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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-04-29

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Top US Official Charged for Abu Ghraib
  • [02] Aiming at a Modern and Efficient State
  • [03] Contraband Cigarettes Confiscated
  • [04] Triple Win for Prodi
  • [05] New Arrests over Egyptian Massacre
  • [06] "Timely Information" says China
  • [07] Hyundai Chairman Arrested
  • [08] Mexican Drug Reforms Shock USA
  • [09] CIA Abduction Case Unclear
  • [10] Greek Regional Conference Concludes
  • [11] Census in Turkish-Occupied Cyprus

  • [01] US Lt Colonel to Face Court Top US Official Charged for Abu Ghraib

    29 Apr 2006 13:01:00

    Sources: Reuters

    The US Army on Friday brought criminal charges against Lt Colonel Steven Jordan, who headed the interrogation centre at Iraqs Abu Ghraib jail, for maltreatment of detainees, interfering with investigators and other counts, making him the highest-ranking person charged in the scandal. The Army Military District of Washington said Jordan faced 12 criminal counts relating to seven different charges. Prosecutors said he subjected detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by military working dogs and later lied about it to investigators. Ten low-ranking soldiers have been convicted in military courts in connection with the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib. Two officers senior to Jordan at Abu Ghraib have been disciplined by the Army, but neither faced criminal charges

    The charges against Jordan include cruelty and maltreatment of detainees, dereliction of duty, wrongful interference with an investigation, making false official statements, wilfully disobeying a superior officer and others.

    Images of the abuse first became public on 28 April 2004.

    Jordan was in charge of the militarys Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib in the fall and winter of 2003, at the height of the detainee abuse.

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: US charges ex-Abu Ghraib officer

    The New York Times: Officer Formally Charged in Abu Ghraib Abuse Case

    [02] Constitutional Revision in Final Stretch Aiming at a Modern and Efficient State

    29 Apr 2006 16:55:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    The Constitutional Revision, with which the Government aims at establishing a modern, efficient and citizen-friendly state, is in the final stretch. In mid-May, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will present the main points of the Revision to ND's Parliamentary Group and the Government's intention is to have the first Parliamentary discussion in early June. On Thursday, the PM discussed the issue with Parliamentary Group secretary Apostolos Stavrou. The Revision brings forward the issue of forested areas, while the Plenary Session will also go over the establishment of a Constitutional Court that will control the constitutionality of laws and other affairs.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [03] Found in a North-Korean Cargo Liner Contraband Cigarettes Confiscated

    29 Apr 2006 14:35:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    The Patras Port Authority found and confiscated one of the largest quantities of contraband cigarettes to have ever been smuggled in Greece. Almost one million packs were stored in the hold of a North Korean-registered cargo liner. Following credible information on a suspicious ship sailing through the Patras Gulf, a Coast Guard ship was patrolling the area and at some point located Korean-registered cargo liner "Sagittarius" near the island of Oxia. Coast Guard men halted the ship and then forced it to return to the port of Patras. The Port Authority run thorough checks and finally confiscated 991,000 packs of contraband cigarettes. Both the illegal merchandise and the ship were confiscated, while all six crewmembers were arrested and will be brought before the Public Prosecutor. As per the official announcement, the total amount of customs duties comes to 2,489,183 euros. The Patras Port Authority is continuing the preliminary inquiry to find out if more people are implicated in the smuggling case.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [04] Triple Win for Prodi

    29 Apr 2006 21:05:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: BBC, Reuters, ANA, NET

    Saturday was a tough but good day for Romano Prodi, as his centre-left candidates were elected heads of the upper and lower house of Parliament, although it was not an easy election. Communist leader Fausto Bertinotti was elected president of the lower house (Chamber of Deputies), while it took four votes to elect Franco Marini, a moderate trade union leader, as speaker of the upper house (Senate). A few hours after the results of the crucial ballots, outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi implied he would hand his resignation to President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on Tuesday, thus ending the fight over who won in the elections.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [05] Alleged Drivers Detained New Arrests over Egyptian Massacre

    29 Apr 2006 12:52:00

    Sources: AFP

    Egyptian security forces have arrested two men suspected of driving suicide bombers to their targets in the Sinai Peninsula the official MENA news agency reported late Friday. Mohammed Shehta, an Egyptian, and Mohammed Zir, a Palestinian, are being questioned in connection with the attacks in the Red Sea resort of Dahab on Monday and the North Sinai town of Al-Gura on Wednesday. Security forces suspect Shehta drove the bombers to their targets on the eve of the deadly attacks, which killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens, including many foreigners. He reportedly admitted driving three Bedouin men to Dahab from central Sinai, but maintained he had no idea about their intentions. "They had cantaloupes and a sack that they said contained charcoal," MENA quoted Shehta as telling his interrogators. As per the same source, Zir is suspected of being the driver of a red pickup that dropped off the suicide bomber who targeted the MFO vehicle in Al-Gura. Security forces detained more than 30 suspects in the wake of the Dahab bombings.

