NEWS

In Brief

A Greek man and four Poles were charged yesterday with smuggling 55 illegal immigrants into Greece after the migrants identified the five as the men who ferried them over from Turkey on a yacht. After a distress call, coast guard officials located Haralambos Glavas, 45, and the four Polish nationals in a rubber dinghy south-east of Evia on Wednesday, following the discovery further north of the Scrooge sailboat, which had been abandoned in a gale with the 55 immigrants aboard. A group of the migrants, who were mostly from Pakistan, were shown photographs of the five men and confirmed that Glavas and the Poles had picked them up from Turkey. TOURISM SLUMP Impending war in Iraq has hit British, German bookings Uncertainty over a potential war in Iraq has provoked a 30 percent drop in the number of British reservations for Greek holidays and a 15 percent drop in German bookings, the president of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies said at a press conference yesterday. The sooner an impending war begins and the sooner it finishes, the better for Greece, Yiannis Evangelou said. ANTI-WAR APPEAL MPs call on gov’t to use influence A group of 66 PASOK and New Democracy MPs yesterday called on the government to exploit its role as EU president to avert a potential war in Iraq. Such a war aims to «secure control of oil, but primarily to wound the EU economy and to block its prospects for political development,» according to a statement by the group who called on the European Parliament, individual parliaments of EU member states and the Church to wield their influence to the same end. Farmers protest Protesting Thessaly cotton farmers yesterday demanded to discuss their demands with Agriculture Ministry officials or European Commission officials in Athens after disrupting traffic by parking 300 tractors on the national road from Athens to Thessaloniki, near Larissa. The farmers – who are protesting against the impact on EU subsidies of proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy – are expected to block the busy Melissochori interchange today too. Tree injury A 52-year-old woman was yesterday in critical condition in an Iraklion hospital after being struck by a tree uprooted by strong winds in a nearby farming district. Georgia Adamaki, who was rescued from under the trunk by fellow villagers, suffered head injuries and broken ribs, doctors said yesterday. Doctors strike State hospitals will be operating on emergency staff next Thursday when doctors embark on a 24-hour strike while the ministerial council convenes to discuss issues related to the health sector. Doctors want more state spending on health and higher salaries. Anti-terror legislation A parliamentary majority yesterday approved legislation aimed at cracking down on terrorist bomb attacks. The draft law aims to «crack down on attacks using explosives and other murderous mechanisms and to punish perpetrators.» Pileup A total of 17 cars were involved in a pileup on the highway linking the Cretan ports of Kissamos and Hania yesterday, causing serious damage and some minor injuries. Petrol thrown over the road to set its newly laid surface caused the first car to skid out of control at the Tavronitis junction. Robbers identified Three Albanian nationals – two already in detention for other crimes – are responsible for a string of seven violent burglaries in the Athenian districts of Gerakas and Pallini at the end of last summer, police said yesterday. Samuel Beraz, 19, and Alfon Kahiou, 22, are being held for robberies they are alleged to have committed last October. Lefter Tsouka, 22, is at large. The trio would break into homes late at night – armed with a gun, ax or knife – and often injure the residents before looting valuables, according to police. WWII pistol A rusty 45-millimeter pistol unearthed on a building site in the Athens coastal suburb of Glyfada dates to World War II, police said yesterday.