NEWS

In Brief

DRAFT-DODGING BILL

Draft legislation to ease penalties if offenders enlist by Nov. 30, 2006 Draft legislation made public yesterday by the Defense Ministry foresees the easing of penalties on draft dodgers as long as they enlist by November 30, 2006. The bill will also oblige priests and monks – formerly exempted – to serve and will make it more difficult to secure exemptions on the grounds of ill health, the ministry said. RETURNING MIGRANTS Valid papers needed; deadline May 15 Immigrants living in Greece who are planning to return to their homelands for Easter must have certain valid documents with them upon their return, the Public Order Ministry said yesterday. They must have a valid passport, a residence permit (for whose renewal they have applied) and a document certifying that they have applied for a new work permit or residence permit. The deadline for their re-entry into Greece is May 15. Arms charges Charges against former defense officials have been shelved after a preliminary investigation into the legality of the former PASOK government’s procurement of 170 Leopard tanks from a German firm failed to find any incriminating evidence, an Athens prosecutor revealed yesterday. However, prosecutor Panayiotis Athanassiou brought charges, for breaching the law on middlemen, against unnamed representatives of the offshore firm Evanston which is based in the Virgin Islands. Athanassiou launched his probe in 2003. Police protest Police officers, firefighters and coast guard employees are to protest in front of Parliament this afternoon, calling for wage increases and the improvement of health and safety conditions in their work. Protesters said they would continue their rally until tomorrow afternoon, adding that they would not disrupt traffic. Ferry connections Residents of Alonnissos staged a demonstration in the harbor of Volos yesterday, protesting inadequate ferry connections to their island. Jerusalem Patriarchate Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis yesterday discussed the situation of the scandal-mired Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem with his Palestinian and Israeli counterparts, Nasser Al Kidwa and Silvan Salom respectively. Al Kidwa briefed Skandalakis on the progress of a report being prepared by Palestinian authorities following charges that Patriarch Irenaios sold Church land in the city’s Arab sector to Israelis. Robber thwarted A would-be robber who raided the reception area of a central Athens hotel was caught yesterday after being tackled by a passing policeman as he tried to get away. The officer tried to disarm the robber and a struggle ensued during which the robber’s gun went off, without causing any injuries. Illegal immigrants A group of 150 illegal immigrants were deported from Greece and Italy yesterday, The Associated Press cited a Cairo airport official as saying. The Egyptians were arrested by coast guard officers after trying to enter Italian and Greek waters from Libya and Egypt on fishing boats, the unnamed official was quoted as saying. Cretan authorities intercepted 104 Egyptian immigrants off the island’s southern coast last week. Cyprus talks Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos is tonight to address the problem of the division of Cyprus in a press conference to be aired on all domestic television channels.