NEWS

In Brief

CRIME

Countrywide, local councils to work on prevention Local crime-prevention councils that will cooperate with police will spring into action across the country soon, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said yesterday during a meeting of representatives of 70 municipalities from Attica and other regions. The aim of the councils – to be set up in towns with more than 3,000 inhabitants and run by qualified voluntary locals – will be to monitor local crime and propose means of prevention, he said. «Preventing crime is a challenge for society as whole and not an issue only for the police and judiciary. All social agencies must work on preventing it, but most of all citizens,» Chrysochoidis said. PENSION FUNDS Bid to boost the bourse through fund investment Pension funds will be allowed to hire professionals to manage their stock market investments, it was decided yesterday. The government recently decided to raise the percentage of the reserves the funds can invest in the market to 23 percent. Currently, funds invest only 13.8 percent of their reserves (estimated at 17.6 billion euros) in stocks, less than half the EU average. Authorities hope that the injection will kick-start the bourse, which has been in a slump for the past 31 months. This could add up to 1.7 billion euros to the exchange’s capitalization. LITHUANIA Athens supports its NATO bid Greece backs Lithuania’s bid for NATO membership and hopes Russia will drop its objections to the alliance’s planned expansion eastward following the signing of a Russia-NATO anti-terrorism cooperation pact, said President Costis Stephanopoulos yesterday after meeting his Lithuanian counterpart Valdas Adamkus in Athens. Adamkus attributed Lithuania’s progress in its 12 years of independence to the support of «friendly» countries such as Greece and said his country would boost regional stability as a NATO member. Adamkus also met Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The two countries agreed to cooperate to avoid double taxation and boost bilateral business cooperation. IKA strike Social Security Foundation (IKA) clinics will be operating on skeleton staff today and tomorrow after IKA doctors decided to resume protest action with a 48-hour strike beginning today. Unionists accuse the government of breaking promises and say they will run a series of 24- and 48-hour strikes over the next two months if their demands are not met. IKA doctors have been striking on and off since last June in pursuit of permanency for 5,500 contract workers. Krampi defense The key suspect in the trial for the 1997 murder of businessman Giorgos Nikolaidis and his associate Soula Kalathaki yesterday implicated a former friend of his during his defense in an Athens court. Panayiotis Krampis claimed fugitive Ilias Mazarakis resented Nikolaidis for paying him less than agreed for the protection and debt-collecting services he had offered the businessman, to whom he had been recommended by Krampis. Krampis explained his possession of Nikolaidis’s credit cards by claiming Mazarakis had given them to him after finding he could not use them. Firebombs Two home-made firebombs which damaged the ATMs of two banks in separate incidents early yesterday morning were carried out in memory of urban guerrilla Christos Tsoutsouvis, an anonymous caller told Flash Radio yesterday. The first attack occurred at 3.35 a.m. in the Athens district of Galatsi and was followed 20 minutes later by the second blast in Ambelokipi. Tsoutsouvis was killed in a shootout with police in Gyzi in 1985. The Associated Press reported that the attacks were also in protest at the increased use by police of surveillance cameras. Ferry activity The Easter period saw 2.9 million people embark and disembark at the country’s 19 major ports, with 1.23 million passengers traveling to and from Piraeus, according to Merchant Marine Ministry figures for the period between April 26 until May 12 made public yesterday. A total of 771,291 cars rolled on and off ferries connecting the country’s key ports, and the Rio-Antirio crossing was traversed by a total of 913,908 people, the ministry said.