Appeals begin for those linked to buildings that collapsed in 1999 An Athens court yesterday started hearing the appeals of senior officials from two factories which collapsed during the September 1999 earthquake in Athens, killing a total of 47 employees. The owners of the Faran pharmaceutical firm – Marios and Nikos Katsikas – were found guilty of manslaughter in June 2004, receiving jail sentences of three years and eight months and two years and two months respectively. Faran’s production manager yesterday remarked that the owners could not have been aware of the factory building’s structural flaws. Tomorrow, the court is to hear the appeals of managers of the Ricomex factory, which killed 39 people when it collapsed. POLICEMAN SUSPENDED Officer accused of taking phone cards from immigrants in Athens A police special guard was suspended yesterday after an investigation by internal affairs revealed that he had allegedly taken for his own use some 250 prepaid phone cards from Asian street traders during the last month, sources said. The officer confiscated the phone cards during checks on Asian migrants on Menandrou and Sophocleous streets in central Athens. Members of the Pakistani community reported the matter to authorities and the guard was tracked down and identified by four of his alleged victims. The officer was charged by a prosecutor after 64 cards were found in his possession. OTE STRIKE Staff to continue their protest today OTE telecom staff went on strike yesterday, protesting the government’s plans to sell off some of its stake in the company and look for a strategic partner to take over a managing role in the firm. The workers said they would continue their action today. Their union also issued a statement condemning the presence of riot police outside the company’s headquarters on Tritis Septemvriou Street in central Athens during yesterday’s protest. Police praised A ceremony was held yesterday at the Public Order Ministry to honor the policemen who recently captured fugitive robber Nikos Palaiocostas and convicted murderer Alket Rizai. «This is a day of moral satisfaction for the entire police force and Greek society,» said Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras. He said the operations were based on «methodical work, trust and planning.» Palaiocostas was arrested last week after spending some 16 years on the run. Rizai was arrested earlier this month, some three months after escaping from Korydallos Prison in a helicopter. Forged passports Police have arrested a man who allegedly ran an illegal workshop forging residence permits and passports for migrants in Athens, officers said yesterday. The unnamed foreign national was taken into custody after officers raided his workshop in the southern suburb of Kallithea following a tip-off. The suspect had been forging a number of official documents which he sold for 500-2,000 euros, police said, allegedly earning him some 50,000 euros a month. A number of Economy and Finance Ministry documents were found on the premises and an investigation has been launched into how the papers went missing. Acropolis movie The Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has given the go-ahead for the Acropolis to be used as the backdrop for a Hollywood film, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday. Quoting Mark Hufam, one of the film’s producers, AFP said that filming of the comedy «My Life in Ruins» is set to begin in Athens next month. The film stars Nia Vardalos, who rose to fame with «My Big Fat Greek Wedding,» and will be produced by a firm run by Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, who is half-Greek. Forged checks Three people were arrested in Athens yesterday after they allegedly cashed in 93,000 euros’ worth of forged checks belonging to the Pharmaceutical Association of Attica (FSA). According to police, the suspects had stolen 19 FSA checks and cashed them in at 11 different banks before being arrested. Supermarket robbery Two armed men held up a supermarket in Kallithea, southern Athens, yesterday and made away with an unknown amount of cash, police said. The holdup took place at about 10.30 a.m. and the men escaped from the scene by motorbike, police added.