NEWS

In Brief

FUNDS PROBE

Tsekou fails to provide details of financial wrongdoing at ministry Former Culture Ministry employee Evi Tsekou yesterday denied being in a position to know about any financial wrongdoing by the ministry’s former general secretary Christos Zachopoulos, with whom she was having an affair, court sources said. Tsekou was questioned by prosecutor Eleni Raiko who is looking into any misappropriation of funds at the ministry during Zachopoulos’s tenure. Tsekou referred to a payment of 650,000 euros to a cultural organization called Athina, which she considered suspicious but was not in a position to elaborate on. TRASH STRIKE Municipal refuse collectors to stage more industrial action over pensions Municipal trash collectors, who walked off the job yesterday, have called another 24-hour strike for March 7 to press their opposition to planned pension reforms. Workers staged a protest rally in central Athens yesterday. Municipal authorities had asked citizens to refrain from dumping their garbage in the streets on days that the trash collectors are on strike. EUROVISION CONTEST Greek-American going to finals Kalomoira Sarantis, a Greek-American pop singer, will represent Greece at the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade with her song «Secret Combination» after being chosen in a public and jury vote late on Wednesday. The song contest will be held between May 20 and 24. Sarantis first became known in Greece when she won the «Fame Story» talent show in 2004. Pedestrians stabbed A 22-year-old Albanian man accused of stabbing three pedestrians in central Thessaloniki on Sunday night has not given any explanation for his actions, police said yesterday. The suspect allegedly attacked three people within the space of an hour on Sunday night. The first victim was stabbed in the throat with a knife, the second was also stabbed in the throat 10 minutes later and the third was stabbed in the stomach, police said. Two of the victims underwent surgery but none were seriously injured. Robber foiled A would-be bank robber failed in his attempt to steal an unspecified amount of cash from a branch of Attica Bank in the northern Athens suburb of Halandri yesterday. The suspect walked into the bank, situated on Halandri’s main shopping street, at about 9 a.m. and brandishing a handgun ordered staff to fill a bag with cash. But when the robber attempted to leave, he was challenged by the bank manager and was forced to drop his bag and gun before fleeing on foot. Police are examining the weapon to try and determine the robber’s identity. Quakes An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale was recorded near the city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese early yesterday. The epicenter of the tremor was in the sea bed south of Methoni. No injuries or damage were reported. Meanwhile, chief prosecutor Panayiotis Poulios launched an investigation into recent rumors that a large quake was about to hit Greece. He wants to establish whether someone was intentionally spreading false reports. Napa off limits The mayor of Ayia Napa, a popular tourist resort in southeastern Cyprus, has called for a year-round ban on British troops based on the island following a string of violent incidents in the area involving soldiers. The move came after nine British soldiers were charged with smashing up a bar and attacking locals. «Under the circumstances we believe it would be better if we declare the whole of Ayia Napa off limits to British soldiers from the bases,» Mayor Nakis Tsokkos said. Ambulance attack Three youths attacked offices belonging to the National First Aid Center (EKAB) in Hania, Crete, late on Wednesday in retaliation for what they said was a delay by ambulance services in treating their friend. Police said the three youths had called for an ambulance to transport their sick friend to a hospital after having drunk too much. The youths then drove to the EKAB offices and started to smash windows and physically attack medical and nursing personnel. They were arrested shortly afterward by police who were called to the scene.