|Wednesday, 24 August 2016|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-09-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 28, 2004
 Seven killed after truck rams into bus carrying schoolchildren to Paralympic Games
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Seven high school students were killed and three others were critically injured Monday outside Kamena Vourla in Fthiotis prefecture after a container truck veered off course and rammed into an oncoming bus carrying schoolchildren and chaperones to the Olympic Stadium in Athens for the Paralympic Games. Twenty-eight others were lightly injured.
According to a list of the dead and injured put out by Fthiotis police headquarters, those killed were Christos Bourazelis, Aikaterini Litsiou, Stefania Kalyva, Constantinos Tellios, Evgenia Sarafi, Apostolos Economoulas and Ioannis Kamatselos.
Seriously injured were Constantinos Amplianitis, who has been transferred to KAT hospital in Athens where doctors will try to reattach his severed hand, Areti Georgiou who has been taken to hospital in Larisa and Vassiliki Kiosi, who was taken to hospital in Athens. The others on board the bus have been taken to Lamia.
The accident occurred near the coastal town of Aghios Constantinos when a truck , reportedly carrying sheets of glass, veered into the opposite lane, for reasons as yet unknown, and crashed nearly head-on with the bus, causing both vehicles to overturn, sources said.
The bus was part of a convoy taking children from the high school in Farkadona, Trikala, on a school trip to the Paralympic Games.
President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos expressed his deep grief over the loss of lives, while prime minister Costas Karamanlis immediately ordered the ministers of public order, health and education to rush to the site of the accident and also the mobilization of ambulances and mobile medical units, while he placed the two children's hospitals, KAT and several large hospitals in Athens on alert to take in injuries and four military helicopters on alert to transport the injured. Karamanlis further cancelled all his scheduled meetings and engagements for the day.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos also expressed the government's grief, saying that the causes of the accident would be thoroughly investigated and all responsibilities would be attributed. He also announced that schools would remain closed throughout the country on Wednesday in mourning.
He further said that 16 ambulances and emergency mobile medical units were immediately dispatched to the accident scene, as well as two units to provide psychological support to pupils and parents.
According to reports from the public order ministry's Operations Centre, all the pupils and their chaperones have been removed from the wreckage and taken to hospital while an air-lift was organized to take the pupil with a severed hand to KAT hospital in Athens by helicopter, where doctors would carry out microsurgery to reattach the limb. Another critically injured pupil was suffering from head wounds.
Kamena Vourla deputy mayor Glotsos told ANA that surgical units were hastening from Athens to provide initial emergency treatment to the seriously injured.
Sources also said that the Lamia hospital has made arrangements with several central hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki for the transfer of the more seriously injured who may require specialized medical attention.
The national highway outside Kamena Vourla was closed to traffic, causing a kilometers-long tail-back, while a large contingent of police and firefighters and tens of ambulances were on the scene.
Early reports said that 37 pupils and 4 teachers were among the bus passengers. The bus driver, 29-year-old Dimitris Peslis, and the driver of the truck, 60-year-old Antonis Pardalakis, were taken to the nearby police station in Kamena Vourla for questioning.
At the same time, Public Order minister George Voulgarakis, Health minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and education minister Marietta Yiannakou left immediately for the crash site by police helicopter.
According to the latest reports, the fatal truck was an articulated lorry and trailer that was registered at Hania on Crete and had been imported used from Holland in April, where it first went into circulation in 1999. Hania vice-prefect Giorgos Agorastakis said that the vehicle appeared to be in good condition, according to the file at the local transport department. The truck driver Antonis Pardalakis had driven a garbage-collection vehicle for Hania municipality until the autumn of 2003, when he went into retirement.
Reactions: President Stephanopoulos sent a telegram of condolences to the mayor of Farkadona, expressing his deep grief over the "horrible accident in which children from your municipality which are the children of all of us lost their lives", and asked that his condolences and those of all the Greek people be conveyed to the families of the victims.
Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki sent letters of condolence to the high school headmaster Petros Hahopoulos and Farkadona Mayor Athanassios Meridakis, expressing the Greek Parliament's deepest anguish and at the great tragedy to smite Farkadona.
Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece expressed deepest sorrow over the sudden deaths of innocent children in a written announcement, as well as his fatherly sympathy for their families, and said he would pray to God to give strength to the families of the victims and the surviving pupils.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou expressed condolences over the accident, and ordered party representative Thanassis Tsouras to go to the accident site, together with party MPs from the surrounding districts.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a press release, expressed grief over the accident, and called for immediate measures to improve the 40-kilometer stretch of the National Highway near the Malliakos Gulf along which many lethal traffic accidents have occurred.
