Stores can stay open for longer from today, under new law Stores will be allowed to open for two hours longer on Saturdays, starting from today. Thanks to a law passed in July which comes into effect today, shops can now stay open until 8 p.m. on Saturdays and until 9 p.m. on weekdays throughout the year. However, the General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Traders (GSEVEE) said that its members would not implement the new hours. In a statement, union leaders said the new timetable would «burden prices and fuel monopolies.» TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS Odd/even rule back in effect in central Athens from Monday The odd/even traffic restriction rule applicable on car number plates for vehicles traveling through the city center will be applicable again as of Monday. The restriction is effective from Mondays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drivers violating the rule face a 166-euro fine. MERKEL INITIATIVE German CDU chief writes to PM Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday received a letter from German opposition leader Angela Merkel in which the Christian Democrat leader reiterates her opposition to Turkey joining the European Union, a government source in Athens said. Merkel, expected to become Germany’s chancellor next month, also sent the letter to another 10 European leaders. Also yesterday, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis discussed Turkey’s EU bid with his British counterpart Jack Straw by telephone ahead of a scheduled informal meeting of foreign ministers in Britain next week. Boy thief Police in the western Athenian suburb of Peristeri said yesterday that they have arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with a spate of robberies on stores in the area. Officers are seeking another minor alleged to be the boy’s accomplice during the five recent break-ins. Share fraud Two men who allegedly attempted to swindle a 103-year-old man out of a portfolio of shares worth 8.5 million euros were yesterday remanded in custody pending their trial. Yiannis Constandinidis, 49, and Giorgos Simeonidis, 46, will face charges of fraud, forgery and forming a criminal gang. Officers are seeking a third man in connection with the alleged con trick, during which centenarian Panayiotis Manousos signed his multi-million-euro portfolio over to the men. Illegal immigrants Coast guard officials detained 17 illegal immigrants yesterday on the Aegean island of Samos, authorities said. The illegal immigrants, from Ethiopia, Somalia and Iraq, consisted of 15 women and two men. They were taken to a detention center on the island which has already reached its capacity, housing 107 illegal immigrants in total, authorities said. Bad sauce The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) yesterday ordered the withdrawal of a soy sauce from Cardinal SA which was deemed unsuitable for consumption. The soy sauce, which has a use-by date of March 31, 2008, is imported for food companies and is not distributed on the retail market, EFET said. No buses Bus drivers will go on strike on Thursday over a pay dispute, the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) said yesterday. There will be no buses until 8 a.m. and again after 9 p.m. On September 8, bus drivers will hold another work stoppage from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to attend their union’s general assembly. Fire controlled Firefighters managed to tame a blaze in Thessaloniki late yesterday, opposite the Papanikolaou hospital, authorities said. It took 10 fire trucks and 52 firefighters to fight the blaze, which broke out in a vacant lot full of tall dry grass. No homes were threatened. Robbers arrested Police said they arrested two men yesterday in connection with at least seven armed robberies in Athens over the last few months. The two men, foreign nationals, were also wanted for the theft of five cars. Police said they are part of a five-person team suspected of committing the thefts. Authorities are searching for the remaining three people.