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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-18

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 18, 2005


  • [01] Cypriot President Papadopoulos discusses plane crash with Greek officials
  • [02] Top ND cadres to meet on Thurs.
  • [03] Inner cabinet focuses on energy sector, oil dependency
  • [04] Gov't sources see fiscal deficit below 4.0%
  • [05] Gov't releases European company bill for public consultations
  • [06] Stocks nose down in bid to consolidate
  • [07] Public pays final respects to singer Vicky Moscholiou
  • [08] Cypriot President in Athens for consultations
  • [09] Condolences continue as Cypriots begin burying victims

  • [01] Cypriot President Papadopoulos discusses plane crash with Greek officials

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, who arrived in Athens on Wednesday, said that he was completely satisfied with the manner with which the Greek authorities operated before and after the fatal Cypriot plane crash of the "Helios" private company in the north of Athens on Sunday, noting that they operated with effectiveness and speed.

    Papadopoulos made the statement after a meeting he had at the Interior Ministry with Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis and Civil Protection Secretary General Panagiotis Fourlas.

    Papadopoulos stressed: "We will observe the course of the investigations and we will contribute in finding the cause of this air tragedy. We hope that in the end the whole truth of the facts will be revealed."

    The Cypriot president added that if needed "we will not hesitate in calling in experts from abroad so as to establish the level of the security procedures and measures."

    He noted that "we must not jump to conclusions before the relevant certifications from the relevant authorities are made."

    Interior Minister Pavlopoulos stated that "the cooperation of the two governments and of the relevant ministers, was, is and will remain harmonious and lasting until the causes of the crash are fully revealed." He said that it is known that the finding of the causes means the investigation of many factors and no statements by the government will be made before the experts' re-port.

    Liapis assured that everything possible will be made for finding the cause of the accident of the fatal flight which cost the lives of 121 passengers and crew and stressed that "the government is cooperating excellently with Cypriot and American experts." He said that "the political volition of the government is for all the procedures to be speeded up for finding the cause of the air accident."

    Liapis also stressed that "we must not wait for immediate answers as these procedures worldwide are time-consuming."

    Coroners close to ruling out sudden decompression of Cypriot airliner, probe continues: A child on board the Cypriot airliner that slammed into a hilltop north of Athens on Sunday apparently survived the crash, even if for a few seconds, coroners announced on Wednesday.

    An autopsy revealed that soot was found in the trachea of the unnamed child, aged five to six years old, a fact that indicates the child was breathing immediately after the crash, according to medical examiner Nikos Kalogrias. He also did not rule out the prospect that other victims -- whose bodies have not been examined as yet --momentarily survived the crash.

    The find came as coroners continued autopsies on more victims of the downed Helios Airways Boeing 737-300 jet, which claimed the lives of 121 individuals.

    In terms of other clinical findings, chief medical examiner Philippos Kotsaftis told reporters that his staff has almost ruled out the possibility that passengers on the airliner were exposed to subzero temperatures or a sudden decompression prior to the crash.

    Along those lines, the first official hypotheses on what occurred on flight ZU522 were publicly aired, by coroners at least, with Kotsaftis citing the possibility that the air supply aboard the airliner became contaminated -- a fact that would explain why passengers and crew were motionless or even in a state of coma when spotted by fighter pilots, he said.

    Toxicology reports, due in 10 to 12 days, are also expected to shed more light on victims' condition before the crash, especially on the possible existence of an airborne contaminant in the plane's cabin.

    Additionally, coroners said urine samples were taken from the co-pilot and a flight attendant.

    Finally, Kotsaftis said DNA testing began on Wednesday on the bodies of victims that have not been identified.

    The plane crashed into the semi-mountainous district of Grammatiko, some 40 kilometers north of Athens after departing Larnaka airport on Cyprus for Prague via Athens.

