Norwegian cyclist acquitted for riding without licence
Athens 10/07/1998 (ANA)
Norwegian national Kathleen Marsant was acquitted by a court on Lesvos yesterday on a minor traffic charge of riding a bicycle without possessing a proper licence when ticketed last year.
The traffic court said the foreign language teacher lacked knowledge of Greek legislation, in justifying the acquittal.
"I requested to be legal, but at first the police from the service which had referred me for trial because I did not have a licence for a bicycle told me that a licence is not necessary for a bicycle. They had never issued even one such licence. After some time and after I insisted, they discovered the article of the law and then they asked for the receipt for the bicycle's purchase. However, there was no receipt and so I either had to continue riding illegally or throw the bicycle away and buy a new one, " she told the court.
Action promised to help
remove older cars next year
A NEW series of incentives will be provided next year to persuade owners of old cars with high exhaust emissions to trade in their vehicles for ecologically friendlier modern models, Finance Undersecretary George Drys announced yesterday.
But Drys said the government had yet to determine the precise nature of the incentives, or the procedure that will be involved. The first campaign to modernise Greece's ageing fleet of private cars started in 1992, when owners were invited to send their old vehicles to be turned into scrap metal in return for reductions of up to 30 percent in the factory price of a new model.
Yesterday's decision has been strongly influenced by the government's desire to reduce traffic emissions in Athens ahead of the 2004 Olympics - that will be held in the hottest part of the summer. Despite the considerable progress made in lowering pollution since the smog-ridden early Eighties, the city's skies are still far from the pellucid azure of past decades.
According to environment ministry estimates, most of the 2.2 million cars expected to be circulating in the capital in six years' time will be equipped with catalytic converters, which, if properly used, significantly limit noxious exhaust emissions.
Speaking at a conference of the ruling Pasok socialists on upgrading the Greek financial system, Drys expressed satisfaction with the course of state revenues which, he said, had surpassed initial targets for the first half of 1998.
To further improve tax revenues, Drys said his ministry intended to crack down on the widespread practice of corporate tax-evasion through the issue of forged or nominal receipts. Ministry officials, he added, expected by the end of October to have overcome a series of legal tangles, which will give them a free hand to publish lists of wrongdoers.
Furthermore, Drys said, the government is preparing a bill to settle outstanding disputes concerning illegal occupation of public land by citizens who will be allowed the opportunity to buy legal titles to the plots. Another bill on the drawing-board will clarify issues concerning the definition of beach and coastal plots and their legal uses.
Both bills, he said, will be submitted to parliament by September.
Greek roads 'most dangerous in EU'
GREECE'S roads were declared the most dangerous in the European Union by a survey recently conducted by the EU statistics department (ESTAT). Though the number of fatal road accidents had fallen in most EU member-states between 1989 and 1995, Greece's road toll had increased by 20 percent over this time period.
The survey found that most fatal accidents occurred in central Greece, making the region's roads responsible for the most car accident-related deaths in Europe. More specifically, 2,968 road deaths were reported for every one million cars.
The southern Aegean islands recorded a startling 119 percent jump in fatal road accidents while, surprisingly, Attica was found to have had the lowest incidence of road deaths nationwide - but the most crash-related injuries.
The survey further found that the safest roads in Europe were in Great Britain and Sweden, while Finland reported the steepest decrease in road deaths, which had dropped by 40 percent. Meanwhile London, Hamburg and Stockholm roads were declared the safest and the most likely to allow drivers to reach their destination without any "unexpected" incidents.
In previous road safety reports published by the Athens daily Ta Nea, studies indicated that a large number of accidents resulted from poor road surfaces, with up to 80 percent of Greek roads, highways and streets designated as unsatisfactory and 90 percent characterised as unfit to accommodate vehicular traffic. Road safety surveys conducted on 22 Thessaloniki roads found that only 10 percent were satisfactory.
Transport expert Yiannis Frandzeskakis wrote in Ta Nea that Greek roads were in a "criminal" state and targeted those responsible for road-surface maintenance, thus relieving much-maligned Greek drivers of a portion of the blame.
Frandzeskakis referred to the fact that busy Vouliagmenis Avenue turns into a death trap every summer and is considered three times more dangerous than Kifissias Avenue. He pointed to a survey carried out by Athens Polytechnic which found that Vouliagmenis Ave is dangerous because it has been the subject of endless interference.
He noted it was disturbing that the EU survey results showed that Greek roads had not improved over the past 10 years - since a previous study which found them in the same appalling condition.