NEWS

In Brief

CULTURE STRIKE

Striking contract workers threaten to close off Acropolis Culture Ministry contract workers have threatened to close off the Acropolis by gathering in front of its main entrance from 10 a.m. today as part of a four-day strike protesting the non-renewal of their contracts. The employees, whose agreements run out at the end of the month, are likely to stage a two-hour blockade of the site. They began their action yesterday by blocking Bouboulinas Street outside the Culture Ministry for three hours. Officials at the Acropolis said that despite today’s protest, they plan to open the site as usual. More protests are expected tomorrow as workers march on the Interior Ministry before picketing the Culture Ministry again on Thursday. SLOW MOTION Sprinters Kenteris and Thanou get even more time to prepare Disgraced sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou will appear before prosecutors on Thursday after successfully applying for a second extension to prepare their defense. The pair were due to testify for a second time yesterday before the two prosecutors investigating why they missed a drug test on the eve of the Athens Olympics opening ceremony. BOMB HOAX Plane resumes journey for New York A New York-bound Olympic Airlines passenger jet, which had to make an emergency landing at Stansted Airport in London on Sunday, following a bomb scare, was given the all clear to continue its journey yesterday at lunchtime. A caller to a Greek newspaper on Sunday had warned there was a bomb aboard the flight. All 289 passengers and 12 crew members were evacuated and had their luggage searched. The Airbus 340 was also inspected by local police before it was given the all clear to take off around 2.30 p.m. Greek time. Paralympic Flame The idea to light the flame for every Paralympic Games at the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens has received the support of International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Phil Craven. The suggestion was put forward by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, who presented Craven with the city’s medal yesterday. Craven said he would convey the proposal to the other members of the IPC. Road tax hike Road tax for cars and motorcycles will increase by 15 percent on January 1, 2005, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. Depending on the engine size of the vehicle, prices will rise from between 2 and 63 euros, compared to 2004. Company vehicles are expected to face higher charges. Cyprus property Cyprus’s chief prosecutor will appeal against a controversial ruling by the country’s Supreme Court on Friday that ordered two elderly Greek-Cypriot refugees to return their house to its former Turkish-Cypriot owner, Interior Minister Andreas Christou said yesterday. The Supreme Court upheld a petition from a Turkish Cypriot and ordered the two women to leave the house they have occupied for years. Christou also said there would be an investigation into the handling of the case from the moment the Turkish-Cypriot filed his petition. Chemical alarm An Italian tanker carrying 7,350 metric tons of chemicals ran aground on a rocky outcrop near the island of Salamina just before midnight Sunday, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The coast guard immediately deployed an anti-pollution craft but no chemical spill was found. None of the 15-man crew was injured. The Cristallo, headed from Spain to Turkey, had aimed to refuel off Piraeus. Divers were to inspect the hull yesterday before an effort was made to free the ship. Deadly blaze Firefighters found the charred remains of a woman on the ground floor of a house in Nea Sepolia, Athens, yesterday, and took her badly burned husband to hospital in an unconscious state. The couple’s names and ages were not announced and the cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Organic boom The Agriculture Ministry has reported major interest in its latest organic farming program, with 2,844 farmers submitting application forms so far. Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos said applications were at their highest for five years.