NEWS

In Brief

STRIKE

Private sector action to affect public transport, some banks The public transport system, some banks and public utilities are expected to shut down tomorrow due to a 24-hour private sector strike called by the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), Greece’s largest umbrella union. Travelers at Greek airports are expected to encounter delays, while all ferries will remain in port from 1 a.m. to midnight. GSEE is seeking wage increases and a shorter working week. A demonstration is planned for the center of Athens. The strike will coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Flame at the Panathenaic Stadium in the city center. TANGLED INTERESTS Justice minister to enforce ban on TV ownership and public contracts Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday that he would move to stop the current situation where owners of television stations are also involved in business dealings with the State, something that gives them greater influence over the winning of contracts. «Television channel owners cannot be contractors for the public sector as well,» Papaligouras said. This was seen as the conservative government’s decision to clamp down on corruption. Meanwhile, Papaligouras said in an interview with the Apogevmatini newspaper on Sunday that Greece will ratify the EU-wide arrest warrant before the Olympics. ARMS PROBES Missile purchase scrutinized Athens chief prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos yesterday ordered a wide-ranging preliminary investigation into whether any crimes were committed in the purchase by Greece of Russian TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missiles or in the merger of the Pyrkal-EBO arms and weapons companies. Three prosecutors were ordered to look into press allegations of improprieties in these two cases. Sex gang Police in northern Greece have arrested at least 12 people suspected of participating in a large sex-trafficking gang that covered much of Macedonia and Thrace. The arrests followed the abduction last Saturday, by five men in two cars, of a young woman outside a cafeteria in the Thracian town of Komotini. The woman was later located in Thessaloniki, where the gang had intended to force her into working as a prostitute. Olympic security US President George W. Bush has written to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on matters of terrorism ahead of the August Olympics, Greek officials said yesterday. The letter noted that both the US and Greece worked to liberate Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis yesterday discussed Olympic security with a visiting delegation of US officials that included presidential adviser on counterterrorism Fran Townsend and the FBI’s top counterterrorism official, Gary Ball. Gas leak What the local gas supply company described as a «small leak» occurred near the Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens around 6.30 p.m. yesterday during digging work on the corner of Karneadou and Marasli streets. Attica Gas Supplying Company SA said the damage was repaired within a few minutes. Careless Only 3 percent of Greek women use contraceptive pills, the Greek Family Planning Society observed yesterday ahead of today’s World Contraception Day. Greece has the highest rate of abortions in the European Union. No GMOs Eastern Attica’s regional authority yesterday declared the area a genetically modified organism-free zone, calling for a ban on the cultivation and consumption of GMO crops until it can be ensured that these pose no threat to the environment and public health. Bus accident The driver of a bus carrying 62 secondary school children and four teachers that crashed into a lamppost on Sunday – injuring 21 people – was sentenced yesterday to eight months and 20 days in prison for causing the accident. The accident, near the town of Amphilochia in western Greece, happened when one of the bus’s tires burst. Driver Costas Margaritopoulos, 27, was also fined 150 euros for speeding. He appealed the sentence and was released.