NEWS

In Brief

Airport detention

Ombudsman seeks better conditions for immigrants Authorities yesterday pledged to clean up the holding cells for illegal immigrants at Athens International Airport after Ombudsman Giorgos Kaminis condemned the detention conditions there as «inhuman and humiliating.» Following a visit to the cells, Kaminis submitted written appeals to several ministries, calling for an improvement. The Citizens’ Protection Ministry reacted by pledging to disinfect the cells, replace dirty mattresses and accelerate plans for the creation of a new detention area. The Justice Ministry said it would take immediate action to ensure that migrants are not detained any longer than necessary. Authorities protest Unrest over pension reforms Members of the police, fire service and coast guard are due to hold a protest rally in front of Parliament in central Athens at 6.30 p.m. today. They will be protesting against the pension reforms passed last week, as they feel that their rights have been affected. One of the changes they deplore is that the five bonus working years that count toward their retirement will be scrapped. «We work these years because we go to work six, not five, days a week,» the head of the Panhellenic Confederation of Police Officers (POASY), Christos Fotopoulos, told Kathimerini. «Until now we have kept a low profile but it seems that our leaders have no sensitivity, so we have to respond forcefully.» Cyprus deficit Cyprus was one of four countries placed under the European Union’s deficit watch yesterday. The decision was officially taken by EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday. Cyprus’s public deficit for last year was 6.1 percent of gross domestic product, double the eurozone limit. It has been give until 2012 to reduce the deficit to below 3 percent of GDP. Yesterday’s announcement sparked criticism by opposition parties of President Dimitris Christofias’s handling of the Cyprus economy. The other three countries added to the EU’s watch list yesterday were Bulgaria, Denmark and Finland. Doctors probed Three orthopedic doctors from Thessaloniki are reportedly among the 12 medical professionals being investigated on suspicion of accepting under-the-table payments from DePuy Inc, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, to agree to buy supplies from the UK-based firm. The financial crimes squad (SDOE) is said to be checking their finances after between 5 and 31 million euros was allegedly found in their bank accounts. Hanged man A 60-year-old man was found hanging from a tree in the village of Macherado, near the heart of the Ionian island of Zankynthos, yesterday morning. The man, who was not identified, was discovered by a neighbor. Police said they found a black handkerchief tied to the door of the dead man’s house. Methoni quake A moderate undersea quake, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, occurred off the southern tip of the Peloponnese shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday. The tremor was felt across the entire prefecture of Messinia but there were no reports of injuries or damage.