Kassimis, Athanassaki deny any part in public utilities blasts Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) terrorism suspects Michalis Kassimis and Irini Athanassaki yesterday both denied any involvement in eight explosions at public utilities carried out by the terror group between 1986 and 1987 during their testimony to an investigating magistrate. Both reiterated that the blasts should be written off as they fall under the 15-year statute of limitations although an appeals court has ruled they belong to the 20-year statute. The trial of five ELA suspects starts on February 12. PRESS SPAT ESIEA launches countersuit against Avriani publisher The president and general secretary of the Athens Journalists’ Union (ESIEA), Manolis Mathioudakis and Nikos Mengrelis, yesterday lodged a libel suit against Avriani publisher Giorgos Kouris, who is suing the union for allegedly exhorting striking Avriani workers to commit violence against police officers. The two unionists took the action after they were presented with arrest warrants following Kouris’s legal action. ESIEA President Manolis Mathioudakis also took issue with government spokesman Christos Protopapas who, he claimed, had displayed a protective attitude toward Kouris – an assertion Protopapas denied yesterday. PLUNDERED MANSION Frescoes found in Salonica Nearly 30 frescoes, stolen from an 18th century mansion in Kastoria last August, have been returned to the northern town after being discovered in two Thessaloniki warehouses used by a 33-year-old preserver of antiquities, police said yesterday. Officers managed to trace the 28 frescoes after the owner of the uninhabited mansion pressed charges following their disappearance. The pieces were stolen by thieves who claimed to be professional conservators, police said. No chicken flu State inspections conducted on the country’s chicken farms have yet to identify any birds displaying symptoms of the fatal «chicken flu» which has affected poultry farms in countries of Southeast Asia, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. Dean expelled A disciplinary committee of senior university academics yesterday decided to expel a professor and former dean of the Technical University of Crete for a total of 14 disciplinary offenses. The committee found that Dimitrios Sotiropoulos established special study programs without the permission of the university senate and with the aim of embezzling 1.76 million euros for himself, his wife and three other individuals, and illegally hired staff. First delay The new, improved Athens-Thessaloniki train route – a journey of just four hours and 30 minutes (with two stops at Lianokladi and Larissa) – is to start operating from February 10 instead of February 1 to allow for modifications to be completed, the Hellenic Railways Organization said yesterday. The journey with four stops (at Lianokladi, Larissa, Katerini and Platy) will take four hours and 49 minutes, OSE said. Anti-racism rally Members of 50 anti-racism groups, non-governmental organizations and immigrants’ movements are to stage a demonstration at Omonia Square at 3.30 p.m. today in observance of European Day for Anti-Racism Action. A similar rally is taking place in Thessaloniki. GMO-free zones There will be no more cultivation and use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Trikala, prefectural authorities decided in a session late on Thursday. Trikala is the 10th prefecture to positively respond to a Greenpeace appeal to the country’s 54 prefectures to declare themselves «GMO-free zones.» Moscow visit Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis, Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos and National Intelligence Service Chief Pavlos Apostolidis begin a three-day visit to Moscow tomorrow for talks with Russian officials on security issues.