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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 September 2018
GREECE 6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greece’s Supreme court prosecutor withdraws “intervention” on East Attica fire investigation Amidst the Mati fires investigation saga, a separate probe will look into accusations of mismanagement of fire victims’ donations by the Municipality of Marathon A much awaited report on the wildfire tragedy which claimed 99 lives in East Attica was allegedly expected to be delayed following an intervention by Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou. But as of Tuesday, the head of the Athens prosecutor's office leading the investigation, Ilias Zagoraios, was told to disregard Dimitriou's request and continue the probe as planned. Zagoraios' report aims to determine whether there are sufficient indications of wrongdoing by duty-holders in the response and management of the July events, to trigger further investigation and possible criminal charges. Dimitriou had asked for the investigation not to be completed before taking into account the findings of a separate administrative probe underway by the General Inspector of Public Administration, Maria Papaspyrou. However, the request triggered immediate backlash from political parties, the media, and according to Kathimerini even amongst judicial circles, on the basis of an expected long and unnecessary delay of a critical investigation, considering as well that Zagoraios' tenure in office would normally end in the coming days and his successor would need extra time to deal with an ongoing investigation. The top court prosecutor subsequently backtracked on her proposal on Tuesday, asking Zagoraios to continue with the investigation and remain in his post even Aerial photo of the severely hit by fires in East Attica Region, Mati. PHOTO: EUROKINISSI One of the images circulated on social media revealing poor conditions at one of Marathona’s donation collection points for fire victims. The following backlash led the head of Athens prosecutor’s office, Ilias Zagoraios, initiate a preliminary investigation into accusations of mismanagement by the Municipality of Marathon. PHOTO: DIMOTISNEWS.GR Greece to abolish capital controls As Moody’s rating remains at B3 after the scheduled end of his term, 1 October, until the report is completed. In response to the criticism, Dimitriou maintains that the purpose of her intervention was to ensure Zagoraios was aware of the other administrative investigation conducted by Papaspyros, while sources at the Supreme Court denied there was any intention behind Dimitiou's move to delay Zagoraios' probe. Meanwhile on the same day, Zagoraios also ordered a separate preliminary investigation following allegations of mismanagement by the Municipality of Marathon of donations for fire victims. This comes after photos shared on social media depict inadequate conditions under which donations, in- cluding food and perishable items, clothes, appliances and apparel were kept at one collection point. Zagoraios' criminal investigation on the East Attica fires is reportedly at its final stages, with the Athens prosecutor expected to summon officials for testimony in the coming days. Among those likely to be called are regional and municipal officials, members of the fire service, police, the coast guard and the General Secretariat of Civil Protection. With regards to the progress of the separate administrative investigation conducted by the General Inspector of Public Administration, Papaspirou told journalists it will take at least three months before it is completed. Environmentalists say toxic emissions from cruise ships pose health risk on Santorini Tourists travelling on cruise ships are being urged to be cautious, particularly if they suffer from heart and circulatory diseases (PHOTO: AP/THANASSIS STAVRAKIS) Greece seems set to leave the days of the imposed capital controls behind, as the government will lift the 5,000 limit to transactions that has been in effect for three years now, as this limit far exceeds the needs of most depositors. The banks in Greece have expressed their concerns in regards to the condition of the bank accounts of many of their clients, as they appear to be struggling financially with the heavy taxes imposed by the Government, including the property tax (ENFIA) and personal income taxes. The lift to the capital controls will also affect citizens travelling to and from Greece, who will now be able to carry up to 10,000 euros on them upon departure or arrival and withdraw up to 5,000 euros from abroad, as well as businesses that will see their daily transfer limit to other nations rise from 10,000 that it is today to 40,000 euros, while at the same time there will no longer be any limits for any profits from investments that were made in Greece. Finally, all checks will be paid in cash, putting an end to the practice of having money being transferred to the accounts. This decision could possibly move forward even on the same day it will be published in the Official Government Gazette, however all changes that have to do with foreign transactions will come into effect on 1 October. Meanwhile, intertantional credit rating agency Moody's released its credit report on Greece on Wednesday, keeping the country's credit rating level stable at B3 with a "positive outlook". In its report, Moody's points out the potential for Greece's "fasterthan-expected" financial development provided the government remains faithful to its agreed upon economic reforms and makes the decision to reduce pensions even fur- ther in January. However not all things in Greece are as financially prosperous as these indicators would make them out to be, as the data collected by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue that was presented to the Parliament showed that almost all people who owe taxes have exceeding debts of over 10,000 euros. More specifically, about 3.6 million Greek citizens owe close to 10,000 euros each to the Greek Government, while 3.8 million taxpayers and businesses have a total debt of 101.5 billion euros. 240,000 others owe amounts between 10,000 - 100,000 euros. Greece's major debtors are not more than 41,232 but they collectively owe a staggering sum of 91.2 billion euros to the state. It is worth noting that as the report points out, most of these debts were created after the heavy austerity measures enforced on the country. Tests were carried out earlier this week on Santorini looking at the concentrations of dangerous ultrafine particles in the atmosphere, and the results are staggering. Conducted by the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) with air pollution experts from Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Union (Nabu), they found the particles near cruise ships entering the island's waters were 100 times higher in comparison to surrounding areas, reports Independent. Experts say the pollution has been linked to heart attacks and strokes, especially dangerous for the elderly. While figures released by the European Commission estimate at least 50,000 people die prematurely each year in Europe due to air pollution from shipping. "People living on the Greek islands as well as tourists visiting them are suffering from shipping emissions," said Nobu's transport policy officer Sonke Diesener. "We have seen these high concentrations of air pollutants in many different port cities in the Mediterranean region and all over the world. However, this is no excuse for ship operators to go on with their reckless pollution." Unlike road vehicles, cruise ships are subject to weaker standards and use heavy fuel oil without exhaust cleaning systems, resulting in the ultrafine particles, carcinogenic compounds and soot being emitted into the atmosphere. "We found concentrations of over 340 particles per cubic centimetre," said Dr Axel Friedrich who conducted the tests. "In a very busy street, you will find 20 to 30. The load of air pollutants that the ships cause was enormous." Senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Philippa Hobson said the research reveals that even shortterm exposure to such air pollution over one or two hours can have a lasting impact and urged tourists travelling on cruise ships to be cautious, especially if they already suffer from heart and circulatory diseases. "If you are worried about your health and are travelling on a cruise ship, it is best to try and minimise your exposure to air pollution by avoiding the areas near or downwind of the engine funnels – try to seek out the sea breeze on the decks," Ms Hobson said. Nabu has called on the shipping industry to switch to low sulphur fuels, which are safer, and to install systems that remove harmful pollutants from exhausts. Until the owners of the ships take responsibility, the union called for coastal communities to ban high-polluting ships. Moreover, it urged Greece to support the designation of the Mediterranean as a sulphur emission control area, a status given to the North and Baltic seas with positive results.
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