NEWS

In Brief

Hit-and-run

British soldier on Halkidiki vacation dies after being hit by passing car A British soldier serving in Kosovo was killed in a hit-and-run accident early yesterday in Halkidiki, northern Greece, where he was spending his vacation. Brett Walmsley, 25, from Darwen near Blackburn, was killed while walking along the country road between Nea Moudania and Paliouri on the Kassandra peninsula. Authorities said that they do not know the make or model of the car that hit the soldier. Walmsley was staying at a hotel in the resort of Kallithea and had been expected to return today to his unit, which is serving with NATO forces in Kosovo (KFOR). Meanwhile, a 2-year-old girl was killed in the area of Episkopi, close to Thessaloniki yesterday, after being hit by a truck. The 38-year-old driver has been arrested. No further information was immediately available. MERKEL VISIT German chancellor due to meet prime minister in Athens next Friday German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Athens for talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday, the German government confirmed yesterday. The meeting is expected to focus on European Union issues and bilateral matters, such as armaments programs, sources said. Merkel will also speak at the German-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and hold talks with President Karolos Papoulias during her visit. HOLIDAY RUSH Ferries full as thousands leave capital Some 33,000 passengers left Piraeus yesterday, the largest exodus from the country’s main port so far this summer. By late last night, 35 passenger ferries had set sail for the Aegean and Crete. According to Piraeus Harbor Master Apostolos Pouliakas, most departing ships were filled to capacity. Meanwhile, several shipping firm officials were indicted to appear before a prosecutor on charges of profiteering and selling products in ferry canteens that had exceeded their expiry dates. Turkish membership Greece remains committed to its policy of supporting Turkey’s full membership of the European Union if Ankara meets all of the accession criteria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said in response to comments made by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday about the possibility of a «special partnership» between the EU and Ankara. «The foreign minister was referring in general to the recent climate in several EU capitals and segments of European public opinion, which has not been particularly positive about Turkey’s candidacy,» said Koumoutsakos. Migrants intercepted Police in northern Greece yesterday detained a suspected people smuggler after chasing two cars near the Albanian border. Officers arrested the driver of one of the cars after it veered off the road and overturned. The other car, which got away, is believed to have been carrying illegal immigrants. Officers found several stolen German registration plates and credit cards inside the first car, which itself had been stolen and was fitted with plates taken from another car. An Albanian and four would-be migrants, whose nationalities were unknown, were also apprehended in Thesprotia yesterday. No talking Some phone lines in Thessaloniki will not operate for short periods between July 16 and August 5 because of construction work on the city’s metro system, OTE telecom said yesterday. The disruption will only affect certain areas of the city. Bank robbery Two armed men held up a branch of the Cretan Cooperative Bank in Hania yesterday and made off with 10,000 euros in cash, according to police. The two hooded assailants escaped from the scene in a stolen car. Police launched a manhunt for the two assailants and set up road blocks around the city but by late yesterday had been unable to find the robbers. Mokbel trial Australian drug fugitive Tony Mokbel had his trial for passport forgery postponed yesterday because of a strike by court translators in Greece, officials said. Mokbel, who skipped bail in March 2006 while on trial in Australia on drug charges, appeared at the brief hearing in an Athens courtroom, where he was scheduled to be tried on the misdemeanor charge of forgery and possession of a false passport and driver’s license.(AP)