Prosecutor orders probe into firms causing toxicity of river’s waters An appeals court prosecutor yesterday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into the worryingly high pollution levels in the Asopos River, central Greece. The Athens prosecutor assigned to the probe will determine which of the local manufacturers are responsible for discharging toxic waste into the river and charge them accordingly. Meanwhile, opposition politicians asked the government to ascertain whether checks had been carried out to discover whether local food, medicine and toiletry firms use toxic water in their production. Locals who have been drinking the toxic water for years should be encouraged to go for health checks, MPs added. Appeal rejected Former university rector, jailed for embezzlement, loses bid for freedom An appeals court in Athens has rejected a bid by the former rector of Panteion University, Emilios Metaxopoulos, who asked to be released from jail on health grounds. Metaxopoulos was one of 10 university officials sentenced to jail in June for embezzling 8 million euros of state funds from Panteion between 1992 and 1998. He received a 25-year term but had asked to be released from custody so he could be treated for acute cirrhosis of the liver. But three of the five appeals judges ruled that Metaxopoulos did not need to be permanently based in the hospital to receive treatment. Fires put out Blazes in Peloponnese, Epirus, doused A fire that broke out in a forested area near Megalopolis, the Peloponnese, on Sunday was brought under control yesterday afternoon. Local authorities suggested that the fire was caused by arson. Meanwhile, a fire in Neohoropoulo near Ioannina, northwestern Greece, burned some 15 hectares of forest, scrubland and farming areas before being put out with the help of a water-dropping helicopter. Authorities said that 18 fires had broken out and been extinguished in the Epirus region since Saturday. Intern shot A female university student doing her internship at a bank in Iraklion, Crete, was injured during an armed holdup yesterday. Police said three armed assailants, whose faces were covered with hoods, fired several shots as they held up a branch of ATEbank and made off with an unknown amount of cash. The student, who is five months pregnant, sustained a hand injury which was not serious, authorities added. Police have launched a manhunt for the assailants that escaped from the bank in a car with covered number plates. Blood banks Cord blood banking, the storage of umbilical cord blood for future use, is rapidly gaining ground in Greece but its promotion is being irresponsibly handled, doctors said yesterday. The 10 private blood banks currently operating in Greece, and charging 2,000 euros to store individuals’ cord blood for use in future operations, had a joint turnover of 5 million euros this year. According to Professor Sotiris Raptis, of the National Technical University of Athens, some of these blood banks have been excessive in advertizing the capabilities of cord blood. International experience shows that only 30 percent of cord blood reserves collected are considered appropriate for use. Motorcycle thieves Two Albanian migrants were arrested near Ioannina yesterday after crashing their motorcycle, which police later discovered had been stolen. The two men, who were not named, were remanded in custody on suspicion of stealing five motorcycles, breaking into a store and a Public Power Corporation office from where they allegedly made a number of calls abroad and to mobile phones. Crops damaged A hail storm in Corinth in the Peloponnese on Sunday caused widespread damage to crops, local authorities said yesterday. The 30-minute storm damaged vegetable, grape and apple crops in the areas of Zevgolato and Neohori. Meningitis scare A high school and primary school complex in Kato Patissia, central Athens, is to remain closed today after a 14-year-old female pupil was found to be suffering from meningitis. Prefectural authorities have ordered the buildings to be disinfected.