NEWS

In Brief

SPELEOLOGISTS SOUGHT

French experts join efforts to rescue three trapped in flooded Cretan cave A team of Cretan and foreign rescue workers were yesterday close to a chamber of a cave in the mountains south of Iraklion in which three speleologists are believed to have been trapped for the last four days. The rescue workers managed to descend dozens of meters underground and nearly a kilometer into the bowels of the flooded Sarchos Cave by pumping out rainwater and digging through sand deposits. Methodios Psomas, 35, Chryssa Mavrocosta, 30, and Russian graduate student Victoria Dukmasova, became trapped in the cave after Saturday’s torrential rains flooded it. NOVEMBER 17 Victim’s relatives barred from trial, pro-N17 rally in Athens today Relatives of November 17 victim Pantelis Petrou – a senior riot police officer killed in January 1980 – cannot attend the trial of N17 suspects as civil plaintiffs because Petrou’s murder is no longer punishable under the 20-year statute of limitations, the Appeals Council ruled yesterday. It also found that Petrou’s relatives cannot claim compensation from N17 members, nor act as civil plaintiffs against the officer’s killers in respect to their participation in the terrorist group (the murder charges being no longer applicable) as their interest is no more legitimate than any other citizen. This afternoon, dozens of riot police will be mobilized between central Athens and Korydallos Prison – the route to be followed by motorcycle-borne and car-driving pro-N17 demonstrators protesting at the detention conditions of November 17 suspects. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION Non-Orthodox EU teachers endorsed Teachers from European Union countries can now teach religious classes at Greek primary schools, after the Council of State deemed illegal a presidential decree clause that dictates that EU citizens teaching religion in Greece must be Christian Orthodox, court sources said yesterday. The Constitution «does not demand that religion be taught as indoctrination but as a science, with an emphasis on history,» the ruling said, adding that «religious classes cannot be regarded as an irrevocable influence on the religious conscience of the pupil.» No marbles British Museum Director Neil MacGregor, in statements carried by the British press yesterday, once again ruled out the return of the Elgin Collection of sculptures to Athens. On Monday, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos met with MacGregor in London, and expressed shades of optimism on the fifth century BC works’ return ahead of the 2004 Olympics. Timing Cypriot diplomats in the republic and abroad – with the exception of those handling the precipitous developments on the Cyprus question – will hold a 24-hour strike today in pursuit of a better salary deal. Kazakos trial An Athens prosecutor yesterday called for an appeal by Pantelis Kazakos to be overturned, saying the convicted murderer was not suffering from paranoid psychosis and had committed his crimes in cold blood. Kazakos, who murdered two immigrants and wounded another seven in 1999, «was not driven by racism but by hatred for economic immigrants in Greece,» the prosecutor said. Kazakos, 27, is appealing against two life sentences and a 25-year jail sentence. A ruling is expected today. Aid workers strike National First Aid Center out-clinics will today be operating on emergency staff, as workers stage a 24-hour strike demanding extra hirings. Fast-attack fleet Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou was at Elefsina Shipyards yesterday for the launch of the first of five missile craft due to join the Navy’s fast-speed fleet. The construction costs of the Lieutenant Roussen and two other vessels currently being built are 440 million euros. Doctors protest Doctors at the Athens Psychiatric Hospital, protesting against understaffing and cutbacks in state funding, will today decide on possible industrial action. Doctors told a press conference yesterday that the government was closing clinics without offering an alternative to psychiatric patients.