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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-01-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 7 January 2013 Issue No: 4263


  • [01] PM Samaras: Optimism and strength to succeed
  • [02] FinMin: Greece on road to recovery, first indications in second half of year
  • [03] Samaras in Berlin on Monday, meeting with Merkel on Tuesday
  • [04] FinMin and premier meet over Eurogroup meeting
  • [05] President Papoulias in Berlin
  • [06] SYRIZA and PASOK on Lagarde list issue
  • [07] Relatives of former FinMin Papaconstantinou summoned to testify
  • [08] Epiphany observed throughout Greece with 'Blessing of the Waters'
  • [09] Apostolos Tzitzikostas new regional chief for Central Macedonia periphery
  • [10] Council of State approves future redistribution of 10 deputy seats
  • [11] Gov't stepping up privatisation efforts
  • [12] Greece to auction 2-bln-euro T-bills on Tuesday
  • [13] Greece top destination of preference for Austrian tourists in 2013
  • [14] Alternate FinMin dismisses opposition charges on budget cuts
  • [15] Pharmaceutical sales down 15.8 pct in Jan-Nov
  • [16] Four banks confirm interest in Hellenic PostBank acquisition
  • [17] Greek stocks extend New Year's rally for third session
  • [18] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [19] Athens Medical Association warns of public health hazard from woodsmoke
  • [20] Daniel Day Lewis in Athens for Greek premiere of film 'Lincoln'
  • [21] Foreign teen fatally stabbed in mugging
  • [22] Publisher's houses destroyed on Crete
  • [23] Distressed boat carrying migrants spotted of Crete, led safely to port
  • [24] Arrests after violence at Roma camp in Aetoliko
  • [25] Five foreign nationals arrested for break-ins, thefts
  • [26] Preliminary hearings wrapping up in drug trafficking arrests of 35
  • [27] Super League results
  • [28] Cold, rain and snow on Monday
  • [29] Weather turning cold throughout the country
  • [30] The weekend edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] PM Samaras: Optimism and strength to succeed

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sent a message of optimism that Greece will succeed, in a brief statement after attending the 'Blessing of the Waters' ceremony on Sunday, in observance of the Epiphany holy day, in Piraeus.

    "From Piraeus, the most important port in the Mediterranean, I want to send a message of optimism that we will succeed," Samaras said.

    "The Greek people's strength, the entrepreneurship of the Greek and, above all, the optimism and unity that exists today, have, I believe, always been the tools that gave us progress and prosperity and will give them to us once again," he said.

    "Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, the wish that was given to us and the hope that we received from the Blessing of the Waters ritual instills in us once again optimism and strength that we will succeed," the prime minister added.

    [02] FinMin: Greece on road to recovery, first indications in second half of year

    Greece must maintain the trust of its partners, which it earned with great difficulty, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on private television on Sunday, warning that otherwise all the sacrifices made so far would be put into question.

    Stournaras, speaking on private MEGA television station, left no room for fiscal relaxation, and opined that if the government remains devoted to the adjustment programme of the Greek economy, the first signs of recovery will begin to appear in the second half of the current year.

    "2013 will be a rough year, as we have 9.2 billion euro in measures to implement. But we are on the right track. Greece has earned the confidence of its partners with great difficulty. We cannot turn back. 2013 will be the year of consolidation of confidence and our credibility. We will see the first indications of recovery in the second half of 2013," Stournaras said.

    He noted that the first positive messages from the execution of the budget appeared in the last months of 2012, which enables the government's economic staff to harbor the optimistic forecast that the country's primary deficit will end the year below the targeted 1.5 percent deficit to GDP ratio target, at 1.2-1.3 percent of GDP.

    Stournaras was also optimistic on the execution of this year's budget, noting that provided all the targets are surpassed, there will be a possibility for reasonable benefits in 2014. "If we do better on the 2013 targets -- which is very likely -- we will be able, in 2014, to channel 70 percent of the excess to social benefits, but targeted benefits to those who have genuine need".

    [03] Samaras in Berlin on Monday, meeting with Merkel on Tuesday

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras leaves on Monday for Berlin to attend a forum organized by 'Die Welt' newspaper and where he will be the guest speaker at a dinner for the forum attendants on Monday night, together with European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi.

    Samaras will also have an informal meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday afternoon, preceded by a private meeting earlier with former German foreign minister and vice-chancellor Hans Dietrich Genscher.

