NEWS

þn Brief

AFGHAN FORCE

Greek contingent of 124 to deploy in late January British-led EC security force in Afghanistan at the end of next month, the joint chiefs of staff announced yesterday. The Greek contingent, which will comprise a mechanized company with integrated security personnel, two C-130 military transport aircraft and their crews, is expected to embark on a three-month tour of duty in late January. Only permanent force members will join the contingent, the statement said, following reports that conscripts too might be included. SHIP RIVALRY Evangelos Ventouris to stand trial for attempted murder The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal by the shipowner Evangelos Ventouris against a decision by the Piraeus appeals court indicting him for the attempted murder of shipowner Costas Agapitos. Agapitos was allegedly shot while in his car by the passenger of a motorbike Ventouris was riding in the summer of 1998. Agapitos claimed he saw his assailant although Ventouris denied the charges, producing witnesses who said he was at home on the night of the shooting. Ventouris allegedly resented Agapitos as the latter had outbid him for the purchase of a ship belonging to Ventouris which had been auctioned by the National Bank to recover debts owed by Ventouris. Ventouris now faces trial in Piraeus for attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and use of a firearm. ILLEGAL NATURALIZATIONS Cyprus says ‘not involved’ A government official in Nicosia has denied any link by Cyprus to the existence and operation of a ring illegally issuing Greek citizenship papers to foreigners, following the publication of a Greek prosecutor’s investigation which describes Cyprus as the center of such activity. Cypriot government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the subject of the investigation was one to be resolved by the legal and political system in Greece, not in Cyprus, where, he said, no laws had been broken. Athens Prosecutor Isidoros Doyiakos concluded from his investigations that Cyprus was «the center of a ring illegally issuing Greek citizenship to foreigners from the former Soviet Union.» Metro hours. Metro services will end one hour earlier than usual on Monday, December 31 to allow employees to join in the New Year celebrations. The last trains will depart from the Syntagma station at 11 p.m. to all destinations – that is, to Ethniki Amyna, Dafne and Sepolia. Thessaloniki airport. Transport Minister Christos Verelis has refered the delayed installation and operation of an instrument landing system (ILS) at Thessaloniki airport to the public prosecutor by. The ILS II system was supposed to have been up and running by this Thursday but its completion was delayed after the contractor unexpectedly extended a holiday break until January 7. New Democracy’s shadow transport minister Athanasios Heimaras criticized the government for allegedly failing to finalize the system on time for it to offer pilots the guidance they need to land their aircraft in adverse weather conditions. Heimaras added that referring the matter to the judiciary would not solve the problem. Court ‘recorded.’ With graduates of the National Magistrates’ School in the roles of judges, barristers and witnesses, a simulated trial was enacted in an Athens courtroom yesterday as a test run for a new system for tape-recording the proceedings in civil cases, which will come into effect on January 9. According to the amended civil procedure code, court minutes will no longer be transcribed simultaneously by court secretaries but tape-recorded first and then transcribed. Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos attended the 10-minute «performance.» He said he hoped for similar measures in criminal court cases in the future. Samina probe. Divers and other experts working for investigating judge Nikos Karadimitriou yesterday examined the Naias II, a sister ship of the Express Samina which sank off Paros in September 2000 in order to have a fuller understanding of the causes of the disaster which claimed 80 lives. According to sources, the divers and the judge have concluded that the ferry sank very quickly because after its collision with the Portes islet the watertight doors between the ship’s 11 sections were not closed. The responsibility for this would lie with the crew.