Court hearing opens into 1997 double murder The trial of the double murder of businessman Giorgos Nikolaidis and his girlfriend Soula Kalathaki in November 1997 opened at an Athens court yesterday. Of the eight people charged in connection with the killings only two – Panayiotis Krambis and Theodoros Krallis are currently in detention. The trial was postponed several times as Krambis tenaciously fought against extradition from England. Wage increase Civil servants to get average 3.7 pct rise, pensioners 4 pct Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Floridis announced yesterday that the wages of civil servants will rise from 2.5 to 3.7 percent this year, with the average at 3.2 percent, while pensioners will get an average raise of 4 percent. Various bonuses, not included in the main wage, will be provided, costing the government an additional 180 billion drachmas. Cinema Greeks not too keen Greeks visit the cinema less than any of their fellow Europeans while seven out of 10 films screened in Greece are US productions, according to data made public yesterday by the European Commission’s statistics service Eurostat. The results of Eurostat’s investigation into the film industry in the EU showed the average Greek visited the cinema 1.3 times in 2000 – compared to the average Spaniard and Irishman who went 3.4 times and 3.3 times, respectively. However, the number of Greek cinema visits was up by 500,000 to 13.5 million in 2000, from 13 million in 1999. But only 6 percent of the films seen were Greek productions. Cyprus raid A court in Nicosia has remanded in custody three men thought to be behind Saturday morning’s raid on a National Guard post in Evrychou, 40 kilometers west of the capital, reports said yesterday. National guardsmen Antonis Nicolaou, 19 and Evgenios Zachariou, 21, as well as Panicos Papanicolaou, 23, were arrested on Monday by police who recovered arms and munitions stolen from the army post. Both Nicolaou and Zachariou, a reservist, had served at the post and knew its layout well, police said. Cypriot Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos has called for the immediate replacement of the responsible company, battalion, regimental and ground force commanders. Farmer protests Farmers and cattle breeders from Halkidiki in northern Greece shut down the Thessaloniki-Moudania Highway for 90 minutes yesterday afternoon after they parked around 60 tractors at the Sozopolis junction, hindering traffic in the direction of Nea Moudania, Cassandra and Sithonia. A similar protest was held for an hour yesterday morning. Farmers have said they will block the same spot over the next few days in their continued protests for higher subsidies. Bus fares Thessaloniki workers yesterday morning blocked off the offices of the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organization (OASTH) to protest against ticket prices – which have increased by 0.15 euros (50 drachmas) since the start of 2002. The Thessaloniki Workers’ Union, which staged the protest, is demanding a freeze in ticket prices, an extension of the city’s transport network and the issuance of a subsidized monthly pass for its members. Cultural loan The Ministry of Culture late on Tuesday approved the loan of 113 ancient Greek artifacts, including a bronze Persian helmet from the Athenians’ spoils from Marathon, for an exhibition on Greek classical civilization in the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum of Berlin. The exhibition will last from March 1 to June 2. Farmers’ benefits Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said an agency would soon be formed to provide farmers with free and subsidized tickets to theaters and art galleries, as well as travel and hotel vouchers – a benefit already enjoyed by other workers. Speaking after a session of the ministerial committee appointed to oversee the development of the rural countryside, Simitis said the overall aim of the agency was «to provide the provinces with more economic, social and cultural independence.» Municipal workers Athens municipal contract workers marched from Omonia Square to the Interior Ministry yesterday reiterating their demands for permanent contracts.