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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 12 November 2010 Issue No: 3643

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM urges int'l media at NEWSXCHANGE conference: Tell the whole story
  • [02] Gov't on economy; civil servants
  • [03] ND leader: 'PM moving from bluff to misdirection'
  • [04] ND spokesman on elections, unemployment
  • [05] Government spokesman replies to ND spokesman
  • [06] Health minister addresses local government elections event
  • [07] Athens on assessment of Turkey's EU course; Cyprus talks
  • [08] FM spokesman on EU report regarding fYRoM
  • [09] FM spokesman on EU Commission progress reports
  • [10] Woman mayoral candidate with 40 women on ticket
  • [11] LAOS leader meets with Turkish envoy
  • [12] DM to visit IV army corps units
  • [13] Gov't plans expansion of Attiki Odos highway
  • [14] Greek unemployment jumped to 12.2 pct in Aug
  • [15] Greek inflation to fall next year, report
  • [16] National Bank names advisers to Finansbank's public offering
  • [17] Greek bank borrowing from ECB down in October
  • [18] Almunia spokesperson on PPC
  • [19] Alt. defence minister meets Raytheon representatives
  • [20] Mykonos voted Best European Island in Conde Nast Traveler awards for 7th consecutive year
  • [21] GSEE calls strike for Dec. 15
  • [22] Sidenor issues 15-mln-euro bond loan
  • [23] Stocks end 1.10% down
  • [24] Greek bond market closing report
  • [25] ADEX closing report
  • [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [27] Rizaj ruled guilty in helicopter prison break, threatens prosecutor
  • [28] Arrests in Poland for murder of Mykonos entrepreneur
  • [29] Police chase in southern Athens; metro line closed after suspect jumps on tracks
  • [30] Police point to int'l ring after truck loaded with Italy-bound illegals intercepted
  • [31] Trial of alleged urban terrorists set for Jan.
  • [32] Father and son arrested with 46.6 kilos dried cannabis
  • [33] "Buena Vista Social Club" in Athens
  • [34] Woman, mother of two, seriously injured in bus-train collision
  • [35] Antiquity smugglers arrested in Thessaloniki
  • [36] Fisherman drowns in Ikaria
  • [37] Republicans Abroad chapter dinner
  • [38] Prosecutor receives file on suspected fixed football games
  • [39] Rainy on Friday
  • [40] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [41] President going to New York with good will Politics

  • [01] PM urges int'l media at NEWSXCHANGE conference: Tell the whole story

    Prime minister George Papandreou on Thursday urged international media to "tell the whole story" about what is happening in Greece, addressing the 2010 NEWSXCHANGE conference that opened in Athens, organised by international media organisations under the aegis of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in collaboration with the Greek state broadcasting foundation ERT.

    In the past few months, the information media inflated the existing problems, while several of them engaged in unfair criticism of the Greek people, thus contributing to the creation of negative stereotypes, Papandreou said.

    "Your job is to be objective, and my job is to be frank with you," the Greek premier said after reviewing the steps taken by his government, and noted that in October 2009 (general elections) the Greek people had voted for change.

    "Our citizens say that we can make the changes in the country, and this gives new impetus to the government," Papandreou continued in reply to questions, stressing that "it is our commitment to change".

    Papandreou also reiterated that the structural changes, which should have been made years ago, will continue, while noting that last Sunday's local administration elections had shown that Greek society realises the necessity of those changes in order for the country to survive. "Greece is changing quickly, and this will not stop," he added.

    "We will not allow the problems to perpetuate. We are looking them straight in the eye and assuming the responsibility to solve them. Eurostat's (upward) revision of the deficit does not change the targets of the Greek to reduce the deficit by 5.5 percent this year," the premier stressed.

    Papandreou noted that his government was from the outset faced with three major problems, namely the economy -- which he said turned out to be worse than expected, especially the size of the deficit -- a lack of competitiveness and lack of credibility.

    Asked about the crisis in the eurozone and the problems faced by other countries, Papandreou said that Europe has not realised how powerful it can be, stressing that "we must make the markets, which are very useful tools, to work for the societies".

    Greece has problems, but it is not responsible for the global economic crisis, the premier stressed, noting that "we appear today to have forgotten the outbreak of the crisis in 2008 with the toxic bonds".

    [02] Gov't on economy; civil servants

    The government spokesman on Thursday noted that "by meeting the goals we have set we will be able to get the country out of the crisis," in reference to economic measures.

