Parliament begins ratification debate, ex-PM Simitis criticizes gov’t policy Parliament yesterday launched a debate to ratify the European Constitution while opponents of the treaty joined in a protest in central Athens organized by the Communist Party (KKE). PASOK, KKE and Synaspismos Left Coalition have called for a referendum on the matter, which the government has ruled out. In yesterday’s debate, former PASOK prime minister Costas Simitis criticized the government over its foreign and economic policy and over a new law prohibiting media owners from bidding for state contracts – criticized by the European Commission as inimical to EU competition law. KALAMATA CONNECTION Road to Peloponnese ‘ready by 2010’ A new highway linking Corinth to the Peloponnesian towns of Tripolis and Kalamata will be ready by 2010, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday. A broader project to modernize the largely decrepit Peloponnesian road network includes plans to build bridges over the section of road between Paradeisia and Tsakonas – which collapsed over two years ago due to subsidence – by 2008, Souflias said. Arson attack Five cars and two scooters were destroyed in an arson attack early yesterday outside an apartment block in Iraklio, Crete, police said. Of the vehicles destroyed, three cars and a scooter had been in the block’s parking lot and one car and another scooter on the nearby roadside. A ground-floor bakery also sustained serious damage. Publisher’s trial A prosecutor yesterday asked an Athens court to deliver guilty verdicts on right-wing publisher Grigoris Michalopoulos, on trial for blackmailing leading businessmen and churchmen, whom he allegedly threatened with execution by the November 17 extreme left-wing terrorist group. Prosecutor Vassiliki Tsironi called for Michalopoulos to be found guilty of blackmailing Vouliagmeni Mayor Grigoris Kasidocostas and the attempted blackmail of Chrysostomos, Bishop of Zakynthos, businessman Theodoros Angelopoulos, his wife former Athens 2004 Organizing Committee chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, and businessmen Yiannis Latsis and Argyris Saliarelis. Omonia murder Two gunmen burst into a taverna near Omonia, central Athens, early yesterday and fatally shot a 51-year-old Albanian point blank in the face, police said. Puskin Kuspa had been eating when he was attacked by the two young men, also Albanian nationals, according to witnesses. Police said they had no evidence linking Kuspa to any crime rings. Trial-fixing probe Theoklitos, Bishop of Thessaliotis – forced to resign at the end of February following allegations linking him to a trial-fixing ring – testified before Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas yesterday. Today, Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, a suspected key figure at the center of the ring, is to testify. Easter hours Traders yesterday announced the store hours for the Easter period – from Thursday, April 21, to Easter Saturday, April 30. Stores will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 and Friday, April 22; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 23; from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. from Monday, April 25, until Thursday, April 28; from 1 to 7 p.m. on Good Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Easter Saturday. On Easter Monday, May 2, stores will be closed. Swede cleared A court in Rhodes yesterday cleared 22-year-old Swede Calle Jonsson of the attempted murder of a 23-year-old Greek man on the island of Kos in the summer of 2001, citing reasonable doubt.