NEWS

In Brief

MANDOUVALOS TESTIFIES

MP answers to corruption charges, reiterates pledge to clear his name The independent MP Petros Mandouvalos yesterday testified before an investigating magistrate on charges of bribing a judge and money laundering. Upon leaving the magistrate’s office, Mandouvalos insisted that he was innocent of the charges brought against him and vowed to clear his name. «I shall return triumphant, as there is nothing to incriminate me,» he said. Also yesterday, lawyer Nikos Emmanouilidis – who has been linked to an alleged trial-fixing ring – was released following a 40,000-euro bail payment after answering to the same charges as Mandouvalos. PAPANDREOU ATTACKS PASOK leader calls on Karamanlis to stop ‘playing games’ on election issue PASOK leader George Papandreou criticized Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday for destabilizing Greek politics by «playing games» with regard to whether or not he will hold early elections. Papandreou, speaking at a press conference organized by the Foreign Press Association, claimed that PASOK has undergone more reforms in the 20 months it has been in opposition than New Democracy did in 11 years out of power. Papandreou accused the government of missing an opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem and improve relations with Turkey. RETURNING IMMIGRANTS Deadline for re-entry is January 31 Immigrants living in Greece who are planning to visit their homelands for Christmas may do so between tomorrow and January 31 without fear of being refused re-entry even if they lack a valid residence permit, the Public Order Ministry said yesterday. However, they must have a valid passport, the expired residence permit and a document certifying that they have applied for a new work or residence permit, the ministry said. Cleric jailed A court on the island of Kos yesterday handed a 17-year sentence to a 60-year-old archimandrite after finding him guilty of sexually harassing three young girls. According to the testimony of the three children – aged 12, 8 and 5 – the cleric did no more than stroke them on the back. However, the prosecutor insisted that the unnamed cleric be sentenced to jail without consideration of any extenuating circumstances. Monastery threatened An historic monastery in the region of Litohoro, in the prefecture of Pieria, was yesterday still intact after a missile – fired from a tank participating in an army exercise a couple of kilometers away – landed just a short distance from its door. The army has reportedly ordered an internal investigation to determine why the missile, fired from a Leopard-type tank, missed its target and landed near the church. Police protest Police officers, coast guard and fire service staff are to stage a protest rally outside the Panatheniac Stadium in central Athens at 5.30 p.m. today. Workers are demanding salary increases and better work conditions and also want their profession to be recognized as hazardous. Eggs safe The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) said yesterday that no products made with rotten Italian eggs have been distributed in Greece. EFET was referring to some 32 million eggs discovered in Italy last week that were unfit for consumption. Illegal antennas Parents and students gathered yesterday in Kalamaria, on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, to protest against the mobile phone companies that had illegally placed antennas on electricity poles close to a local sports stadium. The parents said that they are preparing to take legal action against the telecom companies, while municipality officials countered that the antennas will be removed in the next few days. Butcher hours Butchers in Athens will be open for business for the Christmas period from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with trading hours going back to normal on January 3, their union said yesterday. On the run Police were yesterday searching for an unnamed 30-year-old Palestinian who, officers said, escaped from a jail in the southern Athenian suburb of Hellenikon on Sunday night. Police said the man forced open a gate in the prison yard at exercise time.