Ministry strikes positive note on UN talks but cautious on Nimetz The Foreign Ministry yesterday expressed its readiness to continue with UN-backed talks aimed at solving a dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but stopped short of giving a UN mediator its clear support. «Matthew Nimetz is continuing to operate according to his mandate and of course Greece is participating in this effort in a constructive and active way,» ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. Koumoutsakos was responding to a journalist’s question about whether the government still trusts Nimetz in his role following some ambiguous comments and criticism of the historic significance of Alexander the Great. Patient vindicated European court backs Greek victim of botched breast operation The European Court of Human Rights yesterday rapped Greece for sentencing a woman who criticized her surgeon in the media after a botched breast operation, awarding her 8,000 euros in damages, Agence France-Presse reported. The court said 56-year-old Vassiliki Kanellopoulou, who was given a 13-month suspended sentence in June 2003 reduced to five months on appeal following a libel complaint by the surgeon, was merely exercising her right of freedom of speech. Kanellopoulou underwent breast reduction surgery but complained of severe chest pains immediately after the operation. Cyprus elections Presidential polls set for February 17 Cypriots will vote for their next president on February 17 next year, it was announced yesterday. Interior Minister Christos Patsalidis said there would be a runoff on February 24 if there was no outright winner of the first round. The victor must gain 50 percent plus one vote to be elected president. Some 500,000 Cypriots, including several hundred Turkish Cypriots, are eligible to cast their ballot. President Tassos Papadopoulos is seeking a second five-year term but is facing a challenge from three other candidates including AKEL-backed Dimitris Christofias and former Foreign Minister Yiannis Kassoulidis. Pensioner attack An 87-year-old woman from a village in Serres, northern Greece, has died after a 60-year-old man allegedlt beat and raped her, police said yesterday. The suspect allegedly assaulted the pensioner at her home in the village of Potismeno. He was arrested soon afterward. The woman was taken to the hospital but died from her injuries. Relatives of the victim claimed that the 60-year-old had attacked her nine years ago as well. It was not clear what had caused the attacks. Ax man Police in Thessaloniki have arrested a 27-year-old man they suspect of using an ax to threaten the owner of a house he broke into in April. The unnamed suspect was also wanted for an attempted robbery at a gas station in the city in June. Officers also arrested a 17-year-old who allegedly stole two tires from a car and a stereo from another vehicle. Businessman beating Police have charged three men in the theft and physical attack of a businessmen in Nafplion, in the Peloponnese, that took place in March. Authorities said the men, all Greek nationals, are accused of stabbing the victim in the back and beating him before taking a bag containing 30,000 euros in cash. Authorities also confiscated a luxury car from the suspects, believed to have been bought with the stolen money. Prostate warning All men aged over 50 should undergo tests for prostate cancer, experts said yesterday ahead of today’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. Specialists from the Hellenic Urological Association are to distribute leaflets in Athens and other major cities to inform the public about the illness. Floating body Police said yesterday the body of a 60-year-old man was found floating in a dam in the Vassilika area near Thessaloniki late on Wednesday. After an autopsy, police said the likely cause of death was murder. The victim, whose hands and legs were bound with tape, had suffered multiple head injuries. The assailants had also tied rocks to the body. The estimated time of death was about a week ago, police added.