US State Department supports ecumenical status of leader The US State Department said yesterday it supports the ecumenical status of the Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarch Vartholomaios but stopped short of commenting on a Turkish court ruling that recognizes him only as the spiritual leader of the local Greek community. The Athens Bar Association (ABA) meanwhile said yesterday that the Turkish court’s disputing of the patriarch’s status was politically motivated. «The legal culture in the neighboring country remains undeveloped and is light years behind the respective (culture) in Europe,» it said. On Tuesday, an appeals court ruled that Istanbul-based Vartholomaios is only head of the local Greek Orthodox community. The Turkish government has long sought to curtail Vartholomaios’s influence and objects to the use of the title «ecumenical» or universal. Papoulias in Yerevan President expresses solidarity with Armenians over Turkish genocide President Karolos Papoulias yesterday aimed a clear jab at Turkey for its genocide of the Armenians during a visit to Yerevan, the Armenian capital. «This genocide constitutes the most barbaric act in the contemporary history of mankind,» Papoulias wrote in a visitors’ book at the site of a monument to the Armenian genocide in Yerevan. Later yesterday, the Greek president had talks with Armenian Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan. «Both our nations have lived through tortuous times this century,» Papoulias said in a clear reference to Greece’s suffering under the Ottoman occupation. Rescue operation Search resumed for missing hiker Rescue workers said they launched another attempt yesterday to find the last of the hikers who went missing last month in the Lousios River in the Peloponnese. Seven out of a total of 18 hikers were found dead in the area hit by a flash flood on May 26. Authorities said they have since been continuing to search for the missing 28-year-old man, feared dead, but have now boosted their rescue team as water levels have receded and water transparency has improved. Man strangled An 84-year-old man has been found dead in his apartment in Neo Iraklion, northern Athens, police said yesterday. According to an initial investigation, the man had been strangled to death in what police believe was a theft-related incident. The elderly man, who lived on his own, is believed to have been killed two days before being discovered by police. Bonds probe A wide-ranging investigation into allegations of corrupt investment practices, implicating dozens of officials at state pension funds, banks and brokerages, is to begin next week. The two investigating magistrates entrusted with handling the probe have already started perusing a hefty list of charges and a prosecutor’s file and are expected to start summoning witnesses to give testimony next week, sources said. The magistrates are expected to question about 100 people over the next month. Guilty plea A Greek shipping company has agreed to pay a US$1 million (740,000 euros) fine after pleading guilty in a United States District Court to illegally dumping oily waste into the ocean, the US attorney’s office said. A portion of the fine to be paid by the company, Calypso Marine, will be used for environmental restoration projects in the Columbia River estuary and along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. The company entered its plea on Monday. US Coast Guard inspectors boarded the 35,000-ton bulk carrier Tina M when it was anchored in Kalama, a port on the Columbia River, on May 21. (AP) Road fatality A 39-year-old motorist was killed yesterday when the car he was driving on the Thessaloniki-Moudanion national road veered off course and hit a lamp-post. It was unclear what caused the man to lose control of the vehicle.