NEWS

In Brief

FARMERS

Road chaos continues, cotton subsidy announcements today Hundreds of tracor-borne farmers continued their protest at the Vale of Tempe yesterday, shutting off traffic along the Thessaloniki-Athens highway in anticipation of the government’s announcement on cotton subsidies today, which will determine their next move. The border crossing with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at Evzones was briefly shut, as was the Sozopolis junction on the Thessaloniki-Nea Moudania road. Kilometer-long traffic queues were caused by blockages on the highway from Serres to the Bulgarian border at Promachonas, and the Athens-Lamia and Alexandroupolis-Gefyra highways. UNIVERSITY DOCTORS Council of State rapporteurs reject claims against ‘unconstitutional’ law An action by university doctors – who claim a new law forcing them to choose between working for the State and running a private practice is unconstitutional – remained unresolved after being heard yesterday by the Council of State, although the council’s three rapporteurs said they believed the law – passed last year – was in accordance with the constitution as it protected the citizens’ health. They added that the doctors’ academic freedom was not constricted and they could continue to teach. The verdict of the Council of State is expected to be announced in about a month. Masquerade ‘Arab’ Theodorakis visited Makarios During a visit to Cyprus at the time of the 1967-74 military dictatorship in Greece, Mikis Theodorakis and his entire group of musicians donned Arab dress for a meeting with the Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios, who wanted to avoid angering the increasingly aggressive junta leaders, the composer said yesterday. He was speaking at the presentation in Athens of a new biography of his life by veteran journalist Costas Serezis. Slot machines A video arcade employee, sentenced to five months in jail and fined 400 euros after police confiscated 10 electronic slot machines from the shop in which he worked, said yesterday he is being used as a scapegoat, as his conviction comes less than a week after PASOK MP and anti-gambling committee chairman Alexandros Chrysanthakopoulos was expelled from PASOK’s parliamentary group for alleged illegal gambling. No fowl Belgian authorities yesterday assured their Greek counterparts that no contaminated poultry had been sent to Greece from Belgian farms whose chickens were found to have been contaminated with toxic substances known as PCBs earlier this month. The Food Monitoring Unit on Wednesday confiscated five tons of suspect poultry. Earthquake An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale occured yesterday at 12.30 p.m. near Patras in the north-western Peloponnese. No injuries or damage were reported. It followed a stronger quake of 4.7 on Wednesday. Privacy The privacy of communications – affected by the ongoing liberalization of telecommunications – must be safeguarded by institutions which protect it and implementing effective monitoring systems to check it, the National Committee for the Privacy of Communications concluded in its annual report for 2001 made public yesterday. In 2001 there had been «no major problem related to privacy… although there is room for improvement,» the report added. Doctors’ strike State hospitals will function only with skeleton staff today as doctors continue a 48-hour strike they began yesterday to demand EU-level salaries. Legal strike Judges and prosecutors stayed away from court from 12.30-2.30 p.m. yesterday as part of a nationwide strike by magistrates demanding new measures to tackle delays in getting cases to court and fulfillment of their pension demands. Big Mak The observer at Wednesday’s AEK-PAOK football match for the Greek Cup revealed yesterday that AEK strongman Makis Psomiadis attacked him and threatened to commit suicide following the game, which AEK won 2-1. The 2-meter (6′, 7») Psomiadis stormed the referees’ locker room, threatened them and grabbed the observer by the throat. He then drew a gun and offered to kill himself. Psomiadis runs things at AEK but is barred from holding an official position, having been convicted of slander. The referees failed to report the incident.