NEWS

In Brief

EXTORTION

Simitis pledges thorough investigation as another businessman testifies Businessman Giorgos Apostolopoulos, who owns the Athens Medical Center, yesterday testified before an Athens prosecutor regarding allegations that journalists and extreme right wingers extorted money from top industrialists on the pretext of removing them from the hit list of the November 17 terrorist group. It was unclear whether Apostolopoulos was summoned to testify or went of his own accord. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Costas Simitis promised yesterday that «the affair will be taken right to the end, so that the truth emerges.» Another three leading businessmen are known to have testified in connection with the case, while five more are believed to have testified in secret. MISSING AT SEA Rescue teams to resume search for Romanian, Russian today Coast guard patrol boats and navy helicopters are today due to resume their search for two foreign sailors – missing off the island of Kea and off the coast of Neapoli, Laconia – after suspending rescue efforts at dusk yesterday. Romanian Ergen Besir, 28, was reported missing yesterday morning from the Malta-flagged cargo ship Karim, where he was third engineer. Winds reached 7 Beaufort off Kea yesterday. Russian boatswain Grigoriy Golovets, 39, disappeared from the Russian-flagged Sormovskiy 123 on Sunday evening. ATHENS FACTORY FIRE Votanikos blaze extinguished A team of 100 firefighters, handling 32 fire engines, yesterday extinguished a major blaze that broke out just after 4 a.m. in the front yard of the Kardasilaris dried fruit and nuts factory in Votanikos, before it could spread to petrol and propane tanks stored in the backyard and basement. But firemen remained at the site of the factory due to the risk of the damaged building collapsing. The building was gutted, but nobody was hurt. N17 trial The three judges who will sit on the trial of 18 November 17 terrorism suspects are to be drawn from 50 judges’ names on February 3, court sources said yesterday. The last N17 suspect to be arrested, Anestis Papanastasiou, yesterday appealed for release on bail. Firebomb attack A total of 11 explosive devices made of gas canisters caused extensive damage to trucks and machinery on a construction site in Thessaloniki early yesterday, but nobody was hurt. Proodeftiki construction firm, which is building a road junction in the northern city, suffered around 20,000 euros’ worth of damaged property. Tax statements Firms must send statements confirming gross salaries and tax deductions to employees by the end of this month, according to a circular distributed to employers by Deputy Economy Minister Apostolis Fotiadis yesterday. The statements are to be submitted to the tax office with income tax declarations. Insurance companies and banks are obliged to confirm how many premiums have been paid and what proportion of loans have been paid off respectively by the same deadline, according to the circular. Police fraud Officers from the Internal Affairs Division of the Greek police yesterday arrested a policeman working in the document authentication department of the Petralona police station for fraud. The officer, who was not named, allegedly regularly charged – and pocketed – an average of one euro more than the set fee for every authentication he carried out. Pilots protest Greek pilots are to participate in Europe-wide protests today against a recommendation submitted to the European Parliament for an increase in pilots’ daily working hours, the national pilots’ union said yesterday, without saying whether there would be strike action and disrupted flights. Protesters say the proposal would endanger flight safety, as the recommended 14-hour daily shift is exhausting. Fisherman drowns A fisherman, whose body was discovered off the coast of Nea Skioni in Halkidiki yesterday, probably drowned after getting caught in his own fishing net, local port authority officials said. A rescue team launched the search for Stavros Papachristodoulou, 50, after fellow fishermen found his boat adrift.