NEWS

In Brief

AID TO IRAQ

Mayor, agencies prepare package, armed forces contribute vaccines Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni and representatives of aid agencies including the Red Cross, ActionAid, UNICEF and Doctors of the World yesterday agreed to send humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq. Municipal authorities will begin preparing the aid package on Monday, Bakoyianni said, adding that the contents of the package would be made public soon. Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it would be contributing thousands of doses of vaccines – against diphtheria and tetanus, and hepatitis A and B – to humanitarian aid packages. ‘NO CORPSES’ British military on Cyprus denies reports of bodies sent to Akrotiri A British military representative on Cyprus yesterday denied reports that the bodies of soldiers killed in action in Iraq had arrived at the Akrotiri military base on the island. British army spokesman Rob Need said no corpses had been sent to Akrotiri. He added that a small number of injured soldiers were being treated at Akrotiri’s military hospital. A total of 20 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq, according to figures made public yesterday by the British armed forces. Also yesterday, Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that US fighter jets have yet to use Cypriot air space, despite having been granted the right to do so. NEW YORK PARADE Greek march ‘should go ahead’ New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki yesterday asked the city’s Federation of Greek Unions to go ahead with a parade celebrating Greek independence it was scheduled to hold on Sunday despite the federation’s reservations over likely terrorist attacks due to the ongoing US-led war in Iraq. «Our lives go on, and we must not show terrorists that they have achieved their target,» Bloomberg and Pataki told the federation’s leadership. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis is among the many Greeks due to attend the parade along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Store hours Stores are to stay open until 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday and until 6 p.m. on Saturday as of March 31 when summer opening hours come into effect, retailers said yesterday. Canary fanciers Police in Thessaloniki were yesterday seeking to identify the thieves who stole more than 400 canaries from a warehouse in the northern city. About two years ago, burglars sabotaged a canary song contest in Sykies, near the northern port city, stealing dozens of birds. Not kidding A 73-year-old Thessaly man whom police had talked out of taking his life yesterday morning was found dead just two hours later at the intended spot of his suicide, the River Pinios near Larissa. The man, who has not been named, had confided his troubles to local police officers before leaving the police station to return to the Alkazar bridge from which he jumped into the river. Citizen support A total of 2.15 million euros will go toward setting up seven Citizens’ Information and Service Centers (KEP) across Athens, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni agreed yesterday during a meeting at City Hall. Cocaine haul A professional yachtsman, arrested on Crete last week on suspicion of smuggling 179 kilos of cocaine into Greece on a Lebanese-owned yacht, was remanded in custody yesterday after appearing before a Rhodes prosecutor. Ilias Kovatzis, 28, is believed to have captained the Gibraltar-flagged Faraway, which sought refuge from stormy seas at the Dodecanesian port of Kasos last Monday. Seaman Antonis Vlachopoulos, 31, who claimed to have come upon the drugs by accident, was also remanded in custody. Kaliningrad Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday met Russia’s presidential representative for Kaliningrad in Athens for talks on the future of the Kaliningrad pocket – a piece of Russian land in the Baltic States – after the accession to the European Union of Poland and Lithuania, when Kaliningrad will be separated from the rest of Russia by European land. The issue of transit visas for Russian citizens is due to be discussed at an EU-Russian summit in June.