NEWS

In Brief

CASH GRAB

More than 2 million euros snatched from security van Four masked robbers made off with more than 2 million euros after holding up a security van in the suburb of Argyroupolis, southeastern Athens, yesterday. The armed men used a stolen car to block the path of the Group 4 van. They then forced the security guards and driver to get out of the vehicle at gunpoint before driving off in the van. The security van was shortly after found abandoned nearby. Police said that it had been carrying 44 sacks of cash from the local branch of the National Bank. The robbers dropped a bundle of 100,000 euros as they escaped. The money was discovered by three schoolboys, who informed authorities so they could hand over the money. ADDICT PROFILE Drug use begins at age 15 Greek drug users begin experimenting with illegal substances at an average age of 15.5, according to a study carried out by the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA), a nongovernmental organization that runs a therapeutic community for addicts. The study found that the users are, on average, hooked on hard drugs by the age of 20, when they also start injecting. Most addicts turn to KETHEA for help when they are aged between 26 and 29. There are five men for every woman that seeks help to end their addiction. Seven in 10 of those seeking help have never worked for a living. Sea Diamond The company that insured the Sea Diamond cruise ship which sank off Santorini last year has until December 20 to come up with a plan to pump out the fuel left in the wreck, Merchant Marine Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday. He told officials on the island that the insurer will also have to cover the cost of the endeavor. Papaligouras added that the government would also pressure those responsible for the vessel to remove it from the sea, just off the Aegean island. However, islanders said that they would begin an indefinite sit-in protest at the local tax office on December 17 to push for the shipwreck to be towed away. Prison release The government plans to proceed with plans to release hundreds of prison inmates before Christmas as part of an early release scheme for those nearing the end of their sentences, The Associated Press cited Justice Ministry officials as saying yesterday. Reforms drafted by Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis foresee the early release of some 5,500 inmates by April. Last month Hatzigakis said he would do his best to ensure that some 3,700 prison inmates entitled to early release would be home by Christmas. Vow of silence Ephraim, the former head monk at the Vatopedi Monastery, and his assistant Arsenios yesterday sent separate statements to a prosecutor investigating their refusal to appear before a parliamentary committee last month and answer questions about their involvement in a land swap with the state. Both monks reportedly say that they cannot testify as witnesses in a case in which they are implicated as suspects. Meat recall The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) said yesterday that it had ordered hundreds of kilos of pork and beef from Ireland to be removed from the Greek market.