Coalition of the Left President Nikos Constantopoulos also stressed the poor state of the roads and pointed out that the state system had in 30 years been unable to fix 100km of national roads and put up traffic islands along the stretches that were dangerous, despite huge inflows of cash from the European Union. Constantopoulos also sent a telegram of condolences to the Farkadona mayor for the tragic accident.
ATHOC, organizers of the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, expressed "deep grief over the tragic accident, which cost the lives of pupils headed to Athens to attend the Paralympic Games", and said a minute of silence would be observed at all the Paralympic venues on Monday afternoon in memory of the victims. A later ATHOC announcement said that all the artistic and entertainment elements planned for Tuesday night's closing ceremony had been cancelled because of the tragic accident and that the ceremony would be limited to those elements required by protocol.
Also, the Association of Education Ministry employees placed their blood bank at the disposal of the children injured in the accident.
In tragedy-smitten Makrohori in Imathia, meanwhile, parents who had lost their children in a similar accident near Tempi in 2003 said they would travel to Farkadona to give their support to the parents whose children lost their lives and attend the funeral services. They will be accompanied by Makrohori Mayor Eleftherios Valavanis.
A court hearing over the Tempi accident, in which 21 children were killed on their way back from a school trip when an improperly laden truck emptied its load onto the side of the coach they were traveling, is still pending, as are civil suits for compensation filed by the parents.
PM briefed on tragic schoolchildren accident
by public order, health and education ministers: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was given a detailed briefing on the tragic traffic accident occurring on the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway on Monday morning, in which seven schoolchildren were killed, by Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou upon their return from the city of Lamia.
Voulgarakis said the prime minister gave specific instructions that replies should be given to all queries, investigations must proceed swiftly and responsibilities must be attributed wherever they may be.
The minister also said that committees exist which are probing the causes of the accident.
In a related development, the interior ministry announced that the state will undertake the tragic schoolchildren's funeral expenses.
Gov't spokesman stresses transport safety measures taken prior to school bus accident:
Following Monday's tragic road accident in which seven school-age youngsters lost their lives and two others were critically injured, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed the measures for transport safety ordered by the government in the months prior to the fateful crash.
Among these he listed orders issued by Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on April 14 for increased monitoring and checks on the movements of buses and heavy goods vehicles, orders issue on March 26 by Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou stressing the need to strictly observe a specific set of safety rules for school trips and lastly, on September 9, a transport ministry decision that the use of seatbelts be mandatory for all school buses and not just buses carrying kindergarten and primary school children.
In response to other questions, Roussopoulos noted that road accidents were one of the biggest problems facing the country and that the government had taken measures both for the movement of school buses and the movement of heavy goods vehicles.
Public prosecutor calls for arrest of person responsible for loading truck involved in schoolchildren's traffic accident: A public prosecutor in Lamia, central Greece, on Monday called for the arrest of the person responsible for the loading of the truck involved in the tragic traffic accident with a coach on the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway in the morning in which seven schoolchildren were killed.
The public prosecutor also gave instructions for testimonies to be made by eyewitnesses in an effort to clarify the circumstances of the accident.
Meanwhile, another issue has been created concerning the age of the coach's driver. According to police the driver, who is only 21.5 years of age, had no right to drive such a coach outside the prefecture but only up to a distance of 50 kilometers from the vehicle's base.
The bodies of the seven children have been taken to the city of Larissa for a post-mortem since no forensic service exists in Lamia.
"Medical examiners came to Lamia at our request but they assessed that conditions are not suitable for them to continue their work and they requested the transfer of the victims to Larissa," Deputy Health Minister Thanassis Yiannopoulos said and agreed to their transfer.
Many schoolchildren being treated at a hospital in Lamia will be in a position to leave for home by noon on Tuesday.
Ecumenical Patriarch expresses condolences on the tragic death of seven students: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos expressed his condolences to Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on the tragic death of seven students who died in a car accident on Monday morning, near Kammena Vourla on the Athens-Thessaloniki National Road.
 Cyprus' President sends condolences to Greece over accident
NICOSIA 28/9/2004 (ANA/G.Leonidas/CNA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Monday sent a letter of condolences to Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, expressing the government and the people's shock over the death of seven children, when their bus was hit by a truck outside Kamena Vourla in Fthiotis prefecture.
