NEWS

In Brief

CROATIA BACKING

Greek PM praises Zagreb’s efforts to join EU, stresses support Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, during an official visit to Zagreb yesterday, praised Croatia’s efforts to join the European Union and reassured the Croats of Greece’s support. «I am impressed by the progress Croatia has achieved… (it) is far ahead of all Balkan countries,» Karamanlis said. «Greece’s support is firm and unquestionable on this path,» he added. THESSALONIKI ATTACKS Assailants throw gasoline bombs at tax office, banks, cause no injuries Unknown assailants attacked three separate targets in Thessaloniki early yesterday but there were no reports of injuries. Attackers threw gasoline bombs at a tax office in the area of Toumba and branches of Bank of Cyprus and Millennium Bank, both in eastern Thessaloniki. There were no reports of arrests. Authorities said that the tax office sustained the worst structural damage. PEDOPHILE CASE Father charged with extortion released A 42-year-old ethnic Greek from Albania, charged with blackmailing a 47-year-old businessman who had allegedly been raping his 9-year-old son, was yesterday released on conditional terms after testifying before an investigating magistrate in Edessa, northern Greece. The unnamed father is charged with extortion and harboring a criminal after allegedly asking the suspected pedophile for 50,000 euros in exchange for keeping quiet about the alleged abuse. The child’s mother, who has been charged with conspiring to harbor a criminal, said she had known nothing about the alleged abuse. Draft-dodger list The government will make public this week a list of high-profile individuals, including athletes and sons of major businessmen, who allegedly dodged their military service, it was revealed yesterday. This list will not contain the names of any politicians’ children, government sources said. Last week, the head of the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) told a parliamentary committee that the draft dodgers who were already public personalities could be named under certain circumstances. Sea chase Coast guard officers arrested a suspected migrant trafficker early yesterday off the coast of Samos in the eastern Aegean. The Turkish man was in a speedboat and tried to evade the coast guard patrol boat but was eventually captured and taken to a prosecutor on the island to be charged. Meanwhile, authorities on Samos revealed that they had discovered 84 illegal immigrants on various parts of the island. Ioannina airport Local officials in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, said yesterday that an instrument landing system (ILS) would be installed at the city’s airport by the beginning of next year. The system provides precise guidance to airplanes approaching the runway and will likely lead to a reduction in the number of flights that are delayed by frequent fog and low clouds in the area. Bomb hoax A Cyprus Airway flight from Larnaca to Athens was forced to land in Paphos, Cyprus, shortly after it took off yesterday because of a bomb threat. The airplane was carrying 102 people, who had to evacuate the aircraft. The call turned out to be a hoax. Drug dealers Two people were arrested in separate incidents in Thessaloniki yesterday on suspicion of dealing drugs, police said. A 29-year-old man was taken into custody after officers found some 200 grams of cocaine in his possession. Police said the Albanian national was also driving without a license. A 37-year-old woman was also arrested as she was allegedly selling heroin to two addicts. Meanwhile, police in the northern port city revealed yesterday that they arrested 367 people last year for dealing drugs. Narcotics figures Most Greek teenagers begin smoking cannabis at the age of 15 but high school dropouts start experimenting with the drug two years earlier, according to data presented yesterday by the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA). About 40 percent of teenagers stick with cannabis but the rest move on to harder drugs, usually heroin. Authorities said teenagers are often influenced by family, school and social environments when choosing to take drugs.