    Spokesman George Petalotis also stressed that revenues falling short of estimates will be covered by the sum expected to be collected through the settlement of outstanding tax obligations, a large real estate property tax and the car circulation fees, among others.

    "The prime minister and the government have stated repeatedly that we are in the middle of a very difficult situation; that the crisis is not over; the alert is still on and therefore, the steps we take and the decisions we make are cautious," Petalotis said when called to comment on a relevant statement made by the premier earlier today.

    Asked about rising spreads, he said this development is recorded when there is destabilisation in the country and when there is indication that destabilisation is possible.

    Petalotis underlined that "layoffs are not in the government's plans," stressing that the permanent working status of civil servants is constitutionally guaranteed and the government is trying to implement reforms in the wider public sector.

    When asked to comment on the fate of the public utility companies, the government spokesman stated that what goes for the public sector also goes for the wider public sector. He also underlined that the government has pledged to do everything possible to guarantee public interest, stressing that the criterion used is the protection of labour relations.

    Asked to comment on the statement made by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras that the election results were "a slap in the face for the government", he said the comments made by ND are tailored to serve the party and stressed that "we are very serious when assessing the first round election results."

    [03] ND leader: 'PM moving from bluff to misdirection'

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday attacked the prime minister, accusing him of having a secret agenda and asking voters to send an even stronger message of their displeasure through the polls on Sunday.

    "After the blackmail and bluff of the first Sunday, [Prime Minister George Papandreou] has changed his tune again and remembered the local authority nature of these elections. Mr. Papandreou has gone from bluff to misdirection and always with the same goal, to avoid getting the message of the Greek people and changing course," Samaras said while touring the island of Hios.

    The ND leader was on the island to support his party's candidate for the Northern Aegean region.

    [04] ND spokesman on elections, unemployment

    Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Panos Panagioto-poulos on Thursday said the prime minister "appears not to have understood the vote of the Greek people" and said that the message should be even stronger during the second round of local government polls this Sunday.

    "He must - finally - understand that there must be a change of course, a real change of policy," Panagiotopoulos said.

    Concerning the figures announced by the Hellenic Statistical Authority for unemployment rates in August 2010, the spokesman said that there was a new jump to 12.2 percent from 9 percent in the same month last year.

    "The confirms the terrible dead ends that PASOK's policies are creating in Greek society but there is a way of getting out of these dead ends: the policy of the Memorandum must be denounced by our fellow citizens' vote in the second Sunday also," he said.

    [05] Government spokesman replies to ND spokesman

    Government spokesman George Petalotis, replying to a statement by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's spokesman on unemployment, said that ND "which was deceiving the citizens with distorted data is now shedding crocodile tears on unemployment and the memorandum".

    "ND's crocodile tears on unemployment and the memorandum do not convince anyone. The party that insistently deceived citizens and partners with distorted data on unemployment, that led the country unshielded to the crisis, has only one anxiety: To conceal its political nonexistence," Petalotis said.

    "The government, however, through 'Kallikratis', has national goals only. To lead the citizen to the nucleus of power and the local societies to viable growth. Let them realise at last that this is also our great difference," he added.

    [06] Health minister addresses local government elections event

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, addressing an event of the ruling PASOK party on Sunday's local government elections at a hotel in Thessaloniki on Thursday, said that the PASOK government and Prime Minister George Papandreou did things that have not been done before, they proved that they do not fear the political cost.

    Referring to the course for the country's exit from the crisis, Loverdos stressed that "in my opinion, the country is at the beginning of the course, according to others who are more optimistic in the middle. Whoever says that we have covered the difficult and rough course is a liar, a demagogue, he is clouding the waters, he is turning the celebration of popular sovereignty into a carnival."

    [07] Athens on assessment of Turkey's EU course; Cyprus talks

    "The message to Turkey should be that the path toward EU accession is open. However, at the same time, it is imperative (for Turkey) to fully comply with the EU acquis and meet its commitments toward the Unions and all its member-states -- without any discounts," a foreign ministry spokesman stated on Thursday.

    Referring to the EU progress report on Turkey, which spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras termed an "objective basis" for the relevant discussion in December, Delavekouras stated that "Turkey should leave behind rhetorical and empty statements and move ahead with tangible reforms."

