NEWS

In Brief

OVERNIGHT EXPLOSIONS

Banks, cars damaged in coordinated Athens, Thessaloniki bomb attacks Police said banks and cars were damaged in coordinated arson attacks in Athens and Thessaloniki early yesterday. Nine separate attacks took place in Athens in a space of 15 minutes, targeting banks, a post office, two car dealerships and an office of the ruling New Democracy party. Meanwhile in Thessaloniki banks and several cars were damaged, including a vehicle belonging to the Russian consulate. There were no reports of injuries from the attacks, which were carried out with small gas canisters. No one has claimed responsibility for the incidents. STRIKE RULINGS Appeals court to decide on protest action within 48 hours of walkout The legality of any strike action will in future be decided by an appeals court within 48 hours of the action, according to a legislative amendment tabled in Parliament yesterday by the Justice and Economy ministries. Unions said authorities were strengthening their defenses as they prepare to push through reforms. «The government is escalating its strike-breaking tactics as it fears a new round of protest action,» said Stathis Anestis, spokesman for the country’s main labor union GSEE. JAIL SUICIDE Detained man jumps to his death A 45-year-old Greek man who had been temporarily detained at Korydallos jail suffered fatal injuries after jumping off a 10-meter-high bridge separating two cell blocks in the prison yesterday morning. The man, who had gone to jail on Thursday afternoon after testifying before a magistrate, is believed to have committed suicide. It is unclear what charges he had been facing. Energy fears Hydroelectric power stations have consumed more than 40 million cubic meters of water over the past weeks in order to meet the country’s energy needs, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) said yesterday. PPC asked the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) to suspend the production of energy at hydroelectric stations as large quantities of water will be needed in summer. Factory fire A fire that broke out in a plastics factory in Patras, central Greece, yesterday afternoon caused widespread damage and engulfed the city in toxic smoke but caused no injuries. Part of the building collapsed and several explosions occurred at the site where many flammable materials had been stored. There was no one at the factory at the time of the blaze, the cause of which has not yet been determined. Overseas arrest Police in the United States have arrested a man that had allegedly taken part in the kidnapping and murder of a 17-year-old male in Aegaleo, western Athens, 18 years ago. The suspect, Dimitris Skaftouros, was the only gang member believed to have escaped arrest for the crime, after having moved to the US. Following a coordinated operation involving Greek police, New York authorities and Interpol, Skaftouros was arrested at his New Jersey home. Civil servants More than 700,000 Greeks are employed in the civil service, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said in response to a question in Parliament yesterday. He said that 370,517 people are employed in the public sector and local authorities while another 336,626 work in «special categories,» such as the army and police as well as in the education sector. Pavlopoulos dismissed claims that more than 1 million Greeks are civil servants as untrue, saying that the total number of people on permanent contracts is 707,143. He did not indicate how many people are employed on temporary contracts. Siemens probe The former president of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, is set to be questioned for a second time in connection with the alleged payment of bribes to Greek politicians, sources said. Prosecutor Panayiotis Athanassios is investigating claims that German firm Siemens paid millions of euros in bribes through its Greek subsidiary to secure state contracts. Fire plan The mayor of Kalamata, Panayiotis Nikas, met with representatives from the prefecture of Messinia and other local state services yesterday to discuss fire prevention plans for this summer. Seasonal firefighters and volunteers will also help monitor the area.