NEWS

In Brief

KIDNAPPING

Three men remanded, say they did not want to harm girl Three men charged with kidnapping a six-year-old girl on April 11 and demanding $3 million in ransom for her release were yesterday remanded in custody after appearing before an investigating magistrate in Athens. Dimitris Kitsikidis, 26, Evangelos Saridis, 21, and Sergei Zohabyan, 23, said they regretted their actions but insisted they had not intended to harm Markella Hazaki, giving her toys and even consulting a doctor when she complained of headaches. But phone calls they made to the girl’s family – which police tapped using surveillance equipment – included threats to «blow up the flat (where the girl was being kept)» if the ransom was not paid. Police freed the girl on Monday. ATTIKI ODOS Three ways to pay toll fees from June Drivers using the Attiki Odos can stop grappling with change at toll posts as of June 1 when they can pay their fee by simply holding out an electronic device for scanning by a special machine. From May 21, drivers will also be able to use a smart card – with 30 euros of credit and available at toll booths – to pay fees. A special lane will be set aside for those using either of the cash-free payment systems. Electronic devices will cost three euros per month – on top of toll charges. Toll fees are set to rise to 1.20 euros from one euro on July 1. CYPRUS TALKS Nicosia prepares for Annan visit The scheduled visit to Nicosia on Tuesday by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was yesterday played down by Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who said Annan was only stopping off in Cyprus on his way to meetings elsewhere. But Annan’s Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto – who met Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides yesterday – said both leaders should regard the visit as an opportunity for a solution. Cell breakout Two illegal immigrants escaped from custody in the police station of the Athens district of Kallithea early yesterday morning by digging their way out of their cell, using spoons to hack a hole into the wall. Albanian Murati Ruzipi, 20, and Romanian Nedendu Liviu, 25, had been due for deportation this weekend after five days in detention. Liviu had been arrested for illegal entry into Greece while Ruzipi was in custody for forging euro notes. Olympics education An initiative to educate schoolchildren about the Olympic Games should be implemented in Greek schools in America and Europe from next year, said Deputy Education Minister Eleni Kourkoula during a meeting yesterday with members of the US-based American and Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA). Bus-stop crash Two people were slightly injured yesterday after a car veered off the road and careered into a bus-stop in the northwestern Athens district of Aghioi Anargyroi early yesterday morning. It is unclear why the driver, Nikos Avramides, 28, lost control of his vehicle. He was arrested. Vouliagmenis Avenue Drivers heading toward Glyfada on Vouliagmenis Avenue will not be able to turn left off Vouliagmenis toward Aghiou Constantinou as of next week due to the resumption of construction works accompanying the extension of Line 2 of the Athens Metro to Ilioupolis. Drivers should continue until the Aghiou Vassileiou junction where they can turn back before turning right to leave the highway. Soldier critical The condition of a conscript who was hospitalized with serious burns following a car crash last month is extremely critical despite his treatment by a French skin specialist and a US-made biopsy machine, said Deputy Defense Minister Lucas Apostolidis at Thessaloniki’s Papanikolaou hospital yesterday. Constantinos Papatheoharis was severely burnt in a car crash near Larissa, on April 28. Mandela in Olympia? Former South African President Nelson Mandela is set to visit Ancient Olympia on June 20, the Macedonian Press Agency said yesterday, adding that the municipality had made Mandela an honorary citizen during his time in jail.