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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-26

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

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

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 Issue No: 3704

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM calls for further action against Siemens
  • [02] Siemens scandal report submitted to parliament plenary
  • [03] PM addresses Cabinet meeting
  • [04] Lower corporate tax rate, stiffer sanctions envisioned in draft bill
  • [05] Merkel praises Greece's efforts in handling crisis
  • [06] Criticism over univ. occupation; gov't dismisses migrants' demands for legalisation
  • [07] Health minister stresses desire for dialogue with pharmacists
  • [08] Gov't adopts e-auctions on public procurements
  • [09] Greeks pessimistic over pension prospects
  • [10] Greek trade deficit drops 44.2pct in Nov.
  • [11] Port of Piraeus, WWL eye cooperation on new car terminal
  • [12] Stocks drop on profit taking
  • [13] Greek bond market closing report
  • [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [15] 'Navigating in the Dark' exhibition at Benaki Museum annex
  • [16] Death of prominent shipowner, resort developer Vassilis Constantakopoulos
  • [17] Greek film nominated for Oscar
  • [18] Greek-Bulgarian baby trafficking gang arrested on both sides of border
  • [19] Trial of suspects charged in terrorism case postponed until Thurs.
  • [20] Illegal migrants intercepted in Preveza
  • [21] Man injured in truck-train collision
  • [22] Drug arrest in Thessaloniki
  • [23] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [24] President departs for Geneva meeting
  • [25] Meeting on Cyprus to take place Wednesday morning in Geneva Politics

  • [01] PM calls for further action against Siemens

    Prime Minister George Papandreou instructed his ministers to take further action against the German-based multinational Siemens, during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

    Papandreou asked Minister of Justice Haris Kastanidis, Regional Development Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Minister of State Haris Pamboukis to take actions needed in order to impose fines on Siemens and sue for compensation for the multinational's actions that harmed the state's interests.

    The move comes after a Parliamentary Examining Committee submitted its report on an investigation into a kickbacks scandal involving several Siemens contracts, for which MPs recommended that 14 former ministers be further investigated for criminal liability.

    In addition to seeking compensation, Papandreou also asked that any tenders awarded to the company be first carefully re-examined before they are ratified and that the two sides sign an 'integrity agreement'.

    The prime minister also urged faster completion of the judicial process, if possible, in order to clear up the case.

    In statements afterward, Pamboukis said that Siemens' action in the past amounted to an organised bribery operation.

    "The Siemens scandal is a scandal that in reality is international. One of its aspects, of course, concerns Greece and the findings of the committee do confirm what was the prevailing feeling that this was an organised bribery operation that in reality acted by corrupting competition and the rules of transparency, above and beyond any criminal aspects that obviously exist and are being investigated," he told the radio station Vima FM.

    Pamboukis said that the government had sent a letter asking the current management of Siemens to help shed light on the actions of its predecessors and uncover those responsible.

    He also stressed that the investigation had to go ahead and be specific, regardless of whether some of the offences were statute-barred for the politicians involved.

    [02] Siemens scandal report submitted to parliament plenary

    The report of the parliamentary fact-finding commission's probe into the Siemens kickbacks scandal was tabled in the Parliament plenum late Monday night, with the varying conclusions reached by the political parties triggering heated reactions. Although all sides agreed that a parliamentary preliminary investigation committee should further investigate the issue, the parties did disagree, however, on the specific former ministers that should be further probed.

    A motion is expected to be tabled, with 60 signatures of MPs, calling for debate of the report in the parliament plenary, after which a motion is slated to be tabled, with 30 signatures and most probably by the ruling PASOK party, proposing the establishment of the preliminary examination committee.

    PASOK former prime minister Costas Simitis and 14 more former ministers from ruling PASOK and main opposition ND have been proposed for referral to the parliamentary preliminary investigation committee.

    [03] PM addresses Cabinet meeting

    Prime Minister George Papandreou reminded on Tuesday that two upcoming European Union summits, in February and March, will be crucial, both for the Union and Greece.

    Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Papandreou said the "battles" to be waged in the Union concern Greek national issues and Europe's economic governance. Decisions to be taken "influence Greece more than other member-states, due to the country's difficult position in recent years."

    Referring to Monday's off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on Greek foreign policy issues, the premier noted that there "are no essential differences as regards the country's basic direction and our national strategy, which is a strategy of initiatives and reinforcement of Greece, as well as of a versatile diplomacy.

    "On the contrary, I did not hear any other serious view with a realistic depth."

    Papandreou also underlined that Greece has regained a major part of its credibility internationally.

    [04] Lower corporate tax rate, stiffer sanctions envisioned in draft bill

    The government on Tuesday unveiled a new tax draft bill foreseeing lower corporate tax rates, aimed at reviving currently frozen economic growth and stiffer sanctions against tax evasion.

    The draft bill, which was presented during a Cabinet meeting and was tabled for consultation, envisages a radical reorganisation of all public services, a continuous evaluation of tax bureau inspectors, the introduction of an internal affairs unit, accelerated decision-making in tax cases through the creation of a tax arbitration entity and flexibility in VAT payments.

    The bill sets a uniform tax rate on corporate earnings at 20 pct, down from 24 pct, while distributed earnings will be subject to a 25 pct withholding tax, down from a progressive tax rate of up to 40 pct currently. It also envisages a tax increase on stock market transaction gains from 0.15 pct to 0.2 pct.

    Under the plan, the finance ministry will introduce a three-year programme aimed at combating tax evasion, which will include specific actions and measurable targets. It will include the introduction of a general attorney for financial crimes and stiffer sanctions against tax evasion, such as jail sentences for outstanding tax debt. It also envisages setting special criteria for inspections on self-employed reporting low incomes, particularly physicians, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants and business executives.

    Also an electronic receipt card will be introduced to boost transparency in transactions between consumers and enterprises. The new bill will also envisage extending for a period of four years of the right to a discount for an additional 50 pct of spending in R&D for enterprises.

    [05] Merkel praises Greece's efforts in handling crisis

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/G.Pappas)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the efforts made by Greece and its government in handling the current economic crisis.

    "I am fully aware that some Eurozone countries and of the EU should have taken tough adaptation measures, either in Greece - where we are observing with great respect what the Greek government has put on track - or in other countries in which a lot of things have been achieved," Merkel said while addressing, on Tuesday, the diplomatic corps in Berlin.

    [06] Criticism over univ. occupation; gov't dismisses migrants' demands for legalisation

    A group of economic migrants taking part in a mass hunger strike that began on Tuesday at the old building of the Athens Law School and their local supporters held a press conference to press their demands that Greece grant a residence permit to all migrants in the country, both legal and illegal.

    The migrants called their hunger strike a "historic event" and claimed that it was "the largest hunger strike by migrants in the history of Europe".

    There are 287 migrants taking part in the hunger strike in total, 237 of them camped inside the old law school building in central Athens, and the remaining 50 in Thessaloniki's Labour Centre. Rather than seeking political asylum, the mostly North African and 20-something men are demanding legalisation.

    A Greek spokesman for the group underlined that they did not intend to leave the premises of the school, where they are protected by university asylum laws, until their demands are met.

    "We are determined to die in order to acquire equal rights," he stressed but did not clarify what action the group would take if the government granted residence permits to those involved but not the remaining 460,000 illegal immigrants now estimated to be living in Greece without valid documents or a renewed residence permit.

    The entire group arrived in Athens from Crete by ferry boat early morning Sunday, a week after the law school's faculty rejected a request by a leftist student grouping to host the hunger strikers.

    Sharp gov't response

    On its part, the interior ministry on Tuesday clarified that there is "no intention or possibility to legalise, en masse and unconditionally, all of the foreign nationals that have entered and reside in the country illegally."

    Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, who holds the public order portfolio, first reminded that the university asylum regime is the exclusive domain of university officials. "... This is the substance and content of the university asylum, to ensure the unhindered exchange of ideas and knowledge in higher education campuses." Moreover, Papoutsis said the primary organisers of the "takeover", the "Forum for Migrants", wants the immediate and legalisation of all illegal migrants in Greece, something he said flies in the face of the European legal framework and the Greek constitution.

    An announcement by the education ministry, which referred to a "camp for migrants" inside the school, was equally caustic. Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulos referred to an "outrageous" incident of "political forces exploiting, in the most provocative manner, human agony in order to serve their petty political expediencies; destroying university liberties (in the process)". She also called on the law school's administration to defend the institution's academic operation.

    KKE

    Moreover, the Communist Party charged that "whoever led the migrants to the law school (building) merely exposes them (migrants) to greater slandering and threats by reactionary parties and mechanism; to state oppression and blackmail by the networks that are exploiting them."

    Greece has been swamped by successive waves of illegal immigration since 1990, with the most recent influx of would-be migrants hailing from mostly Third World countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In most cases migrant smugglers ferry illegals from neighbouring Turkey by land and sea, whereas a majority of the migrants apparently want to clandestinely depart Greece for a western or northern European destination.

    The Greek government recently announced plans to erect a fence along a 12.8-kilometre stretch of border it shares with Turkey not located along the route of the Evros River in NE Greece. Additionally, Frontex units from other European countries have commenced sea patrols in the eastern Aegean and guard duty in the Evros border prefecture in a bid to assist Greek forces.

    [07] Health minister stresses desire for dialogue with pharmacists

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday repeated that supermarkets would not be allowed to enter the retail market for pharmaceuticals under the liberalisation of pharmacies envisaged by the government, stressing that to open a pharmacy one will still need to be qualified pharmacist.

    "If this doesn't satisfy pharmacists then we are playing games," the minister added, noting that he could have resorted to justice to force pharmacies to open and not allowed people to be inconvenienced.

    "But I didn't do this. I am sending a message of calm. I want us to have a dialogue," he said.

    Concerning the problems that the strike will cause to the general public and especially old people, Loverdos said that the 'Help at Home' programme will assist those unable to reach a pharmacy or a hospital to get their medicine.

    Pharmacists in Greece have decided to hold a three-day strike starting on Wednesday in protest against government plans to liberalise their profession.

    Financial News

    [08] Gov't adopts e-auctions on public procurements

    The Greek government is promoting electronic auctions for its public procurement programme as part of a plan to cut spending and promote transparency in public procurements.

    Presenting the plan, Regional Development & Competitiveness Deputy Minister Dinos Rovlias, said the "eAuction" was one of the stages of an electronic procurements system adopted by the government. The other stages of this procedure are: eNotification, eSubmission, eAward, eOrdering, eCatalogues, eInvoicing and ePayment.

    Electronic auctions are implemented only when standards are fully and precisely determined. The use of electronic auctions offers the possibility of improved prices but only when bids are determined quantitively.

    [09] Greeks pessimistic over pension prospects

    Greek citizens are pessimistic over the country's pension system, reflecting uncertainties over their financial prospects, a public opinion poll published by the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece showed on Tuesday.

    This uncertainty is highlighted by the fact that only one in four Greeks fully acknowledges the changes currently underway in the pension system, while the vast majority of polled citizens said they expected their pension to be affected by these changes, with one in 10 saying they did not expect to receive any pension at all.

    The survey was held in the June 15-23, 2010 period in a sample of 1,000 people of all classes and ages. The survey showed that half of the employees and pensioners polled "were not fully certain over the pensions", while more than eight in 10 their pensions could not sustain their current living standard. The majority of surveyed people said traditional ways, such as real estate incomes, investments and saving deposits -with 50 pct thinking about personal pension insurance programs- could offer additional financial help.

