Sudden strike leaves passengers in the lurch Dozens of domestic and international flights due to leave the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport yesterday were postponed after air traffic controllers suddenly called a four-hour work stoppage at noon. Many passengers said they missed afternoon flights that were rescheduled to take off earlier – before the strike began – without their being informed of the change. Strikers want higher wages and more benefits. SAMINA RULING Prosecutors rap media criticism of court decision to dilute charges Criticism in the media of an appeals council ruling transforming the charges faced by six crew members of the sunken Express Samina from felonies to misdemeanors is unwarranted and misleading for the public, according to a statement yesterday by the National Union of Prosecutors. The statement rejected as «unacceptable and scurrilous» the assertion that the appeals council’s decision was influenced by political factors. Eighty passengers died when the Express Samina sank off Paros in September 2000. BLAME GAME Turkey’s side of Valentino story Greek port authorities made no efforts to rescue a migrant-smuggling yacht that had been drifting outside Greek waters for nearly a week, according to reports by the migrants cited by Turkey’s state Anatolia news agency yesterday. A group of 55 Pakistanis and 10 Nigerians were being detained in the western port of Kusadasi along with the Valentino’s Greek skipper, the agency said. Greece on Wednesday accused Turkey of breaking a bilateral accord on returning immigrants after Turkish port authorities refused to escort the yacht back to Turkey. Lake Doirani The government’s failure to adequately replenish the dwindling waters of Lake Doirani, which straddles Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is «a crime against the environment,» opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday during a visit to the lake. Even the economically weaker FYROM has taken more effective action, said Karamanlis, referring to a new FYROM project to refill the lake. The Public Works Ministry said it would soon take action to replenish the lake. Middle East Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis yesterday met Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and pledged that Greece would increase humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and step up efforts to achieve peace in the region during its EU presidency next year. No leak Reports yesterday of a leakage of toxic hydrogen sulphide at Hellenic Petroleum’s refinery in Aspropyrgos, on the western outskirts of Athens, were «totally inaccurate,» the company said yesterday. Three contract workers died at the Motor Oil refinery near Corinth on Tuesday after inhaling poisonous hydrogen sulphide fumes in a reactor they were cleaning. Bombs destroyed Two World War II bombs, discovered at the old international airport at Hellenikon yesterday, about 2 meters underground, were destroyed in controlled explosions yesterday. The bombs, weighing 250 pounds (113 kilos) each, had been found by mine-clearing experts going over the site to ensure it was safe before Olympics works begin. Profiteering A market trader faced an Athens prosecutor yesterday after fair trading inspectors caught him selling tomatoes and other fresh produce at 10 percent more than their recommended retail prices. Grigoris Kapoulis, whose fruit and vegetable stall is at the Varvakeio market in the city center, was indicted on profiteering charges. Street markets A strike by street market vendors on Monday and Tuesday will not apply to markets in the Athenian districts of Holargos and Neo Psychiko on Monday, and those in Pangrati, Souli, Kaisariani and Kato Ilioupolis on Tuesday, it was announced yesterday. Producers will not be participating in the two-day strike by vendors.