NEWS

In Brief

REPARATIONS:German president fears damage to relations with Greece German President Johannes Rau said yesterday that he was fully aware that Greek-German relations could be damaged by the continued loose end of the issue of reparations for victims of the Nazis in Greece. We might be facing a political crisis again, he said, with regard to a hearing in Athens tomorrow on a German request for a discussion on whether the Greek minister of justice has to agree to the confiscation of German property for the payment of reparations. If the court rules that his permission is not necessary, the auction of German property – the Goethe Institut and German Archaeological Institute at Athens – is scheduled for September 19. Rau spoke to the Athens News Agency and German DPA agency on the sidelines of a visit to Berlin by children from Kalavryta, a town in the Peloponnese where the Germans executed 1,200 men and boys in December 1943. On a visit last April, Rau had expressed grief and shame over the massacre. COACH STRIKE Travel agents appeal for strike to be avoided The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) yesterday appealed to the government to support demands by tour bus owners and prevent an indefinite strike that they are to begin tomorrow. Tour bus owners, who had announced an indefinite strike as of September 5, yesterday called for a dialogue with the government in order to avert strike action which they said would harm Greek tourism. The group’s association (SETE) yesterday wrote to Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis proposing the talks and criticizing a transport bill restricting tour bus activities to the benefit of state-run bus and rail companies. In its appeal, HATTA stressed: The consequences of the strike will be most serious for the tourism image of our country in general, and especially for excursion tourism. MUSSELS Thessaloniki harvest withdrawn The regional government of Thessaloniki yesterday banned the sale of any mussels harvested since August 29 from the areas of Halastra and Kiminon, following the discovery of signs of a type of algal toxin which causes paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans. The traces found were very small, officials said, and the ban is a preventive measure. The mussels, they said, were not affected by the dangerous toxin and posed no danger to anyone who might have eaten them Satanist free. An Athens court yesterday granted a conditional release to 25-year-old Dimitra Margeti, who has served eight years of a 17-year sentence for her part in the Satanic ritual slayings of two young women outside Athens. Margeti, whose two earlier appeals for early release were rejected on the grounds that the good behavior she had displayed in prison had been a pretense and not indicative of true remorse, was convicted in 1993. Margeti must register a permanent address, report to the nearest police station twice a month and stay in the country. Consumers. Most consumer complaints recorded by the Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA) and its allied organizations between January 1 and August 31 this year concerned unsuitable food (9,942 complaints or 13.8 percent of the total), followed by cost of living (5,238 or 7.26 percent), health services (5,184 or 7.19 percent) and tourism and entertainment (4,793 or 6.65 percent). The institute said that it had received a total of 72,110 complaints. Jospin visit. Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to host a private dinner for French PM Lionel Jospin on Sunday night, before the two begin talks on Monday on the future of Europe and developments in the Balkans, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday. Loaded nets. Police have arrested two fishermen on the Saronic island of Aegina in possession of 4 kilos of hashish, small quantities of cocaine and a number of weapons including makeshift explosive devices, it was reported yesterday. Police said Alexandros Maltezos, 35, and Vassilis Sarris, 52, arrested four days ago, are suspected of distributing large quantities of drugs on the island and of using the explosives for illegal fishing. Prosecuted. A 36-year-old man is facing charges of posing as a public prosecutor and making promises to facilitate the outcome of court cases in return for payment. Yiannis Theodorakis has previous convictions for forgery, fraud and other charges.