US director and husband of Melina Mercouri dies in Athens at age 96 Jules Dassin, the US filmmaker and husband of Greek actress and politician Melina Mercouri, died at the Hygeia hospital in Athens last night at the age of 96. Dassin was a respected figure in Greece and is best known for directing, among other films, the French heist movie «Rififi» and «Never on Sunday,» in which Mercouri starred. Dassin was born in Connecticut in 1911 but was forced into exile after being named a communist in 1952 before a hearing of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. Dassin was married to Mercouri from 1966 until her death in 1994. TOLL HIKES Charges for driving on national highways soar by up to 100 percent Drivers traveling between Athens and Thessaloniki will be hit with an increase in toll charges ranging from 50 to 100 percent as of tomorrow. A car traveling that distance will be required to pay 15.40 euros in tolls, up from 10 euros previously and for trucks the cost will be 51.90 euros (from 25 euros). Drivers heading to the Peloponnese will need to pay 2.90 euros at the Corinth tollgate, versus the previous 2-euro charge. LAWYER’S APPEAL Nikoloutsopoulos asks for release Lawyer Christos Nikoloutsopoulos, a key witness in the alleged blackmail of former Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos, yesterday appealed to an investigating magistrate to release him from detention. The lawyer was remanded in custody last week after testifying before the magistrate. The lawyer representing him yesterday described his client’s detention at Korydallos Prison as illegal. Zachopoulos, who has been in the hospital since December when he tried to commit suicide, is due to be discharged early next week when he is expected to testify. Gambling den Police in Thessaloniki have smashed an illegal gambling operation and confiscated more than 530,000 euros’ worth of chips and cash, authorities said yesterday. Fourteen people were arrested after police raided a cafeteria in the northern Greek city where patrons were gambling on 30 computers. Seven employees were among those arrested as police confiscated chips worth 505,000 euros. Power protest Local authority officials in western Attica are to close down municipal and prefectural offices tomorrow to protest plans by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) and Halyvourgiki to construct a new power station in the area. Protesters have threatened to block traffic on the national highway linking Athens to Elefsina. They claim that the new unit would emit as much pollution per day as the exhaust fumes of 1.8 million cars. Isolated islands Residents of Icaria and the nearby islet of Fournoi staged a demonstration yesterday, protesting the lack of ferry services connecting them to Piraeus. Protesters charged that there have been no ferry services for a month. Electricity bills Consumers with electricity bills that expired yesterday have been given until next Monday (April 7) to pay up. The Public Power Corporation (PPC) announced the extension after a series of 24-hour strikes by PPC staff closed down the PPC’s offices and cashier desks. Tram disruption Tram drivers will hold a four-hour work stoppage on Thursday in protest at the dismissal of two peers last week. Trams will stop operating between 8 a.m. to midday while workers will gather to protest against the sackings at the Hellenikon tram depot.