NEWS

In Brief

IMMIGRANT RING

Two arrested after migrants from Georgia found under bus seats Police said that they have arrested two men and broken up an illegal immigrant smuggling ring that transported people from Georgia to Greece, via Turkey. Officers added on Sunday that seven illegal Georgian immigrants who had reached Athens by hiding in secret compartments under bus seats were also detained. Each illegal immigrant paid between 1,500 and 3,000 euros to be smuggled into Greece. Police arrested the two alleged traffickers, whose nationalities were not made public, in a raid at a central Athens travel agency. The gang is thought to be operating three travel offices in Greece and the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. LAWYERS HELD Kehayioglou and Nikolakopoulos taken to Korydallos Prison Celebrity lawyer Sakis Kehayioglou and Giorgos Nikolakopoulos were remanded in custody in Korydallos Prison on Friday after a council of appeals court judges deemed them to be a flight risk. The two men have been charged in connection with an alleged trial-fixing ring. The judges also ruled that the lawyers should be kept in custody so that they could not tamper with any evidence being used in the case against them. Kehayioglou has been accused of taking 470,000 euros from his clients to pay judges for favorable verdicts. Nikolakopoulos has also been charged with bribing judges. FLIGHT PROBLEM BA airplane returns to Thessaloniki A British Airways aircraft traveling to London’s Gatwick Airport from Thessaloniki had to return to Greece after it experienced a problem with its electrical system, authorities said. BA Flight 2643 had been flying over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia when it was forced to turn back, officials at Thessaloniki airport said. The Boeing 737 was carrying 95 passengers. The flight was canceled pending an inspection of the problem. Budget passed Parliament has approved the 2006 budget which aims at lowering the deficit to below the 3 percent limit allowed by the European Union. The 300-seat assembly early on Friday gave the green light to next year’s financial plan with a 166-132 vote, supported by all members of the conservative party and three independent deputies. Members from all three opposition parties voted against while two deputies were absent from the vote. The 2006 budget aims to tighten spending and lower the deficit to 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from a projected 4.3 percent of GDP in 2005. Road closure The Municipality of Athens said yesterday that Athinas Street in the city center will be closed between Sofocleous and Lykourgou streets from December 29 to January 1 because of preparations for New Year’s Eve festivities at Kotzia Square. The road closure will also result in the diversion of the following bus routes: 35, 49, 200, 227, 838, and 914. Some bus stops will also be affected. Commuters are advised to contact the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) for more details. Longer shopping Shoppers can continue to take advantage this week of the extended trading hours for the holiday period. In Athens, stores will be open from today through to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m and will close on New Year’s Eve at 5 p.m. Retail trading hours will be back to normal on Tuesday, January 3. Boat fire A fire destroyed a boat at a shipyard in Thessaloniki on Sunday but was stopped from spreading to other vessels, firefighters said. The Arampella operates as a floating bar in the summer months off the northern port city. It took 45 firefighters with 15 trucks to get the blaze under control. Gruesome find Parts of a dismembered body washed up on a beach on the eastern Aegean island of Icaria on Christmas Eve, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The body parts had begun decomposing and were taken to a coroner on the island of Syros for further inspection, the ministry said. Islander relief A 50-year-old man from Samos, who was last week cleared of being an associate of the convicted drug trafficker Alexandros Angelopoulos, said he was a virtual outcast on the eastern Aegean island during the 18 months it took for the case to come to court, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. Nikos Antonakakis was found not guilty after the Piraeus court heard that his passport and travel documents had been stolen and were later used to buy a boat and set up an offshore company. Antonakakis said that he had not been able to work or move freely on Samos since he was charged 18 months ago. Angelopoulos and two others were on Thursday sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking. Carolers mugged Children singing Christmas carols were robbed in three separate incidents across Athens on Friday. Two children in Neos Cosmos told police that they were robbed of 100 euros at knifepoint as they were returning home. In Kifissia, northern Athens, two 10-year-olds were mugged by a gang of three children, two of which were later caught and arrested. The third incident took place in Palaio Faliron.