    The forum will be addressed by Merkel, European Council president Martin Schulz, European Commission vice-president Olli Rehn, the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) candidate for chancellor Peer Steinbruck, Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Spanish finance and competitiveness minister Luis de Guindos, and German economy minister Philipp Roesler, finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.

    Samaras returns to Athens on Tuesday evening.

    The prime minister will be accompanied by Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks minister Costis Hatzidakis and deputy minister Notis Mitarakis.

    Chancellor Merkel's spokesman

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, Chancellor spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday.

    He said they would "exchange views unofficially" at a meeting not open to the press. Both leaders will be attending an economic forum sponsored by the daily Die Welt in Berlin but the agenda of their private meeting was not disclosed.

    "It is natural to take advantage of the opportunity to note once again the progress achieved by Greece in anything related to its efforts for reform," Seibert said, adding that "the chancellor and the prime minister have kept in frequent and intensive communication over the past few months."

    [04] FinMin and premier meet over Eurogroup meeting

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the Maximos Mansion offices on Friday to discuss the progress of the Greek economy and the processes that must be completed before the next Eurogroup meeting.

    The January 21 meeting in Brussels is expected to decide on the next loan tranche, in preparation of which Greece must have voted the new tax regulations into law. The draft bill is expected to be voted in Parliament a week from today.

    Stournaras had no comment on the case of the so-called Lagarde list of Greek HSBC depositors. Responding to a question about businessmen being arrested over debts to the state, he said the officials are doing their job.

    [05] President Papoulias in Berlin

    BERLIN (AMNA/F. Karaviti)

    President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived in Berlin on Sunday evening and will be having an informal meeting with President of the Federal Republic of Germany Joachim Gauck, on Monday.

    The two presidents will be given a guided tour of the exhibition "Olympia: Myth-Cult-Games in Antiquity" which is being hosted since August at the exhibition premises of 'Martin-Gropius-Bau' and is being held under the auspices of the two presidents.

    Later, President Papoulias will go to the Bellevue Presidential Mansion, where the German president will host a dinner in his honour.

    [06] SYRIZA and PASOK on Lagarde list issue

    The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, in an announcement Sunday on the 'Lagarde list' issue, stressed that the "struggle for the revelation of the truth and the attribution of responsibilities constitutes the great demand of the people, who will seek the truth and will defend their dignity and democracy."

    SYRIZA further stressed that "those who have been levelling Greek society over the past three years, are running to limit the Lagarde issue to the person of (former PASOK finance minister) George Papaconstantinou to cover their friends and themselves".

    In a related development, the PASOK party in an announcement accused SYRIZA and its cadres "of continuing, against every logic, to repeat and intensify their vulgar attacks based on the incredible argument that (PASOK party leader Evangelos) Mr. Venizelos kept the list in his 'drawer/coffer/pillow'."

    [07] Relatives of former FinMin Papaconstantinou summoned to testify

    Three relatives of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou were summoned on Friday to testify before a prosecutor over the so-called Lagarde list, on five charges each.

    Eleni Papaconstantinou, cousin to the former minister, her husband, and her brother-in-law were given an extension through their lawyers until next week to testify over four criminal charges and a misdemeanour.

    Criminal charges include being an accessory before the fact in falsifying a state document and in illegally removing a state document (each charge is combined with the law on misuse of state authority); laundering of income from illegal activity and tax evasion exceeding 150,000 euros, thus violating income tax laws. The misdemeanour charge involves being an accessory before the fact in breach of trust.

    The investigation is related to the controversy attached to the two versions of the "Lagarde list" of tax-evading Greek depositors abroad. Prosecutors are investigating the case of civilians involved, while Parliament voted to set up a preliminary investigation committee to examine ministerial responsibility over the issue.

    [08] Epiphany observed throughout Greece with 'Blessing of the Waters'

    The religious feast of the Epiphany -- the Twelfth Day after Christmas -- was observed throughout Greece on Sunday with the traditional "Blessing of the Waters" Orthodox Church rite in ports, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and fountains in front of cathedrals. The ritual commemorates Christ's baptism in the River Jordan, termed the Epiphany by St. John Chryssostom (from the Greek word for 'manifestation', 'epiphaneia').

