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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-11-27

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1051), November 27, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Government outlines new taxation measures
  • [02] Opposition
  • [03] Evert, Mitsotakis trade verbal attacks
  • [04] Manos, Souflias
  • [05] Gov't pleased with results of latest Council of Ministers meeting
  • [06] Report says Erbakan balks at invitation to Dublin summit
  • [07] Malta's decision not to pursue EU accession won't affect Cyprus
  • [08] G. Papandreou: Greece opposes 'flexibility clause' in revised EU Treaty
  • [09] General staff chief to officially visit Bulgaria next week
  • [10] Consulate's lending library in Gjirokaster to open on Jan. 1
  • [11] Constantopoulos calls for political party leaders meeting on foreign policy
  • [12] Athens considering trade credits for Yugoslavia
  • [13] Vasso Papandreou speaks on competitive strategies
  • [14] Infrastructure in relation to nation's development examined at conference
  • [15] Privatizations will proceed, Protopapas says
  • [16] Workers strike to protest new economic measures
  • [17] EOT employee unions opposed to EOT's reorganization
  • [18] Mobilizations planned by Larisa-area farmers

  • [01] Government outlines new taxation measures

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday evening announced new taxation measures and abolishment of several tax exemptions, saying the additional burden will be paid by "those who have and own".

    The government projects to receive 150 billion drachmas from the new taxes and collect a further 130 billion drachmas with the abolition of 206 tax exemptions.

    In terms of new taxes concerning large real estate holdings, the tax-free limit is 60 million drachmas in objective value, 60 million drachmas for the taxpayer's spouse as well and 15 million drachmas for each child. A tax percentage is applied to the remaining value, which escalates from 0.3 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

    A 7.5 per cent tax will be imposed on new issues of bonds and treasury bills as of Jan. 1, 1997. Increased registration dues will be imposed on private vehicles, motorcycles and motorbikes of less than 785cc. In addition, a 20 per cent tax will apply to the excess value resulting from the transfer of shares not registered with the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Income tax concerning bank profits will increase from 35 per cent to 40 per cent, while the down payment for profits in the inter-bank market will increase from 50 per cent to 60 per cent.

    Moreover, a 15 per cent tax will be imposed on exchange deposits, a 2/1000 tax on mutual fund assets and 15 per cent on the derivatives of fiscal products.

    The presumed expense for private cars will increase from between 30 per cent and 80 per cent and the age discount will be decreased and become minus 15 per cent from 20 per cent for vehicles between five-10-years-old, minus 25 per cent from 30 per cent for those between 10-15 years and minus 40 per cent from 50 per cent for those in excess of 15 years.

    The presumed expense for pleasure craft will increase from 32 per cent to up to 95.89 per cent and 50 per cent for aircraft.

    An exemption concerning maids or nannies employed by families having children aged up to 12 years will be abolished.

    Benefits to be abolished in the income tax sector are a discount in the expenditure concerning attorney fees, a 10 per cent reduction in the incomes of journalists and pensioned journalists, exemption of performance expenses received by prefects, mayors and community presidents (a 15 per cent tax will apply henceforth), exemption of special bonuses for dangerous occupation, exemption of a bonus for services rendered abroad (a 15 per cent tax will apply henceforth), exemption of special bonuses for tax officials, customs officials and other employees (a 15 per cent tax will apply henceforth) and a discount in insurance paid by enterprises for collective life insurance for their employees.

    The exemption enjoyed by deputies and Eurodeputies for the purchase of vehicles without paying a special consumption tax will be abolished.

    In addition, the exemption of performance expenses for cabinet members and the president of the republic will be abolished.

    Deposits in drachmas by permanent residents of Greece which can be converted into foreign exchange will be taxable, but non-permanent residents will be excluded from this clause. Lastly, fees paid to foreign artists will henceforth be subject to a 15 per cent tax.

    [02] Opposition

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Reacting to Mr. Papantoniou's announcements, main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert referred to a "government of taxes", promising a "head-on and uncompromising opposition."

    He also accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis of a "conscious and planned deception of the Greek people", and of "phenomenal political audacity," referring to his pre-election promises for no new taxes.

    Mr. Evert proposed indexation of a tax-scale for inflation, with a parallel trimming of what he called a "corrupt and rotten state", which "will allow the taxpayer to breathe and secure necessary funds for education and the exercise of social policy."

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in a statement that working people, the poor, middle income sized artisans and farmers would again shoulder the greatest part of tax burdens.

    On its part, the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party charged that the government "instead of proceeding to a comprehensive tax reform proposal with social justice and a fair distribution of burdens, has proceeded with piecemeal provisions which aim to meet the needs of the budget for 1997."

