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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-08-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 6, 2002


  • [01] Latest 'N17' suspect jailed; relatives again visit other suspects
  • [02] NY Times focuses on anti-terrorism in Greece
  • [03] Lesperoglou appears before prosecutor, jailed pending new trial
  • [04] Investigators believe Kos army depot thieves had inside help
  • [05] Greece calls Turkey's reforms package a 'positive step'
  • [06] Athens Bar Association supports initiative by four European associations
  • [07] Construction activity up in first four months of 2002
  • [08] Government resumes ''name and shame'' tax drive
  • [09] Thessaloniki airport puts growth plan on display
  • [10] Bond trade rises in July
  • [11] Plans to improve taxi services during the 2004 Olympic Games
  • [12] Britain assures its policy on Cyprus remains unchanged
  • [13] Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash under attack by party leader
  • [14] Spain: Cyprus will join the EU even without settlement

  • [01] Latest 'N17' suspect jailed; relatives again visit other suspects

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    The latest suspect related to the notorious “November 17” terrorist group was remanded to custody late Sunday evening shortly after he provided some four hours of testimony to a special appellate court prosecutor.

    Sotirios Kondylis, 41, whom authorities charge is the “N17” terrorist known as “Aris” amongst the other members, was arrested near his residence in the east Athens district of Vyronas on Thursday. His arrest brought the number of “N17” suspects now in custody to 15.

    According to reports, Kondylis again admitted to participating in a firefight between "N17" members and police in the central Sepolia district, November 1991; the murder of Turkish diplomat Omer Haluk Sipahioglu in June 1994 in the coastal Athens suburb of Paleo Faliro; as well as the launching of an unsuccessful rocket attack against the US embassy on Feb. 15, 1996.

    Sources said Kondylis also confessed to joining the elusive group in 1990, while reportedly stressing that he wanted to leave in 1996 but failed to do so out of fear for his life. Finally, he reportedly expressed remorse for his actions in statements to prosecutor Leonidas Zervombeakos.

    Kondylis, a brewery worker, was transferred to a specially renovated maximum-security cellblock at the Korydallos prison on Monday morning.

    Meanwhile, a stepped-up nationwide manhunt for Dimitris Koufontinas, identified by police's anti-terrorism squad as a top N17 lieutenant and prolific assassin, continued on Monday. Authorities have announced that Koufontinas is the high-ranking N17 suspect still at large.

    Second visit by relatives to jailed suspects: Meanwhile, relatives and lawyers of many of the other 14 men arrested in the case visited them at the Korydallos prison, in a working-class Piraeus suburb, on Monday. The development marked the second time visiting hours were held for the suspects at the center of Greece's largest modern-day criminal investigation.

    According to reports, relatives exiting the prison told reporters that visiting hours were extended, while the wife of one of the suspects, Theodoros Psaradellis, said her husband complained of a lack of press coverage concerning the eminently high-profile case in which he stands charged.

    The issue of the 14 suspects' incarceration at a maximum security cellblock at the prison, Greece's largest penitentiary, briefly dominated headlines late last week after the attorney for the alleged leader of the terrorist gang, Alexandros Giotopoulos, complained of "unacceptable" cell conditions and solitary confinement, among others.

    Another suspect, Savvas Xiros, is still hospitalized at an Athens area hospital.

    Giotopoulos' charge resulted in a Supreme Court prosecutor ordering an emergency investigation, which was completed on Friday.

    "Conditions of detention at Korydallos for the terrorist suspects, and taking into consideration the particularities of this case and required security measures, meet the provisions as dictated by the Code for Correctional Institutions. Minor omissions at the installations and minor problems of a technical nature, due to the fact that repair works in the detention areas were only recently completed, will be addressed within the next few days," a relevant Piraeus prosecutor stated in a written report.

    Composer Theodorakis comments on 'N17' and criticizes the Left: Former minister, cadre of the Left and renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis on Monday published an article in Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" including comments on the role and the activities of the urban terrorist group "November 17", criticism against the Left and its stance on terrorism and references to the resistance movement during the 1967-1974 military junta.

    Referring to scenarios that want "N17" to be the creation of foreign secret services, in his article featured under the title "The Left, armed struggle and N17", Theodorakis wonders how could some leading political circles say that "N17" is a CIA creation and at the same time be unable to hide their sympathy toward the members of that group.

    The article calls hypotheses that link "N17" to US secret services "unjustified" and after it notes that the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) parties together represent approximately 90% of the voters, wonders "whom do the Americans think they are threatened by?".

