The Bank of Greece confirmed yesterday that it sold off 208 million euros’ worth of its gold reserves last week. The 20 tons of gold – melted down from gold coins, chiefly sovereigns, into bars – comprise just a small fraction of the country’s gold reserves, the bank’s deputy governor, Nikos Palaiokrassas, said yesterday. FYROM REFUGEES 382 ex-civil war guerrillas have visited Greece, minister says A total of 382 civil war exiles living in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have visited Greece over the last two weeks following the temporary suspension of a decades-old ban on their return, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said yesterday. The measure concerned members of the Slavic language-speaking minority of northern Greece that fled to FYROM after having fought on the losing, communist side during the 1946-49 war, during which they aspired to establishing an independent state in Greece’s province of Macedonia. Loverdos said 281 have already returned to FYROM. Exiles have been allowed 20-day visits, on humanitarian grounds, up to the end of October. SAMOTHRACE FESTIVAL Police arrest 7 people with drugs Police and coast guards in the northeastern port of Alexandroupolis yesterday arrested seven people for drug possession following checks conducted at the port and on ferries bound for the island of Samothrace, where an annual trance music festival is to begin on Friday. Officials confiscated 60 grams of cannabis from two Greeks at the port and small quantities of cannabis, ecstasy and other drugs from another two Greeks, a Slovak and two Czech nationals on incoming ferries. Strict inspections are to continue over the next few days. Bride recovering A 23-year-old bride who has been in critical condition since being struck on Saturday by a falling tree branch while posing for photographs after her wedding near Drama has got better over the last 24 hours, the director of Thessaloniki’s Papageorgiou Hospital said yesterday. However, Anastasia Straga is to remain in the hospital’s intensive care unit for observation. Beach graffiti A Turkish-Cypriot court has fined a 19-year-old Greek Cypriot for writing a phrase denouncing Turks in the sand on a beach near the village of Rizokarpaso, in the the island’s Turkish-occupied north whence the man hails, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. Costas Malliotis paid the fine – the amount of which was not specified – and was released, the ANA said. Arousing footage The National Broadcasting Council yesterday fined the private television channel Alter 100,000 euros for airing footage of ostensibly possessed women during its news bulletins between June 11 and 18. The images of the women «provoke the arousal of the viewer,» the council said. Forged euros There have been several new discoveries of forged euro notes in northern Greece over the past few days, police said yesterday. Unidentified individuals deposited a counterfeit 200-euro bill at the Public Power Corporation offices in Xanthi and two forged 50-euro notes at banks in Drama and Komotini. Bank robbery An armed robber wearing a white motorcycle helmet yesterday made off with around 16,000 euros after raiding a bank in Kallithea, Halkidiki. The lone assailant snipped the cable of the branch’s closed circuit television camera before threatening the cashier at gunpoint. He fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice. Quarry death A 34-year-old quarry worker was yesterday crushed to death by the loading machine he was operating in Volakas, in the northern prefecture of Drama. The machine overturned after Dimitrios Rados attempted to steer it up a steep slope. US Embassy The US Embassy in Athens, including the Consular Section, the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki and all US government offices across the country will be closed on Monday, September 1 in observance of Labor Day, an official US national holiday.