NEWS

In Brief

MILITARY SHOPPING PROBE

Former ministry procurements chief testifies before Athens prosecutor Yiannis Sbokos, a former PASOK MP who was for several years in charge of the Defense Ministry’s military procurements, testified yesterday before a prosecutor conducting a preliminary investigation into several arms contracts. The deals from 1996 to 2003 concern spending worth 17 trillion drachmas (50 billion euros) and involve allegations of kickbacks and millions in offset benefits that are said to have gone missing. Sbokos testified for two hours and presented documents concerning the purchase of the Russian TOR-M1 anti-aircraft system, US-built Hummer vehicles and TPQ37 mobile radar systems. He is expected to appear before prosecutor Panayiotis Athanassiou again. ATHENS TRAVEL CARD New deal to offer unlimited use of public transport for a week Athenians and visitors to the capital will be able to buy a card allowing unlimited travel for one week on the city’s public transportation system from mid-July, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday. The card will cost 10 euros and will be valid on buses, trolleys, the electrical railway, metro and tram. Now there is a daily (three-euro) and monthly (35-euro) pass. SIMITIS FOR EU JOB? Government says ‘nothing excluded’ The government indicated yesterday that it could propose former Prime Minister Costas Simitis for a post in the European Union. «In the ongoing discussions, all possibilities are open and nothing is excluded,» government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. He was responding to a reporter’s question as to whether the conservatives might nominate the former socialist prime minister for some EU post. Last week, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis indicated he would back Simitis if his name arose in the discussion. There has been speculation in the press that Simitis could be a candidate for the position of EU Commission President. Euro pairing Greece will play against France in Friday’s Euro 2004 soccer championship quarterfinal after the French beat Switzerland 3-1 yesterday to end at the top of Group B. Greece ended second in Group A. Appeal to motorists Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday appealed to drivers to be patient for one more month as major construction work is completed ahead of the Olympics. «I would like to apologize to citizens who face a hard time on national highways and some roads in Attica where work is being carried out,» Souflias said in a statement. «But the work must be completed. This is necessary for the success of the Olympic Games and the better quality of life for all after the Games… All I ask of citizens now is one month more of patience.» Hospital strike State hospital staff across Greece will stage a work stoppage from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, demanding higher pay for overtime work, an Olympic bonus and more hiring of staff on a permanent basis. Protest rallies are planned outside the Health Ministry in Athens and the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry in Thessaloniki. On Friday, doctors at state hospitals in Athens and Piraeus will stage a work stoppage from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Albania 2004 Albania has created a special unit to coordinate security issues linked to the Summer Olympics in Greece, the government in Tirana said yesterday. Albania already had joined a task force with Greece to handle security issues ahead of the Olympics. The new unit was created for Olympic-related security issues affecting not only Greece but the region, the government said in a statement. Police and secret police, the army and other structures will coordinate their work with their Greek counterparts «to prevent any threat and coordinate efforts among the regional structures of security,» it said. (AP) Roadworks Work to replace the road surface on coastal Poseidonos Avenue in southern Athens began last night between Diakou St in Moschato and the Pikrodafni stream at Palaio Faliron. Work will be carried out from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the next 20 days.