Thessaloniki farmers renew protests, warn of escalation Thessaloniki farmers yesterday parked their tractors along the National Road to Athens, near Nea Michaniona – an action which did not disturb traffic but served as a reminder of renewed protests due to begin on Saturday. Farmers from Macedonia and Thrace yesterday asked to meet Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys ahead of Saturday’s action, while representatives of farmers’ unions in northern Greece confirmed they would drive their tractors into village centers on Saturday and Sunday, blocking key points of national roads on Monday. Farmers started their protests last November demanding, among other things, an increase in cotton subsidies. Meanwhile, yesterday Drys and EU officials discussed Union financial support for farmers whose crops were destroyed during December and January’s blizzards. CYPRUS WEAPONS Missing arms found, silence on identity of perpetrators Weapons and ammunition stolen during Saturday morning’s armed raid on a National Guard outpost in Cyprus have been found near the village of Tochni, Cypriot Justice Minister Nikos Kosis said yesterday. Kosis refused to supply details about the perpetrators’ identities, saying the matter was being handled by military and police authorities. On Monday, police interviewed three former national guardsmen suspected of involvement in the raid – in which three semiautomatic rifles, a light machine gun and an anti-tank missile were stolen – near the village of Evrychou, about 40 kilometers west of Nicosia. SIMITIS IN SOFIA Visit to focus on Balkans, crime, oil Prime Minister Costas Simitis is in Sofia today along with Foreign Minister George Papandreou for talks with the newly elected Bulgarian president Georgy Parvanov and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Discussions will focus on establishing stability in the Balkans, the fight against organized crime in the region, and construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. Greenaway in Athens Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will meet this afternoon with British film director Peter Greenaway, who is in Athens to discuss his possible contribution to the Cultural Olympics in the form of a three-part theatrical work entitled «Icarus.» Passaris Greece’s most wanted criminal, Costas Passaris, was escorted yesterday shackled by Romanian elite police officers to a Bucharest prosecutor’s office, where he testified in connection with two murders he has been charged with committing during a Bucharest money-changing shop armed robbery in November. He was arrested on November 27. Greece is seeking his extradition for a series of murders – including those of two policemen. Arrest drama A retired air force officer committed suicide in his apartment block in Petralona, central Athens, yesterday in front of two policemen who had come to arrest him for fraud and forgery. His wife was also present. Constantinos Simos, 63, shot himself in the head with a pistol. Transvestites Thirty transvestites demonstrated outside the Thessaloniki police headquarters yesterday to protest at the alleged ill-treatment of their fellows by local officers. Not Yiannopoulos An Athens court yesterday sentenced writer Giorgos Mandikos to 12 months in jail for the slander of former Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos. Mandikos’s book «I am Evangelos Yiannopoulos,» published in 1999, questioned the former minister’s often-quoted World War II resistance record. The court ruled Mandikos was aware that his assertions were false, and so could not claim to have been serving the public good.