NEWS

In Brief

Paris visit

Premier to meet Sarkozy in whistle-stop Europe, US tour Prime Minister George Papandreou is on Sunday to travel to Paris for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that are expected to focus on Greece’s fiscal problems, Papandreou’s office said yesterday. The prime minister is to travel to Paris after his scheduled meeting tomorrow with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After his talks with French and German leaders, the Greek premier is due in Washington for talks with US President Barack Obama, scheduled for Tuesday. In all cases, Papandreou’s talks are expected to focus on Greece’s efforts to emerge from a debt crisis. Terror probe Cells of Fire suspect released A 21-year-old man man who has been in custody since early last month for suspected connections to the terrorist organization Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire was freed yesterday after defending himself before an investigating magistrate. According to sources, the suspect has denied having visited an apartment in Halandri, northern Athens, believed to have been the group’s hideout, where police say they found his fingerprints. The 21-year-old is being released on the condition that he remains in the country and regularly reports to his local police station. Following a series of bloodless bomb attacks against politicians over the past year, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire claimed responsibility for a large explosion outside Parliament on January 9. Corruption and drugs A prosecutor in Thessaloniki is investigating three cases of alleged connections between police officers and drug dealers, sources said yesterday. The first two cases relate to two officers, from police stations in Giannitsa and Drama, who are both alleged to have given depositions in support of suspected drug dealers with the aim of securing a more lenient charge for them. The third case involves a police officer from Volos, central Greece, who is alleged to have inserted forged documents in the case file of another suspected drug dealer. Truck fire Eight fire engines, manned by 24 firefighters, were dispatched yesterday to douse a blaze that broke out shortly after 3 p.m. on a truck on the Athens-Lamia national highway, near the junction of Dafni, west of Athens. It was unclear what caused the fire on the truck which had been heading toward the capital. The arrival of the fire service led to traffic disruptions in both lanes. There were no reports of any injuries. Bloody mugging A 60-year-old car salesman was hospitalized in a serious condition yesterday after unidentified robbers shot him in the stomach as he was leaving his house in the Athens suburb of Elliniko before stealing a bag of cash he had been carrying. The two assailants, who had been lying in wait for the 60-year-old, attacked him shortly after 11 a.m. They grabbed his bag, which contained an estimated 10,000 euros, and fled in a stolen car that police later found abandoned a few blocks away. There had been no sign of the pair by late last night.