Bill imposes strict penalties for vandals wearing hoods A bill introducing strict penalties for people wearing hoods who are caught vandalizing public property or disturbing the peace was tabled in Parliament yesterday. The new tougher measures were introduced after hooded youths smashed up stores and cars in the upmarket Athens district of Kolonaki last month. The bill also contains provisions aimed at decongesting Greek jails and envisions the release of those imprisoned as a result of their inability to buy off relatively short prison terms. It also foresees community service for mothers of children aged under 6 in lieu of imprisonment, apart from those convicted of serious crimes. Double murder Inmate ‘killed witnesses’ Police have charged a 44-year-old inmate at Malandrino prison in central Greece with the murders in August 2007 of Constantinos Hatzikonstantinidis, 59, and the latter’s girlfriend Kalliopi Rakintzaki, 23, a few days later. The accused, who is serving time for a number of armed robberies, told police he killed Hatzikonstantinidis, who was allegedly his accomplice, to prevent him from betraying him, and Rakintzaki, whose body has not been found, because she knew about the murder. Armed robberies A post office in the Piraeus suburb of Nikaia was robbed yesterday morning by two men, one of whom was armed with a rifle. Earlier another armed man robbed a Bank of Piraeus branch in Keratsini before escaping on foot. Trouble at sea Strong winds at sea and an incident of mechanical failure yesterday caused problems for passenger vessels and cargo ships. A passenger ferry bound for Tzia returned to Lavrion due to high winds while a Georgian-flagged cargo ship was stranded off the island of Evia after the vessel suffered a mechanical failure. The 11 crew members of the Sun Rays were all said to be safe. Meanwhile a ferry that had set sail from Samos yesterday afternoon was last night stuck at the island’s main port of Vathi after its two anchors became entangled. Two divers sent down to try and free them had not succeeded by late yesterday. Palaiocostas discharged Nikos Palaiocostas, the brother of recently escaped convict Vassilis Palaiocostas, was discharged from the University Hospital in Patras yesterday after undergoing tests for chest pains. Doctors diagnosed heart problems and high blood pressure. The convicted serial robber was subsequently transferred back to the port city’s Aghios Stefanos Prison, where he is serving a lengthy prison sentence. Piraeus blaze A large fire that broke out in a clothes store on Praxitelous Street in central Piraeus yesterday evening was extinguished by the local fire service before it could spread to adjacent buildings. The blaze caused serious damage to the store but no injuries as there had been no one on the premises at the time. The cause of the fire was unclear.