|Monday, 11 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-04-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 17 April 2012 Issue No: 4047
 Former minister Tsohatzopoulos remanded in custody on money-laundering chargeFormer minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos was remanded in custody on Orthodox Easter Monday after appearing before examining magistrate Gabriel Mallis to answer to charges of money laundering, specifically of kickbacks that he received in order to approve the purchase of the TOR-M1 missile systems and submarines for the Greek Navy.
Tsohatzopoulos had begun his testimony at noon on Monday and was questioned on a memorandum he delivered to the magistrate.
Sources said the former minister under successive PASOK governments had denied the charges against him concerning the armaments contracts, noting that these were approved by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), while he has reserved the right to present his defence concerning the TOR-M1 case at a later date.
Tsohatzopoulos will be held at a jail in police headquarters on Monday because jails are shut due to the holiday and will be transferred to a prison on Tuesday morning.
Tsohatzopoulos was brought before Mallis on Monday to testify regarding the charge of legalisation of revenues resulting from illegal activity, filed against him after a prolonged investigation on his assets. According to the charges against him, Tsohatzopoulos, used offshore companies of which he was a hidden owner to legalise kickbacks he reportedly received as a minister for contracts such as the TOR-M1 system and the construction of submarines for the Greek Navy on terms that were highly unfavourable for the Greek state.
In a decision on Friday, First Instance Court Chief Prosecutor Eleni Raikou ordered the bank accounts of the former minister and his four co-defendants in the money laundering case to be frozen.
The order concerns the bank accounts of Nikos Zigras, a cousin and close associate of Tsohatzopoulos, Efrosini Lambropoulou, an accountant and representative in Greece of the three offshore companies linked with the former minister and Giorgos Sahpatsidis, an entrepreneur and major shareholder of PAOK FC implicated in real estate transactions between the offshore firm TORCASO and Vatopedi Monastery.
The other three defendants in the case are due to testify on Tuesday.
The chief prosecutor's decision also concerns the bank accounts that belong to Asterios Economidis, who has been in custody since Thursday after testifying before an examining magistrate. Economidis is the major shareholder of a construction company that did renovation work at the former minister's luxurious house on Dionyssios Areopagitis Street and sold an apartment to Tsohatzopoulos' daughter located in Athens' Kolonaki district.
 ND attacks PASOK leader over Tsohatzopoulos questionable armaments contractsMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Easter Monday accused PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos of acting as "chief counsel" for former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos in the Parliamentary investigation of the TOR-M1 scandal and continuing to keep silent on the issue.
Mihelakis also noted that Venizelos had revised the 'odious' Tsohatzopoulos submarines contract in 2010, accepting terms that were even less favourable for Greece, such as committing the Greek state to paying the sums owed at regular intervals without also binding the company building the submarines to make corresponding progress in the work and without making provision for letters of guarantee, good execution and prompt delivery.
"Mr Tsohatzopoulos and Mr Venizelos, as defence minister, with these two contracts achieved the impossible. For us to have paid more than two billion euro but - instead of eight - to have taken delivery after 12 years of only one submarine. And that with problems that were fixed afterward," the spokesman added. He pointed out that ND had neither voted for the ratification of the Venizelos contracts nor implemented them from November 2011 until the present.
Replying to a reaction from PASOK, Mihelakis went on to accuse Venizelos of having tried to mislead a 2004-2005 Parliamentary investigation into Tsohatzopoulos' role in the submarines' contract by asserting that bank accounts traced to the former minister were actually phone numbers, going so far as to claim that he had called one of the numbers and found that it belonged to an MP.
He also defended the stance adopted by Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos concerning payments for the submarines' contracts as "absolutely correct".
 PASOK accuses ND of 'political vulgarity' in its stance on Tsohatzopoulos caseNew Democracy's stance concerning the case of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos "bordered on political vulgarity," PASOK spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata said on Monday, replying to the main opposition's statements concerning the affair.
"It is well known that PASOK did not hesitate from the very start to expel Mr. Tsohatzopoulos from its ranks," Gennimata emphasised, pointing out that PASOK had at no time attempted to link ND's current leader Antonis Samaras with scandals involving the party, such as the Vatopedi monastery land swaps, structured bonds and others that hit the headlines between 2004-2009 "because we always want to distinguish between personal politics and penal responsibility by persons from parties and governments".
