Vartholomaios deplores fanaticism The celebration of Easter this year by Christians everywhere is an occasion for hope despite religious fanaticism and mass killings, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios said in Istanbul on Sunday. «In spite of the painful conditions created by blind – so-called religious – fanaticism and national hatred… it is hope that rises from the empty grave of Christ,» Vartholomaios said. Meanwhile, Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyons, took the opportunity of today’s 800th anniversary since the sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders to write to Vartholomaios apologising for this «affront to all Christians seeking unity.» Good egg Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis cracks an Easter egg with Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga during a joint visit on Sunday to an air force base at Tatoi, on the northwestern fringes of Athens. Karamanlis won the traditional Easter contest. Illegal immigrants A group of 28 illegal immigrants, abandoned off Koufonissi, southeast of Crete, in the early hours of yesterday morning, all managed to swim to the islet safely, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. A coast guard patrol boat subsequently transferred the migrants, who said they were Palestinian, to Crete, where they were given first aid, the ministry said. Fires Two large fires on Saturday burnt tracts of forestland and farmland near the village of Leptopoda on Chios and near the village of Portes in Achaia, in the northwestern Peloponnese. It was unclear what caused the blazes. Soccer vandals A police raid on the Athens offices of Olympiakos soccer fans in Ilioupolis and Kypseli on Friday unearthed several smoke bombs, fire crackers, clubs, pipes and other potential weapons. The raid followed the arrest of three Olympiakos fans following acts of vandalism early last Thursday near the home ground of rival Panathinaikos in Ambelokipi.