Athens prefect pitches plan to upgrade center

Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros yesterday called for a comprehensive plan to crack down on spiraling crime and violence in the capital’s historic center, inviting ministries and security forces to help implement it. Sgouros referred to a «ticking time bomb for public health and safety» in the center and complained that only «sporadic» action had been taken to clean up the busy district. In his letter to the ministries, police and local authorities, the prefect foresees the creation of an organization involving members of each of these groups. Its mission would be to expropriate abandoned buildings and rehouse illegal immigrants in «safe places» alongside a general revamp of the historic center with the pedestrianization of certain areas. Sgouros sees himself leading the initiative which, he said, would take a similar form to the Athens 2004 organizing committee.