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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-08-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Forest fire in Kavo, Isthmia; homes threatened
  • [02] Building permit for 'The Mall' not valid, court finds
  • [03] German man, 72, arrested as a spy on Chios
  • [04] Finmin: No public-sector dismissals means no more bailout tranches

  • [01] Forest fire in Kavo, Isthmia; homes threatened

    ANA-MPA -- A forest fire burning pines and olive groves broke out at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday in the Panorama location in Kavo, Isthmia and posed a serious risk to houses in the area, the fire brigade said. The fire is considered extremely dangerous since it has broken out in what is essentially a settlement within a pine forest that is threatened with destruction, near the village of Kehries.

    Strong fire-fighting forces have been sent to the scene, including 20 manned fire engines, municipality water trucks, groups of volunteers and citizens that are fighting to control the flames. Two water-bombing Canadair aircraft are taking part in the fire-fighting effort from the air, as well as a fire-fighting helicopter.

    Efforts to control the blaze are hampered by strong winds, while the operation is being coordinated by the Fire Brigade's Inspector for Southern Greece Lieut. Gen. Dimosthenis Kavetsos, who knows the area very well, and Peloponnese Regional Fire Brigade Services Chief Constantinos Giovas.

    A fire that began early on Sunday afternoon in Kalliani, Gortynia is now dying out, with six fire-engines now seeking to place it under control.

    [02] Building permit for 'The Mall' not valid, court finds

    ANA-MPA -- The building permit issued for 'The Mall' - a shopping centre in Maroussi, Athens - is not valid, according to a ruling of the Council of State plenum announced on Sunday. At the same time, Greece's supreme administrative court also proposed a legal 'fix' in order to avoid having to tear down the mall in question.

    After convoluted course through the judicial system lasting roughly a decade, the CoS found that the permit allowing construction of the largest shopping mall in southeastern Europe was not, in fact, legal.Under the Constitution, the 75,000 square metre construction should have been preceded by the approval of an environmental impact study that was never carried out. Instead, permission to build was given to Lamda Development, owned by the Latsis group, through a law passed in 2003 that was then contested by local residents in Maroussi.

    The judges found that the 2003 law was unconstitutional, considering that administrative acts like the issue of building permits cannot be established by law as this undermines the rights of citizens to judicial protection. While conceding the right of the relevant ministers to issue building permits by law, the judges stipulated that this should have been done within the framework of Constitutional dictates and using the same specifications that would apply if it was done via administrative act.

    In light of this, the specific permit was judged invalid because there had been no environmental impact study, while the town planning study was inadequate and not properly explained. The judges proposed, however, that an environmental impact study be carried out after the fact in order to 'cure' the legal weakness that has arisen, citing similar European Court of Justice rulings allowing such solutions.

    The CoS plenum's ruling is expected to be published on September 17.

    [03] German man, 72, arrested as a spy on Chios

    ANA-MPA -- A 72-year-old German national, a retired engineer, has been arrested by Greek authorities for spying on a military facility on the Aegean island of Chios.

    The arrest was carried out on Friday by officers from the Mastichochoria police station when the 72-year-old was seen photographing an army camp on the island on Friday morning. Two cameras and memory cards were found in his possession, containing photographs of the army camp and also a dam and roads surrounding another military installation on the island.

    In a subsequent raid on the suspect's home in the main town of Chios, Greek authorities found three lap-tops, two cameras, 14 memory cards, five USB flash drives, five tourist maps of the island, two cell phones and a pair of binoculars with a built-in camera.

    Based on the evidence collected so far, the German national has been taking photographs of installations, infrastructure and works carried out by the Greek Armed Forces and the Public Power Corporation (PPC), as well as ports, bridges and other features on the island for the past three years. According to testimony given by the suspect, he was taking the photographs on behalf of a group of unidentified Turks that approached him in the summer of 2010 and offered to pay him for the photographs he had taken.

    The 72-year-old told police that he went into retirement in Bonn, Germany about 10 years ago but moved to Turkey after his divorce, where he stayed for six years. Due to problems with his social insurance fund, which did not cover the costs of a health problem he developed, he moved to Chios about four years ago. According to his statements to police, he was approached by two unknown Turks in 2010, who asked him to take the photographs they asked for in exchange for a fee ranging from 500-1500 euros for each mission. The material was then sent via an encoded e-mail that he then deleted, or was picked up by five Turkish nationals that were all unknown to him, either on Chios or in Turkey.

    The police investigation has also revealed that the suspect sent an e-mail last week to an unknown recipient containing information about Greek war ships and military vehicles on Chios. Within this is a brief description of the arrest by Greek authorities of two Greeks and two Turks with a boatload of heavy weaponry, caught between Chios and the island of Oinousses by the Greek coast guard last week.

    The 72-year-old was led before a public prosecutor on Saturday and an investigation is underway by the appropriate services.

    [04] Finmin: No public-sector dismissals means no more bailout tranches

    ANA-MPA -- Greece will not get the next tranches of bailout loans from the IMF and its European Union partners if it does not dismiss staff from the public sector, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told the Greek newspaper 'Real News' in statements published on Sunday.

    "If the dismissals aren't carried out, if mobility and the suspensions do not go ahead at the times agreed, we won't even get the next tranches [of bailout loans]," he stressed.

    The minister said the layoffs in the public sector did not aim at either a fiscal benefit nor a reduction in the number of public-sector staff but at an upgrade of the public sector.

    "After the 15,000 dismissals there will be 15,000 hirings that will improve the public sector with new staff," he said.

    He also denied having any personal political ambitions and said he took on the role of finance minister out of a sense of duty to the country.

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