    Search continues for remains of three plane crash victims: Rescuers continued combing the mountainous region of Grammatiko in northeast Attica on Wednesday - the crash site of Helios Airways flight ZU522 - in an attempt to locate the bodies of three victims that have yet to be recovered.

    Of the 121 people on board - all killed in the crash - 25 have been identified by relatives.

    The remains of the victims that cannot be identified will be subject to DNA testing.

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, who is due to arrive in Athens on Wednesday afternoon, will be visiting the crash site and will then be briefed during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry on the progress of the investigation.

    Autopsies, whose results were announced on Monday and Tuesday, revealed that passengers were alive before the crash. However, it has yet to be determined whether they were unconscious or not.

    Medical examiners are waiting for the toxilogical reports over the next 10 days to shed more light on the passengers' state before the plane slammed into the mountain.

    The Athens Public Prosecutor's Office has requested the testimony of the two F-16 fighter jet pilots who were sent to make visual contact with the Cypriot jetliner when the plane's pilot and crew failed to make radio contact with Athens air controllers.

    Cypriot police raided Helios Airways' offices on Monday night to confiscate any documents relevant to the accident, while the Cypriot Parliamentary Committee of Transport and Public Works has decided to proceed with an in-depth investigation into the matter.

    According to Papadopoulos, the Cypriot government is continuously in contact with European Union authorities regarding the investigation into the causes of the accident.

    He said that he will not hesitate to call in independent experts to help with the investigation in order to discover and to hold accountable whoever is responsible for the accident.

    Finally, Yiannis Haralambous, son of the plane's co-pilot, told Cypriot media on Wednesday that had his father revealed what was going on at Helios Airways, the company would now be out of business.

    According to Haralambous, his father had confided in his family that the specific aircraft had had problems repeatedly. He also said that his father kept a journal of his flights, a document that would reveal a fair amount of information about the way the company operated. The journal has not been found.

    Dep. FM signs book of condolences at Cyprus House: Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis was among the visitors to the Cyprus House of Athens on Wednesday, where he added his name to a book of condolences opened at the cultural centre for the victims claimed in a crash of a Cypriot airliner on Sunday.

    "Hellenism is always united, in joys and in sorrows, even more so after such a tragedy..." Valinakis wrote.

    Justice minister commends medical examiners for their work related to Sunday's plane crash: Justice Minister Anastassios Papaligouras visited Athens Morgue on Wednesday to congratulate medical examiners on the work they've conducted so far in connection to the plane crash that occurred on Sunday near Athens killing all 121 people aboard.

    Papaligouras, who was provided with a detailed briefing of the autopsy findings, said that he felt the need to show his support to the medical examiners who have been charged with such a "difficult, painful and crucial task."

    "I would like to congratulate them for their efficiency in trying to shed light on this tragic accident," he said.

    Chief Medical Examiner Philippos Kotsaftis thanked Papaligouras for his visit, noting that the latter is the first justice minister to visit the morgue.

    Man convicted in bogus SMS claim related to crashed airliner

    A Thessaloniki man whose false claim of receiving an urgent cell phone text message from a passenger aboard the jet that crashed north of Athens on Sunday -- a report that made headlines around the world -- was handed a six-month suspended sentence on Wednesday for making a false statement to police.

    Sotirios Voutas, 32, tearfully asked forgiveness from the judges on the misdemeanor court and relatives of the 121 victims of the doomed Helios Airways plane. In testimony, the man's wife blamed her husband's partial disability, chronic unemployment and their young daughter's health problems for his unprecedented publicity stunt.

    Voutas immediately shot onto the international media spotlight on Sunday after telling private television stations in Athens that he received a SMS text from a cousin aboard Helios Airways' flight ZU522, moments before the Cypriot passenger jet crashed near the village of Grammatiko.

    The bogus message, "Goodbye cousin, we're freezing here", merely complicated matters in the crucial hours after the incident, as low temperatures inside the plane could have meant its abrupt decompression at a high altitude.

    Voutas was acquitted of the charge of spreading false information.

