Biministerial committee opens new process to sell state carrier A biministerial committee yesterday decided to embark on a new bid to privatise ailing state carrier Olympic Airlines, admitting that the previous process, which began in April 2002, had been fruitless. The new process will be carried out with «realism and transparency,» according to a joint press release issued by the Economy and Transport ministries. «The government is making a constant effort to purge… Olympic Airlines… but there is no fixed timetable for privatization,» acting government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said yesterday. POLICE PROTEST Security forces staff stage 24-hour demo in Athens over pay, terms Policemen, firemen and coast guard employees are to stage a demonstration in central Syntagma Square from midday today until the same time tomorrow, calling on the government to make good on its pre-electoral promise to grant them salary raises of between 720 and 860 euros, and reiterating demands for their jobs to be recognized as dangerous. The protest also marks the anniversary of clashes last year between riot police and police unionists protesting for better pay. ASTYPALAIA QUAKE No damage, injuries after 5.2 tremor A strong undersea quake, measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, occurred off the Aegean island of Astypalaia, near Rhodes, just after 4 a.m. yesterday but did not cause any damage or injuries. The quake’s epicenter was located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of the island, according to seismologists, who said it was felt as far south as Crete. Another quake, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, occurred south of Cape Tainaro in the southern Peloponnese, shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday. Again, no damage or injuries were reported. Sponsor probe Athens Chief Prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos yesterday ordered a preliminary investigation into press reports maintaining that Olympic sponsors had been confirmed by a mediating firm allegedly linked with top officials in the Athens 2004 organising committee. According to reports in the daily Eleftherotypia and Avriani, only firms which had cooperated with Octagon Worldwide Holdings (formerly Pentelink) were granted status as official sponsor for the Olympic Games. Embezzlement The former general secretary and treasurer of Athens’s Panteion University, Anastassios Koutsodimitropoulos, was yesterday remanded in custody while restrictive measures were imposed on another 16 university staff and associates who are charged in connection with the embezzlement of 5.87 million euros in university funds between 1992 and 1998. Bail payments ranging from 3,000 to 400,000 euros were imposed on the 16. Olympic venues All Olympic venues shall have been entrusted to the bodies who will take over their management by the end of this year, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said yesterday. Guards will be recruited to take over from the hundreds of police and armed forces staff who are currently protecting the venues, Voulgarakis said. He added that he would ask the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data to reactivate surveillance cameras around venues to boost their protection. IKA finances The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) yesterday issued a statement asking the Social Security Foundation (IKA) to reveal data concerning its income this year following reports that it is in dire financial straits. IKA Director Ioannis Vartholomaios said that the Christmas bonus for IKA pensioners was guaranteed for this year and for years to come. (Page 5) Mayor suspended Maroussi Mayor Panayiotis Tzanikos yesterday appealed to the Council of State following a decision by Attica regional authorities to suspend him due to his conviction, in 2002, on charges of bearing false witness after describing a private piece of land as municipal. Attica authorities took action earlier this week following the approval of a new law in Parliament imposing suspensions on officials convicted for bearing false witness. Tzanikos claims his suspension is unconstitutional.