    Referring to the junta era, the article noted that "the imposition of the junta created the historic framework that legitimized all forms of resistance, even armed resistance", emphasizing that the mere fact that N17 started its activities after the collapse of the junta constitutes a caricature of history, a historic slander against a people that in vain expected its elite to do their duty and now apparently some of the great absentees are whispering: "Here is our retroactive resistance against the junta", secretly pointing to the murderers without any shame.

    The article continues with criticism against the stance of the Left against terrorism saying "no other mass movement has suffered greater distortion, abuse and finally decline from this tolerance toward terrorism than the Greek Left; to have battle-scarred political parties of the past avoiding to clearly and decisively denounce all those cowards and dirty criminals, whom the Left should have drowned in general popular contempt only for the mere fact that they had the audacity to use its banners".

    [02] NY Times focuses on anti-terrorism in Greece

    NEW YORK, 06/08/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    The New York Times on Monday published an extensive report from Athens detailing the anti-terrorism efforts of the Greek authorities, which began to uncover the terrorist organization ''November 17'', which was responsible for the murder of 23 persons over the past 27 years.

    The front-page report from Athens, by Steven Erlanger, detailed the efforts of the Greek authorities and stressed that this ''crackdown helps Greece's self-image and eases Olympic fears''.

    ''At least three other suspects are being sought, including the operational commander, Dimitris Koufontinas, 44, a beekeeper who organized the group's attacks and who is considered clever and dangerous. The police are also trying to break a smaller affiliated group called the Revolutionary Cells and to find out more about the origins of another group ELA,'' the report said.

    ''The American Ambassador Thomas J. Miller, whose best friend, a captain in the United States Navy, William Nordeen, was killed by ''November 17'' in 1996 is wary of too much congratulating too soon,'' it added.

    ''While praising the Greek government and the police, Mr. Miller said: 'This is a big success, but as Prime Minister (Costas) Simitis has said, there's still a long way to go. We may be nearing the end of the beginning, but we are nowhere near the end,'' Erlanger reported.

    In the same report, Greek main opposition New Democracy deputy Dora Bakoyianni, the wife of a ''November 17'' victim, was quoted saying: ''after years of nothing we have a lot, but mostly we have the executioners''.

    [03] Lesperoglou appears before prosecutor, jailed pending new trial

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    A man re-arrested on terrorism-related charges, following the annulment by the Supreme Court of an appellate court verdict acquitting him of the attempted murder of a police officer in Athens 10 years, was transferred to a local prison after his high-profile arrest Saturday evening.

    Avraam Lesperoglou, 49, appeared before a relevant prosecutor on Monday for a more-or-less routine procedure before being remanded to custody.

    Lesperoglou had been convicted in a first instance trial and sentenced to 17 years in prison. A split 4-3 ruling subsequently overturned that conviction at the appellate level, a verdict which itself was thrown out last week by a Supreme Court prosecutor. A new trial was set for Sept. 9.

    He had been released from prison in November 2001 after an appellate military court accepted his petition for parole after serving three-fifths of a 3 1/2-year sentence for dodging conscription.

    [04] Investigators believe Kos army depot thieves had inside help

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    Despite continuing intense army-led investigations to track down those responsible for the theft of weaponry from an army depot on the Dodecannese resort island of Kos, the perpetrators still remain at large, while the conditions of the theft have not yet been fully determined.

    Army investigators on the case said on Monday they believed that the break-in was carried out with the cooperation or assistance of individuals assigned to the army base, while investigations are focusing on 25 military personnel, including officers and conscripts, who were responsible for guarding the looted armory.

    Official announcements on the course of the investigation had not been made at press time, however, press sources said that investigations were focusing on the repeatedly conflicting testimony and the role of the non-commissioned officer who had reportedly spotted a G3 rifle left behind by the culprits. The same sources said that more respondents had also given conflicting testimonies, leading investigators to the conviction that the "operation" was carried out with the participation of individuals assigned to the 242nd National Guard Regiment on the island of Kos.

    The investigations are conducted exclusively by army officers under the supervision of a military prosecutor. Police forces on the island are on stand-by, prepared to intervene in off-camp investigations, if required.

    The army announced over the weekend that 17 45-calibre pistols, three HK11 submachine guns and three G3A3 assault rifles had been stolen from the camp, a report that raised eyebrows in light of the recent major breakthrough in efforts to eradicate the elusive "November 17" terrorist group. However, authorities were quick to dismiss any connection with possible remnants of the terror gang and the incident.

    It was announced on Saturday that the theft was discovered late Friday night, during a regular inventory at the depot, and it is believed that the break-in occurred on Thursday night.

    [05] Greece calls Turkey's reforms package a 'positive step'

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    Athens on Monday praised as a "positive step" several high-profile reforms approved by Turkey's national assembly on Saturday, including the abolition of the death penalty in peacetime.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis added that the European Union now expects stepped up reforms in the neighboring country's legal system as well as implementation of the EU's all-important acquis communautaire.