    In an unrelated but similar incident earlier in the day, a 28-year-old man on the island of Rhodes was charged with phoning in a bomb threat that delayed an Olympic Airways flight from the island to Athens for an hour and a half.

    According to reports, the suspect claimed that he made the prank call because he wanted to spend more time with his girlfriend, a booked passenger on the flight.

    He is due to appear before a local prosecutor on Thursday.

    [02] Top ND cadres to meet on Thurs.

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy party's sector secretaries will meet on Thursday during a meeting headed by party secretary Vangelis Meimarakis.

    According to reports, the party's next central committee meeting, a subject up for discussion on Thursday, will possibly take place on Aug. 26. Any recommendation will be forwarded to PM Costas Karamanlis, who will make the final decision.

    [03] Inner cabinet focuses on energy sector, oil dependency

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday focused on the acute problem of skyrocketing oil prices vis-a-vis fuel consumption in the east Mediterranean country, with one of the announced measures foreseeing the replacement of oil-burning furnaces in public buildings with gas-powered ones by 2006.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas told reporters after an inner Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, that the measure will initially affect public buildings in the greater Athens and Thessaloniki areas as well as the Thessaly province. He also said natural gas connections with public schools and hospitals will be stepped up.

    Greece is amongst the biggest importers, percentage wise, of crude oil in the European Union, while the country is also near the top of the list in terms GDP spending for energy.

    On the legislative front, Sioufas said draft laws opening the way for better use of bio-fuels and renewable sources of energy will be tabled in September, along with an eagerly-expected bill on deregulating the power and natural gas sector in the country.

    Along those lines, the minister said licenses for three new natural gas providers are pending.

    Finally, Sioufas said more capacitors will be set up on the national grid as part of efforts to conserve power, an initiative that has already produced results in south-central Greece and the Peloponnese.

    Political party reactions to statements by Sioufas on energy policy: The announcements by the inner cabinet on issues of strategy regarding the energy sector "do not offer anything new," main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement's (PASOK) Anna Diamantopoulou, responsible for the party's Development and Competitiveness Sector and Consumer Policy, said on Wednesday in response to announcements made earlier in the day by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on energy policy.

    Diamantopoulou said:" The government for a multiple time repeats its proclamations that it will table in Parliament draft laws, for which there are deadlines placed by the European Union, while for the major matters concerning the consumer, such as the issue of profiteering and the repercussions on households from the price of fuel, it restricts itself to statistical ascertainments, congratulating itself yet again, without any reference to the specific measures."

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), responding to Sioufas' announcements, said "the more the price of fuel raises the more the mockery increases."

    The KKE announcement said: "While the unacceptable high prices in fuel encourage the monopolistic supra-profits and heavy taxation, the government announces measures which aim at benefiting high profiteering and the businesspersons active in natural gas. It is continuing the policy of privatizations and the deregulation in the sector of energy, where PASOK left off."

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), responding to the development minister's statements, said that "the Development Ministry with arithmetic magical tricks and fictitious comparisons, attempts to conceal the profiteering prevailing in the trading and movement of petroleum products in our country."

    [04] Gov't sources see fiscal deficit below 4.0%

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    Government sources said on Wednesday that the fiscal deficit would fall below 4.0% of gross domestic product.

    The most likely figure was between 3.5% and 3.7% of GDP, the sources said.

    They were speaking after a meeting between the prime minister and finance minister earlier in the day.

    [05] Gov't releases European company bill for public consultations

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday released for public consultations a bill on creating a new corporate status for firms in the European Union.

    The European Company (SE) is a milestone agreement among member states that allows the creation of an SE firm by merger or conversion by enterprises in more than one member state, if its head office and management are both located in the same EU country. The minimum capital requirement is 120,000.

    There is no EU-wide register of SEs, which are each recorded in a member state of the bloc, but each registration must be published in the Union's official journal.

    Although SE is meant to be an optional form of incorporation, it aims to offer companies an operational ease throughout Europe without the constraints of the current system whereby domestic company law can apply to multinationals.

