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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou accuses ND of flouting Constitution
  • [02] Voulgarakis, gov't spokesman on terrorism
  • [03] Media slammed for handling of missing boy's story

  • [01] Papandreou accuses ND of flouting Constitution

    The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) intends to highlight the upcoming Constitutional revision as one of the key issues in the next general elections - plus the fact that ruling New Democracy has shown itself incapable of abiding by the Constitution - main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed in his speech to the party's MPs on Wednesday.

    Addressing PASOK's Parliamentary group, Papandreou said he was certain that the voters would decide that PASOK was the party able to respect and protect democratic institutions.

    PASOK's leader alleged that the Constitution had been violated both during the Vodafone phone-tapping scandal and the Pakistani abductions case and that this violation was continuing as long as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis continued a cover-up of these incidents.

    He also slammed the government's 'disdain' for the public-sector recruitments body, the Supreme Council for Personnel Recruitment (ASEP), independent authorities, its attempts to control justice, an attempt to lift the protected status of forest land in the Constitutional revision and the fact that PASOK had one MP fewer than the voters elected, as he claimed.

    Outlining PASOK's proposals tfor the revision of the Constitution, Papandreou referred to measures to establish a minimum standard of living that would include references to a minimum income, provisions for the rights of foreign nationals legally resident in Greece and changes to Constitutional articles referring to religion and the roles of Church and State, while stressing that article 16 would allow the establishment of non-profit private universities but also refer to the State's obligation to support state universities as a priority.

    A second series of measures proposed by PASOK's leader referred to democratic institutions, such as enabling voters to hold a national referendum on national issues if this was requested by at least 5 per cent of the electorate, or making the election of the president of the republic independent from Parliament, while a third dealt with local government.

    Summing up, Papandreou said that the proposals he had outlined marked the start of dialogue in Parliament and society but warned against allowing this dialogue to divert attention from the country's problems or to end in sterile political confrontation.

    He also underlined that PASOK had an even greater obligation to win the next general elections, because the Parliament that emerged from them would have the right to revise the Constitution.

    [02] Voulgarakis, gov't spokesman on terrorism

    The fight against actions that are aimed directly against democracy itself is constant, and this is the firm stance adopted by the democratic world and the people, commented Culture Minister George Voulgarakis before a scheduled press conference on Wednesday on cultural issues.

    Voulgarakis, the former public order minister and the recent target of a bomb attack near his home, made the comment in response to a question by a reporter on terrorism and how it can be combatted.

    Later, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the Greek men and women, all Greek citizens, unequivocally condemned acts of blatant violence aimed against society and democracy.

    The spokesman was replying to questions prompted by the assumption of the responsibility for last week's attack on Voulgarakis by the "Revolutionary Struggle" organisation, in a proclamation to an Athens weekly newspaper that was due to appear in Thursday's edition.

    [03] Media slammed for handling of missing boy's story

    Coverage, mostly by a handful of television stations, of an unprecedented incident involving the disappearance and alleged murder of an 11-year-old by five schoolmates in the northern town of Veria has prompted a sharp reaction by the Greek Ombudsman's office, the country's broadcast watchdog authority and the Athens Journalists' Union of (ESIEA).

    The Ombudsman's office, along with the Ombudsman for Minors, emphasised that the Alex Meshivili case also touches on the rights of the accused minors, as three television stations aired statements by the anonymous under-age suspects.

    Additionally, the groups said the use of visual footage concerning missing minors is allowed only under the precondition that it takes place in cooperation with police, whereas the media are obligated to not publicise the private life of any other minor involved in a missing child case.

    The Ombudsman office called on all parties to display vigilance and prudence while investigating the case and to avoid generalisations. It also called media under the National Radio-Television Council supervision to abide by the law and avoid any reference to minors' personal data of suspected minors or their families that "could cause further damage."

    Meanwhile, the media watchdog has decided to call the Athens-based television stations Antenna, Alter and Star to appear at a hearing next Tuesday in order to justify their decision to air interviews during their June 4 newscasts of the minors allegedly involved in the disappearance.

    According to a relevant law (77/2003), taking interviews from minors under the age of 14, as well as from witnesses or defendants in criminal cases, is prohibited.

    On its part, a statement issued by ESIEA underlines that the "interrogation" of minors in front of television cameras became a regular practice during the past few days on the occasion of the shocking Veria case.

    ESIEA condemns such phenomena, either in the form of television interviews or "interrogations" in place of police investigations, as totally unacceptable.

    Authorities over the weekend, acting on the confession of one of the five minors -- aged between 11 and 13 -- launched a search of a half-demolished house behind the municipality's town hall, although efforts to find the body of the missing youth and DNA tests on blood stains at the site have so far failed to turn up anything. Alex Meshivili, who lived with his Georgian mother and Greek stepfather in the northern town, was first declared missing four months ago. The derelict house was knocked down a month later to make way for an apartment block, the construction of which had already begun.

    The five youths -- three foreign nationals and two local brothers -- at first admitted to beating their schoolmate to death and later burying his body at the site. They later changed their initial statements to police.

    Revelations made over the weekend regarding this unprecedented case in Greece's crime annals indicate that the youth may have been the victim of systematic bullying by some of his classmates at the elementary school he attended in Veria.


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