    The main blessing of the waters ceremony was officiated in the port of Piraeus, Greece's largest port, by Metropolitan Serapheim of Piraeus and attended by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, several ministers and MPs from various parties, and other officials

    A cross was cast into the waters by the Archbishop, symbolizing the christening of Jesus Christ, and retrieved by Navy frogmen.

    Similar rituals were observed throughout Greece, with young and older men braving the cold weather and icy waters to retrieve the cross, bringing them good luck in the coming year.

    In Athens, the ceremony was held at the Reservoir in central Kolonaki district, attended by several ministers, MPs and Athens Mayor George Kaminis.

    In Thessaloniki, the ritual was officiated by Metropolitan Anthimos, attended by ministers, MPs, Thessaloniki mayor Yannis Boutaris, new regional chief for Central Macedonia Apostolos Tzitzikostas and representatives of the local authorities.

    [09] Apostolos Tzitzikostas new regional chief for Central Macedonia periphery

    Apostolos Tzitzikostas was elected as the new regional chief of Central Macedonia periphery on Saturday, with 33 votes against 17 votes for the other candidate Dionyssis Psomiadis, the brother of the ousted regional chief Panagiotis Psomiadis.

    "The Central Macedonia periphery is changing page. We will keep the good things and leave behind us everything that hurt us. United, the entire team of deputy regional chiefs and regional councilors will work hard to give our best and to bring the best possible results for the citizens of our periphery," the 35-year-old Tzitzikostas said after his election.

    Tzitzikostas, the son of New Democracy (ND) former MP and ex-minister George Tzitzikostas, had been elected as an MP for Thessaloniki on the ND ticket in 2007 and 2009, and as of 2010 had been a deputy regional chief for Thessaloniki. He will replace Psomiadis for the remainder of the current term of office.

    Psomiadis was removed from office after being convicted for reducing a fine served on a gas station owner.

    [10] Council of State approves future redistribution of 10 deputy seats

    The Council of State approved on Friday a presidential decree calling for a change in the future distribution of deputy seats to reflect population changes based on the last general census, held in May 2011.

    Changes will affect the next national elections, with a total of 10 seats to be distributed differently. The greatest changes affect divisions of the Attica prefecture: In First Athens, there will be 14 seats instead of 17, in Second Attica 44 instead of 42, and in the Rest of Attica, 15 from 12. Second Thessaloniki also gains 2 to its original 7. Elsewhere, other prefectures will gain or lose one seat.

    Financial News

    [11] Gov't stepping up privatisation efforts

    A stepping up of privatisation efforts was the focus of a meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and managers at the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) on Friday.

    Officials at the agency responsible for privatisation of state assets said that plans called for the completion by the end of March of bids for the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), the National Natural Gas Transmission System (DESFA), the Hellenic Football Prognostics Organisation (OPAP) and the beachfront properties of Afantou on Rhodes and Cassiopi on Corfu.

    Plans also include transferring 1,000 properties to TAIPED by 2014, starting with 40 properties by the end of March this year; accelerating the process to develop ports, marinas and regional airports; and accelerating the development through sale and lease-back of 34 assets currently under TAIPED management, including 6 properties abroad.

    [12] Greece to auction 2-bln-euro T-bills on Tuesday

    Greece will auction two Treasury bill issues on Tuesday (8 January), seeking to raise 2.0 billion euros from the market. The state Public Debt Management Organisation will auction a four-week T-bill issue worth 750 million euros and a 26-week T-bill issue worth 1.25 billion euros. Settlement date will be Friday, 11 January 2013. The auction will be made with competitive bids by the market's primary dealers, while the organisation will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum at a cut-off price.

    [13] Greece top destination of preference for Austrian tourists in 2013

    Vienna (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece has once again risen to the top preference of Austrian tourists as a tourist destination, following a reduction in the number of Austrian visitors' arrivals over the past two years resulting for the Greek debt crisis, according to Josef Peterleitner, director of the Austrian branch of Europe's leading travel group TUI and president of the Austrian Travel Agents Association (OERV).

    In statements appearing in the weekend editions of the large-circulation Austrian newspapers 'Kleine Zeitung' and 'Oesterreich', Peterleitner notes that despite the reductions in bookings in 2011 and 2012, Greece was nevertheless the top airport destination for Austrian tourists in 2012.

