Pieria deputy fired from ND over comments about bribery of ministers Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday sacked a New Democracy MP from the party’s parliamentary group over comments he made about allegations that an unnamed minister accepts bribes. Evangelos Polyzos, a deputy for Pieria, said, «There are honest people in all parties and there are also people who take bribes.» His comments come after press reports that farming unionist Thanassis Kokkinoulis claimed that there was a corrupt minister in the government. Kokkinoulis yesterday denied making the allegation. Polyzos will now take part in Parliament as an independent MP. HURRICANE AID Ministry approves dispatch of ready meals, clothes for victims The dispatch of aid to the USA for the people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina was approved yesterday, the Defense Ministry said. In response to a request by Washington to all of its NATO partners, Greece will be sending basic items, including 10,000 ready meals, clothing and blankets. The USA has also accepted an offer from Athens to send two cruise liners to the Gulf Coast to help house homeless people. GREEK-TURKISH TIES Vartholomaios marks 1955 riots Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios yesterday led a remembrance service in Istanbul to mark the 50th anniversary of violent riots targeting the city’s Greek minority. «It is a tragic anniversary, marking tragic events,» Vartholomaios said, referring to the looting of thousands of Greek stores and the destruction of churches on September 6 and 7, 1955. «I hope and pray for Greek-Turkish relations… to be brotherly, harmonious, ties of creative cooperation,» the patriarch said. Drug smugglers Traffic police near the port of Igoumenitsa yesterday seized one of Greece’s biggest hauls of cocaine when they stopped a car and, after a search involving sniffer dogs, found some 100 kilos of the drug inside. Two Germans and an American who were traveling in the car were also arrested and were being questioned late last night by officers from the local drug squad. Berisha congratulations Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday congratulated Albania’s former president Sali Berisha on becoming the country’s new prime minister. «It is in the interest of both (our) peoples to have Greek-Albanian relations serve as a model of cooperation in the broader context of European integration,» Karamanlis said in a letter to Berisha, who was officially declared PM on Saturday, two months after his center-right coalition won general elections. Bus stoppage Athens’s blue buses will not be running between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. today as drivers stage a five-hour work stoppage to attend their general assembly. The workers, who are protesting against the alleged non-implementation of a collective labor contract signed last year, are to discuss the possibility of further strike action during the meeting. Plane problem An Olympic Airlines flight from the northern city of Kavala to Athens was forced to turn back shortly after takeoff yesterday when the pilot reported engine problems. The flight landed safely at Kavala airport, authorities said. The 65 passengers on board reached Athens with a three-hour delay after boarding another OA flight. Marked robber A 41-year-old man, who yesterday stole a cashbox containing 100,000 euros from bank in Thessaloniki, was sprayed with red paint after the box’s anti-theft mechanism was triggered, police said. Officers spotted the red-stained robber on a beach in Stavros, not far from the scene of the crime. Banknotes that are sprayed with red paint are destroyed and replaced by the Bank of Greece, police added. Burned by love A failed arson attempt landed a 50-year-old man in trouble yesterday after he tried to burn down his ex-girlfriend’s home. Police said the man tried to set fire to the ground-floor apartment in central Athens but the flammable liquid he was using spilled onto his legs and caught fire. The man was taken to a hospital to treat the burns where police arrested him for attempted arson.