Seven suspects given until May 20 to prepare defense Seven suspects who are due to be questioned in connection with a 1997 contract between OTE telecom and German electronics giant Siemens were yesterday given until May 20 to prepare their defenses. The defendants, six former Siemens Hellas employees and an ex-OTE official, have been charged with bribery and money laundering as part of a wider investigation being carried out by prosecutor Nikos Zagorianos into alleged under-the-table payments by Siemens through its Greek branch to secure state contracts in Greece. Athens sweep Some 1,500 arrested last week A police sweep in the capital’s historic center last week led to the arrest of at least 1,500 people on charges including drug dealing, fraud and theft, police said yesterday. Officers said they confiscated more than 100 kilos of cannabis and 3.5 kilos of heroin as well as breaking up a ring trading in forged euro bills. Poll pact It was agreed yesterday that opinion polls will be published up to 48 hours before the June 7 European parliamentary election, following the meeting of a cross-party committee under the chairmanship of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. The purpose of the meeting was to set out the rules that will govern the parties’ campaigns, including the advertising airtime they will get on radio and television. It was agreed that the parties would stick to the same rules as the 2004 European Parliament elections, meaning that the ceiling on their advertising budgets will be 6 million euros. Hospital protest State hospital workers are today due to lodge a legal suit with the Supreme Court to complain about their working conditions. According to sources, employees claim that the conditions in which they work violate labor laws. Protesting staff are to stage a four-hour work stoppage from 7 a.m. today and have said they will participate in a 24-hour strike called by the civil servants’ union ADEDY on Thursday. Bus crash The passengers on a bus running the coastal route between Vari and Glyfada were unharmed yesterday when the vehicle collided with a truck 2 kilometers from Vari. The truck driver allegedly claimed that his brakes had failed to work. Scabies at school A primary school in the southern Athens district of Kallithea will be closed temporarily after a pupil was diagnosed with scabies, a contagious skin disease caused by mites, prefectural authorities said yesterday. Thessaloniki trees The next meeting of the municipal council in Thessaloniki is set to discuss plans to plant 4,000 trees in the city, which is one of Europe’s most polluted. A study for the 800,000-euro project has been carried out and it is set to be discussed by councilors, according to the municipality’s so-called Green Directorate. Farmer death A 59-year-old farmer from the Kollines area in Arcadia, in the Peloponnese, died yesterday when the tractor he was driving overturned as he was plowing in his fields. The farmer was not named.