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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-21

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, 21/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Premier briefs counterparts
  • European lawyers on Ocalan
  • Intelligence chief resigns in wake of Ocalan issue
  • Asylum for Ocalan aide being considered
  • Hellenic Petroleum denies Greenpeace charges after fire
  • Veteran journalist dies
  • Rail strikes called off
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Premier briefs counterparts

Prime minister Costas Simitis has commumicated to his Portuguese and Swedish countgerparts, Antonio Guterres and Goran Persson respectively, Greece's intention to raise the issue of the recently arrested Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkey to the European Union's General Affairs Council on Monday, February 22, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Saturday.

Reppas added the two foreign leaders agreed that the issue should be discussed and that decisions should be made.

Ocalan, who is to be tried by Ankara on charges of terrorism, was handed to men of the Turkish special forces by Kenyan authorities Monday, after spending 12 days under Greek diplomatic protection in Nairobi.

The spokesman said the prime minister told his counterparts the EU should demand of Turkey safeguards in relation to the detained leader, including a fair trial, attorneys of his choice, the presence of international observers at Ocalan's trial, guarantees regarding his physical integrity, and that the imposition of the death penalty is ruled out.

European lawyers on Ocalan

The Union of European Lawyers Associations (CCBE) on Saturday called on Turkish authorities to give imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan a fair trial, and refrain from imposing the death sentence.

"Through its particpation in the Coucil of Europe, Turkey has obligations that mean guaranteeing a fair and open trial in line with the principles of international law," the CCBE said in a statement.

"It is also obliged to allow Ocalan to choose his own defence lawyers and agree to give them access. European lawyers are seeking a commitment from Ankara that the death penalty will not be imposed," the statement said.

The association's president is Sotirios Yelios, a Greek lawyer.

Intelligence chief resigns in wake of Ocalan issue

The head of the National Information Service (EYP), Charalambos Stavrakakis, submitted his resignation on Friday after being asked to do so by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the wake of the capture and transfer to Turkey of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Announcing Stavrakakis' resignation, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Simitis also underlined the need for a "radical overhaul" of Greece's intelligence service. His resignation follows those of three ministers on Thursday over their role in the Ocalan affair.

Asylum for Ocalan aide being considered

Greece intends to grant political asylum to one of the three female aides of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan who remain in the Greek embassy in Nairobi, after he was arrested and handed over to Turkish security men Monday, diplomatic sources said.

The other two women are said to be in possession of travel documents facilitating their smooth passage.

Greek ambassador Giorgos Kostoulas is to remain in the Kenyan capital until the end of the month, to ensure that all three leave safely, the sources added.

Hellenic Petroleum denies Greenpeace charges after fire

Hellenic Petroleum on Saturday rejected allegations by the Greenpeace environmental organisation that negligence was to blame for a fire at a northern refinery that left one worker seriously injured.

"This unfortanate incident is not unusual at refineries. Of more importance is an immediate, coordinated and effective response, as happened in this case," the state-owned company said in a statement.

The blaze in the early hours of Friday morning broke out about 500 yards from liquid fuel storage tanks and was quickly extinguished. A worker suffered serious burns while trying to put out the fire.

Greenpeace claimed on Friday that the company lacked safety measures, endangering the residents of Thessaloniki, where the refinery is located.

Hellenic Petroleum countered that it strictly complied with safety legislation.

The company, which is listed on the Athens bourse, said that the extent of the fire was limited. No other units, including fuel storage tanks and petrochemical installations, were at risk.

Greenpeace also claimed that refinery officials believed it would take months to repair the damage and resume operations.

Hellenic Petroleum said operations would resume fairly soon, and no market shortages would be suffered.

The injured worker was meanwhile flown to Paris for burn treatment.

Veteran journalist dies

Vetaran Greek journalist and former president of the Athens Union of Journalists Dimitris Mathiopoulos died Sunday at the age of 65 from a heart attack.

Mathiopoulos, who was born in Messinia prefecture in 1934, entered journalist in 1960 and worked for the then daily To VIMA newspaper, and the weekly newsmagazine Tachydromos.

A recipient of the Botsis Foundation prize for his contribution to journalism, Mathiopoulos served as president of the Athens Union of Journalists-ESHEA for two terms and as secretary general of the union for eight years before that.

He resigned during his second term as union president to stand for parliament with the Political Spring party, whose press bureau he undertook after his retirement.

Mathiopoulos' funeral will be ehld Tuesday, at 12:30 p.j. at Athens First Cemetery.

The family of the deceased has requested that money be donated to the "Elpida" Association of Friends of Children with Cancer in lieu of wreaths.

Rail strikes called off

Workers at the OSE state-run railways organisation have called off work stoppages called for Monday after a court ruled the industrial action illegal

WEATHER

Mainly fair weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Sunday. Winds will be moderate, westerly to southwesterly, turning strong in southern areas. Mostly sunny in Athens and Thessaloniki. The temperature will rise.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 285.795 Pound sterling 466.657 Japanese yen (100) 238.606 French franc 48.717 German mark 163.390 Italian lira (100) 16.504 Irish Punt 405.761 Belgian franc 7.922 Luxembourg franc 7.922 Finnish mark 53.747 Dutch guilder 145.012 Danish kr. 42.997 Austrian sch. 23.224 Spanish peseta 1.921 Swedish kr. 35.871 Norwegian kr. 36.716 Swiss franc 199.838 Port. Escudo 1.594 Aus. dollar 182.389 Can. dollar 192.408 Cyprus pound 550.560 euro 319.563

(L.G.)


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