    He further said that TUI anticipates that Greek tourism will recover quickly, adding that Greece is already the top destination in bookings this year on the Austrian tourist market, with Turkey in second position.

    Given the present trend, Peterleitner said that bookings for Greece have risen by nearly 20 percent compared with 2012, adding that TUI has expanded its itinerary to Greece where, he noted, prices have been kept at 2012 levels, which makes holidaying in Greece an affordable option.

    He noted that the fears of strikes and unrest in Greece in 2012 had not come true, and on the contrary the quality of services was good and visitors were left satisfied.

    According to the two newspapers, the top destinations in the Austrian tourists' preferences for vacations this year are Greece, followed by Turkey, Spain, Egypt and Tunisia, respectively.

    Austrians will be able to get a "first taste" of holidaying in Greece at the Greek National Tourism Organization's (GNTO) pavilion at the International Fair for Holidays that opens in Vienna on Thursday, with more than 15,000 visitors expected during the four-day travel industry exhibition.

    More than 500,000 Austrian tourists visit Greece on average annually, making Austria the top source of arrivals of foreign tourists to Greece, in proportion to its 8.4 million population, in the past several years.

    [14] Alternate FinMin dismisses opposition charges on budget cuts

    Budget execution for 2012 was satisfactory and well beyong expectations, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Friday, in reply to comments by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM).

    "The Greek economy, following the completion of negotations with its EU partners, is today at a new and better starting point to overcome its weaknesses and create conditions for a long-term period of primary surpluses, sustainable improvement of competitiveness, and satisfactory rates of development," Staikouras said. "This is reflected in the process of executing the state budget," he added.

    SYRIZA's announcement criticising the government over the extent of budget cuts in pensions and salaries was prompted after a communication between party Eurodeputy Nikos Hountis and EU Economic Commissioner Olli Rehn.

    In his response, Staikouras quoted the figures released recently by the General Accounting Office on December 24 and said that "the government is moving steadily and step by step towards achieving a primary surplus in 2013."

    [15] Pharmaceutical sales down 15.8 pct in Jan-Nov

    Sales of pharmaceutical products fell by 15.8 in value and by 12 pct in volume in the January-November period last year, hit by a dispute between pharmacists and health authorities, a report by sector analyst IMS said on Friday.

    Pharmaceutical sales fell by 6.7 pct in the first quarter of the year and by 13.5 pct in the January-July period. The report also showed changes in the sector as both domestic and foreign enterprises sought to strengthen their position in the emerging market of generic pharmaceuticals.

    IMS said the volume of sales fell by 12 pct in the 11-month period to 327.1 million packages, while revenues fell by 15.8 pct to 2.91 billion euros over the same period.

    Novartis topped the list of the most active companies in the sector, with a market share of 8.7 pct and revenues down 19.1 pct to 252.9 million euros, followed by Pfizer (8.0 pct market share and revenues down 25.2 pct to 232 mln euros), Sanofi (7.3 pct market share and revenues down 15.4 pct to 211.8 mln), AstraZeneca (5.6 pct market share and revenues down 12.6 pct to 164.6 mln), Vianex (5.2 pct market share and revenues down 2.2 pct to 152.8 mln).

    Following in market share rankings from sixth to tenth were GlaxoSmithKline with a market share of 4.9 pct, Elpen with a market share of 4.2 pct, Pharmaserve with a market share of 3.8 pct, Boehringer Ingelheim with a market share of 3.2 pct and Merck Sharp Dohme with a market share of 3.1 pct. The 20 top pharmaceutical enterprises accounted for 72.2 pct of total sales in the market.

    The report does not include figures for pharmaceutical sales to hospitals.

    [16] Four banks confirm interest in Hellenic PostBank acquisition

    Four banks have confirmed their interest in acquisition of the TT-Hellenic PostBank, with the submission of non-binding offers on Saturday.

    The National Bank of Greece (NBG), Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Attica Bank on Saturday formally submitted to the central Bank of Greece (BoG) and the Financial Stability Fund their non-binding offers for acquisition of the 'healthy' portfolio of the Hellenic PostBank, after reaffirming their interest on Friday in response to a relevant question by the Capital Market Commission.

    In a tender for the highest bidder, the 'healthy' division of TT will be sold following the bank's separation into two parts, the so-called healthy division and the non-viable division.

