NEWS

In Brief

TAKEOFF

Defense council approves purchase of 30 F-16 jets for 1.6 billion euros Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said yesterday that the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) gave the final green light for the purchase of 30 F-16 Block 52 fighter jets for 1.6 billion euros, a price which includes their maintenance costs. The aircraft will be delivered in 2009 and payment will be made over time, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said. The government decided against exercising the option to buy an extra 10 jets. PASOK said the deal was too expensive and demanded that the contract be brought before Parliament. THEOPHILOS SUPPORT Government pledges support for new Jerusalem patriarch during Athens visit The recently appointed Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem will enjoy the support of Athens in his quest to iron out the problems left behind by his predecessor, Irenaios, the government said yesterday. Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis said that Theophilos has the support of the Greek state, during a visit to Athens yesterday. PALEOKRASSAS PROBE Former PPC chief informs prosecutor Yiannis Paleokrassas, the ex-president of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), took to Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos yesterday evidence of the alleged corruption that he claims took place at the electricity utility. Paleokrassas resigned from PPC two weeks ago. HIV rise There were 522 new cases of HIV recorded in Greece this year – an almost 25 percent rise from 2004 – Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday, quoting figures compiled by the Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL). Kaklamanis said a national action plan to combat the virus would be launched in the new year. Angelopoulos trial Prosecutor Yiannis Tsagarnis yesterday recommended to a Piraeus court that Alexandros Angelopoulos, arrested last July, should be found guilty of drug-smuggling charges. Angelopoulos has been on trial since October in connection with the seizure of 5.4 tons of cocaine. Tsagarnis said that Nikos Gavrilis and Giorgos Maragoudakis, alleged associates of Angelopoulos, should also be found guilty but recommended that charges against Nikos Antonakakis and Apostolos Bousios be dropped. Yiossakis testimony Magistrates investigating an alleged trial-fixing ring yesterday asked former priest Iakovos Yiossakis to testify before them. Yiossakis has been charged with money laundering, bribery and fraud in connection with allegations that he acted as a middleman in a ring involving judges, prosecutors and lawyers. Heroin arrests Officers from the Special Investigations Service (SIS) have arrested two Iranians in Athens who were allegedly smuggling large quantities of heroin into Greece from Turkey, authorities said yesterday. The man, 38, and woman, 30, were found to be in possession of 475 grams of heroin, while 2.4 kilograms of the drug were found at an apartment in Nea Smyrni, near the center of Athens, officers said. Lesvos disappearance Police on the island of Lesvos were yesterday searching for a 31-year-old woman who had been missing since Sunday night when she went to collect a debt from one of the customers at her betting shop. Officers said Anastassia Hadzidiakou met her unnamed customer in the village of Vafeio to collect 14,000 euros but did not return home. Her mobile phone was found in the customer’s car but he said Hadzidiakou had left it there after sitting in the vehicle to collect the 11,900 euros in cash he gave her. Spaghetti safe The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) said yesterday that Barilla pasta products distributed in Greece do not pose any health risks to consumers. EFET was responding to news that high traces of lead had been found in Barilla pasta in other EU states. Post hours Major branches of Hellenic Post (ELTA) will be open this weekend to handle the increased Christmas traffic that could also back up due to ELTA staff striking today and tomorrow, the company said yesterday.