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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-09-24

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 24/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek concerns over Kosovo strike
  • Inquiry ordered in botched raid
  • Twelve injured, one critically
  • Simitis, Romeos to meet
  • Reppas critical of media's role
  • Greece gets first-ever Ombudsman
  • Six flights cancelled
  • Two Albanians killed in raid
  • Man murdered for 20,000 drachmas
  • Crew, captain charged over illegal immigrants
  • Greek economy strong
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek concerns over Kosovo strike

Greece continues to have reservations about the possibility of a strike by international forces on Kosovo and would continue to urge a political resolution to the problem, the government said on Thursday. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens was doubtful about the effectiveness of a military intervention but would take part in any operation if the legal framework for it was ensured. He said however that talk of an intervention was still premature, given the UN Security Council had yet to decide on one. On Wednesday, the Security Council demanded an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to end the conflict in Kosovo. China was the only permanent member to abstain.

Inquiry ordered in botched raid

An urgent preliminary investigation was called on Thursday to examine the specifics of Wednesday night's hostage drama, which left two, including one of the hostages, seriously injured, and another ten in hospital. Twelve people, including the head and deputy head of the police force and six police officers, were injured when a hand grenade exploded following a standoff between police and a Greek-Romanian fugitive in a downtown Athens apartment early on Thursday. The preliminary inquiry is expected to look at the circumstances surrounding the decision to raid the apartment as well as what occured in the lead-up to the taking of hostages and the aftermath of the raid. The inquiry will decide whether disciplinary or criminal charges should be laid against those involved.

Twelve injured, one critically

Pandemonium broke out after police stormed the apartment where 27-year old Sorin Matei was holding three hostages, threatening to detonate a hand grenade. Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order Yiannis Papadogiannakis said police stormed the apartment in the belief that the hand grenade was fake. According to a police spokesman, Matei, who was under the influence of heroin, pulled the pin from the grenade and attached it to the trousers of one of the hostages, Amalia Ginaki, 25. Ginaki was listed as being in a critical condition at the Red Cross hospital after surgery which resulted in the amputation of her leg. Doctors held out little hope she would survive. One of the police officers injured in the blast lost his right leg. The deputy chief of police was reported to be undergoing surgery to remove a foreign object from his eye.

Simitis, Romeos to meet

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Thursday he would be meeting with Public Order Minister George Romeos at 3 p.m. to make an assessment of the situation. Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate the opening of an ombudsman's office, Simitis expressed his condolences and support to the victims of the incident and hopes for a speedy recovery. Romeos, he said, was hurrying back from Brussels where he had been attending a meeting of EU ministers.

Reppas critical of media's role

Referring to Matei's hours-long conversation with an anchorman on Skai television during the siege and of the presence of many reporters at the scene of the siege, Reppas, who is also press and media minister, said the media should not take over the role of public functions on the pretext of informing the public, nor obstruct the activities of the authorities. "The media's voraciousness was apparent yesterday," he noted, adding that the president of the National Radio and Television Council had considered interrupting the transmission of Skai's conversation between Matei and the news anchor but that it continued after Matei threatened the lives of the hostages if he were cut off.

Greece gets first-ever Ombudsman

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday officially inaugurated the opening of first-ever Ombudsman's office in Greece, announcing the appointment of an assistant ombudsman to handle issues relating to those serving in the armed forces. Simitis said the assistant ombudsman would contribute to the better protection of the fundamental rights of troops and would work closely with the Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and the new Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamantouros. The office of the Ombudsman will open to the public as of October 1 and is located at 5 Hatiyiannis Mexis, St., Athens.

Six flights cancelled

Six domestic Olympic Aviation and Olympic Airways flight were cancelled on Thursday, the first day of a series of rolling 24-hour strikes by civil aviation employees. A company statement said the flights had been cancelled due to a lack of fire safety personnel. The employees are protesting against planned changes in the institutional framework of work regulations, being introduced by the government. The employees are demanding that two bills due to be submitted to parliament be scrapped. They charge that the bills provide for the establishment of a company which would regulate airports and civil aviation.

Two Albanians killed in raid

Two illegal immigrants were killed early on Thursday when police raided a disused windmill near the northern Greek town of Naoussa on a tip-off that it had turned into a meeting point for drug sales, police said. The two young Albanian nationals were part of group of 10 of their compatriots which was storing arms and distributing drugs from the mill. But when police raided the mill, the immigrants started shooting. Police returned the fire and fatally wounded the two men. The other eight Albanians managed to escape and are being sought by the police.

Man murdered for 20,000 drachmas

Earlier in Naoussa, an unidentified young Albanian man robbed and killed a 55-year old gas-station owner. The Albanian, armed with a shotgun, entered the gas-station owned by Ioannis Andreou, who was there with his wife Maria, 46, and demanded the contents of his cash register. When Andreou refused, the Albanian shot him through the heart, pistol-whipped the woman, removed 20,000 drachmas from the cash register and took off.

Crew, captain charged over illegal immigrants

The captain and four crew of the Lebanese flagged ship "Alak" face charges on Thursday of violating the law of transporting aliens for illegal profit and endangering lives, after their boat was found with 167 illegal immigrants aboard. The coastguard arrested the captain and crew on Wednesday as their boat sailed south of the island of Crete and just prior to disembarking the illegal immigrants at an isolated bay. The illegal immigrants - 56 men, 31 women and 80 children, including several infants, all Iraqi nationals of Kurdish origin - "were packed like sardines on board a 20-meter long wooden boat," a spokesman said. They had been at sea for almost a week since the boat sailed from the Lebanese port of Abta on Sept. 18 and a number were suffering from dehydration.

Greek economy strong

The Greek economy remained strong in the first seven months of 1998, according to figures released by the National Statistics Service on Thursday. Industrial production increased 8.4 percent in July alone to show a 5.1 percent increase in the period January-July compared with the same period last year. Construction activity was also sharply higher, rising by 12.7 percent in June for a 10.7 percent increase in the first seven months of 1998 compared with the corresponding period in 1997.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece on today with scattered cloud in the east and south of the country. Winds northerly, northeasterly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 17-27C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 288.454 British pound 485.207 Japanese yen (100) 212.040 French franc 50.927 German mark 170.738 Italian lira (100) 17.322 Irish Punt 427.254 Belgian franc 8.286 Finnish mark 56.169 Dutch guilder 151.672 Danish kr. 45.112 Austrian sch. 24.345 Spanish peseta 2.023 Swedish kr. 36.668 Norwegian kr. 38.390 Swiss franc 206.748 Port. Escudo 1.667 Aus. dollar 166.160 Can. dollar 188.778 Cyprus pound 578.336

(M.P.)


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