NEWS

In Brief

FIGHTING PROSTITUTION

Parliament unanimously approves tough law on sexual exploitation Parliament yesterday unanimously voted to toughen laws against human trafficking and sexual exploitation and to boost the protection of victims. The new legislation, unveiled last December, also makes child pornography a crime. Selling people into prostitution will now be considered a serious crime and organizers of smuggling rings will face up to 10 years in jail, or even a life sentence if minors are involved (the term «minor» now refers to anyone under 18 years old, rather than under 15). Those frequenting under-age prostitutes face the same penalty. Victims of smugglers, who were previously deported after testifying, will now receive legal aid and help with repatriation. ZAKYNTHOS PEOPLE SMUGGLERS Court unable to judge 7 Turks as their ship was not in Greek waters A Patras appeals court yesterday exonerated seven Turks charged with attempting to smuggle some 800 Kurdish immigrants into Greece last November after determining that they cannot be tried under Greek criminal law. Greek law cannot be applied in the case of the Turkish ship Erenler as it was in international waters when located a few kilometers off the Ionian island of Zakynthos, the court ruled before releasing the four Turks who had originally been sentenced to 10 years each in prison and faced a joint fine of 2.1 million euros. XEROS IN HOSPITAL N17 killer undergoes hand surgery Self-confessed November 17 terrorist Savvas Xeros was recovering in the Athens Evangelismos hospital again yesterday after undergoing an operation to restructure the bones in his hand which was injured on June 30 when a bomb he was carrying exploded, setting off a chain of events which led to the arrest and detention of 17 N17 suspects. Xeros will stay in the hospital for another three days before returning to Korydallos Prison. Highway clear Striking street fruit and vegetable market vendors yesterday lifted their blockade of the highway tollposts on the approaches to Athens after being evicted by riot police. Iraq Addressing Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Greece disagreed with a unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States and wanted to see all diplomatic means exhausted. He said it would be a «difficult moment» if hostilities coincided with Greece’s presidency of the EU in the first half of next year. N17 assets Lawyers representing the Post Office (ELTA) yesterday reiterated a demand for the confiscation of 2.5 million euros from the accounts of 17 jailed November 17 suspects to compensate for two Athens post office robberies for which N17 has taken responsibility. Legal representatives of the suspects asked for the demand to be rejected as only some of their clients are alleged to have participated in the robberies at ELTA branches in Aegaleo in 1991 and Vyronas in 1997. Earthquake An undersea quake, measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale, occurred off the northwest coast of Rhodes yesterday morning but there were no reports of injury or damage. Olympia Museum The Olympia Museum is to close next month for refurbishment ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games, it was announced yesterday. The National Archaeological Museum in Athens closed for the same reason on Tuesday. Garbage conflict As heaps of garbage continued to pile up on the streets of Thessaloniki yesterday following the launch of a second 48-hour strike by protesting municipal workers, mayoral candidates blamed each other’s parties for the mess. Protesters are demanding payment of their productivity bonus for the years 1990-1996. Fuel prices A list of the cheapest gas stations in Athens and Thessaloniki, available on the Development Ministry’s website (www.ypan.gr) since Tuesday, constitutes another attempt at market distortion by the government which is projecting low cost as the sole criterion consumers should bear in mind, the National Federation of Fuel Traders complained yesterday.