|Thursday, 22 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-03-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 5 March 2012 Issue No: 4013
 Major antiquities smuggling network uncoveredLaw enforcement authorities on Sunday continued an investigation throughout Greece to uncover a major antiquities dealing ring.
A 66-year-old man, suspected of masterminding the illicit trade in antiquities was arrested, along with no less than 43 other suspects, ranging in ages from 25-74 -- including pensioners, municipal employees and professionals.
According to police, the 66-year-old aimed to sell the antiquities, recovered during illegal excavations, abroad. Often times the artifacts were sent abroad in envelopes and in small quantities in order to avoid suspicion.
Authorities said the ring was mainly active in northern and central Greece, namely, in Halkidiki, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Pella, Imathia, Pieria, Serres, Kavala, Drama, Karditsa, Trikala, Larissa and Fthiotida prefectures.
A large number of golden and silver coins as well as priceless artifacts have been confiscated, dating from the 6th century BC to the Byzantine era.
 Avramopoulos urges political cooperation, regardless of election outcomeMain opposition New Democracy vice-president and current Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos stressed the need for cooperation and understanding between the political parties, regardless of the outcome of elections, in an interview published by the newspaper "To Vima" on Sunday.
"The current government, beyond the goals it serves, will leave as its legacy an outlook of national understanding," Avramopoulos stressed, underlining that ND would seek cooperation with the other parties even in the event that it was a majority government.
He noted that Greece would not be in its current state if this had been achieved earlier, when there was time to implement policies that were more social and growth-oriented and less dependent on recession-generating austerity measures.
 Opposition parties welcome CoS decision on property tax, power billsGreece's left-wing parties on Saturday welcomed a Council of State ruling issued the previous day, which stated that to cut off the electricity of people unable to pay a property surtax charged via their power bill was unconstitutional.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) each issued announcements attacking the government over the measure, stressing that the ruling was a slap in the face for the coalition government and especially its finance minister and vice-president, Evangelos Venizelos, who considered himself an expert in constitutional law.
In a decision reached late on Friday night, the CoS found that legislative measures requiring the Public Power Corporation (PPC) to cut off the electricity of those unable to pay a one-off property surtax were invalid and unconstitutional.
The surtax itself was ruled constitutional and legal by the CoS justices by virtue of being temporary, since it will only be imposed for the space of two years. As a result, they said, its imposition did not contravene any Constitutional decree.
The court left open the possibility that the surtax might also be judged unconstitutional, however, if it was converted into a permanent taxation and was again challenged at the supreme administrative court.
The ruling was issued following a petition disputing the legality of the surtax filed by a number of bar associations throughout the country, as well as trade unions and associations of local authorities.
In its announcement on Saturday, KKE urged the people to trust the party and their "own huge power" and to swell a popular resistance against all "head-taxes and policies targeting the masses".
SYRIZA stressed that the decision essentially cast doubt on the legality of the surtax itself and was "the first great victory of the unprecedented popular movement that has grown in neighbourhoods throughout Greece".
"This positive development shows that resistance, collective disobedience and the self-organisation of working people are a necessary condition for removing the government and the policies of disaster and social bankruptcy," the party added.
 Left-wing parties support initiatives to cut out middlemen in retail food supply chainThe left-wing parties Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and Democratic Left on Saturday issued announcements expressing their support for the "Potato Movement" - a series of initiatives to cut out middlemen in the sale of agricultural products to consumers.
"Initiatives to directly sell agricultural products from producers to consumers highlight in a dramatic way the long-term regime of unrestrained profiteering of middlemen, food companies, supermarket chains and cartels," a SYRIZA announcement said.
It praised them as "shining examples of self-organisation" that reveal the huge potential of farmers and consumers to sideline middlemen, while strongly criticising the two main parties for weakening the institution of agricultural cooperatives.
Democratic Left noted that the movement was an activist initiative that brought to the fore the "grey zone" in the pricing of products and the state's inability to check cartels and ensure a healthy functioning of markets and competition.
 Poll foresees nine-party parliament; no majority gov'tThe latest in the ubiquitous weekend opinion polls envisions a nine-party Parliament but without any party achieving a large enough majority to form a one-party government.
According to results of a poll published on Sunday by the Athens daily "Kathimerini", New Democracy (ND) garnered 28 percent of respondents' preference, with the newly established Democratic Left party favoured by 16 percent of respondents. The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) polled 12 percent, followed by the Communist Party (KKE) and former ruling PASOK with 11 percent.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) and the Ecologists-Greens collected 4 percent each. Interestingly enough, the latest party (Independent Greeks) to be established, just last week, received 4 percent as well.
Moreover, the ultra-rightwing Chryssi Avghi was given 3.5 percent, a figure which if reproduced at the ballot box would mean its parliament representation.
The abstention rate was recorded at a high 27.5 percent.
Finally, 87 percent of respondents said they were disappointed with the interim Papademos government; 52 percent of respondents disagreed with the new Memorandum.
The opinion poll was conducted by the firm Public Issue.
