NEWS

In Brief

PRECINCT RAID

Man arrested after Christmas Eve attack on police station out on bail A 29-year-old man arrested on Christmas Eve after some 50 suspected anarchists tried to burst into the Aghios Pandeleimonas police precinct in central Athens was released on bail yesterday. Seven parked cars were also damaged in the attack. Epaminondas Michelis has been charged with arson, illegal possession and use of a weapon, damaging property and attempted grievous bodily harm. He denied the charges. The attack is linked with the claim, by human rights groups last week, that officers from the same station had tortured dozens of Afghan immigrants. The Afghan community in Athens has organized a march from Omonia Square to Parliament at 4.30 p.m today in protest over the alleged abuse. ROAD TAX Deadline expires tomorrow Tomorrow is officially the last day for owners of cars and motorcycles to buy their road tax stickers for 2005 from banks and tax offices. However, the Economy and Finance Ministry is considering extending the deadline until January 5 so drivers can get their road tax without having to pay a fine. Those who fail to acquire a 2005 sticker in time will be obliged to visit their tax office to buy it, where they will have to pay double the price, to include the fine. Trade deficit Greece’s trade deficit has risen by 19.3 percent compared to last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday. The figures, which cover the period from January to September, show that the deficit totalled 21.28 billion euros this year compared to 17.83 billion euros in 2003. New Year transport Buses, trolleys and the metro will stop running at 11 p.m. on December 31, Athens transport authorities said yesterday. The electric railway will stop at 11.30 p.m. Trams will run according to their normal schedule until 8 p.m. and then every 20 minutes until 10 p.m. before resuming their usual nighttime timetable. There will be no change to the timetables of the suburban railway and express buses to the airport. On New Year’s Day and January 2, buses, trolleys and the metro will run according to their Sunday schedule. Petrol fines Four Athens petrol stations were yesterday fined a total of 210,031 euros for selling adulterated fuel, the Development Ministry said. This takes the amount of fines issued by the ministry in the last three months for similar offenses to a total of 999,556 euros. Bright lights A highly decorated house in the Omonia district of the northern town of Serres has become a local tourist attraction after the houseowner festooned the building with hundreds of Christmas lights, Santa Claus figures and reindeer. Cotton prices The government has increased the amount of Greek cotton to receive EU subsidies from 1.116 million tons to 1.132 million tons, but this will reduce the subsidy from 31 drachmas (0.09 euros) to 24 drachmas (0.07 euros) a kilo, the Agricultural Development and Food Ministry. Meanwhile, cotton farmers staging a roadblock protest at Halkidona, some 34 kilometres west of Thessaloniki, over cotton subsidies desisted yesterday. But others continued their blockade of the Kipi border crossing near the northeastern town of Feres. Postal robbery A man and woman conducted an armed robbery in a Thessaloniki post office, making off with 16,000 euros, police said yesterday. The pair were armed with hunting rifles when they walked into the building, in the Stavroupolis district of the city, and forced employees to hand over the cash, according to officers.