4 million euros on last month’s prefectural and municipal elections – four times more than in the 1998 local elections, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said yesterday following a meeting with a cross-party committee on electoral reform. The committee will promote reforms to allow citizens who are registered as voters in locations other than their permanent place of residence to vote from their permanent home in forthcoming parliamentary elections, Skandalidis said. Most of last month’s election expenses were due to the introduction of a new electoral system (including new voting cards and the electronic collation of votes), Skandalidis said. EU INSPECTION Greece reprieved over environmental violations, warned anew about turtles The European Commission will suspend legal action against Greece, over alleged violations of European environmental legislation, for the first six months of 2003 when Greece will undertake the EU presidency, sources said yesterday, following last week’s fourth visit by inspectors this year. But the Commission is expected to issue Greece a second official warning next month over its failure to adequately protect and preserve the endangered Caretta-Caretta turtle nesting grounds on Zakynthos. THESSALONIKI FESTIVAL Winning Greek films announced The awards for Greek films at the Thessaloniki Film Festival were announced yesterday. Katerina Evangelakou’s «Think it Over» reaped the Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (for Mania Papadimitriou) awards, also sharing Best Director with Nikos Nikolaidis’s «Loser Takes All» (Best Photography for Costis Gikas). The second prize and Best New Director award went to Penny Panayiotopoulou for «Hard Goodbyes: My Father,» while Best Actor went to Vangelis Mourikis for his role in Nikos Grammatikos’s «The King.» N17 An appeal by alleged November 17 mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos against a decision Korydallos Prison authorities to discipline him for a newspaper interview he gave from jail, was rejected yesterday by a Piraeus court. Also yesterday, the Appeals Council rejected demands by N17 suspects Pavlos Serifis, Iraklis Kostaris and Constantinos Karatsolis that they should be discharged from Korydallos Prison. Yiannis Serifis is expected to demand his release in the next few days. Neo-Nazi attack A 27-year-old man, arrested on Saturday in connection with two vicious attacks in central Athens, was yesterday identified as a member of the Chryssi Avgi neo-Nazi party and charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm. Theodoros Magotsos allegedly attacked student Paris Chryssos, 20, and Chryssanthi Tsimbidou, 30, with the help of Haralambos Kousoumvris, 20, and Dimitris Papageorgiou, 22, who are being sought by police. Chryssos, who was stabbed, was hospitalised in stable condition. Tsimbidou received minor injuries after being beaten. Aegean tourism The southern Aegean has the greatest concentration of holiday accomodation in the EU – 56.4 beds per 100 residents, according to figures made public yesterday by the European Commission’s statistical service Eurostat. The region also has one of the highest percentages of overnight guests per 100 residents – 64.1 percent, Eurostat said. Naoussa protest The northern town of Naoussa and much of the Imathia prefecture yesterday ground to a halt for three hours from 11 a.m as workers from the private and public sector abandoned their desks to demand government support in regenerating regional industry and creating jobs. The local unemployment rate can reach 40 percent in winter, as the closure of several local factories over the past decade has cost thousands of jobs. Doctors strike State hospital doctors yesterday staged the first of a series of five consecutive three-hour work stoppages from 11 a.m., demanding more pay and extra staff.