    The abolition of tax exemptions was done a way that was selective and unclear, Synaspismos added.

    On its part, the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) criticized the government's new economic measures as outdated and directed against the "ordinary citizen who lacks the means to resist and who is the easy victim."

    In an announcement, DHKKI said "the government of 'modernizers' discovered those 'who have and own' among the weaker groups of the Greek people, working people, pensioners, farmers, small self-employed professionals and handicraftsmen."

    [03] Evert, Mitsotakis trade verbal attacks

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert and ND honorary leader Constantine Mitsotakis are apparently headed for a showdown at the party's political council meeting today, after the later's statements in a television interview and magazine article that ND "has ceased functioning democratically to a great degree."

    Mr. Evert immediately responded to the former prime minister's remarks, criticizing Mr. Mitsotakis of disorientating the Greek people and helping the ruling PASOK party to implement what he called its "tough new economic measures."

    In an interview with the "Status" magazine, Mr. Mitsotakis said in the event ND did not hold what he referred to as a "democratic congress" (due in early 1997), the party will run the risk of splitting, while he did not rule out the possibility of his daughter, leading ND deputy Dora Bakoyianni, contesting the party's leadership at the congress.

    Mr. Mitsotakis also disclosed that in the event that the president of the republic was elected directly by a popular vote - and not by Parliament, as called for by the Constitution - he would be interested in running for the post.

    In his magazine interview, Mr. Mitsotakis revealed that shortly before the elections last September he had intended to displace Mr. Evert and assume ND's leadership "so that it could win the elections."

    He further criticized Mr. Evert "that from the time he became party leader he (Evert) tried to take over the party and to a great degree ND ceased functioning democratically."

    "Greece's problem at present is that parties do not tell the truth. (Prime Minister Costas) Simitis does not tell the truth and neither does Evert tell the truth. And for this reason we are not doing well," he added.

    Mr. Mitsotakis further criticized ND founder Constantine Karamanlis "of not becoming a leader on his own merits, but relying on the king's choice", adding that "Greece is paying for the mistakes of the first Karamanlis government (1974-1977) even today, as in the case of nationalization, for example."

    He said that in the event he was called on to assume the party's leadership he "will not refuse any service", and added that "I might possibly be useful for the country in an emergency."

    Replying to Mr. Mitsotakis, Mr. Evert said "the new statements by Mr. Constantine Mitsotakis are disorientating the Greek people from their real problems, they help PASOK to implement the new tough economic measures and are attempting to dynamite the smooth course towards the congress.

    "We will not follow Mr. Mitsotakis along this slippery path. Firstly, because our primary task at present is to protect the citizen from the government's whirlwind and not intra-party quarrels. We will not distance ourselves from the citizens' problems.

    Secondly, because we honor the rules of the party's democratic functioning and, thirdly, because we honor and respect our party's great and splendid history," the ND leader added.

    Later in the day, Mr. Mitsotakis' office issued an announcement responding to the main opposition president, stating that "Mr. Evert placed himself under judgment and consequently he must also be prepared to tolerate criticism."

    "To be able to provide a solution to the party's problem, ND's congress must be fair and irreproachable so that it can express the will of the party's rank and file," it added.

    The announcement concluded that "those who are obstructing this course are indeed following a slippery path because they serve the plans of our opponents and prevent ND from winning in the next elections."

    [04] Manos, Souflias

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    In a related development, ND deputy and former minister Stephanos Manos commented on the possibility of a party split, saying "we will decide on that, but possibilities must be exhausted previously and necessary consultations must be made for all to be convinced that additional delegates must be elected by the rank and file."

    ND deputy and former minister George Souflias, who recently vied for the leadership post, said he was not aware of the contents of statements by either Mr. Mitsotakis or Mr. Evert.

    Asked to comment on the fact that Mr. Mitsotakis did not refer to his candidacy in his statement, Mr. Souflias said "I read the statements he made the day before yesterday in which he said I would become a good prime minister."

    In a statement last night, Mr. Souflias kept his distance from the Mitsotakis-Evert dispute, expressing regret because on the course towards the congress "methodizations and expediencies are not being avoided." He said it was the duty of all to see that a fair congress was held without disputes.

    "I am struggling for this congress and I will submit my candidacy at this congress, as a third unifying solution, which will put an end to this long-standing internal dispute harassing ND," Mr. Souflias added.

    In addition, ND spokesman and close associate of party founder Constantine Karamanlis, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said history has registered the political contribution and consistency of Constantine Karamanlis and Constantine Mitsotakis, and they cannot be falsified by anyone.

