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Athens News Agency: News in English, 01-02-18

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Standing Army-Bill-Tsohatzopoulos
  • [02] Manhunt-Prisoner-Shooting (RECASTS, adding detail)
  • [03] PM's Adviser-Interview
  • [04] Weather Forecast-Monday
  • [05] Greece-FYROM-Name Dispute-Nimetz
  • [06] Manhunt-Escaped Prisoner-Shooting
  • [07] Foreign Minister-Interview
  • [08] Weather Forecast-Sunday
  • [09] Foreign Exchange Rates-Monday

  • [01] Standing Army-Bill-Tsohatzopoulos

    18/02/2001 19:45:33

    A government bill to expand the standing army as part of an overhaul of the armed forces will be sent to parliament in February, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Sunday.

    In an interview to the northern Macedonia newspaper, Tsohatzopoulos said that the bill would allow the recruitment of 5,000 infantrymen as permanent military staff.

    In the past, Tsohatzopoulos has said that the expanded standing army would have 15,000 personnel.

    Also under the ministry's reform proposal the structure of the armed forces would undergo change, relying on more flexible and effective units.

    Tsohatzopoulos also told Macedonia that his ministry would go ahead this year with a reduction of compulsory military service, as originally announced.

    [02] Manhunt-Prisoner-Shooting (RECASTS, adding detail)

    18/02/2001 19:03:06

    Police launched the third day of a manhunt on Sunday for a jail inmate who escaped from an Athens hospital and shot two police officers and a prison warden, fatally wounding two of the men.

    One police officer, Athanasios Drakopoulos, 46, died on Friday at the Athens General State Hospital where was shot hours earlier by 26-year-old Constantine Passaris, arrested last year in a shoot-out with police in a downtown Athens square. The officer was buried on Sunday.

    Passaris, who was taken to hospital from jail for a brain scan, used a 5.45 mm pistol to shoot his guards. According to police, the gun of Russian origin is used by security forces, and is the second of its kind to be found in Greece.

    The other police officer, Dionysis Alevizopoulos, 49, died on Saturday after undergoing two operations at the same hospital, and his funeral is tentatively scheduled for Monday.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis sent his condolences.

    Another casualty of the shooting spree, prison warden Andreas Fysekis, 27, was reported in stable condition.

    Passaris was wearing handcuffs when he fired at his guards, which he removed using a key given to him by an accomplice or taken from one of the policemen, authorities said.

    Police are investigating how Passaris knew when and where he was to be taken in order to arrange his escape.

    On Friday, the police chief suspended the director of the police detainees transfer division for negligence in handling Passaris' security. More police officers may be suspended if evidence of culpability is found, officials said.

    Also suspended were the governor of Korydallos jail, where Passaris was imprisoned, and its managers and resident doctor.

    Police are looking into whether supervisors of the transfer division were aware of Passaris' violent record; whether they had informed the police officers accompanying him of his record; and why police services had not been asked to take additional security measures during the felon's transfer.

    On Sunday, senior police officials said that none of Passaris' guards were wearing bullet proof vests, although the force's Athens detainees and courts department was allocated six in 1997 for the transfer of dangerous criminals. All three men were shot in the chest and belly.

    Witnesses said Passaris and an accomplice headed towards an adjacent hospital facility after the shooting, while another accomplice walked out of the main entrance before forcing a hospital employee at gunpoint to turn over the keys to a black Lancia. The vehicle was recovered nearby.

    Passaris, a convicted robber, was imprisoned in Korydallos after he and two Romanian outlaws opened fire on police with a submachine gun and handguns in a routine traffic check near Vathis Square in late February 2000. One of the Romanians was killed and three police officers were wounded during the incident.

    Patrol officers at the time escaped serious injury due to bullet-proof vests they were wearing.

    The second Romanian man was killed a few days later in another shoot-out with police in the western Petroupoli district.

    On Sunday, a memorial service for the two dead officers was held at a church attached to the police officers' school. Attending was the public order minister.

    In protest at the Passaris incident that resulted in the death of two colleagues, Dimitris Kyriazidis, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Police Employees, said he would resign from his post on Monday, calling on the chief of police to do the same.

    [03] PM's Adviser-Interview

    18/02/2001 18:41:57

    A senior adviser to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Yorgos Pantayias, said on Sunday that the country's political parties are out of step with the times.

    "Existing political parties cannot meet the needs of the times," Pantayias wrote in an article published in the Sunday Eleftherotypia newspaper.

    "The problem (must be solved) of government expression, of the alliance of power, which is today represented by Costas Simitis, and which is not limited to hard-and-fast party trenches," he added.

    [04] Weather Forecast-Monday

    18/02/2001 18:16:21

    Cloud is forecast throughout the country on Monday, turning to snow in the north, showers and snow on high ground, and storms in the eastern Aegean islands. The adverse weather will ease off late in the day. Winds north-northwesterly, strong to very strong. In the north, temperatures will range from -3C to 5C; on the rest of the mainland from -1C to 12C; and in the islands from 5C to 15C. Showery in Athens with snow on high ground outside the city. Temperatures between 4C and 11C. Morning snow in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 1C to 5C.