'' I was shocked to be informed about today's tragic accident near Kamena Vourla. Please accept the sincere condolences of the people of Cyprus, the government and mine personally over the loss of innocent children's lives,'' the president says.
''Cypriots are mourning together with the families of the victims and our Greek brothers,'' President Papadopoulos concludes.
 Public works minister says Maliakos circle project ready by 2007
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said on Monday work on the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway at the so-called Maliakos circle will have been completed by the end of 2007 and the road leading to the town of Stylida will be a modern closed motorway.
The issue was brought up again following a tragic accident on the motorway Monday morning in which a truck collided with a coach and seven high schoolchildren riding in the coach were killed. Dozens of people are killed in traffic accidents in the Maliakos circle every year and dozens are injured.
The minister also announced that every effort will be made to have cameras installed soon at all the dangerous points on the Maliakos circle and all necessary measures will be taken to tackle problems until the work is completed.
He assessed, however, that from the moment contractors get to work on the section from Thermopylae until Stylida, by the end of 2004, traffic will have to slow down any way.
Souflias said he was shocked by the traffic accident involving the schoolchildren, adding that it was a tragedy and that it was said that the responsibility lay with some driver. He pointed out that all drivers must be careful, particularly those driving heavy-duty vehicles.
 Deputy DM holds talks on bilateral relations with Libyan Navy chief
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Michaloliakos held talks on bilateral relations with Libyan Navy chief Hamdi Shibani Souehli on Monday, while both officials expressed desire for a further improvement of the two countries' friendly relations.
The Libyan Navy chief called for close cooperation from Greece and the Greek defense ministry on issues concerning Libyan students attending Greek military academies.
Michaloliakos said the request will be examined positively and expressed confidence that the two countries can contribute to the consolidation of security and peace in the Mediterranean.
Michaloliakos will leave for a three-day official visit to Hungary on Monday evening for talks with the defense minister and deputy defense minister, as well as with the deputy foreign minister on issues of bilateral interest.
 Prosecutors' reports on high-profile weapons purchases conveyed to Parliament
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Results of two judicial probes focusing on defense contracts and procurements between 1999 and 2003 are on their way to Parliament after chief prosecutor of the first instance courts delivered them on Monday to a relevant Supreme Court prosecutor.
The investigations involve the purchase of the TPQ-37 artillery radar system and Russian-made TOR-M1 anti-aircraft units.
According to the two prosecutors that headed up the probes, collected documents and testimony point to the possibility of "criminal responsibility of political figures".
Recently passed legislation mandates that any judicial investigation pointing to the involvement of political figures (Parliament MPs, for instance) is immediately conveyed to Parliament.
Conversely, the investigation is continuing over the alleged liability of non-political figures.
 PASOK press spokesman Spyros Vougias resigns over university transfer furor
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)The press spokesman for main opposition PASOK, Spyros Vougias, on Monday handed in his resignation to party leader George Papandreou, following the controversy surrounding his daughter's transfer from the university in Xanthi to one in Thessaloniki.
In a statement after the resignation was announced, Papandreou said he understood the reasons why Vougias had chosen to resign and that the former press spokesman would be used by PASOK in another role that was more closely linked with northern Greece and Vougias' area of academic expertise.
He also said that the issue could not be allowed to become a means by which New Democracy might disorient public opinion or play games at the expense of citizens.
Until a replacement for Vougias is officially announced, his duties will be taken over by PASOK's Parliamentary group leader and communications sector secretary Nikos Athanassakis.
Revelations that Vougias had taken advantage of his position as an academic in order to bring his daughter to Thessaloniki were made shortly after government minister Savvas Tsitouridis had resigned when PASOK MPs raised a similar issue involving Tsitouridis' son, who had cited 'security reasons' and his father's position in government in order to secure a transfer from the university of Crete to Panteion University in Athens.
In a statement issued on Monday, Vougias noted that those accusing him of illegal activities in connection with the transfer had been proved wrong.
He stressed that his decision to resign was connected to the way the public debate had been carried out, which had created a picture of murkiness and lack of values in political life that had "offended the core of the relationship between his personal and political balance".
The resignation was also commented on by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday with the phrase "Better late than never."
Roussopoulos noted that he had been the one who first pointed out that Vougias should resign.
 Auditions of new European Commission members beginning in Brussels on Monday
BRUSSELS 28/9/2004 (ANA/A. Simatos)Auditions of the new European Commission's members began before the European Parliament's relevant committees here on Monday.
