Ministers sign pact for closer cooperation in judicial sectors Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and his Russian counterpart, Yuri Chaika, yesterday signed an agreement for closer cooperation between the judicial sectors of their countries. The pact calls for mutual assistance in drafting legislation, the establishment of close ties between the judicial authorities in both countries, mutual instruction in the structure and operation of judicial systems, and contributions to institutions for training judges in both countries. SIMITIS IN UK Premier to meet Blair for talks on EU Constitution, summit Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to meet his British counterpart, Tony Blair, in London today to discuss the agenda of the European Union summit in Thessaloniki next month as Greece’s presidency of the EU approaches its culmination. Talks, which will also be attended by EU officials, are to focus on the drafting of a European Constitution – a matter the British government is divided over. Blair met former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who is in charge of drafting the EU Constitution, in London a few days ago. CHILD ABUSE High figures reported Seven in 10 children under 2 years old being treated for head injuries in Athens’s Aghia Sophia children’s hospital have suffered abuse at the hands of their parents, according to experts who are to discuss the problem of violence within the family during a seminar at the hospital on Saturday. The seminar, organized by the hospital in association with organizations for the protection of children’s mental health, will also focus on how abused children can be treated to protect them from further problems in their adult lives. Interview? Health Minister Costas Stefanis yesterday ordered an urgent investigation into the alleged violation of the rights of a South African air stewardess – under supervision in Athens’s Sismanogleio Hospital after displaying suspected symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) – after the Espresso tabloid newspaper published what it said was an interview with the 23-year-old. The report in the daily Espresso included a photograph of the unnamed air stewardess in a hospital bed, but the Sismanogleio’s director said the woman, who has tested negative for the disease, denied giving the interview. The probe is also to focus on safety procedures at the hospital. EKAB action National First Aid Center (EKAB) workers are staging a four-hour work stoppage from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. EKAB staff are demanding the recruitment of more permanent staff, higher salaries, the payment of bonuses and overtime work, and the acknowledgement of their profession as a health hazard. Lawyers strike Lawyers in Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus today continue with a 48-hour strike they started yesterday in protest at proposed government reforms that aim to speed up judicial procedures in criminal trials. The November 17 trial, suspended yesterday due to the action, is to resume tomorrow. Climbing death A 51-year-old German mountaineer died after slipping off a ledge on the slopes of Olympus and falling into a 50-meter ravine on Tuesday, local police said yesterday. Roswitha Hildegard Knecht, who had embarked on the excursion with her husband, broke her neck on a tree trunk after losing her footing on a mountain path in the area of Hontromesorahi (which is at an altitude of 2,350 meters), according to rescue workers who took 10 hours to retrieve her body from the ravine. ATM stolen Unidentified thieves stole a bank ATM from the underground parking lot of the Henri Dunant Hospital in Athens late on Tuesday night, police said yesterday. The robbers, who heaved the machine onto the back of a truck, told passers-by they were taking the ATM away for repairs. Slimming centers Slimming centers were the focus of complaints made by consumers to the Development Ministry’s 1720 hot line, with 839 objections on the subject in the first quarter of this year compared to 257 for the same period last year (a rise of 226 percent), according to ministry figures made public yesterday.