NEWS

In Brief

GARBAGE STRIKE

Trash set to pile up across Athens as cleaners abandon duties for 4 days Garbage is set to pile up on the streets of Athens over the next few days following yesterday’s decision by street cleaners and other municipal workers to abandon their duties over the weekend and stage another 48-hour strike on Monday and Tuesday. BUILDING PROBE Boss of suicide victim first to testify in investigation into demolition delays Spyros Stathis, the head of the Finance Ministry’s real estate department for which Rubini Stathea worked before her suicide last Sunday, yesterday testified for more than five hours before a prosecutor conducting an investigation into delays in the demolition of illegally constructed seaside villas in Attica. Stathea – who killed herself after being criticized for the delays in the press – praised Stathis’s fortitude in one of several letters she wrote before her suicide. Stathis is the first to testify in the investigation. 5.7 QUAKE Undersea tremor off Kythera A strong undersea quake, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, occurred off the island of Kythera in the Peloponnese at 4 p.m. yesterday but no injuries or damage were reported. N17 defense The lawyers of confessed November 17 member Patroklos Tselentis yesterday asked for his client to be treated with leniency in view of the fact that he did not have «low motives» for his involvement with the group, that he has sincerely repented and has shown good behavior since N17’s dissolution. Tselentis did not reap any financial gains from the groups’ robberies, was not involved in the murders of Greek publisher Nikos Momferatos and his driver in 1985, and broke away from the group in 1988, the lawyers claimed. Cyprus vote A US State Department spokesman was yesterday quoted by the Athens News Agency as saying that a vote due to take place in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus on December 14 «constituted a virtual referendum on the Annan plan,» which opposition parties have said they are prepared to use as the basis for negotiations for a Cyprus solution but which Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejects. The spokesman expressed the State Department’s «concern over an increasing number of reports of possible irregularities in the Turkish-Cypriot electoral rolls,» the ANA said. Conductor dies A 56-year-old bus conductor who had been in the intensive care department of a Thessaloniki hospital since sustaining serious head injuries during his interrogation at a Litohoro police station last Wednesday died yesterday. Police, who had detained Dimitris Piastopoulos for allegedly interfering with officers’ efforts to arrest illegal immigrants aboard his bus, said the detainee had smashed his head against the duty officer’s door of his own accord. A coroner’s report is due to determine the exact cause of death. Sparrow hunting A team of state forestry, veterinary and Finance Ministry officials on Thursday night mounted raids on cafes and tavernas in the village of Afantou on Rhodes suspected of selling sparrows as a culinary delicacy. The officials, who confiscated some sparrows from one establishment, were chased off by residents. Hunting small birds using sticks coated with lime on which the birds become stuck used to be popular until the European Union cracked down on the practice. Firemen convicted An Athens court yesterday sentenced to three years and 10 months in jail each three firemen deemed responsible for an accident above the southern coastal district of Voula in July 1999, when a fire engine fell into a 30-meter ravine, causing the deaths of two of their fellow firefighters. The three were found guilty of manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm through negligence. They appealed their sentences and were released. Touchy Opposition New Democracy MP Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday asked the Culture, Foreign and Press ministries how they planned to react to an article in last week’s Sunday Times referring to Alexander the Great as homosexual, insane and a drunkard. Spiliotopoulos also asked whether the ministries planned to publish articles in the foreign press «re-establishing the historical truth.»