NEWS

In Brief

HALKIDIKI TALKS

Karamanlis and Putin meet ahead of historic visit by Russian to Mt Athos Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit the 1,000-year-old monastic community of Mount Athos, northern Greece, today. Putin arrived in Thessaloniki last night for talks in nearby Halkidiki with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Sources said the two men would talk about bilateral relations and trade, including the transportation of Russian natural gas to Greece. TRAFFICKERS CAUGHT Three men arrested after 118 migrants found in back of fake army truck Police in Alexandroupolis arrested three men in northeastern Greece yesterday, after a chase along a national road, because they were transporting 118 illegal immigrants in a truck that had been altered to look like a Greek army vehicle, officers said. The driver of the truck, which had false army number plates and insignia, and two men traveling in a car ahead of the truck were all arrested. The majority of the migrants (74) came from Pakistan and the rest from Iraq, Bangladesh, Palestine and Iran. Each was meant to pay $8,000 when dropped off in Athens. GAS GUZZLERS State buildings to stop using heating oil The heating systems of all state buildings will be switched from oil to natural gas by the end of April next year, on the condition they are equipped for the changeover, according to a joint ministerial decision signed yesterday. The government is pushing through the measure in a bid to help reduce the country’s heavy dependance on oil. Ecstasy seizure Officers from the drugs squad of the Special Investigation Service (SIS) have arrested three people and confiscated some 4,500 tablets of the drug ecstasy, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. Two men, aged 30 and 31, were arrested in the southern Athenian suburb of Glyfada on Wednesday. They had 2,800 ecstasy pills in their possession and another 1,775 were found at one of the suspect’s home, officers said. In a separate incident, a 51-year-old Greek-American man was arrested in Peristeri on suspicion of having posted 2,020 methadone pills to himself from the USA. Retirement homes Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos ordered an investigation yesterday into the health conditions prevailing at the city’s retirement homes after 13 of them were found recently to be operating illegally or offering residents poor living conditions. Nursing wounds The Panhellenic Union of Nursing Staff (PASONOP) has called for a 24-hour strike today in protest at the lack of nurses at hospitals. The head of the union, Rizos Rizopoulos, said yesterday that there were only 30,000 nurses working at Greek hospitals, meaning that there was only one nursing staff member for every 40 patients. He said there were no hirings of note this year and called on authorities to employ more nurses. Bad food The Agricultural Ministry blocked a 5,000-kilogram shipment of wheat from Bulgaria from entering the country yesterday after it was found to be unfit for consumption. The Prefecture of Athens also confiscated 17 tons of frozen shrimp from a food distributor yesterday after completing checks on the food kept in storage. Bus checks Traffic police will begin intensive daily checks on school buses from Monday, the start of the new school year, officers said yesterday. Policemen will also be stationed at road junctions near large schools to direct traffic. Last year, some 7,000 checks on school buses revealed almost 600 infringements, according to officers. Mild earthquake An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale shook the city of Ioannina, in northwestern Greece, yesterday, authorities said, but no injuries or damage were reported. The tremor struck at 4.47 a.m. and its epicenter was under the city’s lake. Runner loses The Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima, who was attacked by a spectator while leading the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, lost his appeal yesterday for the gold medal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). The runner managed a bronze after the attack. The court said it «had no power to remedy his legitimate frustration.» (AFP)