    SE firms will only need to comply with EU corporate law rather than cope with dissimilar company law regimes in the bloc's 25 members.

    [06] Stocks nose down in bid to consolidate

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in with a few players buying into telecoms but selling smaller capitalization paper, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,278.25 points, marking a decline of 0.06%. Turnover was 161.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended flat; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.02% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.93% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 182 to 82 with 62 remaining unchanged.

    [07] Public pays final respects to singer Vicky Moscholiou

    Athens, 18/8/2005 (ANA)

    Fans paid their final respects to Greek singer Vicky Moscholiou at Athens Cathedral on Wednesday where her coffin was laid out for public viewing.

    Moscholiou died at the age of 62 on Tuesday morning at Ygeia Hospital after losing a two-year bout with cancer.

    The funeral service will be held on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Athens Cathedral.

    Moscholiou will be buried at Athens' First Cemetery with state expense.

    [08] Cypriot President in Athens for consultations

    LARNACA 18/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus Government has asked the European Union to send its experts to assist in the investigation over Sunday's air crash of an Helios Boeing 737 that killed all 121 people on board, as far as the Cypriot responsibilities are concerned.

    Speaking upon departure Wednesday to Athens on a scheduled working visit for consultations with Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis on Turkey's EU prospects, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said he will be also be informed on the Greek government's efforts to collect and assess data with regard to the crash stressing that ''the investigation will be fully transparent and will cover all kinds of responsibilities, regardless of level and without bias''.

    Responding to questions, the president said that his schedule does not allow him time to visit the site of the crash. He also expressed satisfaction for the ''excellent mobilization of the Greek authorities, the effectiveness, the speed and the determination with which they faced the tragedy after the plane crashed''.

    Invited to comment on criticism against Minister of Communications and Works Haris Thrasou, the president of the Republic noted he can only express his appreciation towards the minister who took action from the very beginning of this tragedy.

    The Cypriot president was particularly critical towards the media and referred to all those who after the tragedy appear as experts, analyzing the causes, expressing views and making assumptions while even experts with years of expertise and competence are not ready to come to conclusions over such complicated issues.

    Turkey - EU: The Cyprus president and the Greek prime minister will exchange views, ahead of a discussion in Brussels among European Union members of Turkey's European aspirations.

    Responding to questions on the stance of Nicosia and Athens at the next EU Council as regards Turkey, Papadopoulos said that ''the visit is taking place in the framework of the continued and excellent cooperation and coordination with Greece'' adding that all possibilities will be examined''.

    [09] Condolences continue as Cypriots begin burying victims

    NICOSIA 18/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    As Cypriots began burying the victims of Sunday's Helios plane crash, condolences keep pouring in from all over the world to the political leadership.

    Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Chief of Mission United Nations Operation in Cyprus Zbigniew Wlosowicz, has sent a letter to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on behalf of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

    It said that "on behalf of the SG, the UN family here in Cyprus, and all in UNFICYP, I ask that you convey our sympathy to the families of the victims, and to Cypriots in general".

    In her message of condolences to President Papadopoulos, Her Majesty the Queen said she was ''deeply saddened at the news of the aircraft crash near Athens on Sunday and to learn that so many lives were lost''.

    ''Prince Philip joins me in sending our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Our heartfelt sympathy is with you and the people of Cyprus'', Queen Elizabeth concluded.

    More letters and messages of condolences continue to arrive to both President Papadopoulos and House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias with world leaders expressing their sympathy for the loss of so many lives.

    In his message, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said "it was with great sadness that I learned about the tragic disaster of the Cypriot plane in which tens of human lives were lost, among them children''.

    ''We sincerely sympathize with the pain and sorrow of the loss which caused suffering to many Cypriot families'', President Putin noted, conveying on behalf of the Russian people his sincere condolences, and the expression of deepest sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims and the Cyprus people.

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