In Brief


Police in Athens launch search for Iraqi man awaiting trial for stealing Police in Athens were yesterday looking for a 40-year-old Iraqi man who escaped from custody while awaiting trial on charges of theft. It was not immediately clear how the suspect evaded his guards. Under Greek law, the police officers responsible have 48 hours to recapture the suspect before they are charged with aiding his escape. No description of the suspect was given. METAXOURGEIO BLAZE Fire destroys abandoned home in city center, no trace of squatters found A fire destroyed an abandoned home in Metaxourgeio, central Athens, yesterday, authorities said. There were no reports of injuries. Police inspected the home with sniffer dogs for squatters that had stayed at the house, according to neighbors, but found no trace of them. Eighteen firefighters using six fire trucks were involved in the operation. There are hundreds of old abandoned homes in central Athens that are fire hazards, according to authorities, as they are used by the homeless and squatters who light fires in them to stay warm during the winter months. ROAD TAX Last day for car stickers approaches Drivers are reminded that they have until the end of the year to buy their 2008 road tax stickers at banks and post offices. Vehicle owners will have until Monday, December 31, to pay their road tax. Anyone who has not received a reminder will have to go to his or her local tax office to pay for and pick up a sticker. Owners of cars or motorcycles with a 300cc to 1.3-liter engine will have to pay 93 euros. For 1.3 to 1.9-liter engines, the charge will be 168 euros, 1.9 to 2.3-liter engines will be 372 euros and above 2.3 liters will cost 483 euros. Owners of motorcycles with engines under 300cc will have to pay 15 euros. Anyone who does not buy his or her sticker by the end of the year will have to pay twice the amount as a penalty. Vehicles torched Nine vehicles belonging to the Group 4 private security firm were set on fire in Kolonos, west central Athens, on Tuesday morning. Police said that youths on motorbikes hurled petrol bombs at a parking lot where the cars and vans were parked on Christmas morning. Nobody was injured in the attack. Pensioner burned A 91-year-old woman burned to death in her home in the village of Granitsa, northwestern Greece, on Christmas Day. She had collapsed and fallen into the fireplace at the house, where she lived alone. It was not immediately clear what caused the pensioner to collapse. The unnamed woman’s charred remains were found by her neighbors. Homes destroyed Four homes were destroyed in a blaze in the village of Vitsa, in northern Greece’s Ioannina prefecture, but there were no reports of injuries, police said yesterday. The blaze, which took place late on Tuesday, is believed to have started from a fireplace in one of the houses and then quickly spread to adjoining homes. Seven fire trucks took part in the operation to extinguish the blaze, with two of them remaining at the site of the fire overnight as a precaution. Cannabis confiscated Police have confiscated more than 100 kilos of cannabis and heroin and arrested five people in the area of Mesopotamia on the Greek-Albanian border. Police said they spotted the five suspects driving suspiciously in three cars in the area and instructed them to stop. However, the suspects, including one woman, sped away and a car chase followed before authorities managed to arrest them. Police said the five are believed to be part of an international drug-trafficking gang. Officer protest Border police marched in Florina, northern Greece, in support of their colleague who has been remanded in custody after he allegedly shot and killed an illegal immigrant from Albania. The shooting took place on November 8 when the border guard, aged 28, shot the victim while chasing him and other illegal immigrants who had crossed over into Greece. Border police said the decision to remand their colleague in custody is unfair and does not take into account the conditions behind the incident.