NEWS

In Brief

BORDER CONTROL

Kosovo-bound Greek convoy blocked from entering FYROM The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) yesterday blocked a Greek military convoy, headed to Kosovo to take part in NATO duties, from entering the country. The convoy, consisting of 50 vehicles and 140 men, was forced to return to its barracks in Kilkis, northern Greece. FYROM officials refused them entry on the grounds that they were not carrying passports and then refused to recognize NATO paperwork and identification cards. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said FYROM used unjustified excuses in behavior considered to be counterproductive. STRIKES PICK UP Hospital, bus employees walk off the job over pay demands Public hospitals, state health clinics and ambulance services will be operating on skeleton staff today as employees walk off the job over pay demands. Workers in regional parts of Greece have launched a 24-hour strike, while those in Athens have decided on a six-hour work stoppage as of 9 a.m. Employees will gather in Korai Square at 11 a.m. today before marching to the Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, blue buses will be out of circulation tomorrow for the early part of the morning, until 7 a.m., and in the evening, from 9 p.m., due to a work stoppage by employees. The workers are demanding a new collective contract and lower ticket prices. DIVERGENT ROADS Mayors object to plans Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias held meetings yesterday with the mayors of the Athens suburbs of Argyroupolis, Hellenikon and Ilioupolis after they objected to his plans to build new roads in these areas. Souflias unveiled the blueprints, which included the construction of tunnels and underground roads, on Monday but the mayors reacted angrily to the proposals. The Municipality of Kaisariani said it would hold a protest tomorrow, closing Ethnikis Antistasseos Avenue for two hours in protest against the plans. Couped up Police revealed yesterday that they have arrested an Albanian family living in Pallini, northeast of Athens, after discovering 3 kilos of cocaine in a chicken coop in their backyard. It was not clear how many members of the family were taken into custody. Officers also seized more than 40,000 euros in cash from the house. Motorbike checks Motorcyclists will be required to pass their bikes through a pollution emissions tests by 2010, according to the Transport Ministry. In a draft bill to be submitted to Parliament in summer, all cars will also have their pollution emissions levels checked since the measure is not currently enforced across the country. The pollution check on vehicles is not applied in nine of Greece’s 51 prefectures. Zachopoulos scandal A magistrate will call on three additional people to testify in regards to the sex DVD scandal involving senior Culture Ministry official Christos Zachopoulos, as the investigation into the case widens, sources said yesterday. Spyros Kladas, a former director of Greece’s financial crimes squad, has also given evidence in relation to the attempted suicide as a witness, sources added. In the past, Kladas has denied any involvement in the scandal. Fraudsters The Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), which runs rehabilitation programs for drug addicts, yesterday appealed to citizens to beware of fraudsters who have been collecting money by claiming they represent the organization. The fraudsters have been selling magazines and collecting donations for which they issue receipts bearing forged stamps, according to OKANA, which said it never conducts such fundraising activities. Protesters’ trial Three residents of a village near Kozani, in northern Greece, are to face court on Friday on charges of attempting to obstruct the operation of a utility following their occupation of a Public Power Corporation (PPC) plant in the area. One of the three has also been charged with provoking physical bodily harm against one of the riot police officers dispatched to diffuse the protest. Hospital food Prefectural inspectors said yesterday that they had seized a total of 345 kilos of food unfit for human consumption from two Athens hospitals. Specifically, inspectors confiscated 300 kilos of fish infected with the salmonella bacteria from the Sotiria Hospital. Another 45 kilos of feta cheese was removed from the premises of the Dromokaiteio Hospital. Bar busted Police arrested the female owner of a bar in Corinth for allegedly running a prostitution racket involving waitresses employed at the nightspot. An undercover officer who visited the bar and was offered sexual services for a fee. The owner and two waitresses were expected to face charges yesterday.