Karamanlis hopes to boost Greece’s ‘traditionally strong ties’ with France Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a message to French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday, expressing hope that the «traditionally strong ties» between the two countries would be strengthened further. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis expressed her satisfaction at «the return of politics to France» and described Sarkozy as having a «clear political voice.» As for Sarkozy’s doubts about Turkey’s membership of the EU, Bakoyannis said Greece believed that the message to Ankara should be aimed at encouraging Turkey to implement reforms, strengthen democracy and meet its accession requirements. Alex probe Grandfather of two boy suspects insists 11-year-old was abducted The grandfather of two schoolboys implicated in the disappearance of 11-year-old Alex Meshivili in Veria last year told a magistrate yesterday that his grandchildren did not kill the missing boy and that he had probably been abducted. According to court sources, the unnamed man told magistrate Michalakis Georgiou that he had been asleep at the time his grandchildren, along with three other schoolboys, are alleged to have killed Alex and thus could not confirm whether the children had been at home or not. The grandfather claimed that police had pressed the children into confessing to their alleged crime. Repeat offender Police find robber behind Nikaia heist A 36-year-old man has been arrested on the Ionian island of Corfu in connection with the attempted holdup of an armored truck in Athens in February, police said yesterday. The suspect is a known criminal who was released from jail early last year after serving a sentence for armed robbery, among other crimes, according to police. He and a 28-year-old accomplice are alleged to have shot and seriously injured a security guard when they tried to steal cash from the truck in Nikaia. Police are looking for the younger man. Strong earthquake An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook the Ionian island of Zakynthos early yesterday, according to the Athens Observatory, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. The epicenter of the quake was under the sea south of the island. The quake struck at 4.34 a.m. and was felt along Greece’s western coast. Fatal heroism A 46-year-old Cypriot man who chased an armed bank robber in Larnaca yesterday died in hospital after being shot in the stomach. Iakovos Kyriakou, a father of two, got into his car and chased the robber after the latter emerged from a bank with 7,000 Cyprus pounds (about 12,000 euros) and fled on a motorcycle. Kyriakou eventually cornered the 23-year-old robber who shot him point blank in the stomach with a sawn-off shotgun. The robber was arrested. Human trafficking A Moroccan national was arrested off the eastern Aegean island of Samos yesterday after allegedly transporting 21 illegal immigrants to Greece by boat. The suspect allegedly confessed to authorities that he had transported the illegal immigrants, of different nationalities, from the Turkish coast. The immigrants were taken to a hospital for medical checks. Separately, authorities detained 24 illegal immigrants on the island of Farmakonisi in the Dodecanese. Drug crackdown Police arrested 28 suspects in Thessaloniki in April on drug-related charges as part of a crackdown on narcotics trafficking, authorities said. Police confiscated more than 4 kilos of heroin and a further 4 kilos of cannabis during the month-long operation. Three more suspects were arrested in Serres, northern Greece, yesterday accused of selling cocaine and heroin. The suspects are believed to have supplied their network of dealers by hiding the narcotics at advertising billboards along the Thessaloniki-Kavala national highway.