Ferries to operate as normal today after government deregulation promise Ferry services will run as normal today after shipowners called off a one-day strike following a pledge from the Merchant Marine and Aegean ministries that steps will be made toward the promised deregulation of coastal shipping. The Coastal Shipowners’ Association (EEA) said that if no progress is made in the next 10 days then it will decide on whether to launch new protest action. MP SUPPORT Government backs Muslim MP despite reference to ‘Turkish minority’ The government yesterday gave its backing to Muslim MP Ahmed Ilhan after it emerged that he had signed a document referring to the Muslim minority in Thrace, northeastern Greece, as a «Turkish minority.» Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros accused the media of «hypocrisy» in highlighting the fact that Ilhan had signed the document and not mentioning that opposition politicians were among the 606 signatories. «Every elected minority representative has the constitutional and legal right to express his opinions and take part in the public dialogue,» said Antonaros. INFORMATION DESK Service to help trim queues Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said yesterday that all public services will offer an information desk, which will be staffed by experienced personnel to guide visitors to the departments they need. In a circular distributed to government and local municipal offices, the minister specified that the information desks should all be up and operating by the end of August. Contract killing? Police said yesterday that they believe a 39-year-old man currently being held in prison is the accessory before the fact of a murder of a woman in April 2004. The woman, 56-year-old Vaia Zisi, was shot four times and killed as she was getting out of her parked car in Athens. The suspect had allegedly hired a contract killer to carry out the murder, police said. Zisi had been linked to procurement and is thought to have owed the suspect large sums of money. Panteleimon case The former bishop of Attica, Panteleimon, is due to stand trial today on charges that he embezzled some 277,000 euros from a monastery. The trial had been scheduled to begin yesterday but the heavy case load at the criminal appeals court caused it to be delayed. Ricomex trial An architect and a civil engineer involved in the construction of the Ricomex household goods factory that collapsed during the 1999 earthquake in the northern suburb of Metamorphosis, killing 39 people, will stand trial on September 19, an Athens appeals court decided yesterday. The pair will face charges of manslaughter with possible malice aforethought. The trial was due to start yesterday but one of the defendants was ill. The pair have already been found guilty of manslaughter through negligence and have been given five-year suspended jail sentences. Construction gang A gang that managed to steal more than 100,000 euros’ worth of building materials from a number of construction sites around Attica has been caught, police said yesterday. Three of the suspects were caught red-handed stealing from a building site in Ano Liossia, officers said. The four men are thought to have been responsible for stealing sections of electrical cable which had been placed along the Athens-Corinth national road. Arms stash Police yesterday discovered a large haul of arms at a house in Ouranoupolis, Halkidiki, after arresting three men, including a German, for firing guns «aimlessly.» Officers found two guns, five knives, 2,200 bullets, handcuffs and walkie-talkies in the car the men were traveling in. On searching the house of one of the suspects, aged 54, they found a sub-machine gun, two hunting rifles, seven knives, 500 bullets, walkie-talkies and smoke bombs. Moderate quake An earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale shook Aghios Nikolaos, northeastern Crete, yesterday, but there were no reports of injuries or damages. The tremor struck at 7.22 a.m. and its epicenter was in an undersea area off Aghios Nikolaos.