NEWS

In Brief

DEATH IN DETENTION

Serbian suspect kills himself in Thessaloniki police cell A 36-year-old Serbian national hanged himself in a Thessaloniki detention center where he was being held after allegedly holding another man hostage at gunpoint for seven hours before beating him up, police said yesterday. Police arrested Goran Topic and a 26-year-old fellow Serbian on Thursday night after they visited the alleged victim at his Thessaloniki apartment on Tuesday to demand the return of 50,000 euros they believed he had stolen from them. On Tuesday, a suspected child pornographer hanged himself in the toilets of the Attica police headquarters detention center in central Athens. EDUCATION PROTEST Teachers, students demand funds as EU ministers meet in Athens Two protest marches by more than 5,000 teachers, schoolchildren and students who want more state funds for education yesterday caused traffic chaos in central Athens for hours. A similar rally took place in Thessaloniki. The rallies coincided with the opening of a two-day summit of 25 European education ministers in Athens. FACTORY BLAST Two injured in orange juice plant Two factory workers were in the hospital with serious injuries yesterday after a strong explosion in the steam boiler of an orange juicing plant near the town of Sparta in the Peloponnese. It is unclear what caused the blast, which did not lead to a fire. The General Confederation of Greek Workers condemned the accident, claiming that the factory had received several warnings in the past over alleged non-adherence to health and safety regulations. Good neighbours Drama’s police department yesterday denied the alleged beating by some of its officers of a man arrested in the northern city on Tuesday morning for alleged drunk driving. Drama’s police chief ordered an investigation to determine whether waiter Nikolaos Fylaktos, 38, was actually handcuffed and beaten after refusing to take an alcohol test, as press reports claimed. A police statement said Fylaktos had been subdued for his own good after he started screaming and banging his head on his cell’s walls early in the morning, drawing complaints from sleepless neighbours. FIBA warning The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) yesterday called on Athens 2004 organizers to speed up the construction of an 18,000-seat indoor basketball stadium at the site of the old Athens airport following a three-day inspection tour. Delays at the Hellenikon complex could mean the test event – scheduled for spring 2004 – may not be able to take place, FIBA’s General Secretary, Patrick Baumann, said. Mask ban The sale of a popular carnival mask – consisting of a ghostly white hooded face and a device to pump fake blood across it – was yesterday banned after the Development Ministry decided it was potentially disturbing to children. The «scary movie with blood and pump» mask – which is marketed as a children’s toy with a warning against its use by the under-3s – poses «a risk to the smooth formation and development of (children’s) personalities and especially their mental health,» the ministry said. Traffic disruption Roadworks starting at 9 p.m. tomorrow and finishing at 6 a.m. on Monday will cause disruption to Athens-bound and Corinth-bound traffic on the bridge at the intersection of Athinon Avenue and Constantinopoleos Street, the Public Works Ministry said yesterday. New bus A new Athens bus route connecting residents of Kypseli, Galatsi, Palaio Psychico and Neo Psychico with metro stations at Ambelokipi and Katehaki, and with Kifissia and Mesogeion avenues starts operating today. The No. 36 Kypseli-Katehaki route means commuters no longer have to pass through central Athens. Buses will run every 15-10 minutes at peak times, and every 25-30 minutes at other times. Iliescu visit Romanian President Ion Iliescu, on a private visit to Athens, yesterday visited Prime Minister Costas Simitis and President Costis Stephanopoulos. Iliescu made no comments after either visit.