NEWS

In Brief

SMUGGLERS CAUGHT

Eight foreigners charged with bringing 59 migrants into Greece Eight suspected people traffickers were yesterday charged with smuggling 59 illegal immigrants into Greece on a US-flagged sailboat called Rainbow. The suspects – identified as Iraqi, Syrian and Ukrainian nationals – were captured on Wednesday off the island of Evia. Four of them were caught transferring 20 migrants from a beach in four cars, according to the Merchant Marine Ministry. The other four were stopped while trying to flee the island on the sailboat after leaving another 39 migrants, the ministry said. ARMY MURDER Albanian, 17, confesses, police say A 17-year-old Albanian national confessed to the murder last month of a 35-year-old Greek army officer in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, police in Albania said yesterday. Erid Hodja allegedly stabbed Marinos Maniatis some 40 times in the latter’s apartment before fleeing to Albania. Hodja claimed he was sexually harassed by the soldier. EU funds The Greek government absorbed 5.8 billion euros of community funds in 2004 aimed at agriculture and infrastructure projects from the European Union, the Commission said yesterday. The amount accounted for 3.52 percent of the country’s annual economic output, the highest percentage of gross domestic product among all EU states. Of the total amount, 2.78 billion euros went to farming, while another 2.8 billion went to infrastructure. Greek-Turkish ties Ankara’s recognition of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and the reopening of the Orthodox seminary on Halki, off Istanbul, are crucial for Greek-Turkish relations, President Karolos Papoulias yesterday told the visiting patriarch. «If Turkey wants to progress to European Union accession in an honest and meaningful way, then it must embrace basic democratic principles and respect religious and minority freedoms without prejudice,» Papoulias said. Road tolls Road tolls are set to rise from next year and the price drivers will pay is to be calculated according to the distance they have traveled rather than a flat rate, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday. The new system will affect newly built sections of national roads or those whose maintenance, management and construction is taken on by private companies. ‘Accidental’ arrest The drivers of two stolen trucks, attempting to smuggle 18 Albanian illegal immigrants into Greece, abandoned their vehicles and fled into a forest near the Albanian border yesterday after spotting a traffic police patrol vehicle. The police car had actually been speeding to the scene of a road accident, but the officers stopped after seeing the trucks left in the middle of the road. They found the migrants in the truck but were too late to catch the drivers. Calatrava complaint The central Macedonia branch of the Technical Chamber of Greece yesterday expressed its disappointment at the news that Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava had been assigned to redevelop a 28-hectare area around the Thessaloniki International Fair grounds. The body complained that it had not been consulted on the project. Calatrava designed many of the constructions for the Athens Games, including the roof over the Olympic Stadium. Second round A Patras appeals court yesterday cleared boxer Anastassios Berdesis and match referee Dionysios Panagakis of manslaughter by negligence in connection with the death of boxer Thanassis Miliordos during a match in September 2000. Miliordos died in the fourth round of his fight with Berdesis. Panagakis and Berdesis had been given a three-year jail sentence by a first instance court but this was overturned yesterday.