    Speaking during a regular weekly press briefing, Delavekouras also stressed that it should meet its obligations vis--vis good neighborly relations, respect of human rights and religious freedoms, freedom of the press, as well as implementation of the Ankara Protocol and the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Responding to relevant questions, Delavekouras observed that "Turkey shouldn't be told what it wants to hear", while he underlined the need for "frankness". He also pointed out that the obstacle-ridden progress in Turkey's EU accession course is also due to its "slow reform course".

    Cyprus

    Meanwhile, in a related development, the spokesman said Athens is hopeful, "but cautious", over whatever chances of progress from the upcoming meetings of UN chief Ban Ki Moon with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu next week in New York.

    Delavekouras qualified his statement by saying that Eroglu is distinguished by his support of a "partitioning and outdated reasoning, one referring to two peoples and two states (on Cyprus). If this is the basis of the position that Mr. Eroglu wants to develop, then there will not be progress," he said, adding however:

    "If Turkey, though, exercises its decisive role and Mr. Eroglu appears with a different position, then progress can occur."

    Finally, the spokesman echoed Nicosia stern condemnation of a recent article by former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, who opined that partition should be considered on Cyprus if the current talks failed.

    "The Cyprus problem will be solved on the basis of UNSC resolutions and based on EU specifications," he added.

    [08] FM spokesman on EU report regarding fYRoM

    A foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday again reminded of Athens' standing position in favor of the accession of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) into the European Union, while emphasising that this position, however, revolves around the "basis that has been unanimously accepted at the EU level, which requires that the 'name issue' be solved in advance".

    Spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stated that the EU report on fYRoM refers to certain steps of progress that have been made as well as to a "decelerating and backward course followed by the country in basic sectors of public administration and in the administration of justice."

    The foreign ministry spokesman also pointed out that "when the name issue is resolved, fYRoM will see for itself that Greece will be its most important ally in its EU accession course."

    Delavekouras stressed that the reactions on behalf of the Skopje government "should not disorient us" because the "essence is that the European Commission has addressed a clear warning to the country's leadership; namely, there is delay in the implementation of reforms and the name issue should be resolved for the process to move ahead."

    [09] FM spokesman on EU Commission progress reports

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday referred to the EU progress reports for candidate-states, recently made public by the European Commission, where he stated that "it is one of the basic tools in the EU enlargement process" which institutionally falls under the jurisdiction of the European Commission.

    He underlined, however, that the main role in the specific process belongs to the European Council that will assess the progress made by the candidates next December.

    Delavekouras pointed out that in order to serve as "reliable tools", these reports should "reflect reality with objectivity as regards domestic situation, external behaviour, the reforms and the progress of the candidate states."

    "Greece, being surrounded by candidate states, makes sure through negotiations with the responsible European bodies that the issues of major national importance are highlighted, while it also exchanges views on the progress made by the candidates," he said.

    He also reminded that in Greece's perspective the enlargement is a "strategic political choice" which the country follows with consistency as proved by the "Agenda 2014" initiative it has undertaken.

    Delavekouras also referred to certain positive developments in the EU enlargement to include western Balkan states, namely, the visa waiver decided by the EU in the case of Albanian and Bosnia-Herzegovina nationals wishing to enter Schengen pact countries; a European Commission report on Serbia to be issued in response to the country's accession request, the positive recommendation issued by the European Commission in response to Montenegro's accession request and the progress made in Croatia's accession process.

    [10] Woman mayoral candidate with 40 women on ticket

    A young woman candidate for mayor in Naoussa with 40 women candidates for the municipal council on her independent ticket will be running in Sunday's repeat local government elections.

    Ilia Iosifidou, a civil engineer, heading an independent ticket that is not backed by any political party, was among the two top vote-getters in the first round of local administration elections last Sunday and is poised for the run-offs this coming Sunday.

    Iosifidou's ticket comprises 40 women and 71 men at a time when the required quota of women candidates is 28.

    "We've been saying, since we were children, that we want to change the world," the locally-born Iosifidou told ANA-MPA, adding that, a few years later, "I thought that I could at least change my city".

    She said that she is not satisfied with the proportion of women candidates in the local government elections nationwide, but is pleased with her ticket's performance.

    [11] LAOS leader meets with Turkish envoy

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis met on Thursday with Turkish ambassador in Athens Mehmet Hasan Gogus.

    No statements were made after the one-hour meeting.

    [12] DM to visit IV army corps units

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos will tour units of the IV Army Corps on Friday.

