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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-05-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 09/05/1999 (ANA)


  • Drive-by shootings against American Express bank, Interamerican
  • Continuation of military operations will not solve Kosovo problem
  • Hellenic Petroleum gets majority stake in FYROM refinery
  • Romanian prisoner nabbed with arms cache
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Drive-by shootings against American Express bank, Interamerican

An organisation calling itself Red Line todau claimed responsibility for two ride-by shooting attacks against an American bank and an insurance company on main Athens thoroughfares earlier in the day.

Eyewitnesses saw two unidentified men on a motorcycle at about 10:30 am opening fire on an American Express Bank branch on Kifissias avenue in the Maroussi suburb, police said.

They said two bullets made holes in the branch's ground floor windows and another three in a first-floor window. Police who arrived in the scene found five 9mm cartridges.

An unidentified caller phoned the private radio station SKAI shortly before 1pm and claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the Red Line, as well as a similar attack against the Interamerican insurance company offices on Syngrou avenue.

The Interamerican shooting had gone unnoticed until the telephone call, and police who sent to the insurance agency after the call found two bullet holes in a back first-floor window and two cartridges that lab tests found to have been fired from the same gun as the American Express attack.

Guards at the Interamerican building said they had not seen anyone suspicious, although they had heard two shots at about half an hour after noon, but had not realised the building had been hit.

Red Line has in the past claimed responsibility for shooting attacks atainst a court building in June 1998, the Holy Synod building in Kolonaki and the Athens Stock Exchange building in downtown Athens in February, and the UN offices in central Athens about two weeks ago.

Continuation of military operations will not solve Kosovo problem

Continuation of the military operations in Yugoslavia will not solve the problem, deputy defence minister Dimitris Apostolakis said Saturday night.

He said Greece had been opposed to the military rationale from the outset, as it believed that military operations, instead of solving the problem, would only add human pain and incalculabe material destruction, thus sowing hatred and hostility.

Addressing a meeting in Thira on "Seas and Fleets in the Second Millennium A.D.", Apostolakis added:

"For 40 days, the rationale of war has taken precedence over that of peace, dialogue and understanding. It is up to those who insisted on that tactic to see if it has borne results and, if so, where and how much.

"We in Greece, all this time, waged the good struggle so that the door of dialogue would not close and to enable once again the prospect of a political solution".

He outlined the advantages for the national defence of a strong naval fleet and also of a corresondingly strong merchant fleet that could be called upon in reserve capacity.

Apostolakis also defined the Greek navy's mission of acquiring and maintaining control in the sea regions of naval operations, particulalry in the Aegean, ensuring the sea routes of communication, particuloarly with eastern island Greece and Cyprus,protecting the national marine resources and their sources, and in supporting the priorities of Greece's foreign policy.

Hellenic Petroleum gets majority stake in FYROM refinery

Hellenic Petroleum on Saturday signed contracts with the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to buy a majority stake in a refinery in the neighbouring country, and build a cross-border oil pipeline.

The contracts were signed in Skopje at a ceremony attended by FYROM's premier, Ljupco Georgievski, and Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

The Greek state oil corporation, which is listed on the Athens bourse, will buy the stake in FYROM's OKTA refinery and ugrade the facility.

Working with Meton SA, a Greek engineering contractor, Hellenic Petroleum will also build a 230-kilometre oil pipeline linking Skopje and Thessaloniki with a capacity of 2.5 million tonnes of crude annually.

Venizelos told the signing ceremony that the deal opened fresh horizons for political and economic ties between the two countries.

Romanian prisoner nabbed with arms cache

A public prosector on Saturday brought charges against a Romanian prison inmate alleged to have carried an arms cache concealed in a portable TV set from Thessaloniki to Athens and back again while under police supervision.

The Romanian, identified as Gilbert Mihainta, 29, is believed to have been an associate of Sorin Matei, who died in police custody last year after taking a family hostage with a live hand grenade. A woman was killed in the botched police raid.

Mihainta received the TV by post last month at Diavaton prison in Thessaloniki, where he is serving a sentence for cross-border arms trafficking and other offences, police officials said.

He carried the TV with him on a trip to Korydallos prison near Piraeus, a court in Athens to stand trial, and police detention centres in both cities, the officials said.

The contents of the arms-filled TV were found on Friday by a prison worker in Thessaloniki after the ten-day trip had ended.

Inside were three hand grenades, 447 grams of explosive material, two detonators, two sets of handcuffs and a pistol.

Mihainta reportedly told police that he intended to use the arms to blast through the door of a police detention centre in Athens to escape, but the plan was foiled when he couldn't get to the contents of the TV.

Among the charges brought against Mihainta by the Thessaloniki public prosecutor were procurement and possession of explosive substances with intent to jeopardise human life, importing arms and explosives into prison, and possession of arms and explosives.


Overcast with local showers and storms are forecast for ceintral Greece, Macedonia, Thrace and the northern Aegean on Monday. Cloudiness in the rest of the country. Athens will be cloudy, increasing in the afternoon and possibly turning to rain or storms in the north, and temperatures of 12-24 C. The same for Thessaloniki, with temperatures 10-19 C.


Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          299.564
Pound sterling       488.987
Japanese yen (100)   248.853
French franc          49.289
German mark          165.307
Italian lira (100)    16.697
Irish Punt           410.522
Belgian franc          8.015
Luxembourg franc       8.015
Finnish mark          54.377
Dutch guilder        146.713
Danish kr.            43.535
Austrian sch.         23.497
Spanish peseta         1.943
Swedish kr.           36.049
Norwegian kr.         39.224
Swiss franc          201.589
Port. Escudo           1.613
Aus. dollar          199.640
Can. dollar          205.146
Cyprus pound         560.460
Euro                 323.313
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