NEWS

In Brief

SIMITIS LAUNCH

Clashes as former PM unveils book about his eight years in power Scuffles broke out late yesterday between riot police and a small group of extreme right-wingers outside the Benaki Museum on Pireos Street, where ex-prime minister Costas Simitis was launching his new book. Inside, a packed auditorium listened to Simitis present his political memoirs from the period 1996-2004, when he led Greece. The book has become a hotly debated political issue in the last few days as Simitis provides insight into his PASOK government’s period of rule. OLYMPIC AIRLINES Gov’t will decide by next week if privatization is to go ahead The government is to decide next week, after ongoing consultations with advisers Lazard, whether to go ahead with a plan to privatize state carrier Olympic Airlines, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said in Brussels yesterday. Liapis made the statement after briefing European Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot on the progress of talks. Greece will inform the Commission of any developments without delay, Liapis said. IMMUNITY LIFTED Three MPs to face prosecution Three MPs had their immunity from prosecution lifted yesterday. A parliamentary ethics committee voted in favor of allowing PASOK MP Markos Bolaris to face charges related to a car accident and New Democracy Deputy Costas Bandouvas to be charged in relation to an allegedly illegal fuel deposit. PASOK MP Thanasis Papageorgiou also had his immunity lifted and will be charged with breach of faith relating to some loans he approved when he was deputy governor of ATE Bank. All three MPs had asked for their immunity to be lifted. Rotten food Two tons of frozen pastries and pizzas, which were unfit for human consumption but had been destined for school cafeterias in Thessaloniki, were destroyed yesterday by prefectural officials in the northern city. According to officials, the goods had been refrozen after reaching their expiry date. The manufacturer that produced the goods, in the Lagada district, faces a fine of up to 60,000 euros. Ban lifted Bulgaria yesterday lifted a ban it had imposed on Greek poultry imports on October 18 over bird flu fears. The Bulgarian Agriculture Ministry said it was ending the embargo after news that a test on a suspected case of bird flu in Greece came up negative last month. Weapons cache Investigations at the home of a man who was shot at least 20 times on Tuesday uncovered a weapons cache. Police said yesterday that they found two Kalashnikovs, two machine guns, three hunting rifles, two revolvers and hundreds of bullets at the 43-year-old man’s home in Halandri. The victim, Polyvios Kalogeropoulos, had been working as a bodyguard for the president of Errikos Dynan Hospital. Election bill The government unveiled a new bill yesterday which, if passed, will allow mayors and local officials to be elected during the first round of polling if they receive more than 42 percent of the vote. Currently, candidates need more than 50 percent to be elected, often leading to a second round of voting. The government intends to try and pass the bill into law in time for next October’s local elections. The draft law also stops blank votes from being added to the tally of the winning candidate or any competitors. Publisher released An Athens appeals court yesterday decided to release far-right publisher Grigoris Michalopoulos from Korydallos Prison so he could undergo heart surgery in the USA. Michalopoulos was jailed for 18 years in April after a court found him guilty of blackmailing two of Greece’s biggest businessmen, Theodoros Angelopoulos and Yiannis Latsis, by telling them they were targets of the November 17 terrorist group and demanding large sums to have them removed from its hit list. Steep fines Drivers who park their cars in front of building ramps that offer access to disabled people will soon face heavier fines, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said. Liapis also told Parliament yesterday that a draft bill has been submitted to Parliament regarding new taxis that can better handle disabled commuters.