NEWS

In Brief

POLICE RESTRUCTURING

Force to merge with fire service; VIP guards ‘to assume old duties’ Plans to restructure the police force after the Olympics foresee its merging with the fire brigade, Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis told Parliament yesterday. The government is also considering reviving a rural police force, Markoyiannakis said. He also stressed that some 6,000 police officers who have been assigned as guards to public figures – including TV journalists – will return to their regular duties «very soon.» TRAFFIC CRACKDOWN Motorists running red lights to face removal of plates, fines, from today Traffic police today will launch a crackdown on motorists who run red lights after inspections at four major junctions in Athens revealed frequent violations. The inspections showed that, between 8.15 a.m. and 9.15 a.m. on a rainy day, around 15 percent of drivers ignored red lights. Motorcyclists are the worst offenders, followed by bus and trolley drivers, then taxi and truck drivers, police said. From now on, offenders will have their license plates removed and face a fine. GIORGOS ZONGOLOPOULOS Celebrated sculptor dies at 101 The sculptor, architect and painter Giorgos Zongolopoulos died yesterday aged 101. The artist’s best-known works include the metal sculpture at Omonia Square in central Athens and his umbrella piece on Kifissias Avenue. «Giorgos Zongolopoulos dared to broaden our aesthetic horizons with his art,» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday. Bank job The National Bank of Greece said yesterday that it had taken legal action against the 52-year-old manager of its branch in Xylokastro – who reportedly disappeared last Saturday with 1 million euros of the bank’s money. The bank reassured its customers that they had «no reason for concern,» following complaints that some accounts had been depleted. The manager, identified as G.P., was last seen on Friday afternoon after requesting the key to the bank’s safe from the cashier. Her husband has also disappeared. IBC fire A small fire that broke out yesterday evening in a basement storeroom of the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) in Maroussi was quickly extinguished after the activation of the building’s fire protection system, the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee said yesterday. The IBC is situated within walking distance of the main Olympic stadium in Maroussi. Pirate CDs Around 5,000 Nigerian nationals are expected to flood into the country over the forthcoming period in order to sell huge amounts of pirate CDs, a delegation representing the Greek music recordings industry told Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou during a meeting yesterday. Memorial at sea A memorial service for the 21 British seamen killed on the minesweeper BIMS 2077, which was blown apart in October 25, 1944 during an attempt to collect mines left behind by Nazi forces, is to take place at 11 a.m. today near the port of Rio, where the explosion occurred. The service has been organized by the three children of British engineer James Mackie, one of the minesweeper’s crew. Railway disruptions There will be no trains running between Patras and Achaia until 5.45 a.m. tomorrow morning as necessary work gets under way on the tracks, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) said yesterday. Passengers will be able to board OSE buses serving the route. Tourism cleanup The Tourism Ministry announced yesterday that a series of «crisis management committees» would be set up in «sensitive» tourist areas, such as Rhodes, Corfu and Crete to avert – or at least contain – violent or provocative behavior by tourists. Weather damage A heavy hailstorm which ravaged the northern Evros area on Monday night has destroyed more than 4,000 hectares of agricultural land, farmers said yesterday. The storm, which lasted 20 minutes, damaged mostly cotton and beet plantations.