Greek Commissioner Stavros Dimas will have his audition before the European Parliament's Environment Committee on Wednesday, while the Commissioner of Cyprus, Markos Kyprianou, will appear for an audition before the Health and Consumer Protection Committee on October 8.
In addition, all the commissioners have been summoned by the European Parliament to reply in writing to a series of questions of both a general and special nature.
Replying to questioners, Dimas said that both his career in politics and his professional experience constitute important elements concerning his future duties.
On the question of challenges European environmental policy will be faced with over the next five years, he said "the basic priorities of environmental policy over the next five years will be finding ways of handling the most important long-term challenges which the European Union and the world are facing."
 Political and trade-union organizations request that Kurdish militant be set free
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Political and trade-union organizations are demanding that the Kurdish militant, Sinan Boskourt Taylan, held in detention by Greek authorities since March this year, not be handed over to German authorities and be set free. Taylan was captured in the northern Greek town of Komotini, in connection with a hunger strike by three refugees from a Turkish jail who passed through Greece. Taylan is a German citizen and his extradition has been requested by German authorities, in connection with his activities as a member of a Kurdish liberation front, an organization which has been outlawed in 2000.
Taylan has been living in Greece for the past seven years and is a representative of the Solidarity Committee for Political Prisoners in Turkey and Kurdistan. His case is pending a Greek High Court decision due on 8 October, 2004, which will decide his fate. The request to free Taylan was made at a meeting held Monday evening, on the initiative of the Solidarity Group Turkey-Kurdistan.
 Organizers cancel 'artistic' elements of Paralympics closing ceremony after tragic accident
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee on Monday announced the cancellation of all artistic entertainments planned for the closing ceremony of the 12th Paralympic Games on Tuesday as a sign of mourning for the deaths of seven high school students killed in a coach accident while on their way to attend the Games in Athens.
Seven high school students were killed and two were seriously injured on Monday morning when their coach was involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming truck at Kamena Vourla. They were part of a school trip to the Paralympics from Farkadona in Trikala.
Organizers said only those parts of the ceremony that concerned the protocol for the ending of the Games will take place, such as the athletes' parade, the speech by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Phil Craven, the handover of the Paralympic flag from the Athens organizers to the organizing committee for the Beijing Games and putting out the Paralympic flame.
The organizing committee said that ticket holders were still free to attend the truncated ceremony, while those who preferred not to attend because of the changes would be reimbursed on display of their ticket via a procedure to be announced by Athens 2004 in the coming days.
 PM congratulates Paralympians
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent congratulatory telegrams to Alexandros Taxildaris, silver medalist of the men's 50m backstroke final (S1); Charalampos Taiganidis, who won the silver in the men's 50m freestyle final (S13); and to Maria Kalpakidou who won the women's 50m backstroke final (S2) on Monday.
"The silver medal Alexandros Taxildaris won is the best reward for his efforts," Karamanlis stated. To Taiganidis, he wrote: "Charalampos Taiganidis' third Paralympic medal reveals his stamina and strong fighting sprit."
"Maria Kalpakidou, by adding another Paralympic medal to her personal collection, proved her great potential and made Greeks proud once again," Karamanlis wrote.
 Government to ease red tape for tourism investment
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)The government plans to reduce bureaucracy for tourism investments, beginning with a one-stop shop for businesses from Greece and abroad, Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday.
In addition, Greek embassies will acquire tourism attaches to specialize in the field, in a move to strengthen the country's image abroad, Avramopoulos told a celebration for World Tourism Day held in Athens.
A publicity campaign abroad totalling 31 million euros was ready for launch in November, with bids opened earlier in the day in a tender to find a company to handle the drive, Avramopoulos added.
Also on Monday, the Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies in Greece (HATTA) announced moves to promote Greece abroad that focus on special interest travel including arts, conference and sports tourism.
The trade group's president, Yiannis Evangelou, told a news conference that cooperation between the state and private sector in the industry was key to growth.
 Former ND leader Evert lashes out at PASOK leadership for deficits
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Former New Democracy (ND) president Miltiades Evert on Monday sharply criticized the current and previous PASOK leaders, George Papandreou and two-time premier Costas Simitis, respectively, two days after the pair said the government was exposing the country to "international contempt" due to revised (higher) budget deficit figures.
"They needed to jointly appear at an event to cover-up their sins, something that, unfortunately, resulted in their being ridiculed. They don't appear jointly to discuss the problems faced by the Greek people, but only to protect each other. This harmony exists only to cover-up past errors..." he said.
