NEWS

In Brief

SMUGGLED SMOKES

Officers find 1.5 million contraband cigarette packs on North Korean ship The coast guard detected yesterday a freight vessel off Katakolo, southwest Greece, that was attempting to smuggle into the country 1.5 million packets of cigarettes. The seven crew members on the North Korean-flagged Evva vessel were arrested. The Merchant Marine Ministry said that the cigarettes were destined for Greece and that unpaid taxes and dues from the shipment reached 3.5 million euros. Authorities said that they found the ship about 6 nautical miles off the port of Katakolo after receiving a tip-off about a suspicious vessel. PEOPLE TRAFFICKING Police arrest two suspects for forced prostitution in Thessaloniki Police said yesterday they had arrested in Thessaloniki two women believed to be involved in a human-tracking operation that would smuggle women into Greece and force them into prostitution. The suspects, aged 65 and 42, are thought to be part of a seven-person gang that would promise the women legitimate work and residency permits. One of the victims, aged 22, managed to escape from guards and report the matter to police. HYGIENE CRACKDOWN Checks on bars, restaurants ordered Recently appointed Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas yesterday asked the country’s top prosecutors to ensure that authorities conduct daily checks on restaurants, bars, cafeterias and school canteens and to take owners into custody if necessary. In a circular to prosecutors, Sanidas said that many such establishments are breaking hygiene and safety laws or operating without licenses. He said that those breaking the law should be arrested and charged immediately and, if the offenses are serious, the businesses be shut down. Icon ransom Police tracked down the man who allegedly stole a priceless icon from a monastery in the eastern Peloponnese by tracing his mobile phone after he called the local bishop asking for a 1.2-million-euro ransom for the religious painting, police sources said yesterday. Officers revealed on Saturday that they had arrested a 28-year-old Romanian in the southern Peloponnese in connection with the theft of the 700-year-old icon from the Elona Monastery last month. Police sources said the suspect only revealed the icon’s whereabouts after officers said they would test his DNA against traces found at the scene of the theft. Church elections Elections to appoint a new Cypriot archbishop were disrupted yesterday after apparent interference in the voting process. A total of 63 ballot boxes were either tampered with, empty or arrived late for counting, according to election officials. Votes counted before the problems emerged pointed to victory for Bishop Athanassios of Limassol, Reuters reported. He and Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkos are the favorites for the post. The elections, which begin with the appointment of 1,400 special representatives who then elect one of four candidates for archbishop, are due to culminate in about 20 days. Drug haul A 28-year-old Albanian, arrested in the district of Vyronas, eastern Athens, after large quantities of drugs were discovered in his apartment, is probably part of a large trading ring, Attica drug squad officers said yesterday. Police confiscated nearly 10 kilos of heroin, 2 kilos of cocaine and more than 3 kilos of an unidentified substance believed to have been used to cut the drugs before packaging for sale. Illegal GMOs The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) said yesterday that it had identified two Greek companies that were breaking the law by distributing vegetable oil without stating that the product contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs). EFET said the two firms were located in Viotia, north of Athens, and near Thessaloniki. The watchdog alleged that the companies were processing soya oil that had been produced from GMO seeds. Break-ins A 24-year-old woman was bound in her home in Mandra, northwest of Athens, when three men, foreign nationals, broke into to her house from the balcony early yesterday and stole her television and jewelry. In a separate incident, a 78-year-old woman was tied up and gagged in her home in Saronida, southeast of Athens, by three men who stole an unknown amount of cash.