    Labor & Social Insurance Deputy Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis expressed his optimism over the long-term viability of the country's pension funds and stressed that citizens should be informed over the changes in the pension system and noted that the supplementary private insurance system should be developed by introducing single regulation, adequate supervision and setting clear terms over the cooperation between pension funds and insurance companies.

    Al. Sarrigeorgiou, president of the Association's life, pension and bancassurance commission, said development of the private insurance business was largely dependent on strong tax incentives.

    [10] Greek trade deficit drops 44.2pct in Nov.

    Greece's trade balance deficit dropped by 44.2 percent in November 2010 against the same month in 2009, according to provisional data released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.

    The deficit of the trade balance in November 2010 amounted to 1470.9 million euros (1990.1 million dollars) in comparison with 2634.7 million euros (390.4 million dollars) in November 2009, recording a drop of 44.2%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded a decrease of 826.6 million euros or 37.3%.

    The deficit of the Trade Balance for the 11-month period from January to November 2010 amounted to 18304.8 million euros (24180.6 million dollars) in comparison with 28218.4 million euros (38923.8 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2009, recording a drop of 35.1%. In the corresponding change excluding oil products, the deficit of the trade balance recorded a decrease of 4704.2 million euros or 20.9%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches for the 11-month period from January to November 2010 amounted to 14359.2 million euros (19101.0 million dollars) in comparison with 13411.3 million euros (18663.6 million dollars) for the corresponding period of 2009, recording an increase of 7.1%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded an increase of 850.6 million euros or 6.9%.

    According to an ELSTAT report on Commercial Transactions for November 2010 released on Tuesday, the total value of imports-arrivals for the 11-month period from January to November 2010 amounted to 32664.1 million euros (43281.7million dollars) in comparison with 41629.6 million euros (57587.4 million dollars) for the corresponding period of 2009, recording a drop of 21.5%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded a decrease of 3853.6 million euros or 11.1%.

    The total value of imports-arrivals in November 2010 amounted to 3074.1 million euros (4187.1 million dollars) in comparison with 3797.5 million euros (5646.8 million dollars) in November 2009, recording a drop of 19.0%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded a drop of 452.5 million euros or 13.8%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches in November 2010 amounted to 1603.4 million euros (2197.0 million dollars) in comparison with 1162.8 million euros (1739.4 million dollars) in November 2009, recording an increase of 37.9%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded an increase of 374.2 million euros or 34.7%.

    [11] Port of Piraeus, WWL eye cooperation on new car terminal

    The Piraeus Port Authority, the Greek-listed authority of the country's biggest port, on Tuesday met with representatives of logistical enterprises to cooperation ahead of the construction of a vehicle car terminal at the Ikonio pier.

    Construction of the vehicle terminal - which will cover an area of 145,000 sq. metres - will begin Feb. 1, and will be operational by April 1, 2011.

    Scandinavian lines WWL will contribute to the modernisation of the new car terminal with the transfer of know-how and expertise in its operation and security issues. The new terminal will include a cargo railway station, expected around the end of the year.

    Piraeus port said transit cargo of vehicles totaled 246,802 units last year, up from 103,166 in 2009, an increase of 139.2 pct. Total cargo was up 37.6 pct in 2010.

    Scandinavian lines WWL is the leader in car transit transportation, accounting for 156,884 units out of the total 246,802 last year.

    [12] Stocks drop on profit taking

    Stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors took profits after a three-week rally of prices. The composite index of the market fell 0.92 pct to end at 1,534.38 points, with turnover at 97.985 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 1.22 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.38 pct down and the Small Cap index eased 0.09 pct. Marfin Popular Bank (1.85 pct), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (1.34 pct), Ellaktor (1.10 pct) and Jumbo (0.38 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Postbank (3.41 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.07 pct), MIG (2.86 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.35 pct) were major losers.