 New LA.O.S party sec't electedFormer agriculture development deputy minister Asterios Rondoulis on Saturday was unanimously elected as the secretary
of the small right-of-centre Popular Orthodox Rally's (LA.O.S) central committee.
Rondoulis, who briefly served in the interim government of Lucas Papademos, will replaced high-profile Adonis Georgiadis, who resigned from his deputy's seat and from the party before joining New Democracy (ND).
Meanwhile, in repeating his recent negative stance towards snap elections, LA.O.S president George Karatzaferis said that "I am not sure whether the one who calls for elections really means it".
Moreover, he called his party's mechanism to be ready for elections at any time.
 Turkish foreign minister meets with Ecumenical PatriarchISTANBUL (AMNA)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Fanar, after which the Patriarch expressed satisfaction at the change in the Turkish government's stance toward the Patriarchate. The meeting was held on Saturday.
The Patriarch expressed hope that all issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the ethnic Greek community will finally be resolved.
Davutoglu repeated that the Turkish government desired to move toward the harmonious coexistence of all religious communities in Turkey. He noted that the Turkish government's policy was not dependent on some sort of "mutuality" but expressed equality before the state and the laws, as this was understood by the government.
Patriarch Bartholomew expressed hope that the changes taking place will continue and pointed out that the Patriarchate had its "roots" in Istanbul for more than 17 centuries.
The Turkish minister repeated his desire to visit the School of Theology on the island of Halki and its library.
During the visit, the Ecumenical Patriarch also conveyed his best wishes for a speedy recovery to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has recently undergone two surgeries to his intestine, adding that he prayed daily for his health.
 Greece's representative addresses UN Commission on Status of WomenNEW YORK (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)
Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Anastasis Mitsialis, on Saturday addressed the 56th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and noted that the Greek Constitution promotes equality of the sexes, providing guarantees that the state will adopt measures that eradicate existing inequality at the expense of women.
He referred to the need to financially support women in rural areas and the role that this can play in eradicating hunger and poverty, linking this to the Millennium Targets, while emphasising that women and girls living in rural areas continue to suffer from a disadvantaged position.
Mitsialis said the Greek government was taking measures to encourage women to undertake business initiatives and to reduce the unemployment rate among women but also noted that this effort was now being hampered due to the economic crisis in the country.
 Papoulias at 'Feast of Orthodoxy' service in AthensSeveral politicians and members of the government on Sunday attended the service marking the 'Feast of Orthodoxy', the first Sunday of Lent, at Aghios Dionysus Church in the Athens district of Kolonaki, where President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias read out the Nicene Creed 'Symbol of the Faith'.
In statements afterward, many of them drew comparisons between the restoration of the icons in Orthodoxy celebrated by the feast and the restoration of Greece. These included Education, Lifelong Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and the secretary of main opposition New Democracy's Parliamentary group Kostas Tasoulas.
The service was led by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, who afterwards replied to reporters' questions about the Greek Church complaints of poor cooperation with the government.
Replying, the archbishop said the Church was incensed that government officials had not assisted in its efforts to exploit the lands in its possession to set up photovoltaic parks in order to generate revenue for the poor, even though foreign investors involved in the Helios programme had been able to obtain the land needed within a few days.
 Strong earthquake shakes Halkidiki peninsulaA moderately strong earthquake measuring 5.0 points on the Richter scale shook the Halkidiki peninsula in northern Greece early on Saturday, at around 5:31 a.m.
According to the Thessaloniki University Seismological Station, the epicentre of the quake was located in the sea between the Sithonia and Athos 'fingers' of the peninsula, some 109 kilometres east of the city of Thessaloniki.
Though the tremor was strongly felt in the area, there were no victims or damages reported. It had been preceded by a quake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale in the same area on February 14.
 Search continues for missing hikerAuthorities were on Sunday continuing to search Mount Olympus for a 70-year-old hiker from Athens, who went missing last Tuesday. The search is being conducted in the region between Gortsia and the Mouses plateau by 18 members of the Greek Rescue Team.
 Foreign nat'l wanted for homicide arrested at border postA 24-year-old Albanian national was arrested on Sunday at a border post on the Greek-Albanian frontier on an outstanding felony warrant (homicide charge) as well as for illegal weapons possession.
In a separate incident, a 27-year-old Iraqi man was stabbed on the abdomen during a brawl between foreign nationals in the NW city of Ioannina.
 Foreign nat'ls charged with weapons smugglingTwo Albanian nationals were arrested on Sunday in a northwest Greece village on charges of attempting to smuggle weaponry into the country.
Police found two assault rifles, five cartridges, a handgun and 54 rounds in a bag carried by one of the suspects.
An investigation revealed an accomplice, a 25 year-old Albanian who was located and arrested in the nearby port city of Igoumenitsa.
Both suspects were due to face a local prosecutor.
 Police sergeant arrested for illegal possession of firearms, stolen documentsThe Police Internal Affairs department on Sunday announced that an investigation was underway into the activities of a police sergeant arrested on charges of illegal possession of firearms, breach of duty and stealing departmental documents.
