Deputy economy minister resigns over Halkidiki resort furor Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday and it was accepted, Simitis’s spokesman, Telemachos Hytiris said. Pachtas was condemned by his superior, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, on Thursday, when the latter learned that his deputy had passed a controversial amendment through Parliament the previous night. The amendment allowed a technical company to build 5,000 units for tourists on the Halkidiki peninsula, Pachtas’s constituency. Christodoulakis said he would pass another amendment scrapping the one passed by Pachtas. George Papandreou, who is running for election as PASOK’s leader next month, demanded an explanation from the party’s general secretary, Michalis Chrysochoidis. IKA ACTION Management calls on doctors to cancel five-day strike deemed illegal, abusive The Social Security Foundation (IKA) management yesterday asked IKA doctors to call off a five-day strike due to begin Monday after an Athens court deemed the planned action illegal and abusive of their positions. There was no response to the appeal from doctors, who are demanding permanent employment for around 5,000 colleagues on contracts. ELA Separate trial for utility blasts A suspected member of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) group yesterday appeared before an investigating magistrate in connection with eight blasts on public utilities allegedly carried out by the group between 1986 and 1987. The case of the eight blasts will be tried separately from other alleged ELA activities because attacks on the targets, as state utilities, fall under the 20-year rather than 15-year statute of limitations. In addition to Christos Tsigaridas, another suspected ELA member, Michalis Kasimis, is to testify next Friday with respect to the eight blasts. Jailed suspects Angelatos Kanas and Irene Athanassaki will testify on Thursday. Iraq aid Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos is due to receive 8-year-old Bakir Ali Hussein, an Iraqi boy at Neo Faliron’s Metropolitan hospital this afternoon. The boy was injured in the head by a bullet during the war. El Greco A lawsuit filed in Manhattan’s State Supreme Court on Wednesday by a Swiss resident – according to which the only El Greco painting to be displayed on Crete had been looted from Hungary by the Nazis – is groundless, a senior official at New York’s Metropolitan Museum said on Thursday, according to an Associated Press report. «This painting was not looted by the Nazis at all,» Harold Holzer reportedly said. «It was taken by the Soviets and sold back to the (Hungarian Hatvany) family which kept it until they sold it,» he added. The painting is now back in Crete. Campaigning Opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis is due to visit Crete today. Foreign Minister and PASOK chairman-in-waiting George Papandreou will tour western and northwestern Greece, starting at Antirio and including visits to Mesolongi, Agrinio, Amphilochia, Arta, Preveza and Lefkada. Salonica blast Three homemade gas-canister bombs, placed under a parked car belonging to Hellenic Post in Thessaloniki’s Kato Toumba district, caused extensive damage to the vehicle when they detonated shortly before 3 a.m. yesterday. Three previous blasts were at local churches last Wednesday. New jail Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos yesterday laid the foundation stone for a new detention center in the central town of Domokos. The jail will accommodate 280 inmates when it is ready in 2006, according to Petsalnikos, who said 23.5 million euros had been set aside for the project. He also announced that new jails would be built in Neapoli, Crete and Viotia. Tram works There will be traffic disruptions in the Athenian district of Nea Smyrni from today and for about another three weeks due to tramway works. The section of Aghia Foteini Street between Eleftheriou Venizelou Street and Vas. Constantinou Square will be closed off.