NEWS

In Brief

Bomb alert

Employment Ministry evacuated after phone threat of impending attack The center of Athens was gridlocked for about an hour yesterday due to a bomb hoax at the Employment Ministry on Pireos Street. An anonymous caller rang the ministry at 10.45 a.m. claiming that a bomb would go off in 40 minutes. Officials were forced to evacuate the building and police closed off Pireos as a precaution. The measures had a knock-on effect on other busy roads in central Athens, causing jams in the city center. Specially trained sniffer dogs were used to search the ministry but no traces of explosives were found. The militant group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for a bomb that went off outside the ministry in June 2005. Meanwhile Syntagma metro station was also closed for an hour last night after a bomb threat was made at 9.10 p.m. Thessaloniki hits Firebombs target ruling party national bank; no injuries caused Police reported two firebomb attacks in Thessaloniki yesterday, both shortly after 3 a.m. which caused damage but no injuries. The first attack, using homemade explosive devices made from gas canisters, targeted a branch of National Bank. The bank’s facade, and two scooters parked nearby, were damaged. The second attack, at 3.20 a.m., also using gas-canister bombs, targeted the offices of ruling New Democracy in the district of Evosmo. It also caused extensive damage. Extortion racket Suspected nightclub ringleader caught A 39-year-old man, believed to have headed an extortion ring providing «protection» to several nightclubs and bars in different parts of Attica, faced an investigating magistrate yesterday following his arrest on Saturday. The unnamed man, believed to have taken over the ring’s leadership following the murder of his predecessors, allegedly pocketed up to 250 euros a week from owners of nightclubs in Haidari, Kifissia and and central Athens. According to police, the 39-year-old visited the club owners every Friday to collect his «fee.» A search of the suspect’s home unearthed a parachute, a switchblade and a small quantity of drugs. Student protest University students affiliated to the Communist Party (KKE) and members of the Communist-backed PAME labor union are to stage a rally on Thursday in Athens to protest a new education law allowing the creation of private universities. The rally, the first of the academic year, is to begin at noon outside Athens University. Protesters complain that the new law will undermine the state education sector. However, university authorities do not expect protests to reach the pitch they did last year when months of sit-in protests and strikes paralyzed the education sector. Transplant fears The National Transplant Organization (EOM) yesterday stressed the need to boost public awareness regarding organ donations. The move came following news that more than half of 108 would-be donors brain donors this year were not used due to objections from their relatives. If such a trend continues, the number of transplants in Greece will drop, doctors warn, noting that only 78 have been carried out so far this year, as compared to 144 last year. Armed robbers A gas station attended in Haidari, western Athens, suffered minor injuries when two armed robbers attacked him early yesterday. Police said the 30-year-old Pakistani was struck on the head with an iron bar. The two robbers stole an unspecified amount of money from the cash register before speeding off on a motorcycle. In a separate incident, a 54-year-old taxi driver was forced at gunpoint to hand over his takings and mobile phone in the western suburb of Petroupolis. Police are searching for two suspects. Trial-fixing case Lawyer Alexis Kougias yesterday told judges presiding over the trial of a group of judges and lawyers accused of forming a trial-fixing ring that judge Evangelos Kaloussis had asked for a bribe to deliver a favorable verdict in a case he was handling. Kougias also alleged that Kaloussis had accepted money during another trial involving an unidentified businessman. The lawyer also said he had initially thought his colleague Sakis Kehayioglou was also corrupt but Kougias claimed that he later found out that Kehayiouglou was supporting his expensive lifestyle through a series of bank loans.