In Brief


Heavy blame for disaster attributed to first mate The first mate of the Express Samina ferry, which sank off Paros in September 2000 with the loss of 80 lives, has been attributed with the greatest blame for the disaster by an investigating magistrate, who yesterday concluded an 18-month probe into the affair. The report, by Special Investigating Magistrate Nikos Karadimitriou, will now go to the Aegean Appeals Council to determine who will face trial. Samina First Mate Anastassios Psychogios is first in the firing line for allegedly leaving the Samina’s bridge unsupervised for more than 25 minutes and not observing the radar monitor, according to the report, which also blamed the Samina’s captain, Vassilis Yiannakis, and first engineer, Gerasimos Skiadaresis, for abandoning the ferry while passengers were still aboard. Skiadaresis is also blamed for failing to supervise the closure of doors separating watertight compartments on the vessel. Former chairman of Minoan Flying Dolphins Costas Klironomos and his legal adviser also bear significant responsibility, the report said. ANTI-RACISM DAY Thousands of demonstrators call for legalizing all immigrants Thousands of immigrants were joined by representatives of anti-racism organizations and human rights groups for a rally in front of the University of Athens on World Against Racism Day yesterday. Protesters, who marched peacefully on to Parliament, demand legal status for immigrants struggling with a complex bureaucracy, as well as an end to police raids on sites that employ illegal workers. MIDDLE EAST Arafat briefs Papandreou Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat yesterday briefed Foreign Minister George Papandreou on the latest developments in the Middle East during a telephone conversation between the two men. Papandreou, who is due to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories next month, was also updated on Arafat’s talks with US envoy Anthony Zinni, according to diplomatic sources. Papandreou also explained Greece’s five-point peace proposal to Arafat, said the same sources. Land mine ban Parliament voted unanimously late on Wednesday to ratify the Ottawa Treaty to abolish the use, storage, production and distribution of anti-personnel land mines. The vote came a day after two Turks were killed and another critically injured while illegally crossing into Greece in the Kastanies area of the Evros prefecture on the Turkish border. The decision was welcomed yesterday by Doctors of the World Greece, which has been campaigning for a ban against land mines and which urged the government to quickly clear Evros – the last minefield in Europe, where 55 people have been killed and 46 injured since 1994. Overweight children Half of all schoolchildren in northern Greece are overweight and one in 10 are obese, according to the results of a study, conducted on 2,500 primary and secondary school pupils, which will be presented at the 29th National Endocrinological Conference which began yesterday in the northern town of Ioannina. Baby injured A 2-year-old boy from the northern town of Serres was in the hospital recovering from surgery yesterday after suffering a fierce blow on Wednesday from a street sign which was dislodged by a strong gust of wind. Makedonas Hatzidis needed stitches on his head after the sign collapsed onto the stroller being pushed by his mother. Hash haul Port authorities in the western coastal town of Parga yesterday confiscated 480 kilos of Indian marijuana which was abandoned by the unidentified occupants of a speedboat after they were spotted and chased by patrol vessels. The speedboat disappeared after shedding several bags of hash. Miller in Crete US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller, leading a delegation of diplomats and businessmen, arrived yesterday at the southern port of Iraklion on Crete, amid heightened security, for a four-day official visit to the island. Afghan women Afghanistan’s deputy prime minister for women’s issues, Dr Sima Samir, arrived in Athens yesterday for a five-day visit to raise awareness to the barriers faced by Afghan women and promote opportunities for them.

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