Evert charged that Papandreou and Simitis appear as if they were unaware of the fact that then Bank of Greece Governor Loukas Papademos released real figures on Greece's deficits in annual reports, and therefore, both the European Union and Eurostat were also knew of those figures, he said.
On his part, Papademos, who is now the European Central Bank's vice-president, on Saturday noted that higher Greek deficits after 2000, ones that appeared with the latest revision of figures, were primarily due to "a different accounting methodology" related to defense contracts.
"The method of calculating defense expenditures based on the date of weapon systems' delivery was completely known to Eurostat," he said from Budapest.
 Revoil forecasts earnings rise for 2004
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Athens-quoted Revoil SA on Monday forecast that earnings before tax in 2004 would total around 3.0 million euros, up from 2.65 million euros a year earlier.
Sales are expected to total 230 million euros, rising from 195 million euros in 2003, the company's financial director, Ioannis Roussos, told a business seminar in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
In the first half of 2004, Revoil's pre-tax profit totalled 1.471 million.
 Call for links between SE European market authorities
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Delegates at an international finance conference held at the weekend called for closer links among stock exchanges and market regulatory authorities in southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.
The meeting of representatives of capital market commissions was arranged by the Thessaloniki Stock Market Centre in the northern port city.
 Labor union directorate holds talks on issues of mutual interest with Russian labor union delegation
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)The directorate of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) held talks on issues concerning working people in Greece and Russia with a delegation of Russian labor unions, which is currently visiting Greece at the invitation of the Athens Labor Centre.
According to a relevant announcement, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos expressed the undivided support of working people for the Russian people "for the serious blow they received as a result of the recent terrorist attack at a school in Russia."
It also stressed the need of handling the problem of terrorism and settling it in a peaceful way.
The Russian labor delegation thanked GSEE for its support during the difficult moments experienced by Russia and congratulated Greece for holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
 Stocks fall in across-the-board selling spree
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with players selling across the board, tracking sentiment in markets abroad, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,331.94 points, showing a decline of 0.96 percent. Turnover was 107.2 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.82 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.12 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.69 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 247 to 49 with 52 remaining unchanged.
 Palli-Petralia presides over meeting concerning Olympic venues security
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia presided over a meeting held at the Culture Ministry on Friday, concerning the security and maintenance of Olympic venues.
The Culture Ministry has already been given jurisdiction over some facilities, such as the Main Press Centre, the surrounding stadiums where the soccer preliminaries were held, while 60 training facilities nationwide have been passed on to the relevant municipalities along with their equipment. The rest of the facilities will be turned over to the ministry by October 26.
Furthermore, the process by which security companies will be assigned the guarding of the facilities is already under way, since the Public Order Ministry has declared that it is unable to take on the task. Until the security companies are selected through a tender, the Hellenic Police Force is charged with guarding the facilities.
After the meeting, Palli-Petralia said that the ministry's concern is the process by which the facilities will be handed over. "When we take over the facilities, a complete inventory of the venues is conducted," she said.
Palli-Petralia emphasized that inventorying has already begun and the ministry committees charged with taking over from the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee were set up in May. According to Palli-Petralia, "facilities are inspected, they are checked for imperfections and we must check what the contractor is responsible for. All this will take some time," she explained.
Asked how much the security and maintenance of the facilities will cost, Palli-Petralia said that the ministry has already made allocations in order to deal with such issues.
Finally, she announced the government's decision that all sports facilities remain accessible to people with disabilities since the development of special sports is one of the priorities in the next coming years.
 Italian tanker carrying chemicals runs aground off Salamina, leakage averted, crew safe
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)A major ecological disaster was narrowly averted late Sunday when an Italian-flagged tanker carrying 7,300 tones of chemicals ran aground off Salamina, fortunately without causing a leak.
The tanker "Krystallo", loaded with 7,300 tons of chemicals and with a 15-member crew on board, ran aground in the Myrmigeia area off Salamina as it was trying to anchor in Piraeus port to take on fuel.
The Merchant Marine ministry said no crack or leakage into the sea was caused, while the 15 crew members, all foreign, were all safe and well.
Coast Guard vessels rushed to the site, while a diver was investigating the vessel's hull so that efforts to disengage the tanker could begin.
The Krystallo was en route from Spain to Cesme, Turkey, and was passing in transit through the port of Piraeus.
 Greece to subsidise construction of penitentiary in Albania for transfer of Albanian inmates serving long-term sentences in Greece
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras announced on Monday an in-principle agreement with his Albanian counterpart for Greece's subsidization of the construction of a prison in Albania where Albanian nationals who have been sentenced by Greek courts and were currently serving time in Greek penitentiaries would be transferred.
In tandem, Papaligouras told a scheduled press conference, the transfer of Albanian inmates from Greek prisons would begin immediately.
More specifically, Papaligouras said he and his Albanian counterpart have agreed to immediately advance two plans, the first of which concerned the financing by Greece for the construction of a penitentiary in Albania for the transfer of Albanians currently serving long-term sentences in Greece.
He said the construction of such a prison facility in Greece would have a much higher cost than building a similar facility in Albania. In addition, after the construction of the prison in Albania, the cost of operation of the facility would belong to the neighboring country.
The second plan, the minister continued, concerned the immediate transfer of Albanian detainees from Greece to Albania where they would serve out the remainder of their terms, a move that was independent of the construction of the new prison facility in Albania.
For that purpose, he said, an ad-hoc Greek-Albanian committee would convene in two weeks' time so draw p the central agreement, based on the following fundamental resources and guarantees:
First of all, respect for the Greek justice system, and more specifically respect of the sentences that have been served by Greek justice, which would not be eligible for revision.
Second, the prison to be built will be used exclusively for the incarceration of Albanians that have been sentenced in Greece.
Third, the Greek government will have the right to select the specific detainees to be transferred to Albania to the new facility.
Fourth, Greece will not be responsible for the operation of the facility, but will have the supervision of the prison, meaning that it will have the ability of unhindered monitoring of whether the Albanian inmates transferred there were serving out their sentences.
Speaking on the state of Greek prisons today, Papaligouras said that there was a capacity of 5,584 inmates, while 8,541 inmates were currently incarcerated, which translated into an excess of 40-80 percent depending on the penitentiary.
Of the total of 3,660 foreign inmates (42.9 percent of the total), he continued, 1,850 were Albanians (50.4 percent), 252 were Romanians, 64 were Bulgarians, and 40 were nationals of Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, FYROM, Croatia and Herzegovina.
Papaligouras said the reasons for the new program were humanitarian, given that the Albanian inmates in Greek prisons would be able to serve their sentences near their relatives, but also financial, as the cost of detention in Greece was onerous. However, he added, there were also social reasons behind the justice ministry's decision, given the increased risk of prisoner escapes (due to the exceeding of inmate capacity), and particularly the risk for the local inhabitants in the regions where penitentiaries were located.
Papaligouras further said that he had talks last week with the ambassadors in Athens of Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, aimed at convincing their governments to transfer to their national penitentiaries the respective countries' nationals serving time in Greek prisons.
 Interstate conference on media attitudes towards racism held in Athens
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)The Interstate Conference "Media Attitudes Regarding Racism and Xenophobia", organized by the Athens News Agency within the context of the "Development Cooperative for Equality and Social Cohesion" of the Community Initiative Equal, was successfully held in Athens on Friday and Saturday. The conference, as its title implies, focused on the way foreigners, immigrants and refugees are portrayed in the Greek media.
Speakers of the two-day seminar included Deputy Mayor of Athens Tonia Kanellopoulou, Herman Rosenkranz of the London-based Refugee Education and Training Advisory Service, Yinka Ogunniyi of the Refugee Women's Association also of London, and Nana Bakirtzi, President of the "Development Cooperative for Equality and Social Cohesion" of the Community Initiative Equal in Greece, among others.
The Community Initiative Equal is part of the European Union's strategy of fighting discrimination and inequality in the workplace. In Greece it has been operating for the past two years and has helped 9,000 people to date by providing information, legal assistance, psychological support and job placement, as well as other services.
Equal has been implemented in many countries which deal with the problem of helping minorities become an integral part of their society. According to Margarita Defiggou, Interstate Director of Equal in Greece, the program in Greece has been deemed as one of the most successful in the EU. As a result, the Greek branch will present its best practices at an upcoming EU conference to be held in Warsaw as guidelines for future initiatives.
Moderator of the conference was the ANA's Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis.
 President Stephanopoulos attends Athens Bar Association reception
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)An event to celebrate 95 years since the foundation of the Athens Bar Association was held Monday evening at the Old Parliament Building and was attended by President of the Hellenic Republic, Kostantinos Stephanopoulos.
During the reception several public figures were honored for their contribution to public life, including current and former Presidents of the Greek Parliament, Anna Psarouda-Benaki and Apostolos Kaklamanis respectively. Present at the event were ministers, government officials, a High Court prosecutor, lawyers, university professors and many others.
