NEWS

In Brief

Immigrants – Another 300 illegals arrested over weekend A yacht with 97 Afghan and Iraqi Kurd illegal immigrants on board was led by coast guard patrol boats to the port of Lavrion yesterday afternoon, after being spotted between the islands of Andros and Tinos on Saturday. Two Turkish crew members were arrested. On Saturday, Tinos coast guards arrested 164 Iraqi Kurds on a British-flagged yacht, along with two Romanian human traffickers. Also on Saturday, 22 Afghans were detained on Chios, where they had arrived on six inflatable dinghies. Another 11 were arrested in the same area yesterday. Speaking in Ghent on Friday at the end of an informal European Union summit, Prime Minister Costas Simitis surprisingly declared that he expected some 260-270,000 illegal immigrants to be arrested trying to enter Greece this year. So far, around 4,700 have been arrested by the coast guard, and considerably fewer by border guards. Olympics. Responding to questions yesterday on security for the 2004 Olympics, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose brief includes the sports portfolio, said: The Athens 2004 Olympics will be comparatively safer than (they would have been) in any other city in the world, for Greece is safer than most – if not all – Western countries. He was speaking in his home constituency of Thessaloniki. Hoaxers caught. Three schoolboys and a 20-year-old youth were arrested in the northern town of Drama yesterday for sending an envelope containing flour to a pensioner in the village of Vathytopos. It also contained a note with references to the Taleban. Police in biohazard suits had turned up to investigate the powder, which was identified by a local chemist. Leftists squabble. Synaspismos Left Coalition concluded a two-day central committee meeting yesterday on a note of strong discord, with party leader Nikos Constantopoulos attacking his predecessor, Maria Damanaki, for publicly criticizing Synaspismos’s stance concerning the US-led attacks on Afghanistan. The text of the central committee’s concluding decision accused Damanaki by name of having advanced baseless claims against the party and asserting that Synaspismos was falling in with Communist Party positions on the attacks. Peace demo. Some 500 people, mainly locals. demonstrated against the US-led attacks on Afghanistan outside the Souda Bay US base near Chania in western Crete yesterday. The protest ended peacefully.