    Related News:

    New Blasts in Egypt

    Bloodshed in Egypt

    [06] "Timely Information" says China

    29 Apr 2006 14:47:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Sources: Reuters

    China, criticised for its initial cover-up of SARS three years ago, has defended its record on reporting human cases of bird flu as prompt and transparent, state media said on Saturday. China has reported 18 human infections of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, 12 of which have been fatal. The latest is an 8-year-old girl in the southwestern province of Sichuan who the China Daily newspaper said was in critical condition on Friday. Health Ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an said every human case of bird flu in China since its first reporting in November had been made public once confirmed, the Beijing News reported. "The release of the information has been timely, open and transparent," Mao was quoted as saying. "The report by U.S. media is wrong and untrue." The Beijing News said Mao was referring to a report by the Asian Wall Street Journal on Thursday, which said local health officials in China had failed to report possible human cases of bird flu to the central government. China was widely criticised for its initial cover-up the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003 before it spread around the world, infecting 8,000 people and killing 800. China has reported more than 30 outbreaks of bird flu in poultry across a dozen provinces over the past year. Experts fear that bird flu could mutate into a form where it could pass easily among humans, potentially triggering a pandemic in which millions could die.

    [07] Following Prosecutor's Order Hyundai Chairman Arrested

    29 Apr 2006 17:38:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: BBC

    The chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, Chung Mong-Koo, has been arrested in South Korea on embezzlement charges. Mr Chung and Hyundai are accused of creating slush funds to pay politicians and officials for business favours. A Seoul judge said earlier that he had issued the arrest warrant because he feared Mr Chung may go into hiding or tamper with evidence. Mr Chung denies the charges. A police probe into the scandal at the carmaker first started back in March. Under South Korean law they will be able to question Mr Chung for a maximum of 20 days before being charged.

    [08] Decriminalising Possession and Use Mexican Drug Reforms Shock USA

    29 Apr 2006 14:12:00

    Sources: Reuters

    The Mexican Parliament and Congress approval to decriminalise possession of small quantities of drugs has shocked the US administration. Under new reforms passed by Congress, possessing marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico, if they are in small amounts for personal use. The measure, which quickly drew US criticism, was given final passage 53-26 by senators in a late night session on Thursday and aimed at letting police focus on their battle against major drug dealers. President Vicente Fox is expected to sign it into law in the next few days. "This law provides more judicial tools for authorities to fight crime," presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said on Friday. He also said the reforms, which were proposed by the government and approved earlier this week by the lower house of Congress, made laws against major traffickers "more severe." The legislation came as a shock to Washington, which counts on Mexicos support in its war against drug smuggling gangs. "I would say any law that decriminalises dangerous drugs is not very helpful," said Judith Bryan, spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Mexico City. "Drugs are dangerous. We dont think it is the appropriate way to go."

    Bryan said US officials were still studying the reforms, under which police will not penalise people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin, or 500 milligrams of cocaine. People caught with larger quantities of drugs will be treated as narcotics dealers and face increased jail terms under the plan.

    The legal changes will also decriminalise the possession of limited quantities of other drugs, including LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, amphetamines and peyote, a psychotropic cactus found in Mexicos northern deserts.

    Fox has been seen as a loyal ally of the United States in the war on drugs, but the reforms could create new tensions.

    A delegation from the US House of Representatives visited Mexico last week and met with senior officials to discuss drug control issues, but was told nothing of the planned legislative changes.

    Hundreds of people, including many police officers, have been killed in Mexico in the past year as drug cartels battle for control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States. The violence has raged mostly in northern Mexico, but in recent months has spread south to cities like vacation resort Acapulco.

    Under current law, it is up to local judges and police to decide on a case-by-case basis whether people should be prosecuted for possessing small quantities of drugs.

    Hector Michel Camarena, an opposition senator from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, warned that although well intentioned, the law may go too far. "There are serious questions we have to carefully analyse so that through our spirit of fighting drug dealing, we dont end up legalising," he said. "We have to get rid of the concept of the (drug) consumer."

    "The object of this law is to not put consumers in jail, but rather those who sell and poison," said Sen. Jorge Zermeno of the ruling National Action Party.

