NEWS

In Brief

TOP BRASS New chiefs of staff for army, air force Lieutenant General Panayiotis Harvalas, formerly head of the NATO base in Larissa, was chosen yesterday as new army chief of staff by the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA), which also appointed Lieutenant General Panayiotis Papanikolaou as air force chief of staff. KYSEA also ratified a government decision to send 130 troops to join an international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said. Their non-combat role would be to aid economic restructuring by rebuilding damaged infrastructure. The troops, selected from volunteers, will be deployed in two or three weeks. PM MEETS PRESIDENT Simitis briefs Stephanopoulos on foreign policy, US trip Now that Greece has become a member of the eurozone, «this is the time to give special emphasis and attention to foreign policy initiatives,» Prime Minister Costas Simitis told journalists after a meeting with President Costis Stephanopoulos yesterday. He briefed the president on the results of his recent visit to the United States of America. SCHOOL STRIKE Teachers protest at state evaluation Striking state schoolteachers yesterday demonstrated in central Athens, seeking the withdrawal of an Education Ministry bill which proposes state evaluation of teachers. Education Minister Petros Efthymiou refused to do so, saying that evaluation tests were a method to boost standards in the education sector, not a punishment for teachers. Thessaloniki state schoolteachers held a similar protest. Speed cameras Two electronic cameras in central Athens are to provide Attica’s traffic police with 24-hour surveillance of areas particularly noted for speeding. One camera is on Kifissias Avenue, on the stretch between Taygetou and Lyberopoulou streets, and the other on Patission Avenue between Ioulianou and Ipeirou streets. Both will watch traffic into Athens. Warning signs will be placed 60 meters from each camera. Diversions to Corinth Traffic police will be regularly stopping drivers heading toward Corinth at Kakia Skala, halfway along the Athens-Corinth highway, from midday today due to work to widen the highway. The old National Road will serve as a diversion for traffic heading toward Corinth from the Megara junction, while drivers coming into Athens will be held up for just a few minutes. Policeman arrested An officer of the Attica traffic police was yesterday arrested in Ioannina, northern Greece, after allegedly trying to smuggle four Albanian immigrants from Kakavia to Athens. Thomas Tzolos, 40, and the Albanians face a Ioannina prosecutor today. Earring thief A man, who faked his identity to steal a woman’s earrings after attacking her, was yesterday arrested on charges of theft and grievous bodily harm. Ioannis Soilis, 23, lured Maria Polydorou, 23, the manager of a block of flats in central Athens, to the building’s basement on the pretext of checking the electricity meters on behalf of the Public Power Corporation which he claimed to work for. Soilis made off with Polydorou’s silver earrings after striking her but was identified by his victim in a police line-up. Park protection A group of environmental associations are to meet tomorrow to protest against the development of a park at Goudi, at the foot of Mount Hymettus, which they say is one of Athens’ few remaining «open spaces.» They meet at 5.30 p.m. at the municipal building at 59 Panormou Street. Camper immigrants Patras port officials on Monday arrested a German national after they discovered him transporting five Iraqi Kurds in his mobile home, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. Stefan Schmidt, 28, had intended to smuggle the immigrants to Italy aboard the 6 p.m. ferry to Ancona. The five men are to face a Patras prosecutor. Bank blast A homemade device exploded early yesterday morning at a Kypseli branch of the National Bank, central Athens, causing considerable damage. The device – three small gas cylinders in a plastic container filled with petrol – had been placed on an ATM. No group has claimed responsibility.