New appeal against controversial project to divert river waters Local and prefectural authorities in western Greece, as well as environmental and tourism groups, yesterday lodged a suit in the Council of State against renewed government plans to divert the flow of the Acheloos river, sending its waters to irrigate the fields of Thessaly. The new plans were launched in March. In 2000, the supreme administrative court had frozen the project on grounds of damage to the environment. ROAD SAFETY All trucks to have ABS brake systems from August All trucks and buses on Greek roads will have to be equipped with anti-block system (ABS) brakes from August 1, according to a joint decision by the Transport and Economy ministers, Christos Verelis and Nikos Christodoulakis, made public yesterday. The classification or sale of trucks and buses that do not have the ABS system will be banned, according to the decision which follows a crackdown on truck and bus safety in the wake of several road accidents (including the death of 21 schoolchildren in the Vale of Tempe in April) attributed to poorly maintained vehicles. YOUTH CRIME Cases have doubled nationwide The number of Greek minors tried for crimes from 2001 to 2002 practically doubled, to 1,802 from the 963 who faced court from 1997 to 1998, according to figures made public by a Thessaloniki youth support group yesterday. The figures – mostly relating to offences such as highway code violations and robberies but sometimes involving arms – showed a 781-percent rise in minors tried in Thessaloniki courts (from 11 in 1997-1998 to 86 in 2001-2002), according to figures made public by the Arsis group. Of the 86 cases, 44 were robberies often compounded by charges of gun use or possession and drug-related crimes. Extradition threat? The alleged mastermind of the November 17 terrorist group, Alexandros Yotopoulos, claimed yesterday to have been threatened by counter-terrorism officials, just after his July 17 arrest, with extradition to the USA in order to confess involvement in the group. Yotopoulos, a 59-year-old, Paris-born translator, told the court trying him and another 18 N17 suspects that in the presence of prosecutor Ioannis Diotis, who handled the initial investigation last summer, police tried to blackmail him into accepting responsibility for the group’s first three hits. Israeli visit The Greek armed forces chief Lieutenant General Giorgos Antonakopoulos yesterday arrived in Israel where he was to meet his Israeli counterpart General Moshe Yahalon. Antonakopoulos, the first of Greece’s military chiefs to visit Israel, is also due to meet Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and tour bases. University strike Universities across the country are to remain closed today as professors conclude a 48-hour strike they launched yesterday in protest at the government’s failure to raise their monthly salaries. Olympic inspections International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials yesterday began a three-day inspection visit in Athens to review progress of preparations for next year’s Olympic Games. Fayum show Suzanne Mubarak, a director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, yesterday opened an exhibition of ancient Fayum funerary portraits at the Athens Concert Hall. Extortionists A Bangladeshi national was yesterday charged with extorting money from seven of his compatriots over the last eight months for the right to sell their wares at traffic lights at a road junction in Halandri. Burned dog A Thessaloniki animal welfare organization yesterday said the dog found badly burned in the northern city’s Langadas district after a soccer match between PAOK and Aris last month could not have acquired its injuries by falling into hot tar, as maintained by Langadas’s municipal authorities last week. «Even if it had (fallen into tar), that does not explain how it came to be tied up and burned,» Argos said. Aris fans have been blamed for the attack.