NEWS

In Brief

AFGHAN CONTINGENT

Greek troops at base for final preparations The 132 Greek troops, due to join the British-led international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, have entered the final phase of their preparations at the Hatziioannou military base at Nea Santa in Kilkis, northern Greece, from where they will move out at the beginning of February. The team includes nine officers, 45 sappers, 18 commandos to provide security, 46 support troops including medics, and 14 men who are to depart first to liaise with their British counterparts in Oman. The method of transporting the troops to Afghanistan, where their role will be to rebuild war-ravaged infrastructure, will be decided upon with British leaders of the force. UNIVERSITY DOCTORS Back to work but only in teaching role Athens university doctors, on strike since last May over a government ultimatum demanding that they choose between working for state or private hospitals, return to work today but only in their teaching role, after a decision by the Athens Academic Medical Staff union which is taking legal action against cases of doctors being barred from the Alexandra and Hippocrateio state hospitals. The union will meet again in the first week of February to decide whether Athens doctors will resume strike action. Meanwhile, university doctors in Thessaloniki and Patras are to continue their strike until January 24 and doctors in Ioaninna are also not working. Survivor’s suit ‘Unsinkable’ boat drowned two The sole survivor of an April 1999 boating accident, in which two people drowned off the coast of Ierissos in Halkidiki, is suing the store which sold him the plastic vessel for 27 million drachmas, reports said yesterday. Nikolaos Koulakides brought charges against nautical products retailer «Marinco Ltd» after losing his two friends Nikos Gialtides and Vassilis Sotiroglou who drowned when the yacht sank in choppy waters. A Thessaloniki court heard that Koulakides’ choice of the particular yacht, which he bought only 10 days before the accident, was influenced by store salesmen who reassured him it would not sink even if it sprung a leak. Bull kills farmer A cattle farmer was fatally injured yesterday after being set upon by one of his own bulls in the village of Kalos Agros in the northern town of Drama. Relatives of Vassilis Gavriilides, 59, found the farmer near his cowshed with injuries to his head and body. Smugglers shoot guard A guard patrolling the Albanian border of Drymades north of Ioaninna, Epirus, suffered leg wounds yesterday after a group of men fired at him with Kalashnikov rifles before fleeing, abandoning two bags containing 150 kilos of Indian cannabis. Dimitris Kouros, 33, was shot at after he and his colleagues appealed to the men, reportedly Albanian nationals, to surrender. Steroids arrest A Thessaloniki pharmacist faces prosecution for allegedly selling steroids in letters to US and UK customers, police said yesterday. Vassilios Mouyios, 50, was arrested by Financial Crimes Squad officers who found on him five letters to the USA, containing 362 steroid pills and 32 vials of steroids, and 76 letters to the USA outlining agreements for drug purchases. Another 7,708 steroid pills and 1000 orders from prospective customers were confiscated in a raid on a warehouse used by Mouyios, who is charged with selling medicine illegally. Athens robberies An armed robber made off with 24,000 euros after holding up a branch of Commercial Bank in Palaio Faliro, southern Athens, yesterday morning and two men got away with 14,500 euros and 1.2 million drachmas after an armed raid on a branch of National Bank in Dafni later in the day. The first robber fled on a motorbike while the second duo drove off in a waiting car. Motorcycle cop dead An officer of the motorcycle-borne emergency «Z» police force, 33-year-old Dimitris Kotsias, was killed just before midnight on Wednesday in Athens when his motorbike toppled over and got wedged under a car stopped at traffic lights on Kifissias Avenue, near the Olympic Stadium. US offices closed The US Embassy in Athens, including the Consular Section, the US Consulate-General in Thessaloniki and all US government offices in Greece will be closed on Monday, January 21 in observance of Martin Luther King’s birthday – a national holiday.