 PM briefed by Civil Protection Authority's leadership
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis paid a surprise visit to the Civil Protection Authority on Monday morning.
The premier was briefed on the Authority's readiness to deal with various man-made and natural disasters as well as emergencies by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos as well as ministry General Secretary Athanassios Vezirgiannis.
A key point discussed during Karamanlis' visit was the recent restructuring of the Civil Protection Authority and its staffing.
 Russian embassy organizes special event on Limnos
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)"Days of Greek-Russian Friendship" is a three-day celebration that began on Saturday on the island of Limnos, organized by the Russian Embassy in Greece to honor the Cossacks who after the Russian Revolution fled to Limnos, as well as to celebrate the strengthening of relations between the two countries.
Thus, after the islands of Spetses and Corfu, the Russian government felt it necessary to honor its dead who are buried in the prefecture by erecting two monuments, one at the Cossack Cemetery and the other in the port of Myrina where the Russians disembarked.
The event's program was created by the Russian Embassy in collaboration with Limnos authorities and the Municipality of Myrina. The Vice President of the Russian Parliament attended the event, as did the Minister Plenipotentiary Alexei Popov and other Russian diplomats. he event concluded Monday.
 Calif. school's sudden decision to close Athens affiliate irks students, ex-president
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Repercussions from a soured agreement between a small liberal arts university in California and its decades-old Athens affiliate continued to reverberate here on Monday, more than a week after the former suddenly announced that it was terminating its cooperation with its local entity because of "serious fiscal problems".
According to reports, a deficit of between 2.5 million euros and 3.7 allegedly on the books of its Athens' affiliate is behind the University of La Verne decision.
On Monday, the former head of the La Verne affiliate in Athens, Craig Sexson, claimed that the deficit, which he put at 2.5 million euros, was merely an excuse by the Los Angeles-area school's administration to terminate the university's presence in Greece. He also attributed the "red ink" to a decision in the early 1990s by the California University to perpetually shift earlier liabilities and damages from its Greek expansion onto the Athens entity's balance sheet.
The US national, accompanied by a local attorney, spoke at a hastily called press conference mostly attended by angry students, facility and employees of the one-time "University of La Verne in Athens".
Although not recognized or sanctioned by the Greek state as universities or tertiary institutes, numerous affiliates or partners of European (mainly British) and North American colleges have strung up in Greece over the past 15 years or so, with many offering junior- or senior-level course programs at the parent institution. These affiliates or entities are identified under Greek law as "centers for liberal studies" and fall under the jurisdiction of the ministry of development, much in the same manner as other private sector enterprises.
The affiliate in question, La Verne's Athens entity, on paper was managed by the "Somateo (society of the) Collegio La Verne".
In a press release disseminated over its Internet site and dated Sept. 20, the University of La Verne said it was "ending its relationship" with its Athens affiliate, which it identified as the non-profit organization "Somateo", and "has concluded all educational endeavors in Athens, Greece."
According to students at the Halandri-area campus that served as the La Verne affiliate's headquarters, the cost per class reached up to 800 euros, with the minimum number of hours or credits required to receive a diploma near or exceeding the 124-credit mark. One class equaled four hours or credits at the school.
Sexson, who said he was forced to resign as president of the school, said more than 500 students had signed up for fall classes by a June deadline, although he claimed that the revenue from that registration drive has mostly covered cash flow requirements. He also put the affiliate's annual gross revenues at between 3 to 3.2 million euros.
Additionally, Sexson said "it was his understanding" that students will be reimbursed for the tuition fees they pre-paid in June.
"In recent months, administrators at the university's main campus in southern California had become increasingly concerned with the continuing financial viability of the Somateo. A financial review by the independent accounting firm Deloitte confirmed that serious fiscal problems exist. It has since been concluded the Somateo is unable to meet its obligations to its enrolled students as required by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the accrediting association for both ULV and the Athens campus," the university's Internet press release read.
The California school also said it was trying to get students admitted to another Athens affiliate of a US-based university.
 Sprinters Kenteris, Thanou given until Thursday to testify in doping probe
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Olympic medalists Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were given yet another extension to prepare their testimony by public prosecutors Spyros Mouzakitis and Athina Theodoropoulou on Monday, when the athletes' lawyer appeared at the prosecutors' office in their stead.
The two sprinters, training partners under track coach Christos Tzekos, are now due to appear before the prosecutors on Thursday to furnish additional testimony in their ongoing investigation into doping.
Kenteris and Thanou have been called to testify as suspects for the offences of obstructing an anti-doping control test and making a false statement to the authorities, as well as morally instigating the issue of false medical opinions.
