NEWS

In Brief

TAKEOFF

Air-traffic controllers suspend strike for Thursday, Friday The union representing the country’s air-traffic controllers yesterday called off a 48-hour strike it had called for Thursday and Friday to avoid aggravating flight disruptions provoked by a cloud of volcanic ash hanging over much of Europe. The union, which had called the action to protest austerity measures introduced by the debt-ridden government, said it would hold its strike at a later date without providing any details about when this might be. KIOSKS SHUT Owners protest tobacco tax Street kiosks will be closed today as the union representing kiosk owners stages a 24-hour strike in protest at the government’s decision to raise tobacco duties. The reform was voted through Parliament last week along with dozens of other provisions in a new tax law. The kiosk owners claim that the new tax reduces their profit margins. Suspects freed Four people arrested last week over suspected links to the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire urban guerrilla group, after a police raid on an apartment in southern Athens turned up explosives, received conditional release yesterday following their testimonies to an investigating magistrate. The three young men reportedly claimed that the firecrackers found in the home of the fourth suspect – the mother of one of three – had been destined for use at soccer games. Armed raid A group of seven unidentified robbers broke into a branch of the US restaurant chain TGI Friday’s in Kefalari, northern Athens, early yesterday and fled with a safe. The assailants threatened the cleaning staff who had been in the restaurant at the time into handing over the safe before tying up them up and fleeing. One of the assailants reportedly hit the manager of the cleaning staff on the head with the butt of a gun, leaving him with minor injuries. One of the cleaners managed to wriggle free and call the police. Dias impact Robberies in Thessaloniki have dropped by more than a third since the police’s new motorcycle-riding crimefighting squad, Dias, took to the streets at the end of last month, Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Spyros Vougias said yesterday. During the first 18 days that the Dias officers were on patrol, there were 480 robberies and break-ins, compared to 743 in the same period last year. Dias made 85 arrests in Thessaloniki between March 29 and April 15, according to Vougias. Property bill In the latest amendment to a bill due to be submitted to Parliament tomorrow, Environment Minister Tina Birbili said that homeowners paying a penalty to protect illegally altered parts of their properties from further charges or demolition will not have these areas added to the presumed income calculations that are made by tax offices. Birbili added that the cost of the penalty will be calculated based on zone prices («times zonis»), which are fixed for each area, rather than so-called objective prices («antikimenikes axies») which are more complicated to work out as they are based on various factors, including which floor an apartment is on.