NEWS

In Brief

HERO

Street sweeper dives into Salonica Bay, saves driver Street sweeper Nikos Toulis dived into action early yesterday morning when he saw a car fall into the sea on Thessaloniki’s seafront near Aristotelous Square. He plunged into the chilly waters of the bay and helped Giorgos Leontaridis get out of his sinking car. Leontaridis, 64, was uninjured but, against his protestations, was taken to a hospital for a checkup. «I saw him fall in… It was a life that had to be saved. I did my duty,» the white-haired Toulis said before walking away. The port authority is investigating the incident. A witness said the driver had swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid another vehicle and then went over a low barrier into the harbor. POLL President’s popularity soars An allegation that President Costis Stephanopoulos had rented property in Patras to a businessman who used it to allegedly house slot machines that can be used for illegal gambling, prompted a unanimous wall of defense of the president and his reputation from Greece’s fractious political parties. But the public reacted in a similar way. The already popular president’s approval rating climbed from 77.7 percent in September 2001 to 88.1 percent in February 2002, according to a nationwide poll published in Imerisia on Saturday. Only 5.6 percent disapproved of the president (down from 13.6 percent in September). The poll was conducted from February 1 (the day the gambling story broke) to February 6. No Greek politician’s approval rating has ever exceeded 88 percent, the paper said. Guilty prefect. The prefect of Lesvos, Dimitris Vounatsos, has been found guilty firing a pistol into the air during a visit to Lemnos where he accompanied President Costis Stephanopoulos on August 28, 1996. Eleftherotypia reported that the conviction on Thursday, and sentence of 15 days in jail, overturned a previous acquittal. Vounatsos, a controversial, nationalistic former PASOK MP, was also found guilty of slandering an opponent in a court case. His two, concurrent sentences come to a total of 25 days in jail, with the option of paying a fine instead. When the new measure comes into effect in July, headmasters will receive a 120,000-drachma bonus, higher than the 100,000-drachma bonus sought by union representatives.