NEWS

In Brief

WORK STOPPAGES

Tram and metro services to suffer disruptions in the morning There will be no trams running this morning between 8 a.m. and noon due to a work stoppage by employees who are protesting the sacking of two colleagues. Workers on the metro will also stop work between 10 a.m. and noon in a show of support. The circumstances of the firing of the two employees in question have not been made public but tram employees claim they were unfairly dismissed. KIDNAPPERS CAUGHT Businessman and wife held and forced to hand over 20,000 euros Police revealed yesterday that they have arrested two men, aged 28 and 35, suspected of kidnapping a businessman and his wife in Athens last week and forcing them at gunpoint to visit various banks and withdraw 20,000 euros in cash. The two suspects, both Georgian nationals, claim they were acting on behalf of a 47-year-old businessman from northern Greece who knew the 56-year-old victim and his wife. The two men had been involved in business deals and the victim is believed to have owed a large amount of money to the 47-year-old. The kidnappers were arrested after the couple was released by their captors and reported the matter to the police. The businessman is still being sought. TOLL TRAFFIC First day of new charges causes jams Traffic backed up for kilometers at tollbooths around Athens, in Schimatari and Afidnon, yesterday as the first day of higher charges caught drivers and the toll operators unprepared. As of yesterday, toll charges for drivers traveling from Athens to Thessaloniki rose by 50 to 100 percent. Massive lines were formed in morning peak-hour traffic as many drivers were not aware of the charges (2.75 euros from 2 euros) while the toll operators did not have the right change on hand for drivers. Murder trial Dimitris Vrakatselis, the man accused of killing Social Security Foundation (IKA) head Yiannis Vartholomaios 14 months ago, told a court yesterday that he had no intention of striking the man who was having an affair with his wife when he confronted him. Vrakatselis said that he had hired a private detective to follow his wife, Thomais, after he suspected her of having an affair. The private eye phoned Vrakatselis on the afternoon of the incident and told him that a man was visiting his wife in her parental home. Vrakatselis said he went to the apartment and was pushed by Vartholomaios who opened the door. Vrakatselis told the court that he «lost it» at that point and punched Vartholomaios three or four times. Treasure seekers Police detained seven people, aged between 28 and 61, near the northern city of Grevena after finding metal-detectors and digging equipment in two trucks parked near a local church. The seven suspects are believed to have been searching for a cache of gold sovereigns believed to have been buried in the area. Greek law forbids citizens carrying out excavations without a license. Disabled rights Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis yesterday heralded a new draft legislation aimed at securing equal rights for disabled children. The bill would make education for children compulsory and make qualifications from schools for disabled children of the same value as certificates from regular schools. The initiative «expresses the political will for essential social inclusion of disabled citizens,» Stylianidis said. Trawler protest Greenpeace and other environmental groups yesterday called for the withdrawal of an Agriculture Ministry decision that allows trawlers to operate closer to the coast than a European Union directive allows. According to the directive, the fishing boats must operate at a minimum distance of 1.5 nautical miles from the coast. The ministry’s decision would damage the biodiversity of the local ecosystem, conservationists charge. Suspect confesses A 49-year-old Pakistan national has confessed to killing a homeless man, aged 39, in Omonia, central Athens, last week, police said yesterday. The suspect, also a homeless man, said he stabbed the victim in the chest twice after they argued over a place to stay and some bread and wine. He was expected to face charges late yesterday.