NEWS

In Brief

FINE INCREASE

Fare dodgers on public transport to face stiffer penalties next month Fines for commuters caught traveling on public transport without valid tickets are set to increase on September 1 after a joint ministerial decision yesterday. Fare dodgers currently face fines which amount to 40 times the price of the ticket they should have been carrying. As of next month, this will rise to 60 times the price of a ticket. Commuters using the express bus to the airport will be fined 20 times the value of the ticket – double the previous penalty. Authorities estimate that 12 percent of passengers dodge fare on buses but less than 5 percent avoid paying for their ticket on the train, metro and tram. FINANCIAL PENALTIES Prefecture fines retirement homes and kindergartens after checks Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros said yesterday that there has to be an immediate change to the law on retirement homes, after the prefecture fined four such establishments a total of 65,000 euros for various offenses. Officials also fined 27 kindergartens a total of 193,000 euros. Sgouros said that when parents enroll their children at kindergartens, they should ask to see the school’s operating license. He said that if they were not satisfied, they should call the prefecture’s hotline on 1539, which operates between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays. CYPRUS IRE Nicosia to protest Talat comments Cyprus will lodge an official complaint with the United Nations over allegations by Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat that Nicosia is supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Government spokesman Christodoulos Pasiaridis said that Nicosia would be writing to the UN, asking the organization to press Talat to provide proof of his allegations or to withdraw them. Gripes of wrath The number of people contacting the General Secretariat for Consumer Affairs rose by almost 39 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to figures released yesterday. Just over half of the 15,827 complaints received in writing and over the 1520 hotline concerned goods with which consumers were not satisfied. Meanwhile, weight-loss centers and banks were the source of many gripes about services. The secretariat said that 47 percent of the complaints it relieved were resolved to the satisfaction of the consumer. Rhodes airport A new wing of the Diagoras Airport on the island of Rhodes was opened yesterday by Transport Minister Michalis Liapis. The 8,000-square-meter area has room for four departure gates and is the first stage of a project which will see the airport expand by another 20,000 square meters. «With the large tourism that Rhodes has, its airport infrastructure needs constant improvement,» Liapis said. Island rape A 54-year-old man from Athens has been arrested on the island of Rhodes on suspicion of raping at knifepoint a 22-year-old American tourist, police said yesterday. The woman told officers on Wednesday afternoon that she met the man while traveling from Karpathos to Rhodes and then went with him to a deserted beach on the south of the island, where the suspect pulled out a knife and raped her. Police arrested the unnamed 54-year-old on Wednesday evening and said that he later confessed to the crime. Hash truck Policemen in Florina, northern Greece, yesterday arrested a man who was carrying some 10 kilos of hashish, officers said. The unnamed suspect was driving a small truck when he was stopped by police, who found 10 packages in the back of the vehicle, containing 9.8 kilos of the drug. Samos migrants Three illegal immigrants were detained yesterday on a beach on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. Coast guard officials detained the men after spotting them getting out of a rubber dinghy on Poseidoniou Beach. The migrants, whose nationality was not revealed, said the had rowed to Greece from Turkey. They were taken to the island’s hospital for medical tests, the ministry said.