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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-08-02

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 02/08/1998 (ANA)

NEWS IN ENGLISH

  • Thessaloniki-Europe rail link closed after accident
  • Police officers suspended after allegations of foul play
  • US president blames Turkey for failure of Holbrooke Cyprus mission
  • Acropolis Museum re-opens
  • Workers at Bank of Central Greece query privatisation tender
  • Greek stocks rise again, buoyed by bank privatisation
  • Finance ministry to hold T-bill auction on Tuesday
  • AIDS dental clinic in Red Cross building faces shutdown
  • Greece, Lithuania, Yugoslavia into round 2 of WorldBasket '98
  • Player gets two-month ban during Athens WorldBasket '98
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Thessaloniki-Europe rail link closed after accident

    Greece's rail link to Europe via Thessaloniki is likely to remain closed until an unspecified time on Monday as workers try to clear the line following an accident, an official of Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) told the Athens News Agency.

    The accident occurred on Friday afternoon when a freight train carrying crude oil heading for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia derailed outside Polykastro, northern Greece.

    An exact time has yet to be set for the resumption of movement for rail freight and passenger transport on the stretch of the line.

    Passengers are currently being transported by road in OSE's coaches to and from Idomeni at the border.

    Operations to remove the twelve carriages that overturned in the accident began on Saturday morning.

    But progess was halted when OSE's special clearing machinery was unable to lift the carriages weighing about 80 tonnes each.

    The operation resumed on Saturday afternoon after privately contracted equipment arrived from Thessaloniki.

    "This process, combined with repairs to the line, is time-consuming but the target is to restore the track by Monday," OSE's Central Macedonia Director Yorgos Nikolaou told the ANA.

    Two fire engines have remained at the site of the accident in case the crude oil catches fire. Three of carriages containing crude were destroyed in a blaze after they overturned on Friday.

    Police officers suspended after allegations of foul play

    Three senior police officers in northern Greece were suspended from duty on Saturday after allegations they illegally secured the release of foreigners who should have been charged.

    The allegations of abuse of power and breach of duty involve the release of detainees, mainly women, who were being held in connection with their work in brothels and bars in the Vardari area of Thessaloniki.

    The case came to light after four women from the former Soviet Union, arrested in June for prostitution, were released instead of being taken to a court that rules when suspects are brought within 24 hours of a crime being committed.

    The officers suspended from duty belong to the Platia Dimokratias precinct in the Thessaloniki area.

    The city's police chief, Theodoros Vlahos, told reporters that the incident was isolated.

    Public Prosecutor Ahilleas Zissis has launched an enquiry into the allegations.

    US president blames Turkey for failure of Holbrooke Cyprus mission

    US President Bill Clinton blamed Turkey for the failure of a mission by mediator Richard Holbrooke to help resolve the Cyprus question, the Athens News Agency said in a dispatch from Washington on Saturday.

    In his two-monthly report to Congress spanning April 1-May 31 1998, Clinton said attempts by Holbrooke and Tom Miller to achieve a resumption of talks in the framework of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation for the island republic failed due to a refusal by the Turkish side to take part.

    "Unfortunately, the Turkish side took the position that talks could not start if specific conditions were not met, including recognition of the 'Republic of Northern Cyprus' and withdrawal of Cyprus' application to join the European Union," Clinton said in the report.

    Acropolis Museum re-opens

    The Acropolis Museum has opened its doors again after improvements. The museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but on Mondays it will be open to the public from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

    Workers at Bank of Central Greece query privatisation tender

    Workers at Bank of Central Greece said on Saturday that the highest bid in a tender to privatise the bank through the bourse fell far short of its market value, and the sale should be called off.

    The bank's staff association said in a statement that the highest bid of 17.3 billion drachmas by Egnatia Bank was sharply lower than than listed Bank of Central Greece's market value, which they set at 80 billion drachmas. The tender was on Friday.

    Employees were awaiting a decision on the tender by the government and the bank's parent, state-owned Agricultural Bank of Greece, the statement said.

    Last week the government called off a tender to privatise Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA, again through the Athens Stock Exchange, after the highest bid was considered too low. A second tender is likely to be held in the autumn.

    If the government also postponed the sale of Bank of Central Greece, which has 24 branches, then it should aid growth of the bank and ensure profitablity was maintained ahead of a new tender, the statement said.

    Four domestic banks bid in the tender on Friday.