Gennimata also noted that the current evidence being used in the case against Tsohatzopoulos was collected due to the efforts of the Parliamentary probe set up by PASOK in 2011 on the submarines case.
"Even worse, ND is attempting in a way that is institutionally and politically unacceptable to equate the initial contracts for the submarines with the huge effort made in 2010 to save the shipyards and the money given by the Greek people without having received even one submarine until that time," she added, noting that the lion's share of the money given - or 730 million euro -was paid between 2004 and 2009 with nothing received in exchange.
"ND's leadership should also remember that no contract was signed in 2010 but a law of the state passed with a very broad majority and with unprecedented terms of transparency, something that had never before occurred in the area of defence armaments," she said, pointing out that ND's objections at the time had been focused on the type of the new submarines and without raising any issue of transparency.
She also emphasised that the current ND defence minister Dimitris Avramopoulos had deliberately followed the party line and failed to implement a law of the state concerning the shipyards and submarines, jeopardising the fate of the shipyards and thousands of jobs, making this an issue for the prime minister on which Avramopoulos must provide answers.
 Greeks celebrate Orthodox EasterGreeks throughout the world celebrated Orthodox Easter in the traditional outdoors style this Sunday, though the weather was not an ally in all parts of the country.
Western Greece, in particular, had to contend with spring showers and squalls throughout the morning, though elsewhere the sun was shining and temperatures ranged from a cool 9C to a balmy 21-22C in Attica and several islands.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias chose to spend Easter Day with the men of the Greek army's 2nd Raider Squadron in Naoussa.
The leader of the PASOK party Evangelos Venizelos spent his Easter in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, his electoral district, where he attended the midnight mass. In an Easter message, Venizelos said that "this Easter can be an opportunity to exit the crisis. All of us, together, now have the opportunity to give hope and prospects to the country by telling the truth, refusing to repeat the well-known story of demagoguery and populism".
Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras chose to spend his Easter in his wife's home town in Nafplio and in his own Easter message stressed his conviction that Greeks would be able to overcome the current difficulties if they stood "united and determined, with faith, a plan and a joint struggle, as we have done many times in our history".
The head of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Aleka Papariga, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis and the leader of the Democratic Left party Fotis Kouvelis all spent their Easter in Athens.
The leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras visited a recovery centre for children in Voula before travelling to the island of Aigina to spend Easter with his family.
The president of the newly formed Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos decided to tour the security forces centres in Fokida and Aitoloakarnania, while Democratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis called at a centre for abused children in Alimos.
Easter celebrations were not entirely without incident, with one 14-year-old boy lightly injured when the clapper of a church bell came loose and hit him during the Resurrection mass at midnight and a 12-year-old boy that had to be rushed to hospital after a firecracker exploded in his hand, injuring his thumb and forefinger.
Greeks of Australia, according to the local correspondent, had the assistance of blue skies and high temperatures and several chose to celebrate the day in the time-honoured traditional fashion, spit-roasting whole lambs outdoors in the sunshine.
 President's message for Easter: "I wish for a real resurrection of the Greek people""I wish for all of us that there is a real resurrection of the Greek people, who have suffered much in recent times. We must all fight together to overcome the crisis with harmony, faith in what we are doing and with the dream that after the 'passion' with come the resurrection," President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said in an Easter Message in Naoussa on Easter Sunday, while visiting troops of the Greek army Special Forces stationed there.
 ND leader Samaras in ArgosNew Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras visited an elderly people's home in the city of Argos on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by his wife, and referred to the need for a strong country with strong welfare.
Samaras stressed that there must be growth for strong welfare, for a social state, growth for which, as he said, he is waging a struggle and has a plan.
A few days before he will be pesenting his economic proposal on the exit from the crisis, Samaras referred to his plan which, as he pointed out, will put Greece in the orbit of growth "for us to get out of the hell of unemployment that is the other great evil that has dealt a blow at the fate of this country and we are experiencing such difficult times."
 Tsipras urges 'overturning of social injustice' in Easter messageCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Easter Sunday said the message of the Resurrection must be made a "message of overturning social injustice but also a message of hope for the prospects of social cohesion and social solidarity and dignity".
