NEWS

In Brief

AMBULANCE PROBE

Health Ministry looking into claims of corruption in northern Greece The Health Ministry has ordered an urgent investigation into allegations, aired on Thursday by private television channel Mega, that some ambulance service (EKAB) staff in northern Greece have been giving priority to delivering friends and relatives to the hospital, while other emergency cases sit waiting, often for days. In some cases, relatives of cancer patients are alleged to have paid up to 600 euros to secure a quick ambulance ride. IERONYMOS GRUMBLES Archbishop sources say critics inside the Church have begun sniping Sources close to Archbishop Ieronymos told Kathimerini yesterday that the head of the Church of Greece has recently come in for some heavy criticism from several people inside the Church. One of the main causes of dissent has been the archbishop’s recent move to pursue closer ties with Patriarch Vartholomaios. Some Church insiders have also been critical of his decision to hand over control of Church finances to Antonis Zambelis, whom Ieronymos has known for about a decade. Sources said that some critics recently spread rumors that Ieronymos was suffering from cancer, like his predecessor Christodoulos. HAIDARI BOMB Disposal experts defuse 4-kilo device A homemade bomb, comprising 4 kilos of dynamite, was placed outside a used-car showroom on Athinon Avenue by unidentified assailants early yesterday but was destroyed by bomb disposal experts before it exploded. Police believe that the device had been planted in an attempt to settle accounts as the store belongs to a convict currently serving a 14-year jail sentence for a string of crimes. Witnesses said they saw two individuals planting the bomb but said they fled when spotted. Smugglers convicted An Athens court yesterday passed down 10-year jail sentences on three smugglers found guilty of bringing 33 illegal immigrants into the country. The migrants were found on Monday on a beach in Keratea, southeastern Attica. Kolonaki party Five men aged between 39 and 47 were arrested at an apartment in the upmarket Athens neighborhood of Kolonaki on drug and prostitution charges, police said yesterday. Officers said that the owner of the property is suspected of allowing the apartment to be used for parties where drugs, including cocaine and cannabis, could be taken liberally. Male escorts would also be hired for the parties, police said. One of the men arrested was a 46-year-old foreign man who was allegedly paid 90 euros to attend the party. Media appeals The newspapers Proto Thema and Avriani have appealed to the Council of State against a decision by the Data Protection Authority to fine them 150,000 euros each for publishing photographs of former Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos and his assistant Evi Tsekou. The papers say the decisions are «unconstitutional and illegal.» Blood wanted Doctors at the Aglaia Kyriakou children’s hospital in Athens yesterday issued an appeal to anyone belonging to the AB positive blood group to donate blood for a 4-year-old girl in critical condition from cancer. Those interested in donating blood can visit the hospital or telephone 213.200.9000. Siemens probe Former OTE telecom employee Giorgos Skarpelis yesterday denied acting as a middleman in the payment of bribes by Siemens to Greek politicians and officials. Documents have been submitted to prosecutor Panayiotis Athanassiou suggesting that Skarpelis operated under the code name «Franz.» Skarpelis has questioned the reliability of the documents and said that OTE did not lose out due to the agreements it signed with Siemens. Athanassiou is expected to complete questioning next week. Train derailment The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) revealed that there was a second derailment in as many days yesterday: OSE said that a cargo train derailed at 6.50 a.m. on the Larissa-Volos line yesterday but that neither of the two drivers on board were injured. The line was closed until 8.25 a.m.