News in Brief

Koufountinas Surrenders

Terror suspect Dimitris Koufountinas, in a photo released by police

6 September -- Greece's most wanted fugitive turned himself in Thursday after phoning his girlfriend's lawyer and saying he wished to surrender. Wearing dark glasses, freshly shaven and with a haircut, suspected 17N member Dimitris Koufountinas arrived by taxi at a police station in Attica. In a statement, he acknowledged holding what he termed political responsibility for the terror group's actions, but denied the specific charges in the indictment against him. The indictment charges the 44-year-old beekeeper with more than 70 criminal counts, including 23 murders and eight attempted murders. He will appear before a special examiner today. The Greek government's press minister, Christos Protopappas, hailed the arrest and said it marked the final eradication of 17N. (MPA)

Quake Reported Near Skyros

6 September -- An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter cale took place at 1:19 on Friday morning, the Geodynamical Institute at the Athens Observatory announced. The epicentre was in the sea south of Skyros and north of Evia, some 120 kilometres northeast of Athens.  The Patras Geodynamic Institute also recorded the quake, but at a lower intensity of 4.5. (ANA)

Corruption in Greece High, Report Finds

30 August -- Transparency International has released a new survey on global corruption, and the results are not flattering to Greece. The country garnered the worst ranking among all EU members, and was the only one to score less than 5 out of a clean score of 10. Greece had the same score last year.

The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2002 ranked 102 countries. Finland scored highest, at 9.7, while Bangladesh finished last with 1.2. Greece dropped two points -- from 42nd last year to 44th in 2002. The next worst was Italy. Announcement of the results triggered a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Interior Minister Costas Skandalakis, who later announced that Parliament would soon introduce anti-corruption legislation.

The index measures perceived levels of corruption and reflects the views of businesspeople as well as political and economic analysts. For more on the Corruptions Perception Index, visit the following related article posted on HCS. (Transparency International)

Witness Provides Details on 17N Organisational Structure

30 August -- Confessed 17N Patroklos Tselentis told authorites today that the group was made up of small cells of between 3 and 5 members, all of which were governed by a cadre at the top. Tselentis, who said he was recruited to 17N by fellow university student Dimitris Koufodinas, implicated Alexandros Giotopolos as well as several other suspected members.

Meanwhile, handwritten corrections on copies of 17N proclamations appear to have been made by Giotopolous as well as by his companion, Marie Thereze Pinot. Police are also investigating trips Giotopolous made to Belgrade in 1996. (MPA)

Thousands Stuck at Border in Post-Holiday Rush

30 August -- Greece promised to open up new border crossings as thousands of Albanians who work or study in Greece waited in lines -- some as long as eight km -- at the frontier. The rush was prompted by the end of summer holidays, during which many Albanians residing in Greece returned home. An elderly woman died of a heart attack after reportedly waiting for 40 hours at a checkpoint. Greek Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, on an offical visit to Tirana, expressed regrets and promised that a third checkpoint will be built in October. He also said that staff at the border crossings will be increased during future peak periods, such as Christmas and Easter. Insufficient staff and lack of equipment have been blamed for the delays. (MPA)

Athena Statue Uncovered in Butrinti

30 August -- Archeologists in Butrinti, Albania announced the discovery of a 2,000-year-old statue which they believe depicts the goddess Athena. It is believed to date from the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus. The town is located near the site of the ancient Greek city Buthrotos, and its ancient theater hosts a number of culutral activities each year. (Various)

Greece to Aid Bulgaria; Turkish EU Hopes Still Clouded by Cyprus Issue

30 August -- Greece, which takes over the presidency of the EU in January 2003, will push for Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey to join the EU. According to several media reports, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou spoke by phone with his counterparts in the three countries and expressed his support for their accession. An informal meeting of foreign ministers of the member states will take place Friday (30 August). Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, meanwhile, ended a trip to Sofia, during which he signed an agreement under which Greece, as part of its programme for Balkan reconstruction, will provide 54m euros in aid to Bulgaria. The money is to be used to develop Bulgaria's infrastructure and to speed the country's entry into the EU.

Turkey's EU hopes, meanwhile, remain complicated by the ongoing failure to resolve the Cyprus dispute. One of the key areas of dispute -- the sovereignty issue -- was discussed in a meeting Friday between Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Talks between the two sides resumed today following the summer recess. (MPA, CNA, Horizont)

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