NEWS

In Brief

MIDDLE EAST

Israeli ambassador says PA ‘denied facts’ The Israeli Ambassador in Greece David Sasson yesterday said Tuesday’s statement by the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic representation in Athens, which refuted reports of the alleged involvement of its ambassador, Abdullah Abdullah, in arranging a shipment of arms intercepted by Israeli forces last week, «denied basic facts.» Such a denial after an apparent confession on television by the captain of the ship, Omar Akawi, «takes a lot of chutzpa,» said Sasson. Akawi claimed to be receiving explicit orders for the operation from Adel Awadallah, a PA official allegedly in Greece at the time, Sasson said. The statement did not say that Abdallah was involved in the deal. PACKED FERRY Captain arrested Piraeus port authorities yesterday arrested the captain of the Romilda ferry after discovering he was carrying 127 passengers too many on the route from Samos in the eastern Aegean to the neighboring island of Icaria, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. Following passenger complaints to the crew, the ferry stopped at Icaria’s Aghios Kirykos port for a head count, which established there were indeed extra passengers, and then traveled on to Piraeus where the captain, Ioannis Batzios, was arrested. A Samos prosecutor has been briefed on charging the travel agency that issued the extra tickets. Strong winds in the Aegean delayed numerous on ferry routes, resulting in crowds of passengers waiting at the ports of Samos and Icaria. Weather relentless The heavy snow and strong winds that ravaged Greece over the weekend moved down to Cyprus yesterday, where inland temperatures fell to six degrees Celsius and five below zero on the highest peaks. Snowfall shut off several communities in the southern district of Larnaca province and caused 58 schools to remain closed. Meanwhile strong winds in the Aegean kept ships moored in the ports of Piraeus and Rafina. Schools closed Schools in all of eastern Attica and many municipalities in Athens and western Attica will remain closed today due to bad weather. In Athens, all schools are closed in the following districts: Aghia Paraskevi, Maroussi, Vrilissia, Kifissia, Lykovrysi, Pefki, Penteli, Holargos, Psychico, Ekali, Nea Penteli, Neo Psychiko, Papagou, Filothei, Halandri, Metamorfosi, Nea Ionia, Neo Iraklion, Melissia, and Nea Erythraia. Some schools in the municipalities of Zografou, Vyronas, Ymitou and Ilioupolis are also closed. It will be decided tomorrow whether schools in the above areas will open on Friday. Schools in the western Attica municipalities Erithra, Vilia and Fyli are closed both tomorrow and Friday. Composer jailed A Nicosia court yesterday jailed a Cypriot composer for two and a half years after finding him guilty of indecently assaulting young girls who came to him with aspirations to become singers. Doros Georgiades was convicted on five of six charges of sexually harassing girls aged between 10 and 15 during private lessons. A well-known TV show host, the 52-year-old was said to have lured girls to his studio by saying he would make them famous. Sales Store sales start on Monday, January 14 and will continue until the end of February. Original prices will be displayed in drachmas and euros with the discount rate, but shoppers must calculate sale prices. ‘Historic’ island The Cycladic island of Yaros no longer belongs to the navy but to the Greek people and to history, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday after a meeting with officials of the «Yaros Historic Remembrance» society. A presidential decree will confirm the decision to ban the navy’s presence on the island, which last month was declared an historic site deserving state protection by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. The island has been a place of exile from antiquity until the 1967-74 junta.