In Brief


Simitis sends condolences, condemns ‘atrocious act’ Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday wrote to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan conveying his deep condolences at the death of UN special envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian diplomat, and at least another 20 people during a bomb attack on Tuesday. Simitis condemned the «atrocious terrorist act against people who were working for peace and security in Iraq.» Government spokesman Christos Protopappas also condemned the terrorist attack, as well as the suicide bombing of an Israeli bus in Jerusalem on Tuesday that killed 18 people. Members of the public will be able to sign a book of condolences at the UN Information Center in Athens, at 36 Amalias Ave, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. POLICE TURMOIL Union warns ‘war’ begins over border guards hiring Greece’s federation of police officers, POASY, issued a harshly worded statement yesterday to coincide with a discussion in Parliament on legislation for the permanent hiring of 7,000 border guards and special guards. Policemen claim that the hiring of guards to take over some of their duties will weaken regular police officers’ standing and their union has called on members to arrest guards if they carry out police duties. «We warn that the ‘war’ between the police and the two newly formed police-like groups now begins,» POASY said in a statement read out by New Democracy MP Petros Mandouvalos. The statement prompted a furious reaction by Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis, who called it «a provocation against democracy, the government and Parliament.» KIDNAPPING Kavala butcher remanded A butcher from the northern town of Kavala was remanded in custody yesterday pending trial in connection with last week’s kidnapping of a farmer on the northern Aegean island of Thasos. Police said Christos Paxevanis, 42, has confessed to organizing the abduction at gunpoint of Athanassios Makedos, 26, and making a 500,000-euro ransom demand to the farmer’s father. Police are also seeking Albanian national Veri Loufi, 23, in connection with the kidnapping. Emergency landing An Olympic Airways flight from Thessaloniki to Athens was canceled yesterday after one of the plane’s two engines failed when a gull was sucked in during takeoff. The plane made a successful emergency landing at Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport. Elopement The parents of a 15-year-old schoolgirl managed to prevent her marriage to a young man from the village of Dokos near Xanthi in northeastern Greece when they traced the couple to their hiding place yesterday. The girl, identified only as S.H., lives in Germany with her parents and was visiting family with them in Greece. She had accompanied the young man willingly, in the third such case in the area in three weeks, the Athens News Agency reported. Tanker accident A gas tanker carrying a load of highly flammable propane overturned on the old national road from Athens to Thebes yesterday afternoon, but nobody was hurt and firemen managed to right the vehicle without the gas igniting. Ferry delays A ferry carrying 514 passengers from Piraeus to the Dodecanese Islands developed engine trouble early yesterday just off the island of Astypalaia, resulting in a four-hour delay while the engine was repaired. And a hydrofoil traveling from Aegina to Piraeus with 83 people on board had to turn back shortly after leaving port due to a fuel feed failure. Bank robbery Two robbers armed with pistols stole 15,000 euros yesterday from an Alpha Bank branch in the Kalamaria district of Thessaloniki. They escaped on foot.