Traders threaten open-ended action unless today’s talks yield solution Gas station operators yesterday threatened to embark on an open-ended strike unless talks at the Development Ministry today – aimed at resolving a dispute over a government decision imposing the installation of cash registers on gas pumps – culminate in a satisfactory solution. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas yesterday refused to speculate about the outcome of the dispute but said he hoped unionists would engage in dialogue aimed at avoiding problems for citizens about their everyday business. STATE EMPLOYEES There are more than half a million in Greece, data for 2002 shows There are more than half a million state employees in Greece, according to data in the public sector’s staff statistics report for 2002, which was made public yesterday. The precise figure, 567,067, includes some 200,000 soldiers, police officers, teachers, doctors and judicial functionaries, according to the report. OLYMPIC VOLUNTEERS Provincial interviews start today Teams of Athens 2004 officials arrive in the Cretan port of Iraklion today where they are to start conducting the final interviews of 22,249 would-be voluntary workers for next year’s Olympics. The team is to leave Iraklion next Monday before visiting Patras, Volos and Thessaloniki for the remaining interviews in the provinces, which are due to be completed by October 24. A total of 23,000 candidate volunteers have been interviewed to date. Family shooting A 48-year-old plumber killed himself yesterday after shooting and injuring his ex-wife, brother-in-law, and ex-wife’s cousin in Kato Achaia, near Patras in the northwestern Peloponnese. Giorgos Fountas attacked his family members before shooting himself in the head, because his estranged wife Aspasia would not come back to him, police said. Child molesters A Komotini court yesterday handed down a one-year jail sentence to a 46-year-old retired police officer for sexually harassing a 10-year-old boy on Sunday. The sentence was suspended due to the alleged mental health problems of the offender, I.K., who was arrested shortly after kissing the unnamed boy on the mouth in a park near Komotini railway station. Meanwhile, a 26-year-old man in Iraklion, Crete, also mentally disturbed, faced a prosecutor after exposing himself to two sisters, aged 5 and 8, who were swimming off the coast of Kalamaki. Shaft death A 65-year-old patient at Thessaloniki’s Theageneio hospital was fatally injured yesterday after falling down a 2.5-meter shaft behind the hospital building. M.P., who had been suffering from memory loss and disorientation, had wandered away from his ward. A local prosecutor was briefed about the incident. School fees The maximum increase in private school fees for the academic year 2003-2004 will not exceed 4 percent, according to legislative reform tabled in Parliament yesterday. Mayor declines Mayor of Nea Ionia and former minister Yiannis Haralambous yesterday turned down the opportunity to replace the late PASOK MP and former minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos in Parliament. His commitment to his municipality remained his priority, Haralambous told Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis. Yiannopoulos’s seat is expected to be filled by Lefteris Veryvakis. Land mine ban Cyprus and another seven states have signed the Ottawa Treaty banning land mines, the president of the conference of states that have ratified the treaty, Jean Lint, said in Geneva yesterday. Icaria corpse The body of a young man discovered on the north coast of Icaria by coast guard officials yesterday was shipped to Athens later in the afternoon for identification. As there have been no recent reports of any missing persons on the island, authorities believe the body – which was in an advanced state of decay – belongs to an illegal immigrant.