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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-07-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Anti-establishment group torches ministry building
  • [02] Swine flu cases in Greece rise to 140
  • [03] Moscow Patriarch visits Fanar
  • [04] Gang behind ship-owner kidnapping
  • [05] Nimetz urges 'flexibility'
  • [06] LAOS party's 4th conference

  • [01] Anti-establishment group torches ministry building

    The interior ministry's IT services building in the Athens district of Neos Kosmos was seriously damaged in an attack early on Saturday morning by a group of masked and hooded anti-establishment activists wielding petrol bombs and makeshift incendiary devices.

    Arriving at the building around 1:00 after midnight, the group of men broke windows and set fire to the ground floor, which was completely gutted, while the fire also spread to the mezzanine.

    The fire was put out by the fire brigade but the culprits escaped.

    [02] Swine flu cases in Greece rise to 140

    The number of diagnosed swine flu cases in Greece has now reached 140, of which 52 have made a full recovery, the National Centre for Health Operations (EKEPY) reported on Saturday. All the new cases of the A/H1N1 virus found involved people that had recently come to Greece from abroad, such as a group of students from the United States and two people just returned from a trip to the United Kingdom.

    [03] Moscow Patriarch visits Fanar

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas) The new Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I arrived in Istanbul on Saturday, beginning a tour of visits to other Orthodox Churches by visiting the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar.

    The Moscow Patriarch was given an official welcome and a mass was held in the Patriarchate's church of Agios Georgios, while he was received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the throne room.

    In his welcoming speech, Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the need for unity within the Orthodox Church in order to meet the challenges of the times.

    A private meeting between Bartholomew and Kirill followed, and then a dinner given by Patriarch Bartholomew at his apartments in Fanar.

    Patriarch Kirill is expected to visit Aghia Sophia and other monuments in Istanbul on Saturday afternoon before returning to Patriarch Bartholomew's residence for an official dinner.

    The two Patriarchs will hold a mass together in Agios Georgios Church on Sunday, after which they will both attend a concert by the Sretenskiy or Ypapantis Monastery choir.

    During his visit to Turkey, Patriarch Kirill will also pay a visit to Ankara and meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    [04] Gang behind ship-owner kidnapping

    Sixteen people were charged on Saturday with criminal offences related to the kidnapping in January of ship-owner Periklis Panagopoulos and other crimes, based on evidence collected by a police investigation lasting more than six months.

    Ten individuals belonging to a gang that police say was behind the abduction appeared before a public prosecutor on Saturday morning, while five suspected members of the gang are already in prison. The 16th member of the gang is still at large and is being sought by police for other offences.

    All 16 were charged with forming a criminal organisation and acting in concert to carry out the kidnapping, while they also face charges of homicide and moral complicity in connection with the previously unsolved murder of George Gousios in Penteli in 2008.

    Other charges brought against them included that of causing explosions (again in connection with the Gousios murder), supplying and manufacturing explosives and aggravated cases of theft as a habitual practice and a means of livelihood, as well as charges of moral complicity for all the above.

    The case has now been assigned to the 25th examining magistrate, who has summoned the suspects to present their testimony on Wednesday and Thursday.

    The 74-year-old ship-owner was abducted in mid-January and was released unharmed a week later, after his wife had paid the kidnappers a ransom. The ship-owner was the second wealthy Greek businessman to be the victim of a kidnapping in the space of six months, after the northern Greek industrialist George Mylonas in June 2008.

    A police announcement released earlier on Saturday said that the gang was also involved in executing contract killings and other serious criminal offences, in addition to the kidnapping of Panagopoulos.

    Attica Security director Brigadier Yiannis Dikopoulos said the case had been cracked by the Crimes against Life department, while the National Intelligence Service had provided advanced surveillance equipment and assisted in actions that helped to locate the suspects.

    According to police, 10 members of the gang were involved in the kidnapping, while the remaining five were already in prison and a sixth was on the run, being sought for other offences.

    Police identified the gang's leader as Panagiotis Vlastos, an inmate serving time at Trikala prison for homicides, protection rackets and other offences.

    Other suspected members of the criminal gang that are already in custody were identified as Vassilis Stefanakos, Ioannis Skaftouros, Konstantinos Andreou and Servos Dejan alias Boban Ivanov or Rifstoschi.

