NEWS

In Brief

TRANSPORT PROBLEMS

Four-hour Athens bus strike as drivers discuss 2004-related problems There will be no buses serving Athens between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. tomorrow as drivers meet to discuss the problems they face due to the proliferation of Olympic-related works across the capital. «Drivers are forced to operate in exceptionally difficult conditions, frequently violating road safety regulations… bus terminals have disappeared, there are no longer any limits to working hours, and there are more and more minor accidents,» unionist Nikos Kouloubaritsis said yesterday, adding that bus drivers want clarification from the government on summer bus schedules and Olympic works. OUTSTANDING FINES Ministry gives 4-month extension for payment of municipal fines Citizens have another four months in which to pay outstanding fines to municipal authorities – most of which are for illegal parking – without being called to pay surcharges following yesterday’s decision by the Interior Ministry to extend the deadline until October 3. A ministry circular said the decision was forced by the large number of people who flocked to pay their debts as well as tardiness on the part of municipal authorities in sending their demands, which in many cases gave little detail of the offences in question. MUSEUM REOPENS Ancient Agora finds on display again The Museum of the Ancient Agora in Athens has reopened to the public, following the removal of equipment installed on the site for a ceremony over a month ago to celebrate the accession to the European Union of 10 new member states, the Culture Ministry said yesterday. Ambulance strike National First Aid Center (EKAB) workers are staging a 24-hour strike tomorrow, demanding the recruitment of more permanent staff, the doubling of the ambulance fleet serving Attica, higher salaries, the payment of outstanding bonuses and overtime, and the acknowledgement of the hazardous nature of their work. False alarm An American pilot hospitalized in Athens late on Sunday night after displaying suspected symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was suffering from malaria, experts from the Sismanogleio Hospital and the Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL) said yesterday. Tests conducted on the unnamed pilot, who had flown into Greece from Malaysia, showed no evidence of SARS, the Health Ministry said, adding that the man was discharged from hospital after being treated for malaria. No terror alert Greek authorities are not in a state of alert over the threat of a possible attack by Arab terrorists during the Olympic Games, government spokesman Christos Protopappas said yesterday. He was responding to a report in the Sunday Vima newspaper that foreign secret services have warned of terrorist sleepers already in Greece preparing for next year’s Games. Blackmail probe Far-right publisher Grigoris Michalopoulos is to testify before an Athens investigating magistrate on June 10 in connection with charges of blackmail and attempted fraud after receiving an extension in which to prepare his defense yesterday. Michalopoulos, 65, who owns the Eleftheri Ora daily, allegedly tried to extort money from several leading industrialists and churchmen, several of whom he is believed to have threatened with execution by the November 17 terrorist group. Frigate change The frigate Navarino sets off for the Persian Gulf this morning to replace its sister ship Kountouriotis, which has been carrying out patrol and escort duties in the Indian Ocean as part of the US-led military operation «Enduring Freedom,» a navy statement said yesterday. The Navarino is due back at the naval port at Salamina in September, the statement said. Basketball contest Concerns over the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic have led the International Basketball Federation to appoint Greece, instead of Malaysia, as the host of the seventh Men’s Junior World Basketball Championships from July 10 to 20, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.