The charges against them relate to a missed doping test the two athletes were called to take on August 12 and their subsequent claim that they were involved in a motorbike accident, which authorities have been unable to confirm, as well as their stay in KAT hospital for five days due to alleged injuries suffered in the accident.
The affair caused an uproar leading up to the Athens Olympics that kicked off on August 13, given that it involved two of Greece's strongest hopes for Olympic medals. Kenteris had won the gold in the men's 200m in Sydney, while Thanou had won a silver. Public opinion was further angered by revelations that their coach was heavily implicated in doping-related scandals. The pair were called before an IOC Disciplinary Commission on their release from hospital to explain their no-show for the doping test, where they voluntarily surrendered their accreditation and withdrew from the 2004 Olympics.
 Illegal migrants arrested when boat runs aground off coast of Crete
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)A wooden 22 meter boat carrying 80 illegal migrants was deliberately run aground off the coastal town of Matala in Crete, on Sunday. The boat was abandoned by the illegal migrants who were soon arrested by local Port Authorities. It is expected that the migrants will be put up in a local hotel, where migrants have been detained in the past.
The authorities had first located the boat at around 11.00am on Sunday morning and all port authority services were immediately mobilized. Around 1.00pm Sunday, it was established that the migrant boat was self-powered and in no imminent danger, apart from experiencing extremely rough weather conditions prevailing in the area. From then on, the boat drifted southward, whereupon the boat's captain ran the boat aground, forcing the migrants to disembark.
 11 illegal immigrants intercepted on Samos
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Another 11 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia were intercepted on the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Monday, as another 136 migrants are already detained on the isle.
According to reports, the 11 crossed over from the opposite Turkish coast aboard a wooden vessel. Three of the illegals are being treated at a local hospital.
The Turkish coast has been a favorite "starting point" for tens of thousands of mostly Third World nationals attempting to illegally enter Greek territory and other EU destinations in the Mediterranean over the last decade.
 Patriarch of Antioch on official visit to Church of Greece
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch, will be in Greece on an official visit from 27 September until 4 October, 2004. The Patriarch arrived in Athens on Monday afternoon, accompanied by the metropolitan bishops of Tripoli and Beirut, the bishops of Pyrgos and Saida, the archimandrite Barakat, and others.
Ignatius IV, who is the primate of the Church of Antioch was welcomed at Eleftherios Venizelos airport by Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, high-ranking members of the Holy Synod, representatives of the government and the Syrian and Lebanese ambassadors to Athens. Ignatius will be also having meetings with government officials.
 Two persons smuggle heroin across Albanian border into Greece, abandon drugs while fleeing border guards
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Two persons abandoned a sack containing more than 3 kilos of heroin and fled after being chased by border guards on Greece's frontier with Albania late Sunday, police said.
According to the Florina police, border guards spotted two individuals in the Anilio forest region near the mountain border post Krystallopigi, who fled when they saw the border guards, dropping a satchel as they ran.
The satchel contained 3.10 kilos of heroin, which were confiscated, while the two drug smugglers were being sought, police said.
 Fifty Israeli children to spend week in Athens
Athens 28/9/2004 (ANA)Thanks to an initiative by the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), 50 Israeli children will spend a week in Athens. The trip is part of a program called 'Israel-Palestine', which aims to help resolve the every day problems of Israeli and Palestinian citizens. The program also offers technical training and education in areas such as waste management, irrigation, energy use, social programs etc.
The implementation of the program follows the signing, last year in Thessaloniki, of a cooperation protocol between local administrations of Israel and Palestine.
 Cypriot President begins working visit to Belgium
BRUSSELS 28/9/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos began Monday a three-day working visit to Belgium at the invitation of the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
During his stay here Papadopoulos will meet Verhofstadt and other Belgian officials.
The president was met at the airport by the Director of the Protocol Division of the Belgian Foreign Ministry Ambassador Patrick Vercauteren-Drubbel, Cyprus' Ambassador to Belgium Popi Avraam, Cyprus Permanent Representative to the EU Nicos Emiliou and Belgium's Ambassador to Cyprus Colette Taquet.
Papadopoulos, who is accompanied by Foreign Minister George Iacovou and other officials, visited this afternoon the Municipality of Brussels, where he met the Mayor of the city Freddy Thielemans.
On Tuesday the Cyprus President will meet with the Chairwoman of the Belgian Senate Anne-Marie Lizin and the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate Francois Roelant dur Vivier.