Visiting a recovery centre for children in Voula, he urged people to "share a message of optimism with our fellow citizens that are in greater need," whose numbers had swelled to thousands in these "years of social destruction".
"All of us together, standing side by side, we can manage it. We can hope for a future with greater optimism. We can overturn the social destruction and build on the ruins a future that we deserve," he added.
 PM Papademos had phone contact with BarrosoPrime Minister Lucas Papademos on Monday spoke on the phone with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The two officials discussed issues regarding Greece's development ahead of a relevant report that is intended to be issued by the EC within the week.
According to sources, a cabinet meeting is scheduled to be held within the week.
 Defence minister reassures Greek troops in AfghanistanIn a message to Greek troops stationed with NATO forces in Kabul, Greek Defence Minister Dimitiris Avramopoulos on Easter Monday assured them that the ministry was taking action to ensure their safety while in Afghanistan. The statement was made in the wake of an attack on the Allied forces' base in Kabul, including a building housing Greek troops, on Sunday.
"The political and military leadership of the National Defence ministry concern themselves with ensuring that the completion of your mission and your stay occur in secure living conditions but also a constant improvement of conditions there," he said.
According to defence ministry sources, the attack had not targeted the Greek building specifically but occurred in the context of coordinating attacks by the Taliban against government buildings, military targets and embassies to declare the start of spring hostilities.
The attack ended without injuries while the area was calm on Monday.
In a message on Monday, however, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras repeated his standing position in favour of withdrawing all Greek troops from Afghanistan and the country's exit from NATO.
 ND to announce party's tickets on TuesdayThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party will launch its election campaign by announcing the list of candidates on the party's election tickets on Tuesday. At 12:00 noon ND's election committee chaired by ND leader Antonis Samaras will convene for the first time.
Samaras will present ND's plan for the recovery of the Greek economy on Thursday at Zappeion and will begin his pre-election tours on Saturday, starting in western Greece .
 PASOK party leader addresses letter to European Commission presidentPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos addressed a letter on Monday to European Commission president Manuel Barroso, calling his attention to a number of crucial Greek issues, in light of the announcement of the European Commission's package of growth initiatives this week.
According to an announcement by PASOK's president, the first issue referred to by Venizelos is unemployment among young people and he calls for more funds to be provided for the problem to be tackled. The lack of fluidity of small and medium-size enterprises was the second important issue, as well as the need for easier access to the banking system.
 ND party spokesman on PASOK leader's letter to BarrosoThe New Democracy party criticised PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, regarding the letter he addressed to European Commission president Manuel Barroso on Monday, saying that he was late in remembering the need for growth and social cohesion.
ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis accused Venizelos of remembering all this before the elections and of adherring now to the positions of ND and its leader Antonis Samaras.
Mihelakis further wondered why for over two and a half years Venizelos did not adopt growth measures, but also as government vice president and Finance minister he did not implement what he is promising now.
 Greek minister meets Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos, discusses Orthodox minority in SyriaDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis, who was part of a Greek delegation that accompanied the 'Holy Fire' from Jerusalem to Athens for the resurrection mass in Greece, met Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos III during his visit to the city and discussed activating the Orthodox patriarchates of the Middle East in light of the situation in Syria.
During their talks on Saturday morning, Dollis and the Patriarch expressed strong concern about the Christian minority in Syria, as well as the Antioch Patriarchate.
The minister noted that the foreign ministry has begun a campaign in the last month and a half to raise awareness of the issues in the United States and the European Union, especially theneed for Syria to provide assurances and guarantee the safety of the Patriarchate and the minority.
The Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch Patriarchates have arranged a meeting on Cyprus on this issue, to be attended by the Cyprus Archbishop.
In addition to the Greek mission, the meeting between Dollis and the Patriarch was attended by the Jordanian General Consul in Tel Aviv, representatives of the Arab-speaking Orthodox community in Jerusalem and a representative of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.
After the meeting, the Greek delegation headed toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to attend the ceremony for the Holy Fire that began at about 12:30 p.m.
The Greek delegation returned to Athens slightly later than originally planned, finally alighting at Athens international airport at 8:20 p.m. From there, the Holy Fire (or Holy Light according to the Greek tradition) was transported by plane to all areas of Greece, Alexandria, Cyprus and all the Orthodox Churches that asked to receive it.
