Seeking fare hike, bus lane access, cabbies to hold protest drive today Some 15,000 Athens taxi drivers started a 48-hour strike yesterday, seeking higher fares and free access to the capital’s bus lanes – which public transport officials say would drastically slow down Athenian buses and trolleys. As a result of yesterday’s strike, traffic congestion was much lower, and public buses moved 20 percent faster than usual. Today, taxi drivers will stage a protest drive to Parliament along central Athens bus lanes. The strike ends at 5 a.m. tomorrow. IRAQ Greece will offer facilities and support but no troops, minister says Greece will offer material support and facilitate allied forces in the event of war in Iraq but will not send its soldiers to fight, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. He said Greece would support the United Nations if it deemed military intervention in Iraq to be necessary, adding however: «I want to stress that, in no circumstances will Greece put the lives of its people in danger by participating in war operations.» ACROPOLIS MUSEUM Project given go-ahead The Ministry of Culture late on Tuesday approved the final plans for the new Acropolis Museum, to be built beside a former military hospital in Makriyianni, next to the ancient citadel. Museum officials told the ministry’s Central Archaeological Council that excavations for the 94-million-euro glass and concrete building’s foundations would start in January. The foundation stone was supposed to have been laid in July. The building, where Greece hopes one day to exhibit the Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, is due for completion in mid-2004, although not all the exhibition halls are expected to be ready by then. Lesperoglou The Supreme Court yesterday approved September’s appeals court ruling that cleared Avraam Lesperoglou of the attempted murder of policeman Giorgos Psaroudakis in Exarchia 20 years ago. A decision by an Athens court acquitting Lesperoglou by a 4-3 vote had been based on thorough reasoning, a Supreme Court prosecutor noted. Lesperoglou was Greece’s prime left-wing terrorism suspect for 17 years, only to be repeatedly acquitted. Fire risks Fire precautions at hotels, department stores and other indoor public venues are inadequate and should be upgraded immediately – especially in view of the anticipated influx of tourists ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games, the Consumer Institute (INKA) said in a petition to ministries and public services yesterday. Serifis appeal November 17 suspect Yiannis Serifis yesterday lodged an appeal for his release from jail, arguing that there is no solid evidence to justify the charges lodged against him, nor his temporary detention. Firebrand The head of the Church of Greece said yesterday he took part in student street protests seeking Cyprus’s independence between 1956 and 1960. «We got beaten up by the police,» Archbishop Christodoulos said. «We took to the streets about Cyprus, we were on the pavement as young people should be – and not in bed,» he added. Christodoulos has famously defended himself against allegations that he took no stance against the 1967-74 military dictatorship by saying he was absorbed in his studies at the time. Child porn A 44-year-old German man has been arrested for allegedly creating child pornography to display on the Internet, police on Crete said yesterday. The man, who has not been named, allegedly photographed young boys and girls in provocative poses and displayed the pictures on the website of a US-based company, according to police who confiscated photographs and videos from the man’s home in the village of Gournes near Iraklion. Anti-fascist rally Leftists and anarchists yesterday called on students, workers and other supporters to join an anti-fascist rally – starting outside the Athens University gates at 6.30 p.m. today – in protest at violent attacks by neo-Nazis on demonstrators at a rally commemorating the 1973 Polytechnic revolt on November 17. Protesters are demanding that the government shut down the offices of far-right group Chryssi Avgi, of which one of the attackers was identified as being a member.