Greece ratifies protocol just in time, allowed 25-percent hike in emissions Parliament’s plenary session yesterday ratified the Kyoto Treaty on gas emissions control just one day before the expiry of an EU deadline on the matter, in a move hailed as «historic» by Greenpeace in Athens. The treaty was ratified by a majority vote with only the Communist Party voting against it, claiming it would merely help countries trade gas emission rights. Under the protocol, Greece is allowed a maximum 25-percent increase in its 1990 emission levels. But emissions had already increased to 23.4 percent in 2000, a rise attributed by Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou to destructive forest fires. AEGEAN INSPECTIONS Greece rejects US checks as against law and Constitution Greece yesterday officially rejected an American request for unrestricted powers that would allow US warships to stop and search ships in Greek territorial waters, informing the US Embassy that such activities were a threat to Greek independence and sovereignty. «Our country is always committed to its responsibilities to its allies and to the fight against terrorism…but such inspections would go against national law and order and the Constitution,» Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis stressed, adding that Greece was prepared to carry out checks on vessels with its own forces when notified. HASHISH Three arrested over 114-kilo haul Police confiscated 114 kilos of marijuana and arrested two Albanians and a Greek man yesterday after a car chase near the northern town of Kozani. The drugs had been hidden in the stolen vehicle being driven by Arben Demiri, 28, who ignored a police signal to stop but was pursued and caught. Another man in the car got away. Police arrested Tahiri Sakir and Pantelis Tsougouridis, to whom the drugs were being delivered, after tracing them from calls recorded on Demiri’s mobile phone. Antiquities law Parliament yesterday passed a new law on antiquities, according to which anyone illegally in possession of objects dating to before 1453 must declare them to the authorities within 12 months of the law’s publication in the government gazette and may be allowed to keep them. Restrictions also apply, in some cases, to artifacts up to 100 years old. Smugglers A Kavala court yesterday gave four-year jail sentences to five of the six Ukrainian and Russian seamen on a Bolivian-flagged freighter that ran aground off the northern Aegean island of Thasos last Wednesday with more than 1.5 million packs of contraband cigarettes aboard. They were found guilty of smuggling, illegal entry into Greece and forgery. Mitsotakis US President George W. Bush yesterday conveyed his best wishes over the telephone to Honorary New Democracy Chairman Constantine Mitsotakis at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where the latter is recovering from an operation for a weak artery. Meanwhile, an Athens court postponed until December a 2.9-million-euro defamation lawsuit brought by Mitsotakis against PASOK General Secretary Costas Laliotis who accused the former prime minister of siphoning off party donations using an off-shore Liberian firm. The case was postponed so that Laliotis’s countersuit – for the same sum – can be heard at the same time as Mitsotakis’s action. Broadcasting council The former vice president of the Supreme Court, Ioannis Laskarides, is to take over the presidency of the National Broadcasting Council (ESR), it was announced in Parliament yesterday. The new seven-member board – comprising academics and journalists – will be active from next week. Former ESR President Vassilis Lambridis resigned in March after members of his then 18-member council failed to back his proposed ban on two reality TV programs. Multiple retirement Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash embezzled 130,000 dollars by taking advantage of a new law governing retirement allowances in northern occupied Cyprus, the Turkish daily Sabah charged in a front-page story yesterday. The paper claimed Denktash had granted himself one-off retirement payments three times in a row.