NEWS

In Brief

EU ON IRAQ

Papandreou, Solana, Patten to visit Powell in Washington Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten are to meet in Washington on Thursday with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to discuss averting an Iraq war, Papandreou said yesterday after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. «We are very clear we are talking disarmament, not regime change» in Baghdad, Papandreou said. POLICE BLACKMAIL Former Pyrgos chief gets 8 years for running protection racket A Patras appeals court yesterday gave an eight-year jail sentence to the former chief of police of the Peloponnesian town of Pyrgos for taking money from establishments operating illegal slot machines in return for covering up their illicit activities. The court found Grigoris Dimitropoulos guilty on repeated counts of blackmail as well as incitement to commit perjury. Dimitropoulos had been accused of blackmail in the suicide note of an Internet cafe owner. ROADWORKS On Faliron bridge, Mesogeion Ave Construction work which started yesterday on the bridge in front of the Peace and Friendship Stadium at Neo Faliron will disrupt traffic in both directions between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily until Sunday. Also, drivers will not be able to use the right-hand lane of Mesogeion Avenue at the junction with Xanthou Street (where a new metro station is under construction) – starting today and for about a month between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily – as the Athens Metro’s tunnel-boring machine is dismantled and moved away from the site. 4.5 quake A 4.5-magnitude earthquake which struck an area 25 kilometers south of the Peloponnesian town of Aigion just after 3 p.m. yesterday caused no injuries or damage, according to seismologists who said the quake was an isolated occurrence. Solidarity for N17 A French Euro MP and leading member of France’s Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire yesterday expressed his certainty that Theologos Psaradellis is innocent following a visit to the November 17 suspect in Korydallos Prison. Alain Krivine referred to Psaradellis as his «old companion and friend» and said «democracy owes a lot» to the alleged left-wing terrorist. Krivine said he had met Psaradellis in 1972 when the N17 suspect was seeking political asylum in France from the military dictatorship then ruling Greece. Water reserves The capital’s water reserves are almost twice the size they were last year – and approaching 1985 levels – following recent heavy rain and snowfall, the Athens Water Company (EYDAP) said yesterday. Athens reservoirs currently hold more than 1 billion cubic meters of water as compared to 515 million cubic meters at the same time last year, EYDAP said. Reservoirs held 1.1 billion cubic meters of water in 1985. Ecstasy sting Police in Athens were yesterday seeking the associate of a 39-year-old Bulgarian former police officer from whom more than 9,300 ecstasy tablets were seized on Sunday following his arrest in Thessaloniki. Following a six-week investigation, Ioannina detectives arranged to meet Simeon Denkov – a former trainer of Bulgarian special forces officers and judo champion – in the Kalamaria area of Thessaloniki. Posing as customers, the officers paid Denkov 20,000 euros and arrested him when he gave them packages of ectasy pills. Doctors strike State hospitals in Athens and Piraeus will be operating with emergency staff between 8 a.m. and 12 noon tomorrow while doctors stage a four-hour work stoppage. Doctors, who want more funding for their sector, say funds allocated to state hospitals for 2003 are inadequate to ensure their safe operation. Chinese aid Greece is sending 200,000 euros in humanitarian aid to help China deal with the problems caused by the 6.8-magnitude earthquake which struck a remote area in the country’s northwest yesterday morning, the Foreign Ministry said. At least 259 people had been reported dead last night and hundreds of buildings flattened.