NEWS

In Brief

OTE PROBE

EC decides to investigate company’s voluntary retirement program The European Commission confirmed yesterday that it will launch an investigation into Greece partially funding an OTE telecom voluntary retirement scheme over concerns that it is in breach of competition rules. «The Commission favors measures which help former monopolists adapt to a liberalized market environment, provided they are limited to what is necessary to create a true level playing field,» EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. OTE replied by saying that it will fully pay for the head-count reduction until Brussels reaches a final decision on the issue. N17 TRIAL First witnesses appear in appeal of terrorist group’s members Witnesses began testifying yesterday in the appeal of members of the November 17 terrorist group. The first witness to testify since the appeal began in December was Eleftherios Kontodios, who described how he saw an attempt by two men on a motorcycle to shoot US army officer Robert Judd in Hellenikon, southern Athens, on April 3, 1984. Judd survived the attack. Dimitris Koufodinas, the group’s chief hit man, said the attack was justified as Judd was a member of the Joint United States Military Aid Group to Greece (JUSMAGG). BOURBOULIA EXTRADITION Hearing delayed for another week The French judge hearing Greece’s request to have former judge Constantina Bourboulia extradited granted the defendant’s lawyers another week to examine documents sent by the Greek government between February 1 and 6. Bourboulia is wanted in Greece for questioning in connection with a trial-fixing ring and was arrested in Paris last month. The French judge said that she hoped there would be no more delays when the court reconvenes on February 15. People power The Interior Ministry said yesterday that customers of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) will from now be able to deal with 18 matters relating to their bills and electricity supply at citizens’ information and service centers (KEP). The range of tasks that KEP will be able to help with includes the payment of bills, a change of address and the reconnection of supply. Kosovo patience Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos yesterday said it was «premature» to say that the independence of Kosovo was almost a certainty. «The procedure is ongoing and it is premature for anyone to prejudge its outcome,» said Roussopoulos in response to comments by British Foreign Office Political Director John Sawyers on Tuesday. Sawyers suggested that the route of full independence, which Belgrade opposes, was the most likely outcome of UN-sponsored talks. Fire deaths An 87-year-old man burned to death at his home in a village in the region of Fthiotida, central Greece, yesterday after firefighters were unable to reach the house due to heavy snow. The fire service said that Constantinos Babalis was trying to fill his heating stove with logs when the fire started. Meanwhile, a 50-year-old man died after his apartment in Gyzi, central Athens, caught fire. His 52-year-old brother escaped the blaze with serious burns and was taken to an Athens hospital. Migrants detained The coast guard detained on Tuesday five illegal immigrants on the Aegean island of Samos, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. Authorities added that the immigrants, whose nationality was not disclosed, reached Greece aboard a wooden rowboat from Turkish shores. Murder solved Police said yesterday that they have arrested a 21-year-old man and are looking for another suspect, aged 25, in connection with the murder of a Polish man in Neos Cosmos, central Athens, last year. The body of 44-year-old Andrey Leia was found bound and gagged at his apartment. The two men went home with the victim after a night of drinking and then tied him up to rob him, officers said. Before leaving, the suspects, who were not named, allegedly strangled Leia to death.