10 new member states defy USA in supporting war crimes court Ten countries set to join the European Union next year have chosen to back the EU in its support of an international war crimes court being boycotted by the USA, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The announcement by the ministry, which represents Greece as EU president, came in the face of intense US pressure for the approval of agreements exempting its citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The 10 new member states, plus Bulgaria and Romania, have signed an agreement to «ensure that their national policies conform to the common (EU) position,» the ministry statement said. THESSALONIKI RIOTS 19 face criminal charges, two more to be tried today Nineteen youths arrested during extensive rioting in Thessaloniki on Saturday afternoon were yesterday released on restrictive terms or on payment of bail after answering to criminal charges before an investigating magistrate. Initially, all but four had been charged with misdemeanours. Today, another eight demonstrators, including a Spanish national believed to be wanted by Interpol, are to appear before a magistrate. Meanwhile, a 26-year-old Frenchman and a 24-year-old Italian woman are to be tried in connection with Saturday’s riots – in protest against the EU summit being held in Halkidiki – which caused extensive damage to stores in the northern city. TAXI STRIKE No cabs until tomorrow morning Taxi drivers across the country today continue a 48-hour strike they started yesterday. Strikers, who are protesting at a government decision demanding the installation of cash registers in their vehicles, are due to march through central Athens this morning. Samina charges The Aegean Court of Appeals’ deputy prosecutor has proposed to the Aegean Appeals Council that five officers, two shipping firm officials and two Port Authority inspectors be tried on criminal charges for allegedly causing the September 2000 Express Samina ferry wreck in which 80 people died, court sources said yesterday. The Samina’s captain Vassilis Yiannakis, first mate Tassos Psychogios, second mate Giorgos Triandafyllos, first engineer Gerasimos Skiadaresis, radio operator Dimitris Tsoumas, and representatives of the former Minoan Flying Dolphins firm, now Hellas Flying Dolphins, Constantinos Klironomos and Nikos Vikatos all contributed to endangering passengers’ lives, according to prosecutor Dimitris Patatoukas. Kokkalis suit Russia’s National Athletics Institute has filed a suit with an Athens court against a firm named European Games Limited and against telecoms and software tycoon Socrates Kokkalis who appears as its owner – according to a statement by the businessman to Swiss legal authorities, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. The suit calls for a temporary order freezing the legal status of all the company’s and Kokkalis’s assets. The suit is to be discussed on August 29, the agency said. Strays debate Officials of the central and local government and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) are to discuss Athens’s stray animal problem with veterinarians and representatives of national animal welfare groups during a meeting at ATHOC’s conference center tomorrow. Robber burnt Police in Athens were yesterday checking admissions to hospitals for a burns victim after a young man was seen running from a blaze in a Kypseli restaurant he appeared to have broken into at 3.30 a.m. The man caused an explosion, which shook the whole building, by opening propane gas canisters in the store, according to police. A team of 20 fire service workers, with four fire engines, extinguished the blaze. Price observatory The prices for a range of products, calculated by the Development Ministry’s «price observatory,» can now be seen on TV, the ministry said yesterday. The prices will be projected on a banner during the «From 10 till 2» program on state ET-1 channel, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Nova’s GBC cable channel from 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m., the ministry said.