    As conflicting trends in the crisis-ridden party are balancing on a tightrope, reports state that at today's political council meeting Mr. Evert will seek a majority decision to ratify Mr. Varvitsiotis' proposal to lead the party to its congress. In this event, Mr. Mitsotakis will be on the side of the minority, since Mr. Souflias does not participate in the body.

    Mr. Mitsotakis was ND leader from 1984 to 1993 and prime minister from 1990 to 1993 when he resigned after ND lost to PASOK in the 1993 general elections by 46.9 per cent to 39.3 per cent.

    Mr. Evert, who took over as ND leader after that electoral defeat, was also defeated in general elections on Sept. 22, 1996, when ND's vote dipped to 38.1 per cent against PASOK's 41.5 per cent.

    [05] Gov't pleased with results of latest Council of Ministers meeting

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    The government yesterday described as "positive" the results of Monday's EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels, where no changes were made to a unanimous July 15 decision concerning Greek-Turkish relations and the further advancement of EU-Turkish ties.

    "The government continues to be always prepared and is following developments in the Union's bodies in order to safeguard the country's interests," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    He added that the government believes the nation's EU partners had understood that Athens was making an effort towards rapprochement with Turkey and the facilitation of the neighboring country's entry into "the European orbit."

    "In order for this policy to bear fruit, it presupposes Turkey's reconciliation with rules and principles which will enable it to acquire a European orientation," Mr. Reppas said.

    Asked whether a commitment had been undertaken in Brussels to incorporate the July 15 declaration in the common position of the EU-Turkey Association Council, Mr. Reppas replied:

    "Among other things, what was discussed at yesterday's (Monday) meeting was that relations between the EU and Turkey must to a great extent be determined by the text of July 15, both the spirit and letter of which express positions that find all the EU member-states in agreement."

    The July 15 decision calls for respect by Turkey of human rights, adherence to international agreements and resolution of Greek-Turkish differences. An official reply from Ankara is still pending.

    [06] Report says Erbakan balks at invitation to Dublin summit

    Brussels, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan will not travel to the EU's Dublin summit in December if the 15-member Union does not invite him as "the prime minister of a candidate country for entry into the European Union," the Spanish News Agency (EFE) reported from Ankara yesterday.

    According to the Turkish labor minister, the Islamist prime minister will not participate in what he (Erbakan) reportedly referred to as a "social dinner".

    EFE reported that the Turkish prime minister stressed that "we reject this dishonor, and as an answer they (EU) can keep the ECU 500 million of aid they have promised us, but the prime minister will not go to a meeting of this kind."

    In a related issue, PASOK Eurodeputy and Vice-President of the Socialist Group Yiannis Roubatis has asked to be informed by the Council of Ministers on how the Council reacts to such "insulting statements" by high-ranking Turkish officials.

    He also asked whether the Council intends to explain to the Turkish leadership that this type of behavior will not be tolerated by the European Union and could lead to a greater deadlock in EU-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Roubatis also asked the Council why European citizens should pressure Turkey to accept aid which Ankara has said, through Mr. Erbakan's statements, it does not want.

    [07] Malta's decision not to pursue EU accession won't affect Cyprus

    Brussels, 27/11/1996 (ANA - F. Stangos)

    Malta's decision not to further pursue its application to join the European Union will not affect Cyprus' accession process, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here yesterday.

    "Procedures leading to the accession of Cyprus into the EU are continuing unimpeded with the same speed, and are not affected by Malta's decision to freeze its application for entry," he said during a joint press conference with the island republic's Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides after an EU-Cyprus ministerial meeting.

    During the meeting, it was stressed that in view of its potential accession, Cyprus has already harmonized 40 per cent of its legislation with the 15-member Union, and hopes to reach 70 to 80 per cent until commencement of negotiations, scheduled six months after the end of the IGC.

    Meanwhile, EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek expressed the Commissions' willingness to provide technical and financial assistance for the achievement of this "ambitious" aim, and stressed the importance of organizing meetings with representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in order to project the benefits of accession to the whole population of the island.

    Finally, there was a broad review over the aftermath of the Barcelona conference, where the Cypriot side stressed the importance of the island's role as a bridge of Europe with the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as the need to adopt the Euro-Mediterranean Charter of Peace and Stability.

    Mr. Michaelides said the climate at the meeting was very positive, and added that du ring the Dublin summit next month, where Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has been invited, he expected a reaffirmation of his country's accession prospects, as in previous summits.

