NEWS

In Brief

EXTORTION AFFAIR

Vardinoyiannis testifies following Angelopoulos claims of N17 blackmail Business tycoon Vardis Vardinoyiannis yesterday testified before an Athens prosecutor in connection with claims that journalists and extreme right-wingers extorted large sums of money from leading industrialists on the pretext of saving them from the murderous attentions of the November 17 extreme-left terrorist group. Industrialist Theodoros Angelopoulos, who first made such claims in a July meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, testified on Wednesday. GARBAGE STRIKE Athenians asked to muck in as street cleaners start 3-day action Athens municipal authorities yesterday appealed to Athenians to dispose of their garbage themselves over the weekend during a three-day country-wide strike by municipal street cleaners and rubbish collectors starting today. Unionists will decide tomorrow whether to continue their action with rolling 48-hour strikes from Monday. Workers want their bonus to be raised by 45 euros. ILEIA QUAKES 4.5, 4.4 tremors ‘no concern’ Two earthquakes, measuring 4.5 and 4.4 on the Richter scale, struck the port of Kyllini in the western Peloponnesian Ileia prefecture just before and just after 1.30 p.m. yesterday. No injuries or damage were reported following the quakes which seismologists said were no cause for concern. Lingering doubts Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday protested to US Ambassador Thomas Miller over an announcement on the US State Department website, which warned that «despite the arrests of November 17 suspects in 2002, the potential of terrorist activities against US and commercial interests is presumed to be high» in Greece. «Travelers should review their security practices and be alert to their surroundings,» the consular information sheet read. Against privatization Environmental groups and coastal municipalities yesterday protested against a Parliament vote approving the privatization of 66 percent of Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA) which they called «tantamount to the sale of crucial state assets, including beaches, mountains, caves, hot springs.» The vote was approved by 140 votes to 124. «We will not allow the realization of unconstitutional provisions which will contribute to what would be the most significant national crime against the environment and society… in this country,» protesters said. They are to stage a protest rally in Palaio Faliron next Sunday. Beastly An Iraklion court yesterday convicted a 37-year-old man to four months in jail for the fatal sexual assault on a fellow villager’s goat nearly three years ago. Dimitris Kiousis, an Athenian living in the Cretan village of Sykologos, near Viannos, assaulted the goat of Manolis Restivakis in March 2000 to take revenge on his fellow villager whose animals kept grazing on his land. Kiousis, who had claimed to be an animal-lover upon his arrest, was not present for the verdict. Taxi protest A protest march by Attica taxi drivers yesterday caused less disruption than was anticipated in central Athens, as less than 500 of Attica’s 15,000 taxi drivers took part. The Association of Attica Taxi Drivers maintains that planned reforms for their sector – which include strict penalties for taxi drivers who mistreat their customers – threaten the survival of cabbies. Market vendors Protesting street market vendors are to block the entrance to the Economy Ministry on Tuesday. They want the ministry to suspend the adoption of new tax provisions for their sector until the approval of new legislation for the modernization of street trading, due to be tabled in Parliament within the next three months. Road accidents Motorcycles were involved in more than a third (34 percent) of road accidents in Thessaloniki last year, according to a study by traffic police made public yesterday. Out of 1,226 road accidents, 577 involved a motorcycle, police said, adding that they would be stepping up checks.