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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Valinakis at SEECP meeting
  • [02] City of Athens cleanup operation at old appeals court bldg.
  • [03] Groupama Phoenix seeks greater market share in Greece
  • [04] Skarpelis to hospital
  • [05] Stocks end 0.77% down

  • [01] Valinakis at SEECP meeting

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis will represent Greece at a foreign ministers' and heads of state meeting of the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP), due to convene on Thursday and Friday in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

    The meetings will focus mainly on the Euro-Atlantic course of the countries of the region as well as developments in SE Europe.

    [02] City of Athens cleanup operation at old appeals court bldg.

    Personnel from the Athens municipality on Wednesday carried out a major cleanup and decontamination operation at the former Athens appeals court building and surrounding area on Sokratous street, as the building continues to reportedly host hundreds of mostly North African illegal immigrants.

    The specific building has come under increased media and law enforcement scrutiny of late, given reports of a distinct downgrading of the specific location and surrounding streets.

    The municipality‚s priority is to protect public health, according to Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who officially briefed a competent public prosecutor and police in order for waste management services to proceed with the necessary action.

    The operation involved the participation of more than 30 municipal workers, five vehicles and specialized decontamination equipment.

    Referring to the municipality‚s operation, Deputy Mayor George Dimopoulos said:

    ?The building has an owner, the Store Employees' Auxiliary Insurance Fund, which possesses the exclusive responsibility and authority for the cleaning of the surrounding area and building interior. Although for several months the city of Athens has exerted pressure in this direction, the proprietor has not proceeded with the required action. For this reason, the expenses for the cleaning of the area will be covered by the Fund. At the same time, relevant correspondence will be forwarded to the Fund, the prefecture and the interior ministry, so that the proprietor assumes his responsibilities and is obliged to clean the building interior in order to safeguard the health of the people who reside there as well as residents of the surrounding area.?

    [03] Groupama Phoenix seeks greater market share in Greece

    Groupama Phoenix is focusing on further expanding its business in the Greek market, its general manager Bertrand Woirhaye, said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, Woirhaye said the company's priority was the gain new market shares and boosting its investment capability.

    Groupama Phoenix also aims to boost its consultancy role through its network and through the sale of insurance programs, taking advantage of the support offered by Groupama Group which recently completed a 52.7 million euros share capital increase plan. "This increase allows Groupama to cover its needs in credibility margin and supporting development actions in the coming years," Woirhaye said.

    Turnover totaled 175.5 million euros last year, of which 111.5 million euros were general insurance and 64 million euros life insurance.

    [04] Skarpelis to hospital

    The hearing of Siemens case suspects Ilias Georgiou and Georgios Skarpelis before special examining magistrate Nikos Zagorianos began as scheduled on Wednesday, only to be interrupted when Skarpelis complained of feeling seriously unwell and was rushed away in an ambulance with acute high blood pressure.

    Both men are among several facing charges of bribery and money-laundering in connection with a contract signed between Siemens Greece and the then state telecom Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) in 1997. Georgiou was a senior Siemens executive at the time, while Skarpelis was a high-ranking trade unionist that served on OTE's board for more than a decade.

    Their lawyers Dimitris Tsovolas and Yiannis Mantzouranis, representing Skarpelis, and Angelos Parsalis, representing Georgiou, had earlier refused to attend Wednesday's proceedings until the Misdemeanours Court justices council had issued its decision on their application to have Zagorianos recused from the case.

    In statements to the press, they also strongly protested against the use of the term "remand prisoner" for their clients by government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, before either had appeared before the magistrate, who is empowered to order their detention on remand.

    Mantzouranis said the arrests were "an alibi for an investigation that must, at all costs, keep hidden until after the European elections secret documents that would cause seismic shockwaves."

    Tsovolas, on his part, pointed out that no documents regarding the case had been released by the examining magistrate and that Zagorianos was pressing ahead with the process in defiance of laws that required him to stop until the application to have him recused had been decided.

    "The government is behind the magistrate. It is afraid of something very serious. These things don't happen even in totalitarian regimes," the lawyer told reporters.

    The same line was taken by Parsalis, who said the magistrate had "flagrantly violated all the laws and dragged justice several years back". He also pointed out that a deputy appeals court prosecutor had refused to lodge an appeal against Misdemeanours court justices council order to release copies of documents in the case file to the defence.

    "This is the sixth time that a prosecutor has refused to assist in transgressions," he added.

    In the meantime, Supreme Court Attorney General George Sanidas officially requested in a memo to Athens Appeals Court Public Prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos that he lodge an appeal against two orders issued by the Athens Misdemeanour courts justices council, in which they had upheld a demand by lawyers representing Skarpelis and fugitive from justice Christos Karavelas that the magistrate release copies of all the documents in the case file.

    Zagorianos ordered the arrest of the two suspects last week, after the flight abroad of key suspect Christos Karavelas, who failed to appear before him as summoned last Friday. Karavelas' flight had been preceded by that of Mihalis Christoforakos, who has taken refuge in Germany. As a German citizen, Christoforakos is protected from automatic extradition to Greece to stand trial.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros dismissed the criticism from the three lawyers, accusing them of "making a mountain out of a molehill" and "playing with words".

    "What is important is what each is accused of and what role has been played by the specific person that in the past 15 years was, as a trusted figure for PASOK governments, a key player in OTE's board. It is an indisputable fact that the appropriate authorities decided to detain him a few days ago," he stressed, adding that no words could expunge the transgression of that period and the disputed contracts that had been signed.

    Caption: An ambulance crew carry Siemens case suspect Georgios Skarpelis out of the Evelpidon court house in a wheelchair on Wednesday, after he developed an attack of acute high blood pressure. Skarpelis had earlier appeared before the magistrate investigating the Siemens case to present his defence to charges of bribery and money-laundering. ANA-MPA - Pantelis Saitas.

    [05] Stocks end 0.77% down

    Greek stocks ended Wednesday's session with moderate losses at the Athens Stock Exchange, as profit taking halted a several-day rally in the market. The composite index fell 0.77 pct to end at 2,408.75 points, with turnover at 270.1 million euros, of which 14.6 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower. The Constructions (3.95 pct), Banks (3.37 pct0 and Oils (3.25 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (5.40 pct), Food/Beverage (2.92 pct) and Health (2.30 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.76 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 0.99 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.11 pct up. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 122 to 121 with another 28 issues unchanged.

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