NEWS

In Brief

FIRE AND HIRE

Kontocostas takes over and says more firefighters are on the way The new head of the fire service, Athanassios Kontocostas, said yesterday that his first task will be to tackle staff shortages within the department. Kontocostas said that he has been promised 1,300 new hirings by the government. «This would be a great help,» said the new fire chief, who took over from Andreas Kois this week. Kois did not give a reason for his resignation but he had been heavily criticized during the summer following numerous wildfires across Greece. «God protect this service,» said a clearly emotional Kois at the handover ceremony. CRETE POLICE Minister will visit island to assess progress on Zoniana investigation Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and his deputy, Panayiotis Hinofotis, who is in charge of public order matters, are due to visit Crete today to assess the progress of the police operation following the shooting of an officer in Zoniana last month. The pair will visit the officer, who is still in critical condition in the hospital, and hold talks with local officers who have been trying to find the culprits of the November 5 shooting. The police are planning to set up an operations center in Zoniana, which had apparently turned into a hive of lawlessness. Some 80 officers are to be posted at this new center. CHARITY BAZAAR Decorations on offer at Syntagma Children’s charity the Child’s Smile is organizing a Christmas bazaar in the Syntagma metro station, which is set to begin on Monday and run to December 19. The bazaar will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and a range of decorations and gifts will be available. Panathinaikos centenary Panathinaikos soccer club unveiled plans yesterday for a wide range of events in Athens to celebrate its centenary next year. Apart from a series of high-profile friendly soccer matches, the club intends to hold a major music concert and an art exhibition to mark the 100 years since its foundation in 1908. Christmas shopping Extended retail trade hours for the Christmas period will start on Monday and run to the end of month. Stores will also be open for business on Sunday, December 23. Bank holdup Two armed men held up a branch of National Bank in Thessaloniki yesterday, making away with 3,430 euros in cash, police said. The assailants entered the bank at around 9.50 a.m. and escaped the bank on a high-powered motorbike, police added. No one was hurt in the incident. Illegal immigrants The coast guard arrested yesterday a Turkish national on human-trafficking charges and detained 13 illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean island of Samos. The immigrants, from Afghanistan, told authorities that had crossed over into Greece on board an inflatable dinghy from Turkey. Authorities said the immigrants were taken for medical checks. Farmer protest. Farmers have blocked off a plant belonging to dairy company Dodoni in Ioannina, northern Greece, demanding the company pay them higher rates for milk products. Dodoni has agreed to increase the price paid for milk by up to four cents per kilo but farmers have called the increase unsatisfactory. Heroin in stomach A foreign inmate who had recently been transferred to a jail on the island of Crete was found to have swallowed 16 small parcels containing 55.5 grams of heroin, police said yesterday. Authorities said they took the inmate to a hospital for an X-ray after finding an additional 15 grams of heroin hidden in his cell. The Bridge We would like to remind readers that the quarterly magazine The Bridge, which focuses on matters of European integration and Mediterranean and Southeast European issues, will be available free to subscribers with Tuesday’s Kathimerini English Edition.