    The Media (3.15 pct) and Commerce (1.78 pct) sectors scored gains, while Financial Services (2.99 pct), Travel (2.20 pct) and Raw Materials (2.12 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 105 to 68 with another 45 issues unchanged. Centric Multimedia (18.92 pct), Vioter (16.67 pct), Avenir (13.04 pct) were top gainers, while Unibios (12.5 pct), Euroholdings (11.11 pct) and FHL Mermeren (9.73 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.12%

    Industrials: -0.36%

    Commercial: +1.78%

    Construction: +0.03%

    Media: +3.15%

    Oil & Gas: -0.57%

    Personal & Household: +0.56%

    Raw Materials: -2.12

    Travel & Leisure: -2.20%

    Technology: -0.64%

    Telecoms: -0.69%

    Banks: -1.70%

    Food & Beverages: +1.39%

    Health: -0.84%

    Utilities: -1.31%

    Chemicals: -0.93%

    Financial Services: -2.99%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus , Alpha Bank and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.15

    ATEbank: 0.75

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.42

    HBC Coca Cola: 21.20

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.43

    National Bank of Greece: 6.85

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.20

    OPAP: 13.66

    OTE: 7.19

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.58

    Titan: 16.00

    [13] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market remained a disappointing low 20 million euros on Tuesday, of which 15 million were buy orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 4.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 815 basis points from 797 bps on Monday, with the Greek 10-year bond yielding 11.29 pct and the German Bund 3.14 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate was 1.59 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month 1.03 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.

    [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.370

    Pound sterling 0.868

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 8.978

    Japanese yen 112.98

    Swiss franc 1.297

    Norwegian kroner 7.910

    Canadian dollar 1.370

    Australian dollar 1.383

    General News

    [15] 'Navigating in the Dark' exhibition at Benaki Museum annex

    An exhibition titled "Navigating in the Dark" by artist Kalliopi Lemos, is currently on display at the Benaki Museum's new annex building at 138 Pireos street in central Athens, and will run through March 26.

    In this first solo exhibition by Lemos, the artist presents her new group of sculptures, with large-scale steel works.

    Space is transformed into an environment for contemplation formed like a bee-hive. The dynamics created by multiplying and reinforcing the hexagonal honeycomb structure around a nucleus of human heads, function as a mechanism for introspection. The circular circumferential platform with organic sculpted forms functions as an observatory, allowing viewers to incorporate themselves into and enter a direct discourse with the work.

    This exhibition constitutes the first stop of a trilogy entitled Navigating in the Dark, which will be held in both indoor and open-air spaces. The two other stops will be the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete and the Ibrahim Khan Mosque in Rethymno (May to August 2011) and the crypt of the church of St. Pancras in London (October - November 2011).

    These are three independent exhibitions, which, nevertheless, maintain elements of continuity and links between them. The three stops constitute a co-production of the Benaki Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete.

    The exhibition is curated by Maria Maragou, art historian and Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete.

    [16] Death of prominent shipowner, resort developer Vassilis Constantakopoulos

    "Captain" Vassilis Constantakopoulos, one of Greece's most prominent shipowners and developer of luxury hotel complexes in his birthplace Messinia, died early Tuesday at the age of 76, after a bout with cancer.

    Constantakopoulos, founder of the shipping firm Costamare, was born in 1935 in Diavolitsi, Messinia. He left for Athens in 1948, where he worked while attending a night high school, graduating in 1953.

    That same year he set sail as an unpaid apprentice on a small ship, the beginning of his maritime career, and in 1974 he created his own company, Costamare Shipping Company SA after purchasing an old, small ship.

    Today Costamare, which remains a family business, manages 46 container ships and is the largest independent container shipping company in the world, with its entire fleet under the Greek flag.