    [05] Greece-FYROM-Name Dispute-Nimetz

    18/02/2001 18:16:06

    Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are near to resolving their dispute over the tiny Balkan state's name,

    a United Nations mediator said.

    In an interview to the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, UN envoy Matthew Nimetz declined to give the alternative names that were being discussed in the talks.

    But he said that the solution would be a compromise, exposing neither of the two countries, which had both shown the political will to resolve the dispute in coming months.

    Nimetz, a US diplomat who has mediated UN-sponsored talks in New York between the two sides, said the countries' prime ministers would meet in coming days.

    Greece claims that use of the name "Macedonia" by the neighbouring country usurps its historical heritage. A Greek province in the north dating from antiquity carries the same name.

    The chill between the two countries has largely eased in recent years, with Greece becoming a major investor in FYROM.

    [06] Manhunt-Escaped Prisoner-Shooting

    18/02/2001 15:48:18

    Police launched the third day of a manhunt on Sunday for a prison inmate who escaped from an Athens hospital and shot two police officers and a prison warden, fatally wounding two of the men.

    One police officer, Athanasios Drakopoulos, 45, died on Friday at the Athens General State Hospital where was shot hours earlier by 26-year-old Constantine Passaris, arrested last year in a shoot-out with police in a downtown Athens square.

    Passaris, who had been taken to hospital from jail for a brain scan, used a 5.45 mm pistol to shoot his guards. According to police, the gun of Russian origin is used by security forces, and is the second of its kind to be found in Greece.

    The other police officer, Dionysis Alevizopoulos, 48, died on Saturday after undergoing two operations at the same hospital. Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis sent his condolences.

    Another casualty of the shooting spree, prison warden Andreas Fysekis, 27, was reported in stable condition.

    Passaris was wearing handcuffs when he fired at his guards, which he removed using a key given to him by an accomplice or taken from one of the policemen, authorities said.

    Police are investigating how Passaris knew when and where he was to be taken in order to arrange his escape.

    On Friday, the police chief suspended the director of the police detainees transfer division for negligence in handling Passaris' security. More police officers may be suspended if evidence of culpability is found, officials said.

    Also suspended were the governor of Korydallos jail, where Passaris was imprisoned, and its managers and resident doctor.

    Police are looking into whether supervisors of the detainees transfer division were aware of Passaris' record; whether they had informed the police officers accompanying him; and why police services had not been asked to take additional security measures during the felon's transfer.

    Witnesses said Passaris and an accomplice headed towards an adjacent hospital facility after the shooting, while another accomplice walked out of the main entrance before forcing a hospital employee at gunpoint to turn over the keys to a black Lancia. The vehicle was recovered nearby.

    Passaris, a convicted robber, was imprisoned in Korydallos after he and two Romanian outlaws opened fire on police with a submachine gun and handguns in a routine traffic check near Vathis Square in late February 2000. One of the Romanians was killed and three police officers were wounded during the incident.

    Patrol officers at the time escaped serious injury due to bullet-proof vests they were wearing.

    The second Romanian man was killed a few days later in another shoot-out with police in the western Petroupoli district.

    [07] Foreign Minister-Interview

    18/02/2001 15:17:29

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou says he has no knowledge of whether the prime minister wishes to lead the ruling PASOK party in the next general elections, but sees no reason for him not to.

    In an interview to the Sunday Ethnos newspaper, Papandreou said Costas Simitis had accomplishments to his name, and the government's current four-year term in power would also prove to be a success.

    [08] Weather Forecast-Sunday

    18/02/2001 14:49:17

    Fair weather is forecast throughout the country on Sunday, with limited early morning visibility. Winds west-northwesterly, light to moderate. In the north, temperatures will range from -5C to 12C; on the rest of the mainland from -1C to 16C; and in the islands from 5C to 15C. Sunny in Athens, with temperatures between 4C and 14C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from -1C to 12C.

    [09] Foreign Exchange Rates-Monday

    18/02/2001 14:31:24

    Monday's buying rates

    U.S. dollar 370.944

    German mark 172.829

    French franc 051.531

    Pound sterling 537.910

    Irish punt 429.202

    Belgian franc 008.379

    Luxembourg franc 008.379

    Dutch guilder 153.389

    Italian lira (100) 017.457

    Austrian schilling 024.565

    Danish kroner 45.287

    Swedish kroner 37.719

    Finnish mark 056.852

    Spanish peseta 002.032

    Portuguese escudo 001.686

    Japanese yen (100) 322.283

    Swiss franc 219.923

    Norwegian kroner 41.247

    Cyprus pound 583.595

    Canadian dollar 241.598

    Australian dollar 195.810


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