NEWS

In Brief

IRAQ CONVOY ATTACKED

Greek diplomat, staff unharmed after vehicles carrying aid shot at Greece’s charge d’affaires in Baghdad, Nikolaos Garilidis, and three aid workers were yesterday unharmed after unidentified assailants fired twice at a convoy of vehicles in which they were traveling to Baghdad carrying humanitarian aid, the Foreign Ministry said. Two shots were fired at the convoy about 90 kilometers (56 miles) outside Baghdad, the ministry said, adding that the vehicles subsequently continued on to the Iraqi capital without further incident. HIGHWAY BLOCKADE Municipal staff and residents charged, police inactivity to be probed Chief prosecutor Sotiris Bayias yesterday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into the blockade of the Athens-Corinth road at the Mandra Bridge on Sunday by the local mayor, municipal staff and local residents against whom he also brought criminal charges. Bayias has also ordered that an investigation into the incident determine whether any police officers should face criminal charges for failing to stop the blockade and make arrests. Protesters oppose plans to build Athens waste management facilities in their area. ATHENS FIRES Suspected arsonist in custody Police were last night questioning a suspected arsonist matching the description of a man spotted near four fires in central Athens earlier in the evening. The 35-year-old – 1.55 meters tall, with curly hair and a moustache – resembles a man spotted at the scene of fires at an apartment block on Kolokotroni Street, a basement flat in Karytsi Square, an apartment block on Korai Street and a building on Karaiskaki Street, police said. In all cases, the man was seen hurrying off with a plastic bag. All the blazes were extinguished and nobody was hurt. EU-US PM Costas Simitis said yesterday that it was a priority of the Greek EU presidency to bridge the chasm that has opened between some European countries and the United States and that he will seek to have «a clear mandate» from the bloc’s 15 members and 10 new members when he meets with President George Bush in Washington in June. «We need extensive talks and joint efforts to overcome the difficulties,» he told a meeting in Athens of EU countries’ parliamentarians who sit on European affairs committees. Air space violations Two Turkish F-16 jets yesterday violated the Athens Flight Information Region to harass a Greek P3-Orion naval aircraft on a training flight about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of Rhodes. The Turkish jets, flying 2,000 feet above the Greek aircraft, came within 3 kilometers of the P3-Orion before being chased off by Greek fighter jets. Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday raised the problem of Turkish airspace violations with James L. Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (SACEUR), who is on an official visit to Athens. Syngros Estate The 97-hectare Syngros Estate near Kifissia is to be tidied up and reopened as a public park, the Agriculture Ministry announced yesterday. Works to create footpaths and cycle routes should be completed by the summer. The Syngros Villa, Aghios Andreas Church and the large cowshed on the estate are all to be renovated and to reopen as cultural centers. A proposal to turn the villa into an office for Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys was rejected. Papandreou briefing Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday briefed US Secretary of State Colin Powell by telephone on the conclusions of the weekend’s informal summit of foreign ministers on Rhodes and Kastellorizo, ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said. Papandreou also spoke with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al Shara, Beglitis said. Officer dies Lieutenant General Constantinos Constantinou, the commander of NATO’s Larissa headquarters for Southcentral Europe, died of heart failure yesterday afternoon at the Athens 401 military hospital. Poisoned strays Mayor of Perama Yiannis Lagoudakos yesterday brought charges against the unidentified individuals responsible for the fatal poisoning of 20 stray animals found in the area last weekend.