NEWS

In Brief

SIMITIS TO STAY

PM refutes rumors of imminent resignation from PASOK leadership Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday refuted rumors in the Sunday newspapers that he would be stepping down as the head of the ruling PASOK party. «These are Midsummer Night’s dreams of those who want to obstruct the government’s work. I will not do them the favor,» Simitis said. The prime minister, speaking from Brussels, where he is due to chair today’s EU summit aimed at forging a common policy on Iraq, reiterated that elections will be held at the end of the government’s term in the spring of 2004. «That is when the Greek people will express their judgment,» he said. HELICOPTER CRASH Search stepped up for crew, fuselage Two coast guard rescue boats manned by eight frogmen yesterday joined efforts to locate the four-man crew and fuselage of the National First Aid Center (EKAB) helicopter that disappeared off Icaria last Tuesday. Earlier yesterday morning, an oceanographic vessel, with the help of a bathyscaphe, had been searching for signs of the fallen Agusta A109E and its crew. Illegal immigrants Samos port authority officials yesterday detained six illegal immigrants whom a local fisherman had spotted earlier off the island’s southern coast, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The migrants had reached the island from neighboring Turkish shores on an inflatable dinghy, the ministry said. Mercy flights A C130 military transport aircraft on Saturday transported an 11-year-old girl from Elefsina to Paris for an emergency liver transplant. This weekend, air force aircraft transferred people in need of medical attention from Astypalaia, Lemnos, Kasos and Tilos to Athens following last week’s government decision to ground National First Aid Center helicopters after Tuesday’s crash. Embezzlement An employee at Kavala’s municipal conservatory faces trial after admitting to charges that he had embezzled a total of 64,563 euros in pupils’ fees over the past four years, the Athens News Agency said yesterday. The employee, who has not been named, paid back the conservatory 38,151 euros after an inspection by municipal authorities revealed a shortfall of 32,231 euros, the ANA said. Municipal authorities were alerted to the racket when a colleague of the employee noticed discrepancies in the conservatory’s accounts, the ANA said.