    [08] G. Papandreou: Greece opposes 'flexibility clause' in revised EU Treaty

    Brussels, 27/11/1996 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    Athens opposes the "principle of solidarity" by which European Union member-states will co-operate more-or-less closely on certain issues based on their potential, interests and specific aims, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou made clear yesterday at a Council of Ministers session focusing on issues related to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

    Incorporation of the principle of flexibility in the revised Maastricht Treaty has been proposed by Bonn and Paris during the IGC.

    Mr. Papandreou told his counterparts that Greece opposes the adoption of a general "flexibility clause", as this could lead to a multi-tiered European Union.

    "Flexibility cannot be treated as a principle or rule, but only as an exception in sectors such as defense," he added.

    In addition, Mr. Papandreou proposed that the principle could be adopted in sectors agreed upon in advance and incorporated into a new Treaty only as a last resort, if the principle of unanimity cannot operate, if the acquis communautaire is not encroached upon, and if the aims of European unification are served. Countries which cannot participate from the start will have to be given support so that they may be able to join later.

    "We believe that our common aims can be attained much more effectively through the extension of the special majority rather than through the principle of flexibility... This extension is coordinated with the more general need for strengthening the European Parliament, as it would strengthen the joint decisions procedure," he added.

    "Greece, in principle, is in favor of extending the joint decisions procedures, as this would upgrade the European Parliament and the legitimacy of EU decisions," he said.

    [09] General staff chief to officially visit Bulgaria next week

    Sofia, 27/11/1996 (ANA - N. Hios)

    National Defense General Staff Chief Gen. Anastasios Tzoganis leaves for a two-day official visit to Bulgaria next Monday at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Gen. Totomirov, the Bulgarian defense ministry announced yesterday.

    Gen. Tzoganis' schedule includes a meeting with the neighboring country's parliamentary external affairs committee, and the signing of a bilateral military co-operation agreement for 1997.

    [10] Consulate's lending library in Gjirokaster to open on Jan. 1

    Gjirokaster, 27/11/1996 (ANA - D. Tsakas)

    The lending library of the Greek consulate here will be officially opened on New Year's Day by Consul-General Nikolaos Kanellos.

    Speaking to the Athens News Agency, Mr. Kanellos said the library will hold material that will enable teaching staff at the Gjirokaster University to conduct historical and scientific research. The library will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday.

    Meanwhile, Gjirokaster has been receiving 50 Sunday newspapers from Athens and Yiannina since last Sunday, which are available from the consulate.

    [11] Constantopoulos calls for political party leaders meeting on foreign policy

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos yesterday met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos to put forward his party's request for a meeting of the political party leaders to discuss the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and Greek foreign policy particularly with regard to Turkey.

    If agreement was reached among the parties, such a meeting would be chaired by Mr. Stephanopoulos. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Constantopoulos said that the president had listened to his party's views with interest.

    Mr. Constantopoulos accused the government of "double talk, the lack of a steadfast position and the absence of a national strategy"

    "As far as national issues are concerned, one of two things is happening. Either the government does not understand the critical nature of the present period in time or there are different views within the government itself," Mr. Constantopoulos said.

    Replying to press questions, Mr. Constantopoulos said that in the view of his party there could be no question of a single "package" lumping together the issue of Turkey's disputing of the Aegean islet of Imia and the issue of the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf.

    He noted however that both issues should be referred to the International Court at the Hague, adding that in the case of Imia, the initiative for referring the issue must be taken by Turkey.

    [12] Athens considering trade credits for Yugoslavia

    Belgrade, 27/11/1996 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Greece is seriously considering extending credits to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in order to boost trade between the two countries, which totaled only $170 million in the first 10 months of 1996.

    The dispatch quoted the counsellor for economic and commercial affairs at the Greek embassy in Belgrade, Christos Farmakis, who addressed a meeting of Greek and Yugoslav businessmen.

    Mr. Farmakis said that Greece had a clear-cut policy and was expressing a greater desire for the improved development of economic relations with Yugoslavia.

    At present, he added, 150 Greek companies are cooperating with Yugoslavia, either directly or through joint ventures.

    Representatives of the Economic Chamber of Yugoslavia informed the Greek delegation attending the meeting about Yugoslav legislation, the law on foreign investments, the law on the formation of companies, legislative framework in force in the sector of foreign trade and possibilities for co-operation in the agricultural sector.

    [13] Vasso Papandreou speaks on competitive strategies

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday the government should seek social consensus on specific goals while not trying to avoid conflict on others.

    "Social consensus on everything means passivity," Ms Papandreou told a conference entitled "Competitive strategies for Greece." Replying to questions from the audience, the development minister insisted that the hard drachma policy would not change in order to facilitate the competitiveness of Greek products.

