NEWS

In Brief

UNIVERSITIES OPEN

Professors to return to work, satisfied by minister’s pledges Universities will open next week and examinations initially scheduled for late August will go ahead after striking professors announced yesterday that they were satisfied with pledges by Education Minister Petros Efthymiou. During a meeting with union representatives, Efthymiou promised to establish a committee to meet professors demands, including higher salaries, improved retirement packages and the inclusion of benefits within basic salaries. PRICE PROTEST Fruit and vegetables spark second consumer boycott The Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA) yesterday called for a four-day boycott on fruit and vegetables from Monday in response to price hikes despite a similar boycott last week. The government responded that it would establish an interministerial committee to monitor price fluctuations. Tomato and lettuce prices are up 63.5 percent and 59 percent since last year, respectively. LIGHTNING DEATH Bolt kills mourner at funeral A 73-year-old woman mourner was killed instantly yesterday after being struck by lightning while sheltering from a downpour under a cypress tree during a funeral at the Third Cemetery in Nikaia, Piraeus. The lightning bolt that killed Antonia Anastopoulou also injured her friend Chrysoula Kokkini, who was recovering in hospital yesterday. Better pensions Some 350,000 civil servants will receive pension increases of 15 to 40 percent over the next five years, under a Finance Ministry draft law made public yesterday. Judges get the best deal, and will receive a 30- to 40-percent pension boost in 2003, while university and technical college teaching staff will get 25- to 30-percent increases in 2004. Valentino returned A Turkish coast guard vessel yesterday escorted back to Turkey a yacht that had been attempting to carry 88 illegal immigrants into Greek waters for a week. Greece on Wednesday accused Turkey of breaking bilateral agreements on the return of illegal immigrants after Turkish coast guard vessels repeatedly refused to escort the Valentino back to Turkish shores. Jerusalem visit Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis, who yesterday attended an official ceremony in Jerusalem marking one year since the enthronement of the Orthodox Patriarch Irenaios, expressed deep disappointment that the Israeli government has still not recognized the prelate, but said he had been assured the matter would be discussed. Gender bias The judge presiding over suspected left-wing terrorist Avraam Lesperoglou’s murder trial yesterday banished all women from the court after a female voice was heard noting that «somebody on the bench is suffering from senility.» Nobody owned up, prompting the summary ejection of all women present. Explosive legacy Two World War II 250-pound (113-kilo) bombs, discovered by minesweeping teams on the grounds of the old international airport at Hellenikon yesterday, are due to be destroyed in controlled explosions today, the army said. Just a beach Plans by the Astir Hotels group to develop a leisure complex on the Asteras beach in Glyfada, southern Athens, have been thwarted after a decision by the Council of State to overturn a previous ruling and maintain the area as protected forestland, court sources said yesterday. Astir had planned to build a conference facility, thalassotherapy center and a cinema complex on the 27,106 square-meter site. Organic boost The government will offer better subsidies to organic farmers in order to boost organic crop production, Deputy Agriculture Minister Evangelos Argyris said yesterday. Only 1 percent of Greek farmland is organically cultivated. Falcon fraud Police yesterday arrested Grigoris Apostolou, 54, who last week applied for a disability loan on the pretense that he was an ex-Foreign Ministry employee who had survived the 1999 Falcon jet accident in which a deputy minister and another six people died.