In Athens, it was met with head of state honours and an honour guard from the national defence ministry and a welcoming committee including Infrastructure Minister Makis Voridis, representatives of the leadership of the Armed Forces, Police and Fire Brigade and a Church of Greece delegation led by Mesogaia Metropolitan Nikolaos.
 Opinion poll reflects voter intention ahead of electionsThe popularity of the two major political parties in Greece combined is just over 33 pct, according to an opinion poll conducted by MRB polling company published in Real News daily on Friday.
New Democracy (ND) is preferred by 20.5 pct of the respondents, PASOK gets 12.7 pct, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) 8.6 pct, Communist party (KKE) 7.9 pct, Independent Greeks 7.1 pct, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) 7 pct, Chryssi Avgi 3.9 pct, Ecologists-Greens 2.9 pct, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) 2.5 pct and Democratic Alliance 2.4 pct.
A total of 50.6 pct of the respondents believed that ND is most likely to be the winner of the elections, compared to PASOK's 4 pct, while 26.7 pct said that no party will get enough voters to be the winner of the elections.
As for the political leaders' popularity, Fotis Kouvelis is in the first place followed by Lucas Papademos, Panos Kammenos, Alexis Tsipras, Antonis Samaras, Yannis Dimaras, Evangelos Venizelos, Aleka Papariga, Dora Bakoyannis, George
Karatzaferis, Louka Katseli, Nikos Mihaloliakos and Haris Kastanidis.
Regarding the most suited for prime minister, 52.4 pct of the respondents rejected both ND leader Samaras and PASOK's Venizelos, while 22.9 pct preferred Samaras and 20.9 pct Venizelos.
A coalition government is supported by 65.7 pct of the respondents, while 32.7 pct believe that no political party can be effective by itself in case a majority government is elected.
 Labour inspectors' chief meets with IMF representativesThe establishment of a new collection system for social security contributions to be effective in July was requested by IMF representatives in a meeting they had on Thursday with Corps of Labour Inspectors (SEPE) special secretary Mihalis Halaris.
They discussed the establishment of a new mechanism for the collection of contributions to be assisted by the tax bureau, as well as, the reinforcement and upgrading of existing monitoring mechanisms.
According to figures provided by the ministry of labour, the contributions owed to social security funds are roughly 11 billion euros, while contribution evasion exceeds 6 billion euros annually.
 Fewer passengers for coastal shipping over Easter holidaysThe economic crisis, combined with the increase in the price of coastal shipping tickets, as well as the strike by the Panhellenic Maritime Federation on Tuesday and Wednesday were the main factors leading to the decrease in coastal shipping passenger travel this year that, according to assessments, will exceed 40 percent.
Ship sailings were far fewer compared to last year since companies, due to the increase in the price of coastal shipping fuel and the cost of ship maintenance went ahead with a decrease in the mumber of sailings.
Moreover, many passengers chose to have their Easter holidays on continental Greece due to the cost and the strike. According to Greek coast guard data, a total of 146,759 passengers left the ports of Piraeus, Lavrio and Rafina on Good Monday, Good Thursday and Good Friday last year as against 106,799 this year.
 Easter exodus from road networks 46 percent less this yearTraffic along national motorways was smooth on Saturday morning, since it appears that the largest part of the Easter exodus was completed on Friday. According to the Traffic Police, this year's exodus was impressively limited compared to last year.
This year, from Friday before Lazarus Saturday when schools close and it is believed that the exit from major urban centres gradually begins, until Good Friday, 700,330 cars left Athens from both national networks. Last year and over the same period 1,306,000 cars left, meaning a decrease in the region of 46 percent.
Greek Police officials attribute the decreased exit largely to the economic crisis and the cost of oil that makes travelling to faraway destinations prohibitive.
 Konstantinos Papaioannou appointed new chairman of the board for Thessaloniki Port Authority S.A.Konstantinos Papaioannou is the new chairman and CEO of Thessaloniki Port Authority S.A. replacing Stylianos Aggeloudis who has resigned, it was announced on Thursday.
Vassilios Antonopoulos is the organization's new vice-chairman.