    According to a BoG report, TT will require 3.7 billion euro for recapitalization, while the 'healthy' division will require a 500 million euro capital boost.

    TT-Bank's major shareholders are the Greek state with 34.40 percent, the Hellenic Post with 9.90 percent, Eurobank with 6.075 percent and NBG with 6.070 percent, while the remaining 43 percent is held by some 70,000 shareholders.

    According to sources, one of the interested banks has asked the BoG for an extension of the procedure, but the central bank is not examining such a prospect, at least for the time being.

    If no extension is given to the sale process, binding offers will have to be submitted by Friday, January 11, with completion of the process by the end of the month.

    If the TT's acquisition by one of the interested banks falls through, the prospect is being examined of maintaining the TT as an autonomous bank along the model followed with Proton Bank.

    [17] Greek stocks extend New Year's rally for third session

    Greek stocks ended higher for the third consecutive session this week, pushing the composite index of the market to its highest closing since August 29, 2011. The index jumped 1.25 pct to end at 964.19 points, off the day's highs of 966.39 points. The index ended the week with a net gain of 6.97 pct, for an increase of 6.20 pct in the first three sessions of 2013. Turnover was an improved 65.319 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.93 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.41 pct higher. The Financial Services (5.78 pct), Banks (5.53 pct) and Personal Products (5.53 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (1.42 pct) and Technology (0.76 pct) suffered losses.

    Piraeus Bank (12.03 pct), MIG (10.27 pct), Alpha Bak (9.33 pct) and Jumbo (5.51 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while PPC (1.61 pct), Motor Oil (1.20 pct) and Terna Energy (0.86 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 114 to 65, with another 26 issues unchanged. Voyatzoglou (26.49 pct), Audiovisual (25 pct) and Attica Bank (21.02 pct) were top gainers, while Pegasus (20 pct), Varvaresos (19.33 pct) and Ionian Hotels (10 pct) were top losers.

    [18] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank on January 4, 2013:

    U.S. dollar 1.301

    Pound sterling 0.812

    Danish kroner 7.459

    Swedish kroner 8.531

    Japanese yen 114.96

    Swiss franc 1.209

    Norwegian kroner 7.299

    Canadian dollar 1.289

    Australian dollar 1.249

    General News

    [19] Athens Medical Association warns of public health hazard from woodsmoke

    The Athens Medical Association (ISA) warned of the hazard to the public health from a drastic increase in the use of wood fires for heating throughout the country, urging subsidies for natural gas and oil in order to contain the "toxic phenomenon" resulting from the burning of firewood and other wood products in fireplaces and woodstoves by the public due to spiraling heating oil and natural gas prices.

    "The health of the citizens cannot be put at risk by the economic crisis. Oligory will have a cost not only in money, but also in human lives," ISA said in an announcement following a meeting of the relevant ministries on ways to deal with the rising levels of wood-fire smog in Greek cities.

    "We have no more margins for waiting for a solution to be found. Vigilance can prove to be a salvation, oligory will prove fatal: We have enough cancer cases in our country, let's not cause more due to the economic crisis, because the cost of primary and secondary healthcare of sufferers of the damage caused by the wood-smoke fog is much larger than the cost of subsidizing natural gas and oil," ISA president George Patoulis told AMNA.

    Patoulis is scheduled to visit the National Health Operations Center (EKEPY) on Monday to discuss a study of epidemic data on respiratory and heart problems caused by the carbon particles in the atmosphere and a series of prevention measures to safeguard the health of the public, especially the vulnerable groups such as the chronically ill, the elderly and young children.

    In a similar announcement on Thursday, the Panhellenic Medical Association warned that the rising smog levels in Greek cities as a result of people burning firewood and other wood products to keep warm harbour grave dangers for public health. The Panhellenic Medical Association urged the state to take measures to mitigate the impact of atmospheric pollution reported in many areas, especially in large urban centres such as Athens, Viotia and Thessaloniki, and protect the population from the unpredictable and potentially harmful repercussions for their health.

    Among others, it stressed the urgent need for financial incentives to promote use of oil and natural gas for heating by the general public.

    "Advice alone is not enough for the financially strained population. Cooperation among all competent agents is needed in order to protect public health and environment," the announcement said.

    [20] Daniel Day Lewis in Athens for Greek premiere of film 'Lincoln'

    Oscar-winning British-Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis will be coming to Athens for the Greek premiere of his new film "Lincoln" and to promote the work of the Hellenic Spastic Society, which has invited him.

