NEWS

In Brief

Military chief

Army gets new leader as Hinofotis steps down to run in elections The head of the Greek army, Lieutenant General Dimitris Grapsas, was yesterday named as the new chief of the country’s armed forces after Admiral Panayiotis Hinofotis stepped down so he could stand as a New Democracy candidate in next month’s general elections. The Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) met yesterday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to decide on the appointment. During the meeting, it was also decided that Lieutenant General Dimitris Voulgaris should take over as head of the army and that Hinofotis should be made honorary chief of the armed forces. The handover ceremony is due to take place today. Election bonus Police and firemen to get 950 euros for working three-day period of polls Police officers and firefighters will get a 950-euro bonus for working extra hours during the election period, the government said yesterday. The figure is 200 euros higher than the previous election bonus given to officers. Security is due to be tightened in major cities ahead of the September 16 poll. Extra officers will be on duty in Thessaloniki during the weekend before the election as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be opening the city’s international fair, PASOK will be holding a public rally and the other parties are expected to organize events in the northern city over a three-day period. FAKE BANKNOTES Coast guard seizes big forged cash haul Coast guard officials arrested two men at the port of Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, yesterday after finding 81,500 euros in forged banknotes in their car, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The suspects are Bulgarian nationals aged 23 and 24. They drove to Igoumenitsa from Bulgaria and were trying to board a ferry to Italy, officers said. The forged notes were found hidden behind the car’s dashboard. The ministry also revealed that a 24-year-old man was recently arrested in Piraeus after trying to place a parcel containing 5,200 euros in forged notes on a passenger ferry. Fatal row A 42-year-old Greek man was fatally stabbed yesterday after trying to resolve a dispute between two men over a Moldovan woman, police in Athens said. The Greek man intervened after seeing the men, a Pole and an Albanian, arguing in the street in the district of Aghios Panteleimonas, but was allegedly knifed in the chest by the Albanian national, who subsequently fled on foot. The unnamed 42-year-old was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. Permit payments Municipalities in Attica are accepting 150-euro payments by foreign workers who submit their residence permit applications though they know that there is no chance of the migrants being issued the permit, the Athens Labor Center (ALC), a body of the GSEE union, claimed yesterday. The ALC said that it had conducted research at a number of municipalities and found that the 150-euro payments were not being returned to migrants when the Regional Authority rejected their applications. The ALC said that immigrants who do not comply with residence permit criteria should be advised accordingly before they submit any payment. Surgery shortcomings A 17-year-old boy recently lost his leg because all the surgeons from the vascular surgery department of Alexandroupolis Hospital in northeastern Greece were on holiday, an investigation has concluded. The teenager had been injured in an accident and was rushed to Alexandroupolis Hospital but was then transferred to a hospital in Thessaloniki because there were no surgeons available. Sources said that investigators found that the vascular surgery department at Alexandroupolis Hospital is understaffed and that the current personnel often work long hours. Psyttaleia dispute Officials at the Piraeus prefect’s office yesterday complained that a new drying unit on the islet of Psyttaleia, designed to reduce the volume of processed sewage produced on the islet, was not working to capacity. The complaint was leveled at the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company (EYDAP), which acknowledged that the unit was operating at half its capacity but insisted that this was enough to dry all processed sewage being produced on the islet off Piraeus.