NEWS

In Brief

TAXI STRIKE

Athens cabbies announce new protest for Thursday, Friday Athens taxi drivers decided yesterday to hold a 48-hour strike on Thursday and Friday. Unionists oppose a government decision forcing them to install receipt meters in their vehicles – a measure meant to clamp down on tax evasion while at the same time discouraging rampant overcharging – and demand access to Athens bus lanes as well as the right to up their fares. There are some 15,000 cabs in the capital. The union did not say what time the strike would start, although a series of similar strikes in past weeks have kicked off at 5 a.m. PM MEETS PRESIDENT Simitis keeps mum on poll date, briefs Stephanopoulos on economy Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday briefed President Costis Stephanopoulos on the state of the economy as well as on other domestic and foreign affairs during a meeting at the presidential palace. «The course of the economy is good,» Simitis told journalists after the meeting, and declined to be drawn on a precise date for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. Last week, Simitis had said the polls would be in April, or on May 2. Simitis also met with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, with whom he discussed proposals to impose the obligation of tabling annual funds-source and property (pothen esches) declarations on more groups of Greeks. The measure currently applies to MPs, policemen, journalists and many civil servants, among other groups. SCHOOL BUS THREAT Drunk driver ‘had problems’ A school bus driver was arrested in eastern Attica yesterday morning for drunk driving, on his way to pick up children attending a Pallini private school. Traffic police found the 45-year-old man, whose name was not made public, was over five times above the legal limit of alcohol consumption. He was also charged with crashing into a parked car at the start of his morning run, and driving away from the scene. The man allegedly claimed to have embarked on a drinking binge on Sunday night due to «personal problems.» Matricide An apparently mentally disturbed young man was arrested in the northern town of Serres yesterday on suspicion of having killed his elderly mother with a hammer. Christos Daoultzis, 27, told police he killed his 70-year-old mother, Olga, in their home because she insisted on lacing his food with tranquilizers. He was charged with murder and illegally bearing and using a weapon. Seamen back The five seamen from a Greek fishing trawler who had been arrested by Turkish coast guard in international waters southeast of the Zourafa islet in the northeastern Aegean returned to the Thracian port of Alexandroupolis yesterday after a Turkish court cleared them of fishing in Turkish waters. The Greek captain and his Egyptian crewmen made the return trip in their vessel, which had been temporarily impounded by Turkish authorities. Train hits car A train crashed into a car that had tried to run a level crossing on the outskirts of Veria in northern Greece yesterday after the bars had come down. The driver, Haralambos Anastassiadis, 35, was killed instantly while his wife, Rodi Patsouri, 33, survived with light injuries. Weston The US State Department envoy for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, yesterday discussed efforts to achieve the reunification of Cyprus during meetings in Ankara with Turkish officials. Weston would only comment afterward that the mood of the talks was «friendly.» Turkish sources said the US envoy urged an acceleration of peace efforts after December’s vote for the house of representatives in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Quake A minor earthquake that registered 4.2 on the Richter scale occurred in the area of Neapolis in eastern Crete yesterday morning. The epicenter was some 340 kilometers (211 miles) southeast of Athens. No damage was reported, and nobody was injured. Power cut Syntagma and Kaningos squares as well as parts of Academias St in central Athens were left in the dark for up to quarter of an hour yesterday evening after a broken transformer caused a power cut.