Minister asks unionists to stop holding students hostage Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou yesterday appealed to secondary school teachers not to boycott marking the papers of students sitting university entrance examinations after talks with unionists failed to resolve a dispute over pay. Diamantopoulou appealed to the teachers to «respect the fact that they cannot hold 90,000 children and their parents hostage.» OLME is protesting planned cuts to salaries and wants reassurances from the government that teachers marking exam papers in the coming weeks will be paid for the overtime. Billboard removal Crews move to Mesogeion Deputy Transport Minister Nikos Sifounakis yesterday oversaw the launch of the third phase in a government cleanup of illegal roadside billboards, focusing on Mesogeion Avenue. The sweep on Mesogeion follows the removal of 100 billboards from Kifissias Avenue and 110 from Syngrou, two of the worst roads in Attica for traffic accidents. Around 90 billboards are due to come down on Mesogeion before crews shift their attention to Katehaki Avenue. Property fee Homeowners who want to submit paperwork so they can pay a penalty for illegally altered parts of their properties («imiypaithrioi») will also have to pay a civil engineer 232 euros to prepare a special report, the Environment Ministry said yesterday. Town-planning offices have begun accepting applications from homeowners who want to exempt their properties from any further fines. Karditsa murder A 25-year-old Albanian national currently being treated for gunshot wounds in a hospital in Karditsa is believed to be one of the perpetrators behind the murder of a 34-year-old compatriot found dead in his car in the central town a month ago. According to police, the 25-year-old and at least two other accomplices beat the victim to death before abandoning him in his car on May 17. The 25-year-old is receiving medical treatment under police guard after being shot by unidentified assailants, police said without determining whether the attack on him was related to last month’s murder. Gambling dens Police in Thessaloniki yesterday detained the 36-year-old manager of a cafe in the city’s Toumba district and a 37-year-old man believed to have worked with her to organize illegal bets on World Cup soccer matches. Officers said they were also seeking the bar’s 76-year-old owner. A search of the cafe turned up a computer, printer, dozens of coupons listing World Cup soccer matches and more than 50,000 euros in cash. A 52-year-old bar manager in Corinth was detained on similar charges yesterday, police there said. Ambulance collision The collision of a car with an ambulance on a country road close to the central town of Karditsa shortly after midnight on Tuesday resulted in three deaths, traffic police said. The 42-year-old driver of the car, the 45-year-old passenger and the 55-year-old ambulance driver were killed instantly in the collision, the exact circumstances of which remained unclear yesterday. The crash also resulted in injuries to the 28-year-old passenger in the ambulance and the 72-year-old patient who was being transferred to hospital.