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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Police nab fugitive who aided murderer's escape
  • [02] Ruling party shows 1.2-pt lead over rival

  • [01] Police nab fugitive who aided murderer's escape

    A fugitive who helped a fellow prisoner to escape after shooting two police officers to death was captured on Sunday, police said.

    Ilmi Dada, a 17-year-old Albanian national, was spotted 12 kilometres from the scene of Friday's crime near Kalambaka following a two-day manhunt.

    Dada, who offered no resistance, is being held for questioning at Trikala police station.

    Still wanted is Russian national Maxim Zhilim, 23, after he killed two policemen who were escorting the prisoners from a police detention centre in Ioannina to a jail in Volos. A third prisoner was injured by gunfire in the transport van.

    The two officers, a driver and a guard, were killed in Malakasi, Kalambaka, when they made an unscheduled stop because the Russian and one of the Albanians asked to relieve themselves.

    Zhilim asked the guard to remove the handcuffs he was wearing and when the guard complied, he assaulted him and grabbed his weapon, shooting him in the head. They overpowered and killed the driver before fleeing.

    Zhilim is serving time for the murder of a 42-year-old woman in Corfu on October 2. The Russian posed as a hitchhiker and robbed and murdered the woman after she gave him a lift. The two Albanians are being held for drug-related offences.

    A massive search operation still underway includes police and border guards aided by special forces and police commandos flown to scene of the crime.

    The armed forces have contributed two Sikorsky helicopters and placed on standby one Super-Puma all-weather helicopter, two Apache helicopters and one Chinook helicopter, along with specially-trained troops.

    Police officers suspended for negligence

    Stavros Pantazis, head of the Ioannina Prisoners Transfer Department, and Lampros Tragoudaras, the duty officer, were suspended on Friday.

    The public order ministry and police department said the two officers had failed to inform their subordinates that the prisoners were classed as dangerous, which meant they were entrusted to only two officers.

    In addition, the two slain law enforcement agents, Constantinos Vlahopanos and Dimitris Kotsis, were not wearing bullet-proof vests or carrying automatic weapons.

    [02] Ruling party shows 1.2-pt lead over rival

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) party showed a lead of 1.2 percentage points against the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), according to a nationwide opinion poll released on Saturday.

    Respondents gave ND 32.4% of voter preference against 31.2% for PASOK in the telephone poll conducted by Kapa Research and published in the Sunday Vima newspaper.

    Following were the Communist Party of Greece at 6.8%; the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology 3.7%; LAOS 5.3%; other smaller parties 2.8%; blank or invalid 6.2%; and undecided, 9.4%.

    Most likely to win the next national elections were ND, according to 43.1% of people polled; and 16% believed that PASOK would win.

    Favourite for the post of prime minister was current ND premier Costas Karamanlis, who garnered 47.6% of the vote, followed by PASOK leader George Papandreou with 32.7%. Stating that neither was the right person for the job were 18.8% of respondents, according to the survey.

    Asked to comment on a possible government reshuffle, 69.7% wanted to see a smaller cabinet with 61% hoping for a radical change in personnel.

    Another 61% of respondents said that a reshuffle would fail to solve the country's problems as the root of the issue was policy not personnel; and 41.1% noted that ministers were not to blame, but rather the prime minister's inability to coordinate the government.

    Stating that the prime minister and his government should lay emphasis on unemployment were 79.6% of voters. Other priorities were the absorbtion of European Union funds (32.5%); attracting foreign investment (27.3%); corruption (24.6%); and deficit-reduction (24.3%).

    To blame for the state of the economy was the government's PASOK predecessor, according to 43.4% of respondents, with 9.7% holding the current ND government responsible, the poll showed.

    Reactions from two main parties

    Asked to comment on ND's relatively small lead over PASOK, the party's honourary president, Constantine Mitsotakis, said that the second year in office for any government was difficult as policy had yet to bear fruit.

    In addition, the present government had inherited difficulties from its predecessor, Mitsotakis added.

    PASOK secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannokopoulou said in a separate statement that the party was continuing to gain public confidence by offering an alternative, progressive policy for the country.

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