Greece not intending to lift its ban on cultivating genetically modified crops Greece has no intention of lifting its ban on the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops, Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos said yesterday. The minister said Greece would renew its ban on GM maize produced by US biotech giant Monsanto and would extend it to include 70 types of seed. Kontos said that data showed the genetically modified organisms were «a potential threat to human health and to the beekeeping industry.» He was speaking after Greenpeace activists protested outside the ministry, claiming that recent random checks had revealed that some Greek farmers were preparing to plant genetically modified cotton seeds. Arson attacks Firebombs thrown at car showrooms in apparently coordinated strikes Arsonists carried out what appear to be coordinated attacks on three car dealerships in Athens between 2.05 and 2.10 a.m. yesterday. Firebombs were thrown at a Nissan dealership in Peristeri, an Opel showroom in Galatsi and a used-car dealership in Halandri. Eight cars were destroyed in the attacks, which have not been claimed by any group. Illegal fireworks Grocer caught with 7,500 pyrotechnics A minimarket owner in the Peloponnesian town of Xylokastro was arrested yesterday after attempting to sell 7,500 firecrackers to an undercover policeman. Greek law bans the sale of pyrotechnics during Easter. Meanwhile, a 70-year-old man was arrested at the Promachona border post in northern Greece when he attempted to bring in dozens of flares and fireworks from Bulgaria. Museum hours The National Archaeological Museum in Athens will be closed tomorrow, Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday and on May 1, the Culture Ministry said yesterday. Archaeological sites will open from noon tomorrow until their normal closing time. On Easter Saturday and Monday, they will be open between 8.30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The sites will be closed on Easter Sunday and May 1. PASOK raids A group of some 10 people wearing hoods threw rocks at police officers who were stationed outside the PASOK headquarters in central Athens early yesterday. The incident occurred at about 3.20 a.m. but was followed by another similar attack almost half an hour later. It was not clear if the same group was involved in the second attack as well. No officers were injured. Corrupt taxmen A Patras misdemeanors court passed down four-year suspended jail sentences on the director of the local tax office and an employee found guilty of taking bribes. The court decided that both men could be released after submitting a 3,000-euro bail payment each. The pair were arrested after the head of a local business chamber alleged that the employee had sought payment in return for the settling of his books. (Page 5) New jail Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis yesterday inaugurated a new women’s jail in Elaionas, near Thebes, that is to accommodate some 400 female inmates currently in Korydallos jail. The women will be transferred after Easter, Hatzigakis said, adding that the new site will also comprise a rehabilitation center for inmates addicted to drugs. The minister described the jail as «a model penitentiary institution that will serve the needs of the pregnant women, mothers and girls who will live there.» Cyprus damages The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Ankara to pay 830,000 euros to the surviving relatives of a Greek Cypriot who lost his home after Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, court officials in Strasbourg said yesterday. The court awarded the damages to the family of John Demades who have been unable to access the property in Kyrenia, in the island’s Turkish-occupied north. Work site accident A 40-year-old Bulgarian truck driver was crushed to death at a work site in Aspropyrgos yesterday when a large box, measuring 3 meters by 3 meters, fell on him during an attempt to load it onto his vehicle.