NEWS

In Brief

PRIVATIZATION – Olympic sale pushed back at least 35 days The saga of the sale of state-owned airline Olympic Airways took yet another twist yesterday when Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), the government’s adviser on privatization, recommended that the government begin talks with the second, and lower, bidder, for a majority stake, Australia’s Integrated Airline Solutions (IAS). CSFB recommended a 35-day period for talks with IAS. Contrary to expectations, the CSFB did not recommend that the government sign a contract with the top bidder, private Greek airline Axon. Government talks with Axon bogged down when Axon demanded the reduction of Olympic’s operational costs at Athens’s new airport. Government officials still hope that the two bidders will agree to cooperate, although the two do not seem willing to do so. MILITARY New chairman of joint chiefs is selected The government yesterday selected Army Lt. Gen. Giorgos Antonakopoulos as the country’s top soldier, appointing him to a two-year term as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He replaces Gen. Manoussos Parayioudakis who is retiring with the title of honorary chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. The changeover comes into effect in February. Other senior military appointments will be made in February. THEODORAKIS Composer undergoes surgery Mikis Theodorakis, Greece’s best-known living composer, underwent minor prostate surgery yesterday at the private Athens Medical Center, his doctor said. Surgeon Antonis Ploumidis said that surgery had been successful and that the problem appeared to be transitory. He did not specify what the problem was. Theodorakis, 76, is expected to remain in the hospital for about five days. Defamation suit. Costas Laliotis, the general secretary of the ruling PASOK party, said yesterday that he had told his lawyers to file a suit against independent right-wing deputy Giorgos Karatzaferis, demanding 500 million drachmas for what he termed his defamation. Karatzaferis had claimed in an interview that Laliotis, as public works minister, had built a villa for himself in the exclusive suburb of Filothei and was involved in the embezzlement of 14 billion drachmas involving a sports center. Father kills son. Pavlos Hadzipavlidis, 67, yesterday confessed to the fatal stabbing of his 29-year-old son, a drug addict, in the street near their home after an argument in Dendropotamos, Thessaloniki, earlier in the evening. The body of Marios Hadzipavlidis was found by a soldier from a nearby military camp. Neighbors said Marios, who had been arrested for setting fire to his father’s car in September, had begun drinking and then taking drugs after his brother was killed five years ago in a traffic accident. This year there has been a record number of drug-related deaths in Thessaloniki. So far, 55 people have died, compared to 44 for the whole of last year. Police peddler. Police officer Michalis Lagos, 33, was arrested near Oropos, north of Athens, on Wednesday for supplying hashish to a 17-year-old schoolgirl. One and a half grams of unprocessed cannabis was found in the soles of his shoes. The schoolgirl, who had been arrested two days before for possession of drugs, admitted to having obtained drugs in the past from Lagos. Private rehabilitation. The New Democracy party has called for private drug rehabilitation centers to be recognized and to be covered by social security funds, given the shortage of places in the official state centers that have a total waiting list of 4,000 people. ND’s Nikitas Kaklamanis and Constantinos Kiltidis yesterday accused the government of turning a blind eye to the problem since private rehabilitation clinics were a fact of life even though not permitted by Greek legislation. University hospitals. Doctors at university teaching hospitals suspended their strike from teaching duties for at least two weeks to give the government and university authorities time to find a solution to the dispute over a National Health law forcing university hospital doctors to stop working privately. The decision was taken yesterday at a general assembly of teaching staff at Athens University. Doctors at Thessaloniki university hospitals are continuing their abstention from clinical work until their next general assembly, in two weeks’ time.