NEWS

In Brief

KORYDALLOS, AGAIN

Convict found hanging in fourth death this year A Korydallos convict was yesterday found hanging in the toilets next to the prison’s psychiatric clinic which the man had been attending for treatment, allegedly because of suicidal tendencies. This brings to four the total of inmates found dead in the prison since the beginning of this year. George Zacharov, 31, an ethnic Greek from the former Soviet Union in jail for a series of thefts in Crete, was found hanging from a knotted blanket by a clinic worker. No coroner’s report has yet determined the cause of Zacharov’s death, which comes a few days after Constantin Papa was found hanged in Korydallos last Thursday. Two other Korydallos convicts are being tried for the murder of Papa. Seven Korydallos convicts were found dead in 2001 and 17 in 2000. TAXI DRIVERS Minister says he will boost sector but fails to address key demands Transport Minister Christos Verelis yesterday told taxi drivers, who held a 24-hour strike on Monday, that the government would upgrade the nation’s taxi fleet and create opportunities for taxi-owners to launch their own businesses or partnerships. However, the minister failed to address the taxi-drivers’ key demands, which include the right to charge higher fares – especially to the airport – and to use bus lanes. Verelis claimed there were enough taxis already and said the main need was to improve the sector’s organization. TECHNICAL UNIVERSITIES Teachers extend strike action The five largest technical universities (TEIs) in the country – those of Athens, Larissa, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patras – will remain closed for at least another week, the Federation of Teaching Staff said, following yesterday’s meeting. TEI teachers, who are protesting against certain aspects of last year’s law that upgraded TEIs to university status, have said they will set up a committee to brief colleagues still teaching at TEIs across the country. Students at Athens’s TEI, who are increasingly worried that their teachers’ action will mean they are unprepared for imminent exams, are to meet this morning. Imathia strike The northern prefecture of Imathia is expected to grind to a halt today as stores close, bus- and taxi-drivers stay home and public offices suspend services following yesterday’s announcement of an all-day, prefecture-wide strike by unions and local authorities who want the government to upgrade local infrastructure and boost the ailing agricultural sector. Local farmers are demanding immediate compensation for the damage wreaked by last month’s snow and ice. Protesters, who also want a new archaeological museum and university buildings in Veria, plan to submit their demands to Prime Minister Costas Simitis during his scheduled visit to the region next week. Cocaine detail Two former police officers and another man facing life sentences for importing cocaine into Greece got off lightly yesterday after a Thessaloniki appeals court reduced their jail sentences to eight years each after new evidence emerged that the drugs had been bought in Greece and not imported. Efstathios Tarkazidis and Mehit Hoka – both former policemen – and Stefanos Tsismitzis would have spent their lives in jail were it not for the Hoka’s sister, who testified that the 1 kilo and 50 grams of cocaine had been purchased in Greece. Underage An 18-year-old Greek-Cypriot man charged with having sex with a 13-year-old Turkish-Cypriot girl that he reportedly wants to marry will be released from police custody tomorrow, reports said yesterday. The man, arrested on Saturday night after the girl’s mother made a formal complaint about her daughter’s alleged relationship with the youth, reportedly confessed when he appeared at a Larnaca court on Sunday. The man faces a minimum three-year jail sentence, which could rise to life if it is found the girl was under 13 years of age when the alleged offense took place. Earthquake suit A court case which was yesterday due to try the owners of the Ricomex factory, which collapsed in the September 1999 earthquake in Athens, was postponed after a key witness was too ill to testify. The case was brought against Ricomex by a former clerk at the factory who is suing the owners for 1.2 billion drachmas (3.5 million euros). Evi Sofilou spent 34 hours trapped in wreckage after the Ricomex factory collapsed on her. She lost the use of one eye.