NEWS

In Brief

ASYLUM SEEKING

UNHCR asks Greece to take a look at law and training of police The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) yesterday asked Greece to review its law on granting asylum and to train police to deal with migrants. The request was made by UNHCR representative Guy Ouellet during a meeting with the Public Order Ministry general secretary Kostas Ailianos in Athens. The ministry said it was considering hiring independent consultants who could recommend ways of overcoming problems in the asylum process in Greece. VAVILIS EXTENSION Suspect given until end of month to testify before Athens prosecutor An investigating magistrate yesterday gave convicted drug smuggler Apostolos Vavilis an extension until the end of May to testify in connection with a number of criminal charges, court sources said. Vavilis has been accused of forgery and false impersonation as well as breach of state secrets, forgery, fraud, embezzlement, theft, perjury and defamation. The charges relate to his alleged dealings with the Church of Greece and secret services. ATHENS MOSQUE Minister says no applications so far Education and Religion Minister Marietta Giannakou said yesterday that the ministry has not received any official requests for the construction of a mosque in Athens. The Greek government considers itself obligated to provide Muslims in the capital with an area for prayer, she said. According to Giannakou, the ministry recently approved an outdoor mosque for the northern city of Komotini. Robbers escape Two armed robbers commandeered a driving school car to make a getaway yesterday after they had held up a bank in the northeastern suburb of Holargos, police said. The two men held up a branch of Eurobank at 1.30 p.m. and then sped off on a motorcycle. But they were spotted by officers in a patrol car, which the police used to knock down the motorcycle. The robbers got up from the spill and forced a driving instructor and his student out of their car, which they used to escape. Fire funds Local authorities will be given 18 million euros this summer to protect their areas against brush fires, according to an Interior Ministry decision yesterday. The funding will be given to local authorities during the course of the firefighting season, which officially runs from May 1 to October 31. Dry spell Water supply to the center of Thessaloniki will be cut off for five hours tomorrow due to scheduled maintenance work on its network. The Thessaloniki Water Company (EYATH) said the water will be cut off from 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. Rhodes murder A 38-year-old woman on the island of Rhodes was arrested yesterday for being an accessory before the fact in the murder of her husband, police said. The family’s 85-year-old nanny has also been arrested on the same charge. The victim was murdered on April 29 in a remote part of Rhodes. Police have also arrested a construction worker, thought to be the wife’s lover, in connection with the crime. Stable marriages Greek marriage rates are among the lowest in the European Union but local couples also stay together the most, according to data released by Eurostat yesterday. In 2004, there were 4.2 weddings for every thousand people in Greece, the third-lowest figure in the EU after Slovenia and Belgium. On the divorce front, Greeks had the third-lowest number of separations (1.1 per thousand people) after Ireland and Italy. Cash haul Two armed men held up a branch of Piraeus Bank in Thessaloniki yesterday and got away with 24,620 euros in cash, police said. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Authorities are searching for the two suspects.