Inflation jumps to 4.4 percent in January; cold weather blamed Consumer inflation accelerated in January to an annual rate of 4.4 percent, from 3 percent in January, the National Statistics Service said yesterday. The figure, higher than even the government’s most pessimistic estimates, was attributed mainly to the unusually severe weather which gripped Greece early in January. As a result, vegetable prices rose 88.8 percent and fruit prices, 22.5 percent. TEIs to re-open Teachers call off strike action after minister offers compromise The state technical colleges (TEI) of Athens, Larissa, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patras are set to reopen next week after TEI teachers decided yesterday to call off nearly four weeks of strike action following a meeting with Education Minister Petros Efthymiou. The minister, addressing the crux of the teachers’ protest, said those working to obtain the post-graduate degrees they now need to teach at the recently upgraded TEIs would be given more time to do so. AFGHAN FORCE First 49 troops leave tomorrow The first 49 men of the 132-strong Greek military contingent destined to join a British-led international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan will depart on Sunday afternoon, the Army General Staff said yesterday. The soldiers are to be deployed at a base just outside Kabul – in an area controlled by the Northern Alliance. Milosevic support Three MPs yesterday expressed their support for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic whose ongoing trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague they call a violation of international law. PASOK MP Panayiotis Kritikos, Panayiotis Lafazanis of the Synaspismos Left Coalition, and Angelos Tzekis of the Communist Party claim to represent 80 MPs who signed an objection to Milosevic’s extradition to The Hague tribunal, have written to Milosevic whom they intend to visit. Palestinian support Foreign Minister George Papandreou, meeting Palestine National Council (PNC) Chairman Salim Zaanoun yesterday to discuss developments in the Middle East and the possible role of the EU and Greece in the peace process, expressed his solidarity with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Judges protest Proposed legislation that would limit constitutional guarantees giving judges and prosecutors the right to appeal to the Supreme Court plenary session in cases such as overlooked promotion and disciplinary proceedings, was strongly criticised yesterday by Members of the Union of Magistrates and Prosecutors. Unionists said guarantees should be reinforced to allow judges to fulfill their constitutional role and protect civil rights. Passaris compensation The families of two police officers shot dead by Costas Passaris when the latter escaped custody during a hospital visit last February have appealed for compensation from the State which, they say, did not take the necessary precautions to secure Greece’s most wanted criminal. The mother and brother of Athanasios Drakopoulos want 220,000 euros, while the parents of Dionysis Alevizopoulos have also made an appeal. Valentine rivalry A personal police guard of the prime minister has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm after he violently assaulted a man he discovered with his girlfriend on St Valentine’s Day. Eleftherios Karyotis, 35, arrived at the home of Maria Pentzelidou, 40, in Athens’s Kallithea district late on Thursday, reportedly bearing a Valentine’s Day bunch of flowers, and viciously attacked Minas Sarapoglou, 33, who was taken to hospital for treatment. Karyotis guards Costas Simitis’s country home in Aghioi Theodoroi, west of Athens. Refugee chaos A refugee camp in Pendeli, on the northern outskirts of Athens, is to close temporarily as some of the camp’s refugees, already on hunger strikes, are now threatening to shoot themselves and thus endangering other camp residents, the Doctors of the World organization said yesterday, appealing for government assistance. The non-governmental organization, which oversees the camp, also said many refugees are threatening to burn down the camp. Earlier this week, the organization called for the eviction of 25 Kurds allegedly responsible for illegal trade, sexual harassment and even murder in the camp which officials say is now effectively under siege.