In Brief


British minister calls on Ankara to open air, sea ports to Cyprus British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon, on a visit to Athens yesterday, echoed calls by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis for Turkey to open its air and sea ports to Cyprus, as demanded by the European Union, which it hopes to join. «It is very important that Turkey should satisfy its obligations,» Hoon said. «Obviously there are some issues that need to be resolved,» he added. «Turkey must not downplay the fact that many European capitals are very concerned about the degree and rate of its response to its commitments,» Bakoyannis said. SERIAL THIEF Man thought to have robbed 10 banks wielding ‘ninja stars’ is arrested A man who is thought to have robbed at least 10 banks in Attica while threatening staff with «ninja stars» during the last year was arrested yesterday after he attempted to hold up a branch of Laiki Bank in Neo Iraklion, northern Athens, police said. The unnamed 49-year-old is thought to have stolen more than 83,000 euros and $7,000 in the last 12 months. Police found in his possession three pieces of paper with the addresses of 12 banks, a fake pistol and several martial arts weapons. HALKIDIKI FIRE Car crash provokes brush blaze A brushfire that broke out in Porto Koufo, Halkidiki, yesterday had been brought under control by last night but had already burned 4 hectares of land, authorities said. The blaze had scorched olive trees and shrubs, according to firefighters. The fire broke out when a car crashed into a dumpster and burst into flames. Those traveling in the car did not sustain any serious injuries. Some 50 firefighters and a water-dropping helicopter were needed to extinguish the blaze. Copped rod Robbers broke into a factory in Paramythia, near Ioannina in northwestern Greece, on Monday night and stole a rod of copper worth some 25,000 euros, police said. The rod weighed some 5 tons. Officers said the thieves loaded the copper onto a truck belonging to the company that owned the factory and drove off in the vehicle. The name of the firm was not made public. IKEA recall The Swedish retailer IKEA yesterday recalled its Lillarp table lamp with the code number 80063951, as it is not compatible with European Union and Greek safety regulations. The lamp does not show adequate resistance to heat, sources said. Customers who have bought the lamp are advised not to use it; the cost will be refunded in full if they return it to the store, IKEA said yesterday. Foul food The Athens Prefecture said yesterday that in the last two weeks it had confiscated 1.3 tons of food from hotels, supermarkets and food stores that was unfit for consumption. Among the list of 10 companies referred to the prosecutor were the Grande Bretagne and Athens Acropol hotels. Arson attacks Two banks in Thessaloniki suffered slight damage early yesterday when homemade explosive devices were placed at their entrance areas. At almost the same time, branches of Piraeus and Egnatia banks had their front windows smashed by explosive mechanisms consisting of gas canisters. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Traffic disruption Planned maintenance work on part of the tram’s network in central Athens will cause traffic disruptions for about a month as of Sunday, authorities said yesterday. The maintenance work will be done during the evening at the Vassilissis Olgas and Vassileos Constantinou intersection. Rice checks Environmentalists Greenpeace welcomed yesterday a decision by Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos to introduce measures regarding the monitoring of genetically engineered (GE) rice imported into the country. According to Greenpeace, illegal GE rice has contaminated food products in France, Germany and the UK. Bank heist Three armed men held up a branch of Emporiki Bank in Aghioi Anargyroi, western Athens, and escaped with an unspecified amount of cash, police said.