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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-07-08

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Police arrest 25 for human-trafficking
  • [02] Teens arrested for migrant-trafficking
  • [03] Seven charged over Grammatikos incidents
  • [04] UN envoy meets with FM
  • [05] Economy grew 0.3 pct in Q1

  • [01] Police arrest 25 for human-trafficking

    Twenty-five people, including four police officers, were arrested in a police operation to dismantle one of the largest human trafficking rings in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which was particularly active in the economic and sexual exploitation of women. The 25 were led before a public prosecutor to be charged on Wednesday.

    Also among the suspects is a former police man dismissed from the force, while a former senior officer in the Greek Police, now retired, is also under investigation but with no firm evidence linking him to the ring.

    The currently serving police officers arrested include a deputy police sergeant stationed at Kallithea, a policeman working at the Aliens Bureau and two brothers stationed in Nikaia. The deputy sergeant from Kallithea and one of the two brothers in Nikaia had been accused of similar offences in the past and one had even been held on remand but was later acquitted and returned to the police force.

    The case was solved after a long investigation by the Attica Security police department against human trafficking, a part of the larger department against organised crime. This culminated in a large police operation on Tuesday, involving more than 150 police officers and the Delta Team.

    More than 200 people were detained and raids were conducted on eight night clubs, four brothels, two yachts and 10 houses. A total of 25 people were placed under arrest, while 42 face charges in Greece and abroad.

    The head of Attica Security Police Brigadier Yiannis Dikopoulos announced that the organisation had been set up around six months ago and had international connections and the structure of an organised company with five different sectors. The aim was to "recruit" foreign women that were then made to work in strip clubs, illegal brothels or as prostitutes through agencies that arranged sex trysts.

    The illegal income was then invested in legal businesses in Greece.

    The leader of the ring was a nightclub owner and the two "lieutenants" were also in the same line of work. Their operation included four strip clubs in Greece and one in Germany, while two more such clubs were being planned in the west Athens district of Peristeri and on the Aegean islands of Rhodes.

    These strip clubs appear to be owned by various companies, with no apparent involvement of the head of the ring, while their management had been assigned to his two seconds-in-command.

    The second branch of their ?operation? was 12 illegal brothels in the centre of Athens, which also appeared to belong to various owners unrelated to the leader of the gang.

    A third area of activity for the gang was that of finding women, through cooperation with Russian, Czech, Polish and Romanian criminal organisations and work agencies that brought women to Greece via German and the Czech Republic. So that they would not be tracked when their passports were checked, the women were supplied with fake passports and documents, asylum requests and fake marriage certificates. They were then forced to work as prostitutes or provide other sexual services.

    An important role was played by the four policemen, who protected the gang from inspections and gave them advanced warning in exchange for a fee.

    The gang was also involved in laundering the money collected by the organisation each night, which was "legalised" via car dealerships, the purchase of luxury leisure craft, a cafeteria and legal night clubs.

    During the raids on Tuesday, authorities confiscated two luxury yachts, each 20 metres long, and the sum of 61,760 euros, 800 US dollars, 47 mobile phones, four laptops and two external hard disks.

    [02] Teens arrested for migrant-trafficking

    Police in Thessaloniki on Wednesday announced the arrest of a 15-year-old Moroccan for immigrant trafficking, along with an 18-year-old Iraqi accomplice. The two were transporting 22 illegal immigrants into Greece, seven of whom were minors.

    The group was arrested near Thessaloniki's New Railway Station and their final destination was Athens. Authorities believe that the two teenagers are part of a larger immigrant-trafficking ring.

    [03] Seven charged over Grammatikos incidents

    A public prosecutor on Wednesday slapped criminal and misdemeanour charges on the head of the Grammatikos community in Attica, his driver and five local residents arrested for incidents the previous day, during a protest against a planned landfill site for Attica in the area.

    The Community leader and his driver face charges of assault, moral instigation of assault and resisting arrest and their case has been assigned to the 7th examining magistrate. The five Grammatiko residents have been charged with arson and harbouring a criminal, while their case will be examined by the 25th examining magistrate.

    Speaking in Parliament, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos defended the actions of local residents as "justified" and demanded that riot police be pulled out of Grammatikos.