    Day-Lewis has requested that all the proceeds of the premiere be donated to the Spastic Society's 'Open Door' Center, which the actor holds dear to his heart.

    Oscar winner of the Best Actor Award for the films "There will be Blood" and "My Left Foot", Day-Lewis will be in Athens for the Greek premiere of 'Lincoln' on January 22 at CityLink in downtown Athens, and after the screening will discuss with the audience, followed by a reception.

    'Lincoln', directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as US President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, covers the last four months of the life of one of America's most important presidents, focusing on his efforts in January 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, outlawing slavery, passed by the House of Representatives.

    Last week the Academy of Athens awarded the Spastic Society for its 40 years of contribution to children and adults suffering from cerebral palsy through the systematic provision of quality services, programmes and activities designed to improve and promote their quality of life.

    Day-Lewis has been nominated for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his role as 'Lincoln', and is also expected to be nominated for an Oscar for the 5th time.

    [21] Foreign teen fatally stabbed in mugging

    An 18-year-old man from Afghanistan was fatally stabbed in the chest by muggers on Saturday night in the Pedion tou Areos Park in downtown Athens.

    The teen was rushed to an Athens hospital late Saturday with a stab wound in the chest, but despite doctors' efforts he succumbed to his wounds at dawn Sunday.

    A fellow Afghani national told police that the 18-year-old had called him, just before the ambulance arrived, and told him that he had been stabbed and mugged by unidentified persons, who grabbed his wallet and everything else he was carrying.

    Athens security police are investigating the incident

    [22] Publisher's houses destroyed on Crete

    Arsonists damaged two vacation houses belonging to newspaper publisher Fotis Bobolas and a third owned by the deputy mayor of Sfakia, according to police on Crete, who said the houses were in remote areas and the destruction was not noticed until Friday.

    According to officials, unidentified individuals shot out the locks of the three houses, entering and destroying the interiors before dousing them with petrol and setting the buildings on fire. Two of the homes were completely destroyed and the third sustained extensive damages.

    Bobolas is a managing director of Pegasus group of companies, which owns Ethnos newspaper, Car & Driver and Elle magazines, TV enterprises and a press distribution agency among others.

    The fire brigade is investigating, with the assistance of Greek police.

    [23] Distressed boat carrying migrants spotted of Crete, led safely to port

    A Coast Guard operation was launched on Saturday afternoon to approach a boat carrying illegal migrants spotted near the islet of Dia, north of Heraklion, Crete island, which was later led safely to port

    An alert was sounded at the Merchant Marine Ministry's operations center following a telephone call that a boat carrying a large number of people was in distress.

    An operation was immediately launched to locate the boat, and a helicopter combing the area off of northern Crete spotted the boat near the islet of Dia.

    The boat was later led safely to port in Heraklion.

    According to initial information the distressed boat, which had set off from Crete headed for Italy, was carrying 37 illegal migrants, including a woman and a minor.

    [24] Arrests after violence at Roma camp in Aetoliko

    Four people were arrested and another nine were wanted by police over an incident at a Roma camp in Aetoliko, Aetoloakarnania prefecture on Friday night, while a strong police contingent remained at the scene on Friday to avert possible new violence.

    The violence broke out Friday after some 70 Aetoliko residents, some with their faces covered and wielding wooden planks, attempted an attack on the Roma camp after an incident earlier in the day between two Aetoliko residents and two Roma, resulting in the light injury of a 24-year-old local, police sources said.

    The sources said that the group of Aetoliko residents caused material damage and set fire to four vehicles and six empty huts in the Roma camp.

    A similar incident took place outside a Roma camp in Aetoliko in August, resulting again in arrests and injuries.

    [25] Five foreign nationals arrested for break-ins, thefts

    Five foreign nationals aged 20-25 have been arrested in Thessaloniki for multiple break-ins and thefts of electronic devices, telephones and television sets.

    The five were arrested in the Toumba area of Thessaloniki on Friday a few hours after breaking into an apartment and making off with a TV set.

    A subsequent search of their residences turned up a large number of electronic devices and jewelry stolen from apartments in Toumba over the last six months.

    Police are investigating the detainees' possible involvement in more thefts and break-ins.