    At 10 a.m. he will inspect the headquarters of the corps in Xanthi. Venizelos will then head to Alexandroupolis, where he will inspect several units.

    Financial News

    [13] Gov't plans expansion of Attiki Odos highway

    The ministry of Infrastructures, Transport and Networks plans to expand the road network of Attiki Odos highway, adding 22 km to its network including a large tunnel in Hymettos mountain.

    The ministry will begin auctions of the projects in 2011. The new planning envisages the expansion of the Hymettos western ring road to reach Vouliagmenis Avenue, a road extension of 8.0 km length, and construction of a tunnel, with a length of around 14 km, linking Attiki Odos with Koropi, facilitating access to the Athens airport for citizens living in the southern suburbs.

    According to sources, the new plan will cut 40 pct of the original plan announced by the New Democracy government in September 2009 as being environmentally unacceptable.

    The ministry expects the winner of the accession contract to be announced in early 2012.

    The Infrastructures ministry also plans expansion projects for other road networks around Athens.

    [14] Greek unemployment jumped to 12.2 pct in Aug

    Greek unemployment jumped to 12.2 pct in August this year, with the number of unemployed people totaling 614,108, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The number of unemployed people rose by 160,402 compared with August 2009, an increase of 35.4 pct, while compared with July the number of unemployed people rose by 6,073, or 1.0 pct. The unemployment rate in August was the highest since January 2007, when the rate was 11.8 pct. The August figure surpassed the new budget's provision of 11.6 pct this year. Based on the 2011 budget draft plan, the unemployment rate will reach 14.5 pct in 2011, 15 pct in 2012 and 14.6 pct in 2013 as a result of the economic recession.

    The statistics service said the number of employed people totaled 4,398,890 in August, while the financially non-active population totaled 4,98,958. The number of employed people fell by 165,356 in August compared with the same month in 2009 (a decline of 3.6 pct) and by 40,406 compared with July 2010 (a decline of 0.9 pct).

    Unemployment is hitting harder young people, with the 15-24 age group recording an unemployment rate of 30.8 pct, followed by the 25-34 group with 16.4 pct. Women also suffer most than men (15.5 pct and 9.9 pct, respectively).

    Western Macedonia (13.9 pct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (13.5 pct), Central Macedonia (13.5 pct), Thessaly (13.1 pct), Attica (12.9 pct) and Central Greece (12.6 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates among the country's regions, with Ionian Islands (5.6 pct), Southern Aegean (5.9 pct) and Northern Aegean (6.9 pct) recording single-digit unemploy-ment rates. Crete, where tourism fell this year, recorded a sharp increase in unemployment (11.2 pct from 6.3 pct in August 2009).

    [15] Greek inflation to fall next year, report

    Greek inflation is expected to fall in the coming months, Alpha Bank analysts predicted in a published bank bulletin released on Thursday.

    Greek inflation slowed to 5.2 pct in October, down from 5.6 pct in September, while the core inflation rate slowed to 3.5 pct from 3.6 pct over the same period, respectively.

    This trend is expected to continue in the coming months, the bank's analysts said, citing the end of the impact of large increases in indirect taxes and lower labour cost per product unit by -1.6 pct this year, from +5.6 pct in 2009. Average inflation is projected at 4.7 pct this year, and 1.8 pct in 2011.

    The bank's analysts said manufacturing production fell 5.3 pct in the nine-month period between January and September, after a decline of 12.2 pct last year.

    Production is expected to improve in the fourth quarter. Building activity shrank further in August (-24.8 pct) for a decline of 28.5 pct in the January-August period. The bulletin noted that the home price/rent price ratio eased further reflecting a fall in home prices.

    [16] National Bank names advisers to Finansbank's public offering

    National Bank of Greece, following the successful completion of a share capital increase plan, worth 1.8 billion euros, and in the framework of preparations for a public offering of a minority stake up to 20 pct in Finansbank, on Thursday announced a group of banks which will act as advisers to the transaction, which it is expected to be one of the biggest of its kind in Turkey.

    The group consists of Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG, Morgan Stanley, BofA Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs International and HSBS, which will act as publishers and main underwriters of the issue. Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley will also act as international coordinators.

    National Bank said it would announce further details in due time. However, the bank's intention is that a public offer for Finansbank, which would include the issuing of new and the sale of existing shares, to be completed as soon as market conditions allow it. Following the sale, National Bank of Greece will maintain a majority stake of at least 75 pct in Finansbank.

