NEWS

In Brief

BANK STRIKE

Union calls 24-hour action seeking higher pay, shorter hours Bank customers are expected to experience difficulties in their transactions today due to a 24-hour, nationwide strike called by the Greek Federation of Bank Employees’ Unions (OTOE). This followed failed negotiations with banks, from which OTOE is seeking salary rises and a 35-hour working week. Participation in the strike is expected to be higher in state-controlled banks than in private institutions. IRAQ AID Athens has provided five million so far, another three pending Greece is to provide a total of eight million euros in financial aid for the reconstruction of Iraq, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said yesterday. According to Roussopoulos, so far Athens has sent five million, «and intends to provide another three million euros.» OLYMPIC SECURITY Military WMD training complete The training by NATO of a group of 48 military personnel on how to counter possible terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction during the Olympic Games has been successfully completed, a statement by the joint chiefs of staff said yesterday. The medics, who were trained earlier this month in the Czech town of Liberec, «are now ready to successfully undertake their mission…» which is to «provide first-aid treatment to government units tackling the consequences of a possible incident involving toxic substances,» the statement added. Lethal burglary A 46-year-old American man, holidaying on the Aegean island of Myconos with his wife, died in the early hours of yesterday morning after falling off the balcony of his first-floor hotel room following a scuffle with a burglar. Christopher Mais, from Minnesota, tried to tackle the unidentified intruder after waking up and spotting him in his room but the ensuing scuffle led to him falling off the balcony and sustaining fatal head injuries. The intruder fled with the cash, credit cards and passports he had pocketed, according to police. Distomo memorial Germany’s Ambassador to Greece, Albert Spiegel, yesterday attended a memorial ceremony marking 60 years since Nazi troops massacred 214 villagers in the village of Distomo, near Delphi in central Greece. Spiegel apologized for the June 1944 massacre, highlighted efforts being made by Germans to «deal with the heavy burden of the past» but also stressed the strong ties between Greece and Germany. Cafe blast Unidentified assailants threw a hand grenade out of a moving car into a closed cafe in the Athenian district of Pangrati shortly after 4 a.m. yesterday. The blast caused widespread damage, but no injuries. Police believe the attackers belonged to a nightclub underworld which bribes cafe and bar owners into paying a fee for protection. Clothes thieves A group of four Romanian and Russian nationals managed to steal over 200,000 euros’ worth of clothes and shoes from Athens stores by hiding the merchandise in bags lined with aluminium which eluded the alarms at the store exits, police said yesterday. The three Romanians – two men and a woman – and one Russian woman exploited this method for two months before they were detected, police said. Thiseion station The Kifissia-bound platform of Thiseion station on the Piraeus-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP) reopens on Monday, ISAP said yesterday. Salamina fire Firemen on Salamina were yesterday trying to extinguish a blaze which broke out in an old quarry being used as a landfill in the area of Karabini. On Wednesday, a fire ravaged a section of pine forest between Perani and Kyriza, in the island’s south. Hash crop Police on Crete yesterday uprooted a plantation containing 400 cannabis plants in Tylisos, southwest of Iraklion – just 1 kilometer from another site from which they removed 800 plants a couple of weeks ago. The plants, which ranged between 30 centimeters and 2 meters in height, had been watered by a specially designed irrigation system, police said.