NEWS

In Brief

AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS

Turks accuse Greeks, Cypriots accuse Turks The Turkish military yesterday claimed an increase in Greek warplanes’ violations of Turkish airspace in recent weeks. The General Staff, in a written statement, blamed Greek planes for six violations off the southwest coast of Turkey in late November and December, saying that Turkish planes escorted the Greek planes away from the region. The statement also warned of the potentially «dangerous consequences…in the Aegean» of such actions. Meanwhile, the Cypriot Defense Ministry has said Turkish fighter planes are responsible for a new spate of violations of Cypriot airspace over the Christmas period, noting 45 airspace violations and as many transgressions of the Nicosia Flight Information Region in the region of Carpasia. IMMIGRANTS Coast guard picks up 180 people from Aegean islet Coast guard vessels yesterday picked up about 180 illegal immigrants discovered on the small islet of Yioura off the central Aegean island of Alonissos. The immigrants, whose nationalities were not immediately known, were ferried to the mainland port of Volos. Local fishing boats spotted the migrants who are thought to have departed from the Turkish city of Izmir on a wooden fishing boat and foundered off Yioura en route to Greece or Italy, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. All the passengers of the boat are believed to be safe. Port authorities at Alonissos and Volos are trying to establish whether there were other immigrants aboard the boat who are still missing. BABIES SOLD Nicosia gynecologist fined A court in Nicosia yesterday fined a Cypriot gynecologist 3,750 Cyprus pounds ($6,000) after he pleaded guilty to selling newborn babies of Romanian mothers to childless couples, The Associated Press reported. George Evripidi, 42, pleaded guilty to five counts of violating adoption and immigration laws by arranging in five instances for Romanian women to come to Cyprus and deliver their babies at his clinic. Evripidi would then arrange for the infants to be declared the natural babies of couples who would pay him between 5,000 and 11,000 Cyprus pounds ($8,000 to $12,600). Immigration authorities became suspicious after one of the Romanian mothers, Sanda Niculae, 27, arrived for a second time to deliver a baby she allowed Evripidi to sell for $2,500. Israel appeal. A group of 108 members from all parties in the Greek Parliament yesterday signed an appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to order the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories and put an immediate end to armed raids. The MPs stressed in their appeal that this was crucial to push forward negotiations for a just and viable solution to Palestinian demands within the framework of the decisions of the UN Security Council, adding that Israeli army raids were killing civilians and feeding a cycle of violence. Israeli Ambassador David Sasson responded by expressing concern that the «murderous activity» of the Palestinians was being overlooked by those who «repeatedly criticized (Israel) for trying to protect its citizens.» FYROM visit. Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is to visit Athens on January 3. Swans shot. More than 70 wild animals and birds, including 40 swans, spent the Christmas period at the National Care Center for Wild Animals and Birds on the island of Aegina after sustaining serious injuries in the previous days. Veterinarians at the center attribute the injuries to the recent poaching binge witnessed from Evros to Crete as well as an inefficient response from the public order authorities which did not how or where to direct their supervision. Stone-throwing. Police in Koropi, southeast of Athens, yesterday arrested a man they believe could be the partner in crime of an anonymous stone-thrower who has terrorized motorists in Faliron. Giorgios Georgakopoulos, 33, was caught by police yesterday after throwing a stone through the windscreen of Andreas Pitsinis’s car while the latter was driving along the Lavrion Road. Pitsinis was not injured. Police are particularly interested in as Georgakopoulos as he lives in Argyroupolis, southern Athens, which is close to Faliron – the favored spot of the anonymous stone-thrower whose attacks have resulted in two women being injured. There is, however, no evidence as yet to support the hunch. Georgakopoulos has been charged with inflicting damage while a psychiatric diagnosis is to be sought.