    [17] Greek bank borrowing from ECB down in October

    Greek banks' borrowing from the European Central Bank (ECB) fell by 2 percent at end October to 92.4 billion euros from 94.3 billion euros at end September, according to the Bank of Greece's monthly balance sheet released on Thursday.

    Greek bank borrowing from the ECB was 49.7 billion euros at the beginning of 2010, and the sharp increase reflects the difficulty of the country's credit institutions in seeking financing on the inter-bank market.

    [18] Almunia spokesperson on PPC

    EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia's spokesperson on Thursday expressed the commissioner's hope that Greece will soon implement a 2008 decision for access of Public Power Corporation (PPC) competitors to lignite-powered electricity production, commenting on a meeting between Almunia and Greece's environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili in Brussels on Wednesday.

    Replying to questions during a regular press briefing the spokesperson, Amelia Torres, said that the European Commission desires a solution to the matter soon, warning that otherwise the Commission is required to open procedures for recourse against Greece to the European Court.

    [19] Alt. defence minister meets Raytheon representatives

    Alternate Defence Minister Pangos Beglitis on Thursday received a representatives of the U.S. defence firm Raytheon, led by Paul Mongillo, and discussed the prospects of developing strategic partnerships between Raytheon and Greek defence industry firms in the public and private sectors.

    Among others they discussed cooperation in joint productions, research and the transfer of high technology.

    The meeting was announced by the national defence ministry.

    [20] Mykonos voted Best European Island in Conde Nast Traveler awards for 7th consecutive year

    The Greek island of Mykonos once again topped the list of best islands in Europe in the annual Conde Nast Traveler magazine awards for the year 2010.

    Mykonos won the Reader's Choice Award for Best European Island for the seventh consecutive year, and the award was presented to deputy culture and tourism minister George Nikitiadis on Wednesday night during a special ceremony at the London World Travel Market international exhibition.

    [21] GSEE calls strike for Dec. 15

    The private sector union GSEE called a nationwide 24-hour strike for Dec. 15, expressing opposition to "all anti-labour measures", as it charged.

    According to a statement issued by GSEE on Thursday, all trade unions must express their strong opposition to the anti-labour policies by participating in the strike action announced

    [22] Sidenor issues 15-mln-euro bond loan

    Sidenor SA on Thursday announced the issuing of a two-year bond loan, worth 15 million euros, with EFG Eurobank Ergasias. A company announcement said the money from the bond loan will be used to replace short-term debt with longer-term bonds.

    [23] Stocks end 1.10% down

    Stocks suffered further losses at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with market sentiment negatively affected by developments in Ireland and a worsening picture of Greek fiscal data. The composite index of the market fell 1.10 pct to end at 1,493.59 points, off the day's lows of -2.20 pct. Turnover was an improved 126.149 million euros. ATEbank (5 pct), Ellaktor (3.97 pct), Hellenic Postbank (3.75 pct) were top losers among blue chip stocks, while Titan (1.55 pct), PPC (1.31 pct) and Alpha Bank (0.66 pct) were among gainers.

    The Big Cap index dropped 1.12 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 1.45 pct and the Mid Cap eased 0.97 pct. The Utilities (0.72 pct), Industrial Products (0.20 pct) and Travel (0.03 pct) scored gains, while Insurance (3.90 pct), Health (2.98 pct) and Media (2.09 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 98 to 51 with another 49 issues unchanged. Hellenic Textiles (9.38 pct), Biokarpet (8.96 pct) and Ideal (8.74 pct) were top gainers, while Vell Group (14.29 pct), Marfin Egnatia (11.90 pct) and AEGEK (10.34 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.90%

    Industrials: +0.20%

    Commercial: -1.20%

    Construction: -0.34%

    Media: -2.09%

    Oil & Gas: -1.62%

    Personal & Household: -1.71%

    Raw Materials: -1.43%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.03%

    Technology: -1.78%

    Telecoms: -1.17%

    Banks: -1.52%

    Food & Beverages: -1.97%

    Health: -2.98%

    Utilities: +0.72%

    Chemicals: -1.38%

    Financial Services: -0.74%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Coca Cola 3E and Eurobank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 4.55

    ATEbank: 0.76

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.38

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.30

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.41

    National Bank of Greece: 7.25

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.30

    OPAP: 12.61

    OTE: 5.93

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.19

    Titan: 15.74

    [24] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 918 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, almost unchanged from Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.60 pct and the German Bund 2.47 pct. Turnover was a thin 31 million euros, of which 17 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 14 million were sell orders. The 15-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 7.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month 1.04 pct and the one-month rate 0.85 pct.

    [25] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.43 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 59.212 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 14,222 contracts worth 49.203 million euros, with 29,266 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,280 contracts worth 10.009 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,367), followed by Eurobank (2,000), MIG (976), OTE (769), Piraeus Bank (2,183), Alpha Bank (2,588), Cyprus Bank (676) and ATEbank (1,508).

    [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.381

    Pound sterling 0.855

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.384

    Japanese yen 113.68

    Swiss franc 1.338

    Norwegian kroner 8.155

    Canadian dollar 1.385

    Australian dollar 1.379

    General News

    [27] Rizaj ruled guilty in helicopter prison break, threatens prosecutor

    Alket Rizaj, one of the two protagonists of a Hollywood-style repeat helicopter escape from Korydallos Prison in February 2009, was found guilty on several felonies by a criminal court on Thursday, and threatened the state prosecutor after the ruling was announced.

    The trial concerned the helicopter escape from Korydallos Prison on February 22, 2009 by notorious fugitive convicts Vassilis Paleokostas, who is still at large, and Rizaj.

    Codefendants in the case are Rizaj's companion Aspassia Mitropia, an Albanian couple and a businessman. The charges include participation in a criminal organisation, grand possession of arms and ammunition, abduction of the helicopter pilot (in the second prison break in Feb. 2009) and forcing him to commit a criminal action, hijacking of the helicopter, endangering the security of aircraft, moral instigation of a crime, theft, forgery, and repeated counts of illegal possession of a weapon.

    The Criminal Appeals Tribunal found Rizaj and Mitropia guilty on all charges.

    Upon hearing the verdict, Rizaj threw a tissue in prosecutor Yiannis Angelis' face and threatened him: "You will be dealing with the Revolutionaries' Sect (terror group). You'll see".

    A sentence of 25 years and 10 months for Rizaj was handed down by the criminal appeals court later the same day (arising from the merger of a total sentence of 28 years and five months).

    Mitropia was sentenced to serve 13 years and five months in prison, merged to 10 years, while the court refused to suspend her sentence and ordered that she be sent directly to jail. The defence had asked that the sentence be suspended because of a health problem faced by one of Mitropia's two children, currently staying with their grandmother.

    The Albanian Ervis Stefani was sentenced to serve seven years in prison, again not suspended at appeal, and his fiancee Lule Blerina was handed down a sentenced of 15 months imprisonment, suspended for three years.

    Greek businessman Chrysanthos Anagnostopoulos, whose car had served as the getaway vehicle that the two escaped convicts used to drive away from the helicopter, was given a sentence of one year in prison, suspended for three years, and fined 1,000 euros.

    The court had also ordered a freeze on the process for Vassilis Paleokostas, who is still at large, so that the time elapsed does not lead to the charges against him becoming statute-barred.

    [28] Arrests in Poland for murder of Mykonos entrepreneur

    Three suspects were arrested in Poland on an international warrant linked to the homicide of a 73-year-old businessman, whose body was found inside his villa on the popular holiday island of Mykonos last October.

    A 28-year-old Polish woman, alternately identified as a housekeeper and other times as a dancer, is charged with planning the homicide and robbery. Two Polish men, 27 and 31, are charged as accessories. The trio was arrested in Poland on Wednesday and Thursday.

    A statement by police mentioned that the two men came to Greece with a private car following an invitation by the woman, departing the country only after murdering the 73-year-old. The victim's safe was reportedly taken by the trio.

    Procedures have been commended for the suspects' extradition to Greece to stand trial.

    [29] Police chase in southern Athens; metro line closed after suspect jumps on tracks

    Two separate incidents involving armed robbers were reported on Wednesday evening, with one case leading to a police chase down a busy southern Athens boulevard.

    Two foreign nationals, identified as Albanians, are allegedly responsible for the pursuit down Vouliagmeni Avenue, which left two motorcycle riders and a cyclist slightly injured when a robber's car swerved along the roadway in the opposite director. The suspect in a getaway car was apprehended at the scene, while an accomplice, driving a second stolen vehicle managed to flee.

    The two armed robbers had accosted a man outside a nearby department store at gunpoint, making off with his wallet and car.