    Ranking second was Aspis Bank with a bid of 16.1 billion drachmas, followed by Bank of Attica at 15.3 billion drachmas, and General Bank at 9.0 billion drachmas.

    For sale were 51 percent of the bank's common shares and 20.01 percent of preferred shares held by the parent company.

    Announcement of the winner is expected this week if the tender still stands. An evaluating committee will also take into account business plans submitted by bidders.

    The sale is part of the government's wide-ranging plan to privatise state companies and banks in order to tighten up the public sector before Greece's entry into European economic and monetary union, expected by January 1, 2001.

    Greek stocks rise again, buoyed by bank privatisation

    Greek equities finished higher for the second straight session on Friday in moderate to active trade, apparently discounting the privatisation of Bank of Central Greece, which was tendered through the bourse on the same day.

    The Athens general share index ended 1.44 percent higher to end at 2,797.41 points. Turnover rose sharply to 61.8 billion drachmas from 49.4 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    Sector indices mostly finished higher. Banking gained 1.22 percent, Leasing surged 3.60 percent, Insurance rose 1.01 percent, Investment jumped 2.10 percent, Industrials increased 2.01 percent, Construction slipped 0.20 percent, Holding edged up 0.65 pe rcent, and Miscellaneous crept down 0.17 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 0.31 percent higher.

    Of 262 stocks traded, advances led declines at 140 to 95 with 27 shares remaining unchanged.

    Finance ministry to hold T-bill auction on Tuesday

    The finance ministry will auction six-month T-bills in electronic form on Tuesday through the market's primary dealers with an issue and settlement date on August 7.

    The ministry said in a statement that the amount of T-bills to be sold in the multiple price auction is 50 billion drachmas, and the commission is 0.25 percent.

    The ministry will also accept non-competitive bids from primary and non- primary dealers to cover up to 20 percent of the total on offer.

    AIDS dental clinic in Red Cross building faces shutdown

    The only dental clinic in Greece for HIV-infected people is facing closure following a Greek Red Cross decision to reclaim the property.

    The clinic, run by the Special Epidemics Control Centre for the past three years, has been housed in a building belonging to the Greek Red Cross, which has now declined to renew an initial agreement for use of the property. The lease expired in mid-June.

    During a press conference, a representative of non-governmental AIDS groups said the refusal by the Red Cross was "surprising".

    The Red Cross maintains that the clinic had been given time to find another building.

    In the past five months the clinic has treated more than 1,000 patients.

    Greece, Lithuania, Yugoslavia into round 2 of WorldBasket '98

    Greece took first place in its group with a third win in a row over Senegal, 68-57, during the ongoing WorldBasket '98 championship in Athens.

    Lithuania also scored its third win in as many days by overcoming Brazil 66- 62, following their high-profile victory over a non-NBA United States on Thursday.

    The US team reached the second round of the championships after an easy 88- 62 victory over South Korea. Russia came from behind, losing 34-41 at half- time, to beat Puerto Rico 86-73, while the other favourite to win the title, Yugoslavia, thrashed Japa n 99-54.

    Italy also qualified to the second round by beating Canada 79-69 while Australia with a difficult victory over Nigeria 70-64 secured its place in the second round.

    Finally, Spain edged Argentina 68-67 in overtime.

    Player gets two-month ban during Athens WorldBasket '98

    Nigerian basketball player Julius Nwosu on Saturday was banned from matches for two months after a test showed ephedrine in his system during the World Basketball Championship being held in Athens.

    The penalty was imposed by FIBA, the sport's ruling body.

    Nwosu, who plays for a Turkish club and is a former member of Greece's Panathinakos, reportedly said he had taken medicine that contained ephedrine, which is banned as performance-enhancing drug.

    FIBA's general secretary, Borislav Stankovits, announced the penalty in Athens.

    WEATHER

    Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country tomorrow with light to moderate winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 27C to 37C, and in Thessaloniki from 24C to 36C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.979 British pound 481.001 Japanese yen (100) 203.548 French franc 49.213 German mark 164.989 Italian lira (100) 16.746 Irish Punt 415.469 Belgian franc 8.004 Finnish mark 54.322 Dutch guilder 146.360 Danish kr. 43.362 Austrian sch. 23.466 Spanish peseta 1.944 Swedish kr. 37.041 Norwegian kr. 38.896 Swiss franc 196.644 Port. Escudo 1.611 Aus. dollar 178.143 Can. dollar 195.484 Cyprus pound 561.472

    (C.S.)


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