    "The government failed to act on its promise to introduce a new system for processing wastes, with recovery at source, recycling, composting, turning into fertiliser and biological processing of wastes, which would have left only a small residue to be buried in the landfills, with the result that the EU has stopped funding for Grammatikos," he pointed out.

    He criticised the government for using violence and repression and displaying an autocratic attitude toward local communities, calling on it to withdraw MAT riot police and produce a clear and short-term schedule for building the infrastructure for a new waste-processing system.

    The arrests were also criticised by Greece's newly-emergent Eco-Greens party, which stressed that policy for waste management could not be imposed by riot police but had to be the result of dialogue and everyone accepting their share of responsibility.

    The comment was made by Nikos Chrysogelos, a member of the party's secretariat, during a press conference to present the EcoGreens' positions on waste management in Greece.

    Several people were arrested in the region of Grammatiko in northeast Attica on Tuesday, after riot police clashed with local residents protesting against the start of work on a landfill at the location Mavro Vouno in the area. Protestors attacked convoys of trucks and machinery heading for the proposed landfill site, attacked police forces and also set fires in the area.

    A police announcement said that four policemen were injured in scuffles with the inhabitants and four people taken into custody, one of whom drove his car onto a policeman. Another three people were arrested for setting fires.

    [04] UN envoy meets with FM

    The UN secretary general's personal envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz said on Wednesday that he was "more optimistic" for a solution to the name issue, but rejected any timetable, following a 90-minute meeting in Athens with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Nimetz, who arrived in Athens on Tuesday night after talks in the FYROM capital of Skopje, told reporters after the meeting with Bakoyannis that he had brought ideas that comprise "minor" changes to the proposals he had submitted in October, which included the name "Republic of Northern Macedonia".

    "I had an excellent discussion with the foreign minister, I conveyed the discussions I had in Skopje (on Tuesday with the FYROM president and prime minister), I briefed her, and I was briefed, on the views of the two sides," Nimetz said, adding that there was encouragement for continuation of the negotiations and "I believe that I will continue my work even better".

    Asked if he was optimistic that there will be progress by the end of the year, the UN envoy replied that "I don't believe in deadlines", stressing at the same time that "there is a strong desire by both sides to find a solution".

    "I believe in the talks for a mutually beneficial solution, I believe that we are very close to finding a solution, and that is why I'm more optimistic than before," Nimetz said.

    Asked to clarify statements he made on Tuesday concerning a national identity and language of the neighboring country, Nimetz explained that: "What we have been discussing for many years is the issue of the name", adding that "some things are considered indisputable, such as the fact that there is a state that is recognised in the framework of the UN with the name of 'FYROM' and, of course, we have for years desired a mutually acceptable name for that state. There is a language, which is spoken by that specific people, but our focus is on the name issue".

    Regarding the next steps, Nimetz said that "Athens and Skopje will study my ideas, and I will be in contact with all the sides".

    "There is encouragement for continuation of the process. This could mean separate meetings or a joint meeting of all," he continued.

    The "common denominator", he added, is "the mutual desire to improve the relations between the two countries, and also the relations among the countries of SE Europe".

    "I know that the government in Skopje desires a solution of the issue, desires to improve its relations with Greece. I also know, from the foreign minister, that Greece desires better relations with its northern neighbor in a way that ensures dignity and justice. There is a strong will on both sides for resolving the issue of the name, and I put forward ideas and proposals in that direction, which both sides are taking into serious consideration," Nimetz concluded.

    [05] Economy grew 0.3 pct in Q1

    The Greek economy grew by 0.3 pct in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive‚s statistics agency, in a report published in Brussels, said Greece, along with Cyprus (1.5 pct) and Poland (1.9 pct) were the only EU member-states to show positive growth rates.

    Eurozone‚s Gross Domestic Products fell by 4.9 pct, in the EU-27 the GDP shrank by 4.7 pct and in the US the GDP fell by 2.5 pct in the January-March period. Eurostat said the Greek economy shrank by 1.2 pct in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, while in the Eurozone, the economy shrank by 2.5 pct and in the EU-27 it was down 2.4 pct over the same period.


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