    In the second incident, a foreign national was arrested in the Omonia metro station after attempting to rob a bystander. The man reportedly jumped onto the electric tracks to flee police, causing metro authorities to shut the power off on the metro line.

    The suspect was later apprehended in the metro tunnel.

    [30] Police point to int'l ring after truck loaded with Italy-bound illegals intercepted

    Authorities on Thursday arrested 143 illegal migrants from Afghanistan after stopping a truck on the Athens- Corinth national highway, following a tip-off and surveillance of the vehicle.

    The driver of the refrigerator truck, a local man, along with five Syrian nationals in a car travelling ahead of the truck as a "look-out", were also arrested in what police charge is an organised crime ring ferrying illegal migrants into western Europe from Turkey via Greece.

    The truck was headed for the western port city of Patras, Greece's hub for ferryboat routes to Italy.

    The car carrying the Syrians at first failed to stop to police commands, fleeing down the highway before being stopped outside the town of Xylokastro.

    [31] Trial of alleged urban terrorists set for Jan.

    The trial of suspects charged with participation in the ultra-leftist urban terror gang "conspiracy of cells of fire" will begin on Jan. 17, 2011, it was announced on Thursday.

    A total of 13 defendants face numerous felony charges linked to three bomb attacks, specifically ones targeting the offices of current labour minister Louka Katseli (before she assumed the government post), former interior minister Panagiotis Hinofotis and the Macedonia-Thrace ministry offices.

    The place of the court trial will be decided shortly.

    [32] Father and son arrested with 46.6 kilos dried cannabis

    Police in Trikala on Thursday reported the arrest of a father and son, aged 66 and 30 years old, respectively, that were caught with 46.6 kilos of dried cannabis. Police made the arrest acting on a tip-off and found the drugs divided into packages of 500 and 200 grammes, ready for sale.

    The two men had grown the cannabis themselves, in a remote location in the prefecture of Trikala. It was the largest quantity of drugs ever confiscated by local police.

    [33] "Buena Vista Social Club" in Athens

    The legendary Cuban music group "Buena Vista Social Club" will perform on Thursday at the Hellenic Foundation for Culture Foundation building in Athens. The 11-member orchestra, a superb representative of Cuban music, will offer to the audience a night full of the traditional Cuban music.

    The group became famous from the film by Wim Wenders "Buena Vista Social Club" and has played with noted artists of the international music stage, among them the groups Coldplay, U2, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, Maroon 5, as well as Sting, Dido and others.

    [34] Woman, mother of two, seriously injured in bus-train collision

    A 30-year-old mother of two from Neohori in Xanthi was seriously injured on Thursday, crushed beneath an inter-city bus that collided with an oncoming train. The unlucky woman was not a passenger on the bus but trying to help the bus driver escape collision with the train.

    The accident occurred at the Neohori junction when the bus became trapped on the level crossing just as the bars came down, with one woman and a child on board. The woman that was injured driving the car in front, which managed to pass the level crossing on time.

    The 30-year-old left her car and went back to help, however, when she saw the bus was trapped, trying to lift the bar manually so that the bus might drive through. At that moment, the train hit the rear end of the bus and caused it to capsize, trapping the unlucky young woman beneath it.

    The woman was rushed to the Stavroupolis health centre and then the Xanthi General Prefecture Hospital where she was admitted with grave injuries. The driver and two passengers on the coach suffered shock and were also taken to hospital for observation.

    [35] Antiquity smugglers arrested in Thessaloniki

    Two persons aged 46 and 53 were arrested in Thessaloniki on charges of antiquities smuggling. The two suspects were spotted in a farming area at Vassiloudi village near Thessaloniki, northern Greece, while digging for antiquities with the aid of metal detectors.

    A police search in the 46-year old suspect's house revealed 528 silver and copper coins, 11 ancient objects made of copper and one made of lead.

    [36] Fisherman drowns in Ikaria

    58-year-old fisherman fell off a rocky cliff and drowned while fishing at Alykes on the island of Ikaria (northeastern Aegean Sea).

    A military Super Puma" helicopter and a coast guard vessel rushed to the area and collected the man from the water.

    The fisherman was rushed to the local Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The body will be sent to an Athens coroner for examination.

    [37] Republicans Abroad chapter dinner

    The Republicans Abroad chapter in Greece will hold a Thanksgiving and Armistice Day dinner on Sunday, Nov. 21 in downtown Athens. For more information, call 2106746179 or 2107756719.

