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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: Police told to maintain guard during Olympics

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posted on Jun, 8 2004 @ 12:56 PM
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) - Greece's two top law enforcement officials warned police Tuesday they must not let their guard down during the Olympics despite the lack of a clear terrorist threat so far.

Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis addressed 1,500 police officers assigned to help secure the northern port of Thessaloniki during the Aug. 13-29 games.

"Greece is not in the cross hairs of any big or small terrorist organization. Its profile is such that we have not seen it attract the attention of international terrorism," Voulgarakis said.

Greek police chief Fotis Nassiakos added that "no service, secret or otherwise, has any information about a terrorist attack during the Olympic Games." But, Voulgarakis added, "We are obliged to work on the basis of the greatest possible threat." Bombings damaged an Athens police station May 5, causing minor damage and no injuries. The Greek group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility, but authorities say local extremists pose no serious security threat for the Olympics.

Voulgarakis and an Olympic security team were touring key police operations around the country. In Thessaloniki, security forces plan to use about 4,000 officers to safeguard the five Olympic soccer facilities and hotel complex where athletes will stay. The venues include the main soccer stadium and four training sites. First-round soccer matches in Thessaloniki begin Aug. 11, two days before the opening ceremony.

Greece is spending a record $1.2 billion on security and has enlisted the help of NATO and a seven-nation advisory group led by the United States and Britain.

"There is no country that has spent so much money for security," Voulgarakis said, adding critics would be able to find little fault with security preparations.

"Let them show us one measure we have not taken, one strategy we have not followed," he said.

His comments, however, came as an internal European Union report said Greece has one of the worst records among the 25 EU countries for enacting anti-terrorism measures that the body agreed to take after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Presented to interior ministers in Luxembourg Tuesday, the report cites Greece, Italy and Germany for failing to implement the European arrest warrant, which they were supposed to have been done last year. Two of the 10 countries that joined the EU last month, the Czech Republic and Malta, don't have the legislation in place yet, either.

The legislation is intended to make it easier to extradite suspected terrorists who flee across EU borders. Voulgarakis and the security officials were also to visit the other three cities where soccer preliminaries will be held - Volos, Patras and Iraklion on the island of Crete.

The delegation also plans inspections along Greece's northern border and Aegean Sea islands, which are used as gateways by illegal immigrