Panel of experts to tackle red tape gets go-ahead from government The setting-up of an independent committee to combat bureaucracy was given the green light yesterday after a meeting between Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and academics at Maximos Mansion. The task force will aim to simplify processes in anything from entrepreneurial investments to daily matters affecting citizens, said Alogoskoufis. The panel will be made up of experts in the field of public administration and economics and, although independent, will liaise with the Public Administration Ministry. SNOW ALERT Freezing weather causes problems on roads in northern Greece Snowfall in various parts of northern Greece, including mountainous areas of Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, caused treacherous driving conditions yesterday. Snow chains were needed for all vehicles traveling last night on the country roads between Florina and Kastoria, Kastoria and Ioannina, on mountain roads in the Kilkis and Rhodope areas and towards the Seli and Tria Pente Pigadia ski centers. The weather is expected to improve today and tomorrow. COCAINE FIND Owner finds stash in rented home A Thessaloniki woman who had rented her home out to a Greek and two foreigners found that they had left behind almost half a kilo of cocaine after vacating the premises, police sources said yesterday. The homeowner discovered two packages of the drug, weighing 490 grams, when she went to clean the house. She said that the two foreign tenants had been deported from the country and the Greek man had disappeared. Romanian return Two Romanian women at the center of a court case at the beginning of the month, which saw an Albanian man sentenced to 25 years in jail and five others, including three police officers, received suspended sentences for their part in an underage prostitution ring, flew back to their homeland yesterday. The pair, known simply as Gina and Camilia, said they had been forced to work as prostitutes in a makeshift brothel directly opposite a police station in the southern Athens suburb of Glyfada. Land return The Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, yesterday decided to reverse the 1971 expropriation of three hectares of private land in Anavyssos, southwest of Athens, by the Greek Tourism Organization (EOT), legal sources said. The case had been pending since 1994, when the landowners had submitted that the land had remained unused since its expropriation and should pass back into their hands. Daughter abuse An Albanian man, as yet unnamed, was arrested in Attica on Wednesday over the alleged sexual abuse of his underage daughter, police sources said yesterday. His arrest came about after his daughter, whose age was not made known, told police that her father had abused her for the last three years. Phones down Engineers were working to restore telephone services to some 17,500 homes and businesses in the Nafplion area yesterday after a fire which spread to the town’s OTE telecoms building on Wednesday night had caused the lines to go down. Sports bonuses The Greek national soccer squad, which won the European Championship this summer, have been awarded bonuses of 174,000 euros each, some six months after their triumph, Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos said yesterday. The team’s German coach, Otto Rehhagel, has also received the reward. Orfanos added that bonuses totaling 2.1 million euros had been paid out to Greek sportspeople and their coaches who took part in European and World championships during 2003.