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A morning serving of bite-sized news to go with your coffee and koulouri

A morning serving of bite-sized news to go with your coffee and koulouri

Trial of Former Pasok minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and 18 others for bribery and money laundering in relation to arms deals starts this morning; anti-memorandum parties gain slight lead; poll points to junta nostalgia; Samaras wants more ministers; Vaxevanis alleges murder plot against him; more horsemeat; Thessaloniki marathon runners express solidarity with Boston; and AEK relegated


A protester shouts a slogan against fascism and the 1967-74 junta in Athens on 21 April 2013, as leftwing and anti-racism groups marked the coup anniversary with rallies in several cities including Athens (AFP)

AKIS The trial begins on Monday morning of former Pasok defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and 18 co-defendants – among them his former and current wives, daughter, cousin and associates – on criminal charges of accepting bribes and money laundering in relation to arms purchases. The trial will take place in a specially designed room of the Areios Pagos, the supreme court for civil and criminal law. The case centres on claims that Tsochatzopoulos took kickbacks in order to approve the purchase of Russian TOR-M1 short-range missiles and submarines for the navy. Last month, he was sentenced to eight years in prison after a court found him guilty of submitting false income declarations.

POLL I Anti-austerity parties are outpolling pro-memorandum parties, a nationwide opinion poll published in Sunday’s Eleftherotypia showed. The Metron Analysis poll indicated that parties opposed to the loan agreements with the troika would take 51.9% of the popular vote, compared to the 45.8% they won in June. The poll details were: New Democracy 18.7%, Syriza 18.1%, Golden Dawn 7.4% Independent Greeks 6.6% Pasok 5.5%, Democratic Left 3.9%, and Communist Party 3.8%. But each party is dwarfed by the 30% of respondents who are undecided, or say they will not vote or cast a blank ballot. Excluding these – as they would be in an election – only raises New Democracy to 27% and Syriza to 26.2% – a point below their June 2012 performance.

POLL II The poll also indicates that faith in the democratic political system is at an all-time low, with almost a third of respondents expressing nostalgia for the 1967-74 dictatorship, which seized power 46 years ago on Sunday. Thirty percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Some say that things were better under the junta than they are today”. That figure rose to 46% among New Democracy voters, but even a quarter of Syriza voters agreed. The poll also found 59% of the respondents replying that security was better under the dictators, 46% saying standards of living were better and 24% saying the country’s image abroad was better.

JUNTA The anniversary of the colonels’ seizure of power in 1967 came and went almost unnoticed. About 2,000 people attended at a commemorative concert at Athens’ Plateia Eleftherias, which is where the dreaded EAT-ESA military police tortured detainees during the regime. Billed also as a concert against racism, it was followed by a brief march to Syntagma Square which passed off without incident. Using the hashtag #akoumiaistoria, hundreds took to Twitter to challenge pro-regime nostalgia and amnesia.

MINISTERS The prime minister is planning the appointment of six alternate ministers and one deputy minister. In a decision published in the government gazette on April 17, Antonis Samaras created the new alternate minister positions in the ministries of administrative reform, justice, public order, tourism, shipping and Macedonia and Thrace. Education will get a deputy minister under the changes. The government currently has 40 ministers, including the prime minister. If these new appointments are made, that number will increase to 47.

PLOT The journalist who published the controversial Lagarde list, a catalogue of Greek depositors at a Swiss branch of HBSC, has claimed that a criminal ring is plotting to kill him. Kostas Vaxevanis published a detailed account of the alleged plans in the current issue of his Hot Doc news magazine. In addition, the ring was allegedly responsible for posting anonymous blog posts defaming him and blackmailing of journalists. The journalist claims that the conspiracy comprises current and former members of the Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) and receives funding from a banking figure. 

HORSEMEAT A substance used as a painkiller in horses but which can cause arthritis in humans has been found in food labelled as beef produced by one of the country’s biggest food producers. Laboratory tests conducted by the state chemical laboratory found traces of phenylbutazone, often referred to as bute, in two food samples produced by Nikas SA. The Hellenic Food Authority (Efet) said the substance was found in the Nikas Moschari product line. In a statement posted on its website on Friday, Nikas said it had removed the product line from shelves on March 24 as a preventative measure. The product, since kept in a warehouse, will be destroyed.

MARATHON Thousands of runners took part in a marathon and three shorter road races in Thessaloniki on Sunday and used the race to pay tribute to the victims of the Boston bombings. “Our message is simple. Never again,” said marathon winner Teklu Geto Metaferia of Ethiopia after he crossed the finish line in the centre of the city. Metaferia won the marathon for the second year in a row in 2 hours, 19 minutes, 29 seconds, beating compatriot Debas Abate Tefera by 51 seconds. The 1,150 marathon runners wore black bracelets with the text “Thessaloniki to Boston” and several also wore a label on their running gear that read “Why?” in white letters on a black background.

SUPERLEAGUE Olympiakos polished off its 40th Superleague title by beating Panionios 2-1 Sunday on the final day of the season. Costas Mitroglou and Avraam Papadopoulos scored in the 12th and 72nd minutes for Olympiakos, which had long since secured the title. Andreas Samaris had temporarily equalised for Panionios in the 20th. Olympiakos finished 15 points ahead of runner-up Paok, which won 2-0 fifth-place Giannena. At the bottom of the standings, last-place Kerkyra was joined in relegation by AEK Athens, which lost 1-0 to fourth-place Atromitos, and OFI, which was condemned by an injury-time goal in a 2-1 loss to third-place Asteras. The result allowed Aris, which drew 0-0 at Xanthi, to escape relegation.

Article source: http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.sport&id=713

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