NEWS

In Brief

AVIAN FLU

Seventh wild bird in Greece tests positive for H5N1 strain A seventh wild bird has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday after receiving test results from an EU laboratory in Britain. The dead swan was found near the village of Kryopigi on the Halkidiki peninsula. Regional authorities said they were implementing all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease to domestic poultry, which has yet to be affected. WORKERS PROTEST Unions call strike for March 15, work stoppage for next Tuesday Greece’s two largest unions, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the Civil Servants’ Union (ADEDY), said yesterday that they will hold a 24-hour general strike on March 15 and a four-hour work stoppage next Tuesday. The work stoppage on February 28 will be between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The general strike next month will be accompanied by a protest rally in central Athens, unionists said. GSEE said the action has been organized in protest against the erosion of workers’ rights. CYPRIOT TIES Bakoyannis to receive Iacovou Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is due to meet in Athens with her Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou this afternoon to discuss matters relating to the possible reunification of the island. Nicosia has urged Bakoyannis not to adopt a different policy on the issue from her predecessor Petros Molyviatis. Bakoyannis is also due to meet with Turkish Minister of State Ali Babacan in Athens at 5 p.m. Souflias attack Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday accused Kathimerini of telling «lies» about the problems with the construction of the metro line from Monastiraki to Aegaleo even though he appeared to accept on Monday that the project was late and over budget. Souflias reiterated yesterday that the contract for the project, which has already exceeded 600 million euros, was signed by the previous PASOK government. Immigration Directorate The Interior Ministry said yesterday that the Directorate of Immigration will be closed between Friday this week and Wednesday next week so it can reopen to the public at new facilities on Thursday, March 2. The new office will be on the sixth floor of 2 Evangelistrias Street, central Athens. The ministry said that the new premises will be twice the size of the current one and will be staffed by specially trained personnel. Oil spill A Maltese-flagged tanker created a 1,000-square-meter oil spill at Perama, west of Athens, yesterday when it rammed into another ship as it was leaving port. The collision created a 2-meter-wide hole in the side of the Monte Ross tanker, whose captain has been arrested. A cleanup operation was launched in a bid to minimize the damage to the marine environment. Mother’s testimony A 20-year-old mother accused of killing her baby because it would not stop crying is scheduled to testify in front of an Athens magistrate tomorrow, after she obtained an extension yesterday, police said. Deputy Health Minister Giorgos Constantopoulos yesterday blamed local authorities for not acting quickly enough to remove the baby from the parents’ care. Repeat offenders Police suspect that four bank robberies in Athens yesterday and on Monday were carried out by the same two men, sources said. The two suspects held up a branch of Alpha Bank in Ambelokipi at 11 a.m. yesterday before moving on to another branch of the same bank in Galatsi a little later. Bar death A 22-year-old Albanian national was stabbed to death on Monday night outside a bar in Thessaloniki, police said yesterday. Witnesses told police that the man was involved in a fistfight outside the bar when a third person stepped in and stabbed the victim. Jewelry racket Police said yesterday they are searching for three people who allegedly conned jewelry traders out of more than 90,000 euros in October 2004 at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). The suspects are said to have appeared at the fair as potential buyers and handed over checks worth 91,500 euros to jewelry traders, which later bounced. They then allegedly got the jewelry melted down.