    [09] MEPs Appear Reserved CIA Abduction Case Unclear

    29 Apr 2006 13:58:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    A team of EU lawmakers that visited Skopje appeared reserved towards FYROMs claims of the involvement of both local authorities and the USA in the alleged CIA abduction of German Khaled el-Masri. "We found no hard evidence as to whether Khaled el-Masri was detained or not by the CIA in Skopje," declared Claudio Fava, one of the seven members of the European Parliament Committee, on Friday night. The Committee, which is investigating allegations whereby CIA planes secretly transported prisoners through European countries, met with FYROM officials in Skopje on Friday to discuss the el-Masri case. Fava further added that the delegation did not receive satisfactory answers by the local authorities to a series questions concerning the circumstances of el-Masris stay in and departure from FYROM. "We gathered some information, but we still have some questions," declared German MEP Silvia Kaufmann.

    On Saturday, FYROMs Interior Minister, Ljubomir Mihajlovski, again denied claims linking the countrys secret services or CIA to the abduction of el-Masri

    Khaled al-Masri, a Kuwaiti-born German national, claims that he was arrested by FYROMs police on the borders with Serbia-Montenegro in December 2003, was taken to a hotel in the capital, Skopje, and imprisoned for 20 days. Then, he was allegedly passed over to the US secret services, which flew him to Afghanistan as he was considered a suspect for terrorism. He was detained in that country for five months and was subsequently released, after it was clarified that he was not the man wanted by the US authorities.

    However, Mihajlovski declared that el-Masri stayed in a hotel in Skopje for three weeks during that time and then fled the country through the FYROM-Kosovo borders.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [10] Absorption Rates Doubled Greek Regional Conference Concludes

    29 Apr 2006 13:32:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    The 13th Conference of Regional General Secretaries concluded in Ioannina. The talks during the meeting focused on the growth prospects for municipalities and prefectures, and the progress of works for regional operational programmes and Thiseas. In his keynote speech, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to the new Code for Municipalities and Prefectures, the fast rate of completion of works funded by the EU and the Greek state, and the steps taken to provide financial aid to Local Government Organisations. Pavlopoulos also mentioned that significant funds had been secured for Epirus, where major works are underway to support producers who suffered from floods. Referring to the specific region, the Interior Minister noted that it has been a source of inspiration and concerns. "Although it was last in Europe and one of the poorest regions of Greece, it has been recording the highest growth rates along with Central Macedonia.," he added. As per Pavlopoulos, the absorption rates have doubled and tripled compared to previous years, going from 8.3% to 33%. As for the new Code for Municipalities and Prefectures, the Minister stressed that it would boost the role of those elected, securing transparency in the administration of financial matters. While in Ioannina, the Interior Minister held successive meetings with regional heads, mayors and prefects, and discussed the progress of works and the problems encountered in their regions.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [11] Curfew for Citizens Census in Turkish-Occupied Cyprus

    29 Apr 2006 12:43:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Turkish-occupied Cyprus will proceed with a population census on Sunday. As per the local Press, a curfew will be in force from 5am until the end of the census, at 6pm, while only three Turkish-Cypriot newspapers will circulate, which will be home-delivered. In addition, they wrote that many Turkish-Cypriots described the fact that the local authorities were carrying out a census as ludicrous. On his part, the Speaker of the Cypriot Parliament, Dimitris Christofias, declared that the population census might hide "secret ideas". He also added that the Greek-Cypriot side had no objections to an official census in the liberated side, under the aegis of the UN or the EU. "Anyway, this was also suggested in 1992 by the then UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali." However, Christofias appeared reserved over the way the census will be conducted and the possible conveniences associated with it. In the meantime, the Foreign Minister of the occupied side, Serdar Denktash, proposed drawing up a new policy on the issue with Cyprus, in collaboration with Turkey, saying that the Turks could not wait another 40 years for the intentions of the Greek-Cypriot side. According to the local Press, Denktash said that if the presidential powers elected in 2008 have the same attitude as the current Greek-Cypriot leadership, then "neither the Turkish-Cypriots, nor Ankara, nor even the international community should waste their time." He also claimed that the issue with Cyprus was not a Turkish problem anymore, as Turkey and the occupied side are doing more than enough for a solution, so it was now a problem for the Greek-Cypriots. "They have to clarify that finding a mutually acceptable solution with the Greek-Cypriots is impossible and the effort will be abandoned." Moreover, Denktash claimed that Turkey would not meet with any obstacles in its accession progress if it does not open up its ports to Greek-Cypriots.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

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