 Elderly man found dead, criminal action suspectedA 78-year-old man found dead in Karpero, Grevena was probably the victim of violent crime, according to a Grevena police announcement on Easter Sunday. The man had serious injuries to the head an chest.
An investigation is underway.
 Man shot and wounded in Renti squareA violent incident involving a Pakistani national occurred in Aghios Ioannis Square in the region of Renti at dawn on Monday.
According to police, unidentified perpetrators and under unclear conditions shot the Pakistani in the back and wounded him.
The victim was rushed to hospital for treatment.
 Argolida Regional authority employee charged with embezzling 252,000 euroA 62-year-old pensioner, a former employee of the Argolida Regional Authority, appeared before a public prosecutor on charges of embezzling approximately 252,000 euro by tampering with the figures for employee contributions to the Social Insurances Foundation in the last three years.
The suspect appeared before the prosecutor in Nafplio on Saturday and has been given three days to prepare his testimony to an examining magistrate on Tuesday.
Based on the warrant issued for his arrest, he has been charged with fraud, repeatedly issuing false certifications at the expense of the public sector, breach of faith, accepting and spending proceeds of crime and money-laundering.
An inspection carried out at the Argolida Regional Unit showed that the monthly payroll reports on file for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 showed discrepancies relative to those entered into the electronic system, on the basis of which the state paid employer social contributions to IKA.
The money paid by the state was deposited into a bank account and the 62-year-old, who was exclusively responsible for handling payroll reports, would withdraw the amount paid in and illegally hold back a portion of this, paying the rest into a second bank account for the Tripoli IKA branch.
The investigation to determine whether the specific employee may have embezzled additional sums is continuing.
 Earthquake shakes Pylos in southwest PeloponneseA moderately strong earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale shook the region around Pylos and was felt throughout Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese at 2:23 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
The pattern of aftershocks after the quake was normal according to the European-Mediterrenean Seismological Center, which gave a 5.5 Richter estimate for the earthquake's magnitude and said its epicentre was 228 kilometres southwest of Athens at a depth of 40 km. The tremor jolted the southern Peloponnese and was also felt in central Peloponnese.
Strong aftershocks have been recorded, with the last one at 18:41 measuring 3 on the Richter scale.
According to Pylos mayor Dimitris Kafantaris, in statements to the local media, no damages have been reported.
 Fire at bakery factory in IraklioA fire broke out through unclear causes at a bakery and confectionery factory in the industrial region of Iraklio, on the island of Crete, causing damage initially estimated at 300,000 euros.
The fire broke out at 1:50 after midnight on Sunday and firemen succeeded in placing the blaze under control at 5 in the morning.
 Group claims responsibility for arson attack on government officesThe group "Revolutionary Action" claimed responsibility for the April 9 arson attack on a building in Athens' Neos Kosmos district housing the Special Secretariat of Public Administration & e-Governance, it was announced on Friday.
The group posted a statement in athensindymedia.org website, stressing that the special secretariat is responsible for the management of the public administration "dysfunctions" referring to the "implementation of policies concerning human resources, structures and systems".
 Makeshift explosive device outside Athens bank branchA makeshift explosive device composed of five gas cannisters was placed by unidentified persons at the entrance to the EUROBANK branch office in Solonos street in Athens at 2 after midnight on Friday. The ensuing explosion started a fire that damaged the bank's blinds.
 Foreign national arrested for illicit trade in antiquitiesA 40-year-old Bulgarian national was arrested on charges of illicit trade in antiquities at Promachonas border station in northern Greece, it was announced on Friday.
The man was arrested after a police search in his car revealed fragments of ancient objects made of glass and bronze as well as, pieces of Roman pottery.
 Thessaloniki garbage collectors abstain from overtime workGarbage collectors in the municipality of Thessaloniki abstained from overtime work during the 3-day Easter brake, leaving the inhabitants of the city to celebrate the Resurrection with garbage in the streets and overflowing garbage bins.
According to an announcement by the municipality, employees in the garbage collection sector were protesting the non-payment of their overtime remuneration since November 2011, as well as the very low regular salaries they received with the current month's payroll.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-8 beauforte. Temperatures between 8C and 23C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens with southerly 3-5 beauforte winds and temperatures between 11C and 22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 10C and 22C.
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