    She further stressed the government's intention to accelerate the process of privatizations in 1997, attributing delays so far to time-consuming procedures. The minister further criticized businesses of raising prices even though the cost of raw materials is falling or stable.

    [14] Infrastructure in relation to nation's development examined at conference

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Under-secretary Christos Verelis expressed optimism yesterday over the course of major construction projects, which he said are expected to come to completion over the next years.

    Addressing a conference organized by the Hellenic American Chamber, Mr. Verelis elaborated on the issue of "The Importance of Infrastructure in Attracting Investment."

    He said the completion of major infrastructure works will make Greece's outlook more positive to foreign investors.

    Mr. Verelis further stressed the importance of reaching "a viable and balanced development to pave Greece's way to the European Unification."

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy deputy Costas Karamanlis stressed the "technical weakness" of Greece's infrastructure works, which are currently under construction, stressing what he called "unjustified delays in the completion of the works."

    Saying that Greece's road and railway networks as well as the airports, ports and telecommunications sectors were of an inferior quality as compared to those in other European Union countries, Mr. Karamanlis said the existing situation was a deterrent t o new investments in Greece, especially in view of rising installation and production costs, poor quality of public works, ineffective administration and rising communication and transport costs.

    [15] Privatizations will proceed, Protopapas says

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Security Under-secretary Christos Protopapas yesterday told Greek businessmen that "all of us should have the power to see the privatizations issue through."

    Addressing a conference on the "Time of the Greek Economy," organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber, Mr. Protopapas said the government was proceeding with the privatization of all public sector companies falling under the jurisdiction of the Business Restructuring Organization.

    Referring to efforts to contain state intervention in the banking system, Mr. Protopapas said that only if the governments, the parties and the social forces agreed on certain principles and procedures, while bureaucracy was lessened as well, could denationationalization procedures come to fruition.

    Elaborating on the same issue, President of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) Jason Stratos said that denationalization was the answer to the dilemma of "stabilization or development."

    A state that is less present will lead to cut backs in expenditures and abolish a range of unproductive activities, Mr. Stratos said.

    Denationalization, he added, will free resources which can be channeled to the private sector thus encouraging development.

    SEB's president stressed the lack of signs for an expanded denationalization to other sectors where the presence of the state is strongly-felt, such as the banking system, with the exception of smaller banks.

    [16] Workers strike to protest new economic measures

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos yesterday warned of a wave of strikes organized to coincide with the parliamentary debate on the state budget for 1997 which should be held by the end of the week.

    "There is will for an escalation of labor action and I believe that there will be such an escalation," Mr. Polyzogopoulos told a press conference.

    A 24-hour general strike has already been organized for tomorrow in which all major trade union federations will be participating.

    Public utilities such as the Public Power Corporation (DEH), the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Athens and Piraeus Water Company (EYDAP) and the Greek Postal Service (ELTA) will be operating with skeleton staffs.

    The strike is expected to hit public transport in particular, with the national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) aircraft being grounded and considerable disruption to ferry-boat, train and bus services.

    Ships' pilots went on strike on Monday to press their demand for an additional pay allowance based on length of service to be paid out of the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT). Secondary school and kindergarten teachers will hold a 24-hour strike today t o protest a new salary scale and proposed government spending on education.

    The administrative board of the Union of Public Secondary School Teachers (OLME) also warned yesterday of the possibility of a two- and three-day strike in December and an indefinite work stoppage in January.

    One of the main demands of the unions is that the government index-link tax brackets to inflation. Its failure to do so for the past five years, they say, will in effect result in a drop in real income in 1997.

    [17] EOT employee unions opposed to EOT's reorganization

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Employee union representatives for the Greek Tourist Organization (EOT) gave a press conference yesterday, criticizing Development Minister Vasso Papandreou that she "has not substantively addressed the real problems of EOT and the country's tourism sector."

    They also expressed opposition to EOT's designation as a sociiti anonyme, which they believe is tantamount to its dissolution.

    Representatives will visit main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert today to brief him on their opposition to Ms Papandreou's policy regarding the reorganization of EOT. They will likewise brief Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos tomorrow.

    EOT employees are also opposed to the sale of assets and to long-term leasing contracts (up to 99 years), which the government is planning to promote for EOT's property.

    [18] Mobilizations planned by Larisa-area farmers

    Athens, 27/11/1996 (ANA)

    Farmers in the Larisa region are launching mobilizations today that will culminate in blockades of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway tomorrow.

    The decision was taken following yesterday's sentencing of three farmers to one-year imprisonment for obstructing traffic during protests in February-March 1995.

    End of English language section.


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