    [26] Preliminary hearings wrapping up in drug trafficking arrests of 35

    The last round of individuals arrested over a drug trafficking ring began testifying before a prosecutor on Friday, wrapping up preliminary hearings after a police operation brought 35 people in the northern cities of Thessaloniki, Volos and Agrinio to justice.

    The nine testifying include two Albanian nationals who were allegedly running the ring and two police officers, including the head of the antidrug squad in Volos and the sargeant in charge of the foreigners bureau of Thessaloniki. The transport of the latter two created tension briefly as fellow policemen gathered outside the justice hall to provide moral support and protest their arrest. A decision on whether any will be detained is expected late this evening.

    So far, 14 people have been remanded in custody, including the head of the Agrinio police, while 12 were released but remain under restrictions.


    [27] Super League results

    Olympiacos Piraeus beat Veria 3-0 at home in games played for the Super League over the weekend, while Panathinaikos Athens lost 2-1 at home from Levadiakos Livadia and AEK Athens was defeated 3-1 away by Asteras Tripoli.

    In other action:

    Platanias - PAS Yiannina 1-1

    Aris Thessaloniki - Panionios Athens 2-1

    Atromitos Athens - Kerkyra 2-0

    Panthrakikos Komotini - PAOK Thessaloniki 1-4

    Xanthi - OFI Crete 7/1/2013

    Standings after 16 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos 42

    2. PAOK 34

    3. Asteras 28

    4. Atromitos 28

    5. Levadiakos 24

    6. PAS Yiannina 22

    7. Panionios 21

    8. Panthrakikos 20

    9. Panathinaikos 20

    10. OFI (15 games) 17

    11. Platanias 17

    12. Aris 16

    13. Xanthi (15 games) 15

    14. Veria 15

    15. Kerkyra 12

    16. AEK 12

    NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.

    Weather forecast

    [28] Cold, rain and snow on Monday

    Cold weather, with local rains and snowfall is forecast in most parts of Greece on Monday, with a dip in temperatures and northerly storm winds of up to 8 beaufort velocity in the Aegean.

    Overcast in Athens, turning to local showers in the early afternoon and snow on high ground, while snowfall is expected in the night in lower altitudes (above 500 meters), northerly winds of 4-6 beaufort, growing stronger to 7-8 beaufort during the night, and temperatures ranging from 3C to 11C, and from 1C to 8C in the northern part of Attica prefecture.

    Lightly overcast in Thessaloniki, turning to sleet in the afternoon and snowfall on high ground, with possibility of snow in lower altitudes (above 200 meters), north-northwesterly winds of 4-6 beaufort, turning to 7-8 beaufort in the evening and temperatures of 0-6C.

    [29] Weather turning cold throughout the country

    Authorities in Northern Greece are on alert as meteorologists have predicted a rapid turn for the worse in the weather conditions as of Sunday night with rain, snowfall and a drop in temperatures.

    The temperature plunged to -3C in Florina on Sunday morning, while a light snow fell in the city, although without causing problems.

    The Kaimaktsalan ski resort in Pella prefecture closed temporarily on Sunday due to storm winds, as did the ski resort in Pelion.

    The Thessaloniki port authority issued a warning that dangerous weather conditions were expected, with winds reaching 7-8 beaufort velocities.

    Temperatures in Attica prefecture also dipped, with the maximum not expected to exceed 6-7C in the north of the prefecture, while early Monday the temperature will drop even further to near zero.

    [30] The weekend edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: "The tax-evasion list (Lagarde list) rattles the government".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Tricks with the Lagarde list".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The Lagarde list scandal being unlocked".

    EPOCHI: "List of people's demands".

    ETHNOS: "4,500 depositors in Luxembourg, Liechtenstein".

    KATHIMERINI: "Catharsis, confiscations and punishment".

    LOGOS: "SOS, we're stifling".

    REALNEWS: "Mystery with the 5-hour account".

    PROTO THEMA: "He was 'freezing' the cousin's fines".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "No wait - Organized struggle".

    TO ARTHRO: "Storm of arrests".

    TO PARASKINIO: "Deep Throat in Lagarde list".

    TO PARON: "All three in the docks".

    TO VIMA: "The knives came out over the Lagarde list".

    VRADYNI: "IKA (state Social Security Foundation): The regulations - Burning conditions and ages (for retirement)".

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