    Soccer

    [38] Prosecutor receives file on suspected fixed football games

    UEFA documents on 15 football games played in Greece in 2010 that are suspected of being "fixed" were forwarded on Thursday by General Secretary of Sports Panos Bitsaxis to an Athens prosecutor, the Economic Crimes Unit and the Special Audit Service.

    The documents were delivered to the head of the Greek Football Federation (EPO), Sofoklis Pilavios, and concern four Greek Super League football teams, eight second division matches and one third division team.

    Weather Forecast

    [39] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 24C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 22C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 22C.

    [40] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Sunday's second round of local government elections, the fiscal deficit and former ECB vice president Loukas Papadimos recommendations for exiting the economic crisis, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Turmoil in PASOK".

    AVRIANI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou makes Greeks emigrate".

    AVGHI: "Second message to the government".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou now puts the blame on his ministers and threatens them with reshuffle".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Deficit lethal to salaries".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Muzzle and black propaganda".

    ESTIA: "Grave danger for the economy".

    ETHNOS: "Express trials for tax evasion".

    IMERISSIA: "Reversals in salaries and working hours on the horizon".

    KATHIMERINI: "Former ECB vice president and Papandreou's advisor Loukas Papademos states: The difficult times begin now".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "2 billion euros black hole in public finances".

    NIKI: "Four regulations for real estate properties".

    LOGOS: "Backdoor negotiations ahead of second round of elections".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Filthy propaganda against Communist Party of Greece".

    TA NEA: "Bargaining, machinations and 'Pontius Pilates'.

    TO VIMA: "Rifts in main opposition New Democracy's traditional strongholds Athens and Thessaloniki".

    VRADYNI: "Suffocation in social security funds".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [41] President going to New York with good will

    BRATISLAVA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has said that he is going to the forthcoming meeting with the United Nations General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in New York with a good will.

    Speaking during a joint press conference following the official talks he had in Slovakia with the Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic, President Christofias said that he will be flexible and will put forward suggestions on how to speed up UN-ed direct peace talks in order to step out of the current deadlock as soon as possible.

    He also expressed the wish our side will not be caught by surprises. Asked about the meeting in New York on November 18, he said that he is going to New York to discuss with an open mind and good will, adding that he will always be based on and defending principles.

    "We honor the decisions of the UN Security Council from which the UN Secretary-General received a mandate to assist the Cypriot owned talks to lead to a solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of international organization's resolutions", he added.

    He said that he is going to the UN Headquarters with the belief that our side would not be caught by surprise with regard to arbitration or mediation positions, citing the year of 2004, which had described as a bitter experience.

    Then, he explained, arbitration took place despite that this was not included in the UN resolutions.

    President noted that "If someone believes that Turkey wants to solve the Cyprus problem and we do not, this is on the verge of insanity", adding that it is our homeland which is under Turkish occupation troops.

    He also said that he himself is a refugee from the occupied part of Cyprus.

    He then spoke about his vision for the reunification of the island and its people under the roof of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with one sovereignty, one international personality and citizenship, political equality, as outlined in UN resolutions.

    He said that the basis of this solution has been agreed between him and the former leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat, adding that these principles have been adopted by the UN Security council.

    He then expressed hope that the UNSG will also follow these principles, adding that he is going there with a very good mood and will be flexible.

    Moreover, he said that he will submit proposals on how to speed up the peace talks process "and how can we step out of the deadlock as soon as possible and lead towards achieving a solution based on the afore-mentioned principles".

    On his part, President of Slovakia, speaking through an interpreter, said that his country supports and will continue to support a solution of the Cyprus problem based on principles.

    Slovakia, he added, supports a solution of a bi-zonal federation with one international personality, with equal political rights for residents of both communities.

    ''The ancient Greeks said that the principles are to be followed, not adjusted. When principles begin to adjust to the situations we cannot speak about principles", he added.

    He also said he is probably the only foreign President who met with representatives from both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties and expressed the belief that if no foreign interests were involved in the Cyprus issue, the two communities would have solve the problem long ago.

    In conclusion, he expressed certainly the Foreign Ministry and the Embassy of Slovakia in Cyprus will continue to offer their good services in the efforts to bring the two communities together and reach a solution of the problem in the context of the ongoing talks.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    Peace talks began in September 2008 between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Eroglu, who succeeded Talat.

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