NEWS

In Brief

STRONG WORDS

PM vows war on business interests but ‘pimp’ comment is denied Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday caused a stir with his choice of words in telling party MPs that he was adamant on fighting powerful businessmen believed to have been involved in corrupt public contract deals. Sources said the PM vowed «not to allow five pimps and another five centers to control public affairs, as these can be easily confronted.» He was speaking during a dinner with MPs at an Athens taverna. Sources close to Karamanlis later denied he had used the word «pimps,» claiming that the PM «does not employ such expressions.» They stressed, however, that he intended to take on business interests believed to have had murky dealings with the previous, Socialist government. This cleanup drive has been linked with government plans to overhaul legislation concerning media barons’ access to state contracts. AIR-SPACE VIOLATIONS Turkish jets reappear in Aegean for third time in less than a week Six formations of Turkish fighter jets yesterday entered the Athens Flight Information Region six times and violated Greek national air space five times in the areas between Chios and Lesvos and between Psara and Antipsara, military sources said. The 12 Turkish jets were chased off by as many Greek aircraft and there were four simulated dogfights, the officials said. It was the third series of Turkish violations in the Aegean in the past week. ROAD TAX Hikes of 15 percent in January Road tax for cars and motorcycles will increase by 15 percent as of January 1, 2005, the Economy and Finance Ministry confirmed yesterday. New charges will range from 15 euros for scooters and motorcycles with an engine size of up to 300cc, 168 euros for bikes and cars with an engine size of 1,358cc to 1,928cc, reaching 483 euros for vehicles with engines of 2,358cc and above. Bomb hoax The 340 passengers aboard a train bound for Athens from Thessaloniki were evacuated at about 8 p.m. yesterday following a call to a Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) station on the route, warning that a bomb had been planted on the train. The train was stopped shortly before Lianokladi, near Lamia, for a search to be conducted, OSE said, adding that the passengers had been due to board another train from Lamia. By late last night, no bomb had been found. Vyronas blaze A fire which broke out in a copse in the Athenian district of Vyronas just before 4 p.m. yesterday was extinguished by 45 firemen with 15 fire engines and aided by a water-carrying helicopter. There were no people in the copse, which is situated at the junction of Formionos and Kristali streets, when the fire broke out, firemen said. Traffic disruptions There will be disruptions on Athens’s Kifissias Avenue over the next 10 days after works got under way yesterday to remove the orange lines marking out Olympic lanes. The works will be carried out between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily. Moscow visit Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to pay an official visit to Moscow in December, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said yesterday. Hospital abuse Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis yesterday ordered the directors of a psychiatric center in the Cretan town of Hania to suspend two of its staff who are charged with sexually abusing and beating patients pending the conclusion of their trial. Fuel fines Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas yesterday signed nine decisions imposing a total of 434,222 euros in fines on gas stations after fuel samples tested by state inspectors failed to meet specifications. Unwelcome jet Cyprus will officially protest after Israeli fighter jets «forced» a Tel Aviv-bound Lufthansa plane to land at Larnaca airport by intercepting the aircraft off Cyprus without permission, Cypriot Communications Minister Haris Thrassou said yesterday. A bomb threat came shortly after the plane left Frankfurt. A search at Larnaca revealed no explosives.