    A forward-looking entrepreneur, Constantakopoulos also became involved in the tourism industry, and was the founder and president of TEMES, developer of the new, world-renowned Costa Navarino resort in his homeland Messinia.

    He further turned his focus to industry, and was the founder and president of Geohellas, a metallurgy company involved in the mining, processing and marketing of industrial minerals from the company's self-owned deposits in the prefectures of Grevena and Kozani.

    Married to Carmen Kyritsi, he is survived by their three sons Costis, Achilleas and Christos who today manage Costamare, TEMES and Geohellas, respectively.

    He was a founding member and later chairman of the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association (HELMEPA), HELMEPA Junior -- which received the UNEP Global 500 award in 1998 - and Intermepa.

    In 2000, Constantakopoulos and his wife founded the Hellenic Studies Centre at the University of Beijing, and the family group of companies continues to finance its operation.

    Constantakopoulos served on the boards of directors of numerous Greek and international organisations in the maritime field, and has been awarded by the Academy of Athens, the European Union and several cities and chambers for his activities and contribution.

    He was also a major benefactor of public benefit foundations and projects.

    [17] Greek film nominated for Oscar

    Yorgos Lanthimos' film 'Dogtooth' was nominated on Tuesday for an Academy Award in the category of best foreign language film.

    Dogtooth will compete along with Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's film "Biutiful"; "Outside the Law" by Algeria's Rachid Bouchareb; "Incendies" by Canada's Denis Villeneuve and "In a Better World" from Denmark's Susanne Bier.

    The Academy Award ceremony will take place on Feb. 27 in Los Angeles.

    Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos, in a statement, said the nomination "goes beyond the sphere of cinema, arts and culture. It concerns an entire country, its people, a new generation of creators who personify the 'Yes, it can be done' in difficult period."

    [18] Greek-Bulgarian baby trafficking gang arrested on both sides of border

    Attica Security Police, in collaboration with their Bulgarian counterparts, on Tuesday broke up an organised gang of Greek and Bulgarian traffickers of pregnant women from Bulgaria to Greece for illegal adoptions, after an investigation that lasted nearly eight months.

    In coordinated operations, seven gang members were arrested in Greece and five more in neighboring Bulgaria, charged with kidnapping a minor, while the involvement of more members is being investigated.

    The case came to light after information conveyed to Greek police by the Bulgarian authorities via Interpol that the gang was approaching Roma women in Bulgaria, in the final stages of pregnancy and, taking advantage of their bad financial situation and vulnerable position, would convince them to come to Greece to give birth and turn the infants over to the gang.

    The infants were then given over for adoption to Greek couples located by other gang members, for 20,000-25,000 euros each.

    The gang also took by force the newborns of the women who refused to turn over their infants, and issued forged documents (birth certificates, etc) for adoption.

    Greek police located the gang leader, a resident of Fthiotis prefecture, and placed him under discrete surveillance. The investigation turned up at least 17 women over the past year that were smuggled into Greece to give birth in Greek hospitals, while the newborns were afterwards adopted by Greek families.

    Upon completion of the investigation, a coordinated operation took place in Athens and Lamia in Greece, and in the Bulgarian cities of Varna and Burgas, where the gang members were arrested, including the gang leader in Lamia, in whose residence police found a 3-week-old infant girl taken forcibly from its 29-year-old Bulgarian mother and destined for sale.

    The detainees will be led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday morning.

    [19] Trial of suspects charged in terrorism case postponed until Thurs.

    The trial of nine defendants charged with various terrorism-related charges for their alleged participation in the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" ultra-leftist terror gang -- six jailed and three free on bail -- was adjourned for Thursday, as they refused to accept 18 new court-appointed defence attorneys on Tuesday.

    Their previous attorneys resigned after the court ruled against the defendants' demands to record the court proceedings and to allow spectators inside the specially modified courtroom -- located within the women's wing at the Korydallos penitentiary -- without showing police IDs.

    Only the three defendants out on bail were in the courtroom.

