Opposition leader calls Asklipeio ‘shabby,’ prompting heated response Opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said he was «disappointed» by his surprise visit yesterday to the Asklipeio hospital in the Athenian coastal suburb of Voula. He said the hospital was was unhygienic and lacking in resources, adding that basic infrastructure – including kitchens, bathrooms, laboratories and consulting rooms – was «shabby» and that only half of the 700 beds the hospital had in 1993 were currently available. The Asklipeio was quick to react, saying some of the facilities referred to had been out of use for the past year. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas also defended the hospital, which he said had «both old and new (facilities),» adding that Karamanlis had chosen to focus on the former and «had forgotten to mention the state-of-the-art heart clinic and surgeries.» Samina sinking Magistrate charges another ship’s officer Officer Giorgos Triantafyllos of the Express Samina passenger ferry, which sank in September 2000 with the loss of 80 lives, was charged yesterday with murder with possible malice aforethought by an examining magistrate on the island of Syros. Triantafyllos is also charged with causing a shipwreck with malice aforethought, endangering people and violating international marine safety laws. Examining magistrate Nikos Karadimitrou said Triantafyllos, who was not charged immediately after the disaster as were the ferry’s captain Vassilis Yiannakis and first mate Anastassios Psychogios, had to be tried as «he was partly responsible.» Yiannakis and Psychogios have been in a Chios prison since just after the sinking. Antiquities Teacher caught with artifacts A teacher was arrested in Thessaloniki with more than 1,000 ancient objects from around the Balkans in his possession, police said yesterday. Argiris Argiriou’s collection – which included 500 coins, ancient Greek statuettes, pottery, weapons and jewelry, 37 swords and guns – was confiscated after a police raid on Thursday. Authorities believe Argiriou, 55, obtained the objects from underground dealers in Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. IKA doctors strike Social security (IKA) doctors on short-term contracts in Attica have announced they will strike on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in a renewal of their demands for permanent positions, higher salaries, and the granting of insurance and pension benefits. IKA doctors have been striking on and off since June 2001. Toll-workers An Athens court yesterday ruled that strike action by toll-gate workers is illegal and ordered them to return to work today or face substantial fines. The workers are demanding permanent positions and full civil servant status for colleagues on short-term contrasts. Immigrants A coast guard patrol vessel yesterday stopped a Turkish fishing boat carrying 130 illegal immigrants in Greek waters off the northeastern Aegean island of Aghios Efstratios. The wooden vessel was escorted to the island’s port. Coast guard alert Port authorities across the country are on a state of alert after the Merchant Marine Ministry warned yesterday that severe weather conditions would affect the whole of Greece today. Fishermen in particular are advised to take all necessary precautions. Pedestrian complaints People living in the vicinity of central Apostolou Pavlou Street, which was closed earlier this month to be turned into a pedestrian network, yesterday complained that the company for the unification of Athens’s archaeological sites, EAHA, has broken promises to residents. The list of complaints drawn up by the residents’ association includes the lack of special road passes allowing them road access, the total banning of pedestrian access and the closing off of the Philopappou ring road – an inconvenience to residents who usually shop in the Makriyianni and Koukaki areas – an action which they claimed benefits only famous residents who want to avoid traffic noise. Patras carnival Thousands of musicians, performers and revelers are expected to descend on Patras’s Georgiou Square today for the opening of the city’s annual carnival.