Last week in the Greek press

Defendants’ lawyers resign in Proton trial

The trial of former Proton Bank Chairman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis and another 42 people ran into problems Friday as the lawyers of all 43 defendants resigned from the case over a legal technicality. This means the court will have to appoint new lawyers for the trial to continue.


The case centers on questionable loans amounting to some 700 million euros which were allegedly handed out by the defunct lender to Lavrentiadis’s group of companies.

All suspects are facing charges of running a criminal organization, money laundering, fraud and breach of faith in connection with a series of alleged embezzlements at the bank.

Lavrentiadis was conditionally released in June after spending 19 months in pretrial custody.


Over 20 tons of contraband cigarettes seized in Mesolongi

Eight crewmen on board the Moldova-flagged SHT Huseyin Akil were arrested Friday in Platigiali, Mesolongi, on charges of transporting over 20 tons of contraband cigarettes.

Coast guard and customs officers confiscated the cigarettes, while authorities estimated that they represented more than 13 million euros in unpaid customs charges and tariffs.


Patra bus driver arrested for selling used tickets


A 49-year-old bus driver in Patra, in the western Peloponnese, was arrested on Thursday on charges of selling used tickets to passengers.


According to the police, the suspect allegedly told unsuspecting passengers that the ticket machine on the bus was not functioning and asked them to buy tickets from him directly.


Police estimated the man had made up to 8,000 euros in the scam.


Eight indicted to trial for misuse of state funds by NGO


Eight people who have been implicated in the activities of a non-government organization called the International Mine Initiative (IMI), including Alex Rondos, a former adviser to one-term socialist prime minister George Papandreou, were on Friday indicted to trial on charges of misuse of millions euros of public funds.


The NGO had undertaken demining operations in Bosnia, Iraq and Lebanon and is alleged to have received more than nine million euros illegally.


A key suspect is Constantinos Tzevelelos who is in pre-trial custody. The other seven people linked to the organization’s activities include Rondos who headed the Foreign Ministry’s department for international development cooperation between July 2002 and January 2003 and subsequently served as adviser to Papandreou.


Last year Rondos had rebuffed the charges, claiming that his role at the ministry did not oblige him to check the legitimacy of documents for approving funds to NGOs. He submitted an experts report indicating that the signatures on certain documents approving the release of funding to IMI were not genuine.


Border checks aim to stop jihadists

The Greek Police (ELAS) and the country’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) are on the alert amid fears that jihadists are slipping into the country in a seemingly relentless influx of undocumented immigrants via Greece’s land and sea borders and inspectors have been posted at key entry points to intercept suspects.

Officials with training in matters of international terrorism from both ELAS and EYP have been stationed in recent days on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Chios and at the Kipoi border crossing in Evros, Kathimerini reports.

Last week, coast guard officials traced a Syrian national whose cell phone was found to contain photographs of guns and explosives from battlefields in the war-torn country.

Also last week, an 18-year-old Albanian national who was stopped at the Greek-Albanian border allegedly admitted, under interrogation by counterterrorism officers in Albania, that he had intended to travel to Syria.