    The 10 individuals arrested on Saturday, who were directly involved in the kidnapping, were identified as Apostolos Petrakis, Emmanouil Skarlatos, Aristomenes Kleftoyiannis, Georgios Katsaganis, Georgios Tromboukis, Ioannis Theodorakis, Haralambos Moustakas, Ioanna Vlastou (the widow of Spyridonas Vlastos), Polytimi Georga (the partner of Skaftouros), and Ioannis Thodis.

    The gang member still at large was identified as Panagiotis Soiledis or Soidelis.

    Of the above, the ones that physically carried out the kidnapping or were present included Petrakis, Katsaganis, Kleftoyiannis and Moustakas, while secondary roles were played by Tromboukis, Skarlatos, Vlastou and Thodis and Panagiotis Vlastos masterminded the operation from inside prison.

    In addition to the kidnapping, the group had carried out contract killings and several murder attempts and bomb attacks - including a contract to kill the police officers on their trail and the head of the police department coordinating the investigation.

    According to Dikopoulos, the group organised and carried out the murder of businessman George Gousios on September 12, 2008 and attempted to set a large bomb in the home of a business man in Arta but were prevented by the Attica Crimes Against Life department, which received a tip-off and arrested two members of the gang - Ivanov and a Bulgarian - while they were carrying the bomb.

    The gang is also accused of planning the contract killing of the Trikala prison governor and social worker because they had refused to grant Vlastos prison leave, and of making preparations for the murder of a nightclub owner that was averted through information obtained by police. The intended victim was then smuggled out of the country to Germany, so that he could be protected without forcing police to reveal what they knew and thus exposing their investigation.

    The group had also apparently planned the murder of a Malandrinos prison inmate that was an arch enemy of Vlastos and head of a rival criminal gang, intending to kill him when he was taken to court for trial by placing large quantities of explosives in a booby-trapped car and showering him with bullets from Kalashnikov rifles. That plan fell through, however, when the prisoner's transfer was moved to another date.

    Other planned murders attributed to the group included the killing of three individuals that were part of the rival criminal gang and of a businessman in Corinth, while they had also planned to place a bomb in a supermarket in Menidi in order to blackmail the owner.

    Police said they were continuing their investigation to uncover additional criminal actions by the same gang.

    Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis and Greek Police Chief Vassilis Tsiatouras arrived at Attica Security headquarters on Saturday afternoon and congratulated the detectives that cracked the case.

    "I came to congratulate the officers of Attica Security, who methodically and professionally succeeded in dismantling a criminal organisation that carried out extremely serious criminal acts," Markoyiannakis stated, while Tsiatouras also extended thanks to the National Intelligence Service for their assistance.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of kidnapped ship-owner Periklis Panagopoulos.

    [05] Nimetz urges 'flexibility'

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA - N. Frangopoulos) UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, the mediator in the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), said in statements on FYROM state television on Saturday that the name dispute could be solved by the end of the year if Greece and FYROM were both prepared to be "flexible".

    "If both sides make serious efforts regarding this issue, then there can be a solution by the end of the year," Nimetz said, while describing the name issue as "complex".

    "I will ask the negotiators of both countries to make serious efforts and work painstakingly. In Skopje, I will listen carefully to the positions of the country's leadership, so that we can make progress in the negotiating process," Nimetz said.

    The UN mediator will be in Skopje on Monday and Tuesday, after which he will travel to Athens, in order to talk to the leadership of both countries.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of UN envoy Matthew Nimetz

    [06] LAOS party's 4th conference

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis addressed his party's 4th conference on Saturday, calling for a "break with and overthrow of the rotten establishment".

    Analysing his party's new political theory of 'Patriotic Interventionism', which he described as the "answer to neoliberalism and socialism," Karatzaferis predicted that it was only a matter of time before the electorate entrusted the government to LAOS, as a result of the mistakes of the other parties but also LAOS's own successes.

    Among the highlights of Patriotic Interventionism he cited measures like a five-year military service for the unemployed with full pay and social insurance, or an allowance of free power and water for all.

    Pointing out that LAOS had been third party in several electoral precincts during the European Parliament elections in June, Karatzaferis said that the goal would be to make LAOS third party throughout the country and even main opposition, if the result led to a coalition government of the two main parties.

    Caption: Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis at his party's 4th regular conference at the Hotel Caravel in Athens on Saturday. ANA-MPA - M. Marogianni

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