NEWS

In Brief

MINISTER THREATENED

Probe launched after bullets sent in mail to Fani Palli-Petralia Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia yesterday dismissed a threatening letter she received, containing six bullets, as a «joke in poor taste,» adding that it won’t have an impact on the government’s reform agenda. The recently appointed minister is leading the government’s push to reform the country’s ailing pension system, prompting union opposition and repeated strikes. A government spokesman said the counterterrorism squad has been assigned to investigate the letter sent to the minister, without divulging the content of the letter. The letter was spotted yesterday morning by an employment ministry mail room clerk who handed it to police. EXAM RULES Court rules that high school students should get copies of written tests The Council of State has upheld an intervention by Greece’s privacy watchdog, which requires the Education Ministry to supply senior high school students with copies of their university entrance exams. The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) ruled in 2006 that students should be given either a photocopy of their written papers or the originals that had been marked. The watchdog intervened after 10 students asked to see their exam papers but the ministry refused their request. The Education Ministry argued that the APPD had no right to intervene but the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court ruled that the matter was within its competence. ZAKYNTHOS QUAKE Tremor shakes southern Greece An earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale shook southern Greece yesterday but there were no reports of injuries or damage. It was the fifth strong tremor to hit the area in about a week. The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake hit at 6.57 a.m. off the coast of Zakynthos, in the Ionian Sea. The epicenter was 235 kilometers west of Athens, the institute said. Since the middle of February, the Peloponnese has been hit by three quakes measuring at least 6 on the Richter scale. Illegal immigrants The coast guard yesterday arrested 21 illegal immigrants off the island of Samos, which lies not far from the Turkish coast. The immigrants, found on board an inflatable engine powered boat, told authorities they had crossed into Greece from Turkish shores. Store fire A fire broke out in a mobile phone store on Sophocleous Street, central Athens, yesterday but was quickly extinguished, authorities said. Thick black smoke poured out of the basement store but there were no signs of flames, authorities added. Fifteen firefighters using five firetrucks were involved in the operation. Nobody was injured in the incident. Athens helpline The City of Athens said yesterday that it had changed its citizen’s helpline number from 195 to 1595. The four-digit number is in immediate effect and the municipality said that it aims to «meet the ever-growing needs of citizens and visitors.» Drunk driving The Health Ministry launched a program yesterday to discourage drink driving. Under the title «One sober driver,» the scheme aims to encourage groups of friends who go out drinking to designate one person to remain sober all night so he or she can drive them home. Attitudes to drink driving in Greece remain fairly lax despite campaigns to reduce the number of car accidents caused by drunk drivers. Planting trees Volunteers who want to help replant trees that were burned on the hillsides around Kalyvia, east of Athens, last summer are asked to meet outside the Kalyvia town hall at 10 a.m. on Sunday. This will be the second reforestation drive in the area. Some 5,000 saplings are due to be planted. US Embassy The consular section of the US Embassy in Athens will be closed to the public on Wednesday for internal administrative reasons. For emergencies during the working hours of 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., embassy officials can be reached on 210.721.2951.