NEWS

In Brief

DANGEROUS ROADS

Glut of Olympic roadworks have caused more accidents, insurance firms say The Association of Insurance Companies yesterday charged that the rate of road traffic accidents has increased due to the confusion resulting from a multitude of different signs set up by various Olympic contractors. The sheer number of Olympic road projects being undertaken by different groups – and the lack of coordination between them – is the chief problem, the president of the association’s committee against road accidents, Giorgos Skourtis, said in a letter to Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias. Road signs should be set up by transport experts and not the supervisor of each individual project, Skourtis said. RICOMEX RULINGS Relatives of 39 victims appeal against leniency shown to architect, engineer The relatives of people who died when the Ricomex factory collapsed during the 1999 Athens earthquake yesterday appealed against a decision to hand down reduced sentences to two of the four people accused in connection with the 39 deaths. Architect Nikos Scholidis and civil engineer Alexandros Dovas on Tuesday received five-year suspended sentences after an Athens court reduced the charges they faced from «murder with possible malice aforethought» to «manslaughter due to unintentional negligence» – a misdemeanor. The two other accused, engineers Emmanouil Kotzastratis and Athanassios Vassilakis, were acquitted. KARAMANLIS BRIEFED PM updated on Olympics, tourism Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was yesterday briefed on preparations for the Olympic Games by Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki and Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia. Questioned by journalists on leaving Maximos Mansion, both women said that preparations were almost finished. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos later briefed Karamanlis about a campaign to kick-start the tourism sector from the fall. Security talks Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis yesterday briefed (separately) the ambassadors of Albania, Korea, Israel and the USA on Olympic security preparations. Voulgarakis also discussed bilateral issues with the ambassadors. Also, Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Michaloliakos met Poland’s ambassador to Greece, Grzegorz Dziemidowicz. Dziemidowicz offered Poland’s support for Olympic security preparations. ATM withdrawal Three Gypsies who allegedly used stolen machinery and vehicles to remove five ATMs from different parts of Thessaloniki have been arrested, police said yesterday. Officers are seeking another two Gypsies believed to have helped lift ATMs from gas stations or hypermarkets in remote areas or on days with bad weather when fewer people were around. The group netted 238,000 euros from the machines, police said, adding that the stolen ATMs were worth another 160,000 euros. Police tracked down the Gypsies with the help of the driver of a truck they had tried to steal. Doctors return The Greek contingent of the Doctors Without Borders aid organization based in Afghanistan has decided to return to Greece after a Taleban official warned that organizations such as Doctors Without Borders served US interests and therefore constituted targets for possible attacks. Last month, the Taleban claimed responsibility for the killing of five workers. Astir probe The sale of land to the Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni was not carried out by the PASOK government and is the job of the new government to complete, former Development and Economy ministers Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday in a joint statement. A file containing the results of a prosecutor’s investigation into the deal was submitted to Parliament on Tuesday. US Embassy The Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) of the US Embassy in Athens will be able to offer only limited services from August 11-31 due to the Olympic Games, the embassy said. The unit is scheduled to resume its operations at full capacity as of September 1.