Papantoniou in Skopje to inspect EU’s first peacekeeping mission Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou is due to arrive in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s capital Skopje today for an inspection of the European Union’s first peacekeeping mission, «Concordia.» Papantoniou, who is to be accompanied by EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Javier Solana, is due to meet with FYROM Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and President Boris Trajkovski as well as his counterpart Vlado Bukovski during his visit. ANIMAL ABUSE ND says government must respond to criticism from rights groups Opposition New Democracy MP Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday asked the government to explain how it was going to stop a wave of criticism from international animal protection groups, following cases of mistreatment of strays in Athens and elsewhere, from having a negative impact on the Olympic Games. Spiliotopoulos said it was imperative that the government react to such widespread condemnation and asked for clarification as to whether mass exterminations of animals could have been conducted. ROBBERIES Win some, lose some A 27-year-old security guard who was robbed of 220,000 euros while loading the ATM of a Thessaloniki bank on Tuesday was in league with the robbers, police said yesterday after arresting him and his three accomplices. A raid on another Thessaloniki bank yesterday yielded 138,000 euros for two robbers. Meanwhile, a robber in Athens was less lucky, as the box of cash he grabbed from a bank in Pangrati covered the notes in paint after a special anti-theft mechanism was triggered. The thwarted thief fled with the money anyway. New station Transport Minister Christos Verelis yesterday inaugurated the newly refurbished Nea Ionia station on the Kifissia-Piraeus Athens electric railway. The station – whose platforms, ticket offices and shelters have all been fully renovated – has a new metal footbridge for commuters to use instead of underpasses. It has been decorated with artwork commemorating the refugees from Asia Minor who once lived in the area. Verelis said the railway’s capacity would rise to 620,000 commuters by the end of this year from its existing 400,000 limit. Relocations The Greek Public Real Estate Corporation plans to spend 2 billion euros on relocating buildings housing ministries and other public service offices over the next five years, the corporation’s vice president, Yiannis Zygoyiannis, said yesterday. Forest fire An effort involving 45 firemen handling 15 fire engines, as well as four fire-fighting aircraft took two hours to extinguish a fire that started at a military firing range near Megara at 12.30 p.m. yesterday. The blaze ravaged 5 hectares of forestland and 10 hectares of farmland. Lightning death Farmer Athanassios Kourelas, 61, died after being struck by a bolt of lightning during a storm on Tuesday evening in his village of Kallirahi in Grevena, Macedonia. Mubarak awarded Suzanne Mubarak, a director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was yesterday awarded the Athens Medal of Honor by Mayor Dora Bakoyianni. Officers acquitted A Patras court yesterday exonerated three police officers from the Peloponnesian prefecture of Elis, as well as a former colleague of theirs and a farmer, who were charged with cultivating 128 cannabis plants four years ago in the area of Kleidia. Bomb hoax A 39-year-old Kuwaiti man, who was detained in connection with a bomb scare aboard an EgyptAir flight last weekend, was released on bail yesterday. No trial date was set for the unnamed man who was charged with issuing threats regarding a flight. The flight, bound for Cairo from Madrid, made an emergency stop in Athens late on Saturday after a handwritten note reading «Found the bomb yet?» was found in the aircraft’s toilets.