    [20] Illegal migrants intercepted in Preveza

    Thirty-two illegal migrants, including two women, were intercepted on Tuesday in the Loutsa region in Preveza prefecture by Parga port authority officials.

    The illegals had traveled to the region on an Amsterdam-registered boat, which has been intercepted by port authorities.

    A search has also been launched to locate the migrant-smuggler and other possible illegals who had been on board.

    [21] Man injured in truck-train collision

    The driver of a truck was seriously injured and rushed to hospital when his vehicle was hit by a train at a level crossing at around 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

    The TRAINOSE service 1578 going from Larisa to Volos slammed into the truck about seven kilometres out of Larissa when the driver failed to stop at a guarded level crossing.

    [22] Drug arrest in Thessaloniki

    A 37-year-old man was arrested by Thessaloniki security police charged with trafficking quantities of narcotic substances.

    According to police, a search of the man's residence and car turned up 3.6 kilos of heroin destined for sale.

    The drugs were seized, as well as 5,100 euros in cash from drug sales.

    [23] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The parliamentary fact-finding commission's report on the Siemens scandal and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Samaras calls for investigation of asset statements of all ministers since 1974".

    AVRIANI: "Report (by parliamentary fact-finding commission) on Siemens scandal devastating for the political system".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Invasion by illegal migrants at Athens University Law School".

    ELEFTHEROS: "PASOK, ND find guilty parties (in Siemens scandal) in their political 'cemeteries'."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Sweeping changes in retail trade".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "This is the proposal (containing alternative solutions) for the Greek debt (by the head of the European Support Mechanism)".

    ESTIA: "We are following a policy of bankruptcy".

    ETHNOS: "Athens University Law School an illegal migrants camp".

    IMERISSIA: "Stress test for 40 auxiliary funds".

    KATHIMERINI: "Tax evasion becomes a felony, under new tax bill".

    LOGOS: "Coming soon: Audits on political parties, too".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Overdue loans (to Greek banks in 2010) exceed 28 billion euros".

    NIKI: "Lock on DEKO (public utilities and organisations) by the (EU-IMF) Troika".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Patriotism, for PASOK and ND, is the profits of the capital".

    TA NEA: "All insured workers in the state social security funds may opt for private doctors".

    VRADYNI: "Settlement of outstanding debts to the state with discount for the...'Kolonaki doctors' too".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [24] President departs for Geneva meeting

    LARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias departed Tuesday for Geneva, where on Wednesday a meeting will take place between him, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

    President Christofias is accompanied by Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou and his negotiating team.

    On Monday, the Government Spokesman said that President Christofias goes to the Geneva meeting in a constructive spirit and with good will, "showing the necessary realism, in order to serve our firm goal, which is the achievement of a solution to the Cyprus problem the soonest possible".

    He added that Cyprus expects the Turkish side to demonstrate a constructive stance at the Geneva meeting.

    The Republic of Cyprus, which became a full EU member state in May 2004, is divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and since then occupy 37% of Cyprus' territory. UN-led Cyprus talks are underway between President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu with a view to reunify the country.

    The UNSG has invited both leaders at a meeting in Geneva on the 26th of January to review progress made so far at the Cyprus talks and decide on the next steps.

    [25] Meeting on Cyprus to take place Wednesday morning in Geneva

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's meeting in Geneva with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on Wednesday will be followed by a working lunch and a press statement by the UNSG in the presence of the two Cyprus leaders.

    According to a press release issued by UN Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) here, the meeting is scheduled to start at 10 am (11 am Cyprus time) at the Palais des Nations - UN Headquarters in Geneva.

    The meeting will be followed by a working lunch and then a statement to be read out by the Secretary-General in the presence of the two leaders, the press release added.

    The press statement is expected to be delivered by the Secretary-General in front of the media at approximately 2:15 pm (3:15 pm, Cyprus time).

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