NEWS

In Brief

EKAB ‘IN INFANCY’

More ambulances, helicopters needed, first aid service chief complains The National First Aid Center (EKAB) needs about 50 extra ambulances in Attica alone, as well as several extra helicopters to adequately fulfill its duties, the service’s chief told a parliamentary committee yesterday, stressing that «EKAB is still in its infancy.» The planned addition of five new helicopters to EKAB’s fleet is not sufficient for the service to realize its chief aim of air-lifting traffic accident victims from national roads to the hospital and to cover remote areas, EKAB President Christos Ressos told the committee. NOVEMBER 17 Kostaris punished for interview, Xeros brothers to share cell November 17 suspect Ilias Kostaris will have no visits or telephone access for three days. Korydallos Prison authorities decided yesterday to punish Kostaris for an interview he gave the Sunday Eleftherotypia via his lawyer. In the interview, Kostaris said he was «forced by police to denounce certain fellow defendants.» Self-confessed N17 hitman Savvas Xeros is to share a cell with his brother Vassilis, jail authorities decided yesterday. Meanwhile, dozens of academics, lawyers and leftists held a press conference calling for the release of trade unionist and N17 suspect Yiannis Serifis. RETURN OF THE OWLS Athens regains its ancient mascot Owls are back on the capital’s Acropolis, Philopappou and Pnyx hills where they lived for millennia before traffic and tourism scared them off, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. The return of the owls – the badge of ancient Athens that appeared on the city’s coinage – follows significant pedestrianization works and the subsequent drop in pollution and noise levels. Smoking ban Restaurant and cafeteria owners will have to segregate smokers in their premises as of Sunday or face going out of business, Health Minister Costas Stefanis said yesterday. Establishments that are not reorganised will not have their licenses renewed, he said, adding that penalties would not be imposed for a short transitional period (whose duration he did not determine). A ban on smoking in all public areas, including hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, schools and public service buildings came into force in October. Metro fire drill Athens metro officials yesterday conducted a fire drill at the partially-built Nomismatokopeio station, near the National Mint at Holargos, which is scheduled for completion after 2004. Change of guard The navy frigate Hydra will set sail from the naval base of Salamina this morning, on its way to replace its sister ship Adrias, which is participating in international «Enduring Peace» operations in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The Hydra will form part of an international flotilla targeting the Al Qaeda terrorist network until March 2003. Conscript suicide A navy conscript, serving as a naval engineer at Crete’s Souda Bay base, committed suicide yesterday, the navy said. It is unclear how Ioannis Perros, whose age was not made public, took his life. Roadworks Traffic will be suspended over the next five months on the section of Neratziotissis Street between the Eirini electric railway station and Eptalofou Street in Maroussi, northern Athens, due to the construction – which began yesterday – of a pedestrian route to provide access to Eirini station. Smugglers jailed A Lefkada court yesterday gave a four-year jail sentence to the Russian captain of a cargo ship, discovered off the island’s coast last Wednesday with 152,000 packets of contraband cigarettes on board, and sentenced two other Russian crew members to two years in jail. Captain of the Tonga-flagged Schleichgang, Alexandre Borirovic Jarkov, 47, engineer Vladimir Nikolaevic Denissov, 47, and assistant engineer Valery Victorovic Kozlovsky, 31, can buy off their sentences. Power plant Residents of the southeastern Athens districts of Ilioupolis and Argyroupolis yesterday demanded an immediate halt to the construction of a PPC high-voltage substation on the border of the two municipalities, saying it posed a serious health risk.