NEWS

In Brief

PAOK bus

Unlicensed driver sentenced for crash that killed seven Thessaloniki’s military court yesterday handed down a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence to the driver of a bus who, while transporting PAOK soccer fans from Athens to Thessaloniki after a game in October 1999, lost control of the bus, causing the deaths of seven passengers and the injury of 32. Ioannis Dogosis, 22, who had no license to drive a bus, was a conscript at the time. He volunteered to take over the wheel of the vehicle – belonging to his father’s bus firm Flax Travel – when the assigned driver complained he was tired. Dogosis lost control on the National Road near Tempi, swerving into the opposite lane and the path of an oncoming truck. Petrol strike Northern Greece refuels as tanker truck strike ends Petrol stations in northern Greece were refueling yesterday after striking petrol truck drivers in Macedonia and Thrace provinces yesterday called off strike action launched on Monday to protest against the deregulation of their profession. The strike resulted in a severe fuel shortage in the region, especially in Thessaloniki where practically all petrol stations had run dry by Wednesday afternoon, causing long queues at the few that remained open. Union leaders are due to meet Development Ministry officials in Athens on Monday. Albania PM Meta in Athens Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta arrives in Athens today to meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Albanian counterpart, Arta Dade, met in Athens yesterday and discussed bilateral relations, Albania’s EU accession prospects and developments in the Balkans. Marilou A Thessaloniki family has sued an 18-year-old woman who allegedly pestered them and their young daughters by telephone for four years, apparently out of a fixation over the name one of the girls – Marilou – which she learnt when she called the family by mistake. The woman, who was a total stranger to the family, would allegedly call them up to 300 times a day, press reports said yesterday. She allegedly became abusive, and posted their phone number on the Internet. Chip theft Two policemen faced a Thessaloniki prosecutor yesterday after fellow officers charged them with allegedly stealing chips from gamblers at the northern city’s Hyatt Regency casino. Pavlos Siamorelis and Giorgos Bouzbas were arrested on Wednesday after internal affairs officers responded to a report from the casino of over 10 complaints from customers since the beginning of the year saying their chips had been stolen. Police did not say how much the chips were worth, nor how the thefts were carried out. Gun laws A bill for stricter gun laws proposed by New Democracy MP Theodoros Kasimis has been rejected by Parliament. Kasimis had proposed penalizing those illegally possessing guns with a minimum two-year prison sentence. But the government is to introduce its own, allegedly even stricter, new gun laws governing the ownership and use of weapons for police officers – not currently restricted by any law – and for civilians too, the Public Order Ministry said yesterday. Coach dies Coach Gerd Prokop, who worked with several Greek teams over a 16-year period beginning in 1982, died yesterday at a German hospital, aged 63.His greatest success was taking Athinaikos to the Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1991-92, where it was eliminated by Manchester United in a second-leg game that went into overtime. Prokop, who had been living mostly in Thessaloniki over the past few years, will be buried there on Monday, as he had requested. Lotteries win An Athens court yesterday exonerated employees of the state lottery organizer Intralot, including company owner Sokrates Kokkalis and his son Petros. They were charged with running a misleading advertising campaign in 1999 which allegedly insinuated certain games organized by competitor OPAP (a state agency) actually belonged to Intralot. Their co-defendants (former directors of OPAP and ODIE, another lottery organizer) were both cleared of dereliction of duty. The court ruled the Intralot adverts had not been misleading and had not secured unwarranted benefits for anyone.