The arrest was made on Saturday when the suspect was caught carrying four fire-arms, even though he had been deprived of his right to carry a weapon by the police Health and Safety Service. Also arrested were two private citizens that were with him at the time.
The police sergeant serving at Piraeus Security Police was stopped and searched in Aspropyrgos by a squad of DIAS motorcycle police. The weapons and official police documents removed from his police precinct were found in his car.
Two of the guns, his service revolver and a privately-owned pistol, were the weapons he had been forbidden to carry and which he had taken illegally from the police station. He also had a second revolver and a pistol whose origins are still unknown.
Other evidence found in his car were a knife, ammunition, a USB storage device, the police ID of a Greek man who was deceased and bore a close resemblance to the police sergeant, two internal police documents and three certificates issued to defendants awaiting trial that were required to report to the Piraeus Security police, which he had taken secretly.
One of the two defendants, a man aged 46, was in the car with him at the time of his arrest. A second man in the car, a 47 year old, had 147 fire crackers in his home.
A search of the police sergeant's home also revealed a double-barreled shotgun and 20 cartridges, while the 46-year-old had another gun with two clips and 26 cartridges.
All the weapons confiscated, along with the USB storage device, will be sent to police forensic laboratories for further investigation.
The three men arrested were led before an Athens Misdemeanours' Court prosecutor on Sunday and the police sergeant has been suspended from duty and will undergo an internal investigation.
 Man arrested for debts to state exceeding 4.0 million euroThe 48-year-old owner of a private security firm was arrested in the Athens district of Kifissia on Saturday for outstanding debts to the state of 4,256,898.40 euro. The suspect was led before an Athens Misdemeanours Court prosecutor on Sunday.
 Robbers target ATM in IlioupolisAn ATM machine installed outside the offices of a firm of accountants in the Athens district of Ilioupolis was the target of a robbery in the early hours of Sunday morning. The robbery took place at 3:20 a.m. and the amount of money taken is not yet known.
The robbers managed to remove the automated teller machine by slamming into the front of the building with a stolen truck, allowing them to remove the entire machine and load it onto a second vehicle that they used to get away.
The machine itself, emptied of money, was found by police a short while later in a forest road in Karea.
 Illegal migrants interceptedEight illegal migrants were intercepted on Saturday in Serres prefecture, northern Greece, after a brief police chase.
Inside a vehicle authorities arrested three Iraqis, a man from Eritrea, one Liberian, a Somali and a Syrian.
According to police the migrants had entered the country from Turkey.
The human trafficker fled the scene.
 Major heroin arrest in NW GreecePolice arrested on Saturday arrested a 34-year-old Albanian national for possession of nearly three kilos of heroin, following a search of his car along a stretch of the Ioannina-Kozani national highway in NW Greece.
The drugs were confiscated and the suspect will be sent before an Ioannina prosecutor
 Greek Superleague resultsPanionios Athens - Atromitos Athens 1-2
Xanthi - Panetolikos 0-1
Aris Thessaloniki - AEK Athens 1-0
Levadiakos Livadia - Kerkyra 4-3
Asteras Tripoli - Ergotelis Crete 3-0
OFI Crete - Olympiacos Piraeus 0-2
Doxa Dramas - PAS Yannina 1-0
Panathinaikos Athens - PAOK Thessaloniki 0-2
The standings after 23 weeks
Atromitos 37 (22 weeks)
Asteras Tripoli 34
Levadiakos 25 (21)
PAS Yannina 18 (21)
Kerkyra 18 (22)
Doxa Dramas 15 (21)
 Cloudy on MondayCloudy weather and rain are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with winds blowing from east, southeasterly directions and ranging from 3-6 Beaufort. Temperatures will be between 2C and 16C. Clouds and rain in Athens, with temperatures between 8C and 14C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 5C to 12C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceNegotiations with the troika on further austerity measures in June, wage cuts in the public and private sectors, radical reforms to the taxation system and speculation on the date of elections were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "Starvation wages, luxury prices".
AVRIANI: "Election date locked for May 6".
DIMOKRATIA: "The nightmare returns - 13th-14th wages to become 'Midsummer Night's Dream' in June".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The unknown war for the 6 billion euro on pharmaceuticals".
EPOCHI: "Let's pelt them with potatoes!"
ETHNOS: "Summer attack on compensation, lump sums".
KATHIMERINI: "SDOE (financial crimes squad) investigation into the Army for fuel tampering".
PROTO THEMA: "Tax office 'block' for 300,000 bank accounts for debts from 4,000 euro".
REALNEWS: "Troika to also abolish lump sums!".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Uprising now with PAME for wage rises, signature of contracts".
TO PARON: "They are afraid of the Left! - It is no accident that the 'troika' gave the green light for elections!"
TO VIMA: "Elections locked - scenarios of joint government".
VRADYNI: "How much your wage will be cut - Big cuts to pensions also".
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