    "Greece solidly backs Turkey's European orientation as based on decisions taken by the European Council at Helsinki. The adoption by the Turkish national assembly of legal reforms comprises a positive step in the direction of fully implementing Copenhagen (summit) political and economic criteria, as well as Helsinki decisions," the foreign ministry spokesman said.

    Moreover, Beglitis said the Greek government is also closely following Turkish authorities' stance vis-a-vis a handful of important charity and philanthropic foundations belonging to the small ethnic Greek minority in Istanbul. He added that Turkish authorities' current policy towards those foundations violates international agreements and will come under the EU's scrutiny, "within the framework of an evaluation process for Turkey's (EU) candidacy".

    Turkey's parliament passed the reforms package over the weekend in a bid to meet the Union's Copenhagen criteria on human rights and democracy. The reforms also include the abolition of penalties for criticism of the country's powerful armed forces and other pillars of Turkey's establishment, as well as outlawing migrant smuggling.

    The 15-member bloc lauded the reforms but cautioned that the package must be closely studied to assess its impact, while much will depend on its implementation.

    The reforms package still needs the Turkish president's signature for ratification.

    [06] Athens Bar Association supports initiative by four European associations

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    Athens Bar Association President D. Paxinos has sent a letter to his counterpart of the Paris Bar Association notifying him that the Athens Bar Association accepts the recent joint proclamation by four European bar associations (Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Lausanne) for the defense of the rule of law.

    The Athens Bar Association has also invited the presidents of the other European associations to a joint meeting in Athens, while at the same time it expressed its concern over the conditions of arrest, detention and court proceedings for persons suspected of having carried out terrorist acts.

    In the past ten days of July the four associations proposed a joint proclamation entitled ''The rule of law cannot be a victim of the war against terrorism'' and called on the bar associations of Europe to sign it by November 22, 2002.

    [07] Construction activity up in first four months of 2002

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    Construction activity marked a 19.3% increase during January-April 2002 compared to the same four-month period last year, according to National Statistics Service data published on Monday.

    As low interest housing loans have boosted home-buyers' demand, 25,873 building licenses were issued by local urban planning authorities during the first four-month compared to 21,960 for the same period last year, while construction activity soared to a 66.3% increase, a fact attributed to coincidental reasons, the Statistics Service said.

    [08] Government resumes ''name and shame'' tax drive

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    The finance ministry said on Monday that it would publish a list of corporate tax evaders in the autumn, timed to coincide with dispatch of the 2003 budget to parliament.

    In a circular, the ministry ordered tax offices to submit by the end of August data on firms that were shown to have committed major breaches of law in 2001 following inspections of their books.

    [09] Thessaloniki airport puts growth plan on display

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    Authorities of Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport on Monday opened a display on a growth and modernization plan for the facility that aims to make it a hub for southeastern Europe.

    The display, which is open to the public, is situated in the airport's departure hall.

    [10] Bond trade rises in July

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    Electronic trade in the domestic bond market rose to 46.24 billion euros in July from 19.21 billion euros in the same month a year ago, fuelled by a shift to bonds from ailing stock markets, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.

    Bond trade also posted a rise against June, when turnover was 41.36 billion euros, the central bank said in a monthly statement.

    In July, players focused on paper with a duration of up to 10 years, which accounted for 76 percent of turnover. Most popular were seven- and ten-year bonds, representing 12.8 billion euros of total trade, the statement said.

    The benchmark 10-year bond expiring on May 18, 2012 accounted for 6.45 billion euros of trade, it added.

    Derivatives trade rises in July: The number of contracts traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange rose by 26.4 percent in July to total 714,928 from 565,412 in the previous month, market authorities said on Monday.

    The average daily number of trades in futures and options rose by 4.46 percent to total 15,542 contracts from 14,879 in June, authorities said in a statement.

    Stocks drop in slim trade: The Athens bourse finished lower in light trade on Monday with small capitalization paper the hardest hit.

    The general share index shed 0.84 percent to end at 2,087.52 points. Turnover was 37.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.05 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 1.12 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities 1.38 percent down.

    Of 349 stocks traded, declines led advances at 271 to 40 with 38 issues remaining unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: Prices rise in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in heavy trade focusing on five-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 4.91 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bond was 34 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 3.0 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for the bulk of trade.

    Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures mixed: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Monday, with contracts on the high capitalization index narrowing their discount to about 0.50 percent from 1.0 percent in the last session.

    Contracts on the mid-cap index again traded at a slight premium.

    Turnover was 64.8 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 1.05 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 1.12 percent.

    Trade was slim in stock futures, with Hellenic Telecommunications Organization and Alpha Bank attracting the most attention.

    [11] Plans to improve taxi services during the 2004 Olympic Games

    Athens, 06/08/2002 (ANA)

    The taxi-drivers Fund (EATAT) on Monday said that it was going to develop a special registry for professional taxi drivers aiming to improve work conditions and the provision of services. The special registry will also allow for the selection of 2,000 professional drivers who will cover increased transportation demand during the 2004 Olympic Games.

    [12] Britain assures its policy on Cyprus remains unchanged

    NICOSIA, 06/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Britain has assured Cyprus that its policy on Cyprus has not changed and that it continues to help find a negotiated settlement before December, when the European Union will decide on the country's accession.

    London has reiterated its support for UN efforts to facilitate such a settlement but stressed that it is up to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to reach agreement.

    ''The UK policy has not changed, our objective is to help find a solution before a decision is taken in December in Copenhagen on Cyprus' EU accession, although we continue to stand by the EU Helsinki conclusions,'' British High Commission spokesman Stuart Summers told CNA on Monday.

    He was invited to comment on press reports suggesting the British Cyprus envoy Lord David Hannay is pushing, through the ongoing peace talks, for sovereignty in Cyprus on three levels, something Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash seems to favor.

    Summers refrained from commenting on the substance of the reports, which were critical of Hannay's stance on the issue of sovereignty, citing a news blackout the UN has imposed on the contents of the talks.

    Denktash demands separate sovereignty for the Turkish Cypriots in a bid to achieve the creation of a separate state in the Turkish- occupied northern part of Cyprus.

    President Glafcos Clerides and the UN say there must be one state of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, one international personality and one citizenship.

    ''The fundamental point to bear in mind is that it is not up to us to make offers, it is up to the two sides to reach agreement,'' Summers said, pointing out that ''we support the UN in facilitating this.''

    He said Britain continues to back the EU Helsinki decisions that a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition. The decision also said that at the time of accession all relevant factors will be taken into consideration.

    Hannay, who has recently visited Turkey, is expected in Cyprus in late August for talks with Clerides and Denktash before they both go to Paris for a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on September 6.

    [13] Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash under attack by party leader

    NICOSIA, 06/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat has accused Rauf Denktash, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, of wasting time at the UN-led peace talks and of serving his own interests.

    The leader of the Turkish Republican Party in Turkish occupied Cyprus, which saw its share of the ''vote'' increase dramatically in last month's ''local elections'' in occupied Cyprus, said Denktash sits at the negotiating table without any objective, is trying to waste time and aims at annexing Cyprus to Turkey.

    In an interview with the Austrian paper ''Die Presse'', Talat also said Denktash set up his self-styled regime in occupied Cyprus to serve his own personal interests and said that ''Turkey is using the northern part of Cyprus in the poker game it is playing with the European Union.''

    ''Denktash is not thinking as a Turkish Cypriot but is leading developments in a way that suits Ankara's interests,'' Talat said. UN-sponsored direct talks between Denktash and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, which began in January this year, have made no progress towards a comprehensive settlement.

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in what many political observers describe as a last ditch attempt to crack the core issues of the Cyprus problem, has invited Clerides and Denktash to a meeting in Paris in early September.

    An earlier attempt by Annan to reach agreement on governance, security, territory and property during his May visit here seems to have produced no tangible outcome.

    Denktash continues to insist on two separate states in Cyprus, something President Clerides rejects outright.

    The European Union, which Cyprus aspires to join soon, has repeatedly said that it wants Cyprus to speak in the EU with one voice and be in a position to take and implement Union decisions.

    Last week Denktash called on Talat to resign because of critical remarks against the regime, which Turkey sustains through massive economic assistance.

    Turkey has deployed more than 35,000 heavily armed troops in the areas of Cyprus it occupies since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

    [14] Spain: Cyprus will join the EU even without settlement

    NICOSIA, 06/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Spain fully supports a solution to the Cyprus problem but stresses that even without a settlement, the island will accede to the EU together with the other candidate countries as scheduled, Cyprus Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said here on Monday. In his remarks to the press after a courtesy call by Spanish Ambassador to Cyprus Ignacio Garcia Valdecasas, Panayiotou expressed the government's appreciation towards Spain's stance regarding the Cyprus issue and the country's EU accession course.

    The Spanish diplomat noted that during the Spanish EU Presidency Cyprus has technically closed all negotiating chapters.

    Valdecasas announced that the Spanish Embassy in Cyprus would officially be operational by mid of September.

    ''We want to have embassies in as many countries as possible and opening an embassy in a friendly country, like Cyprus, was a need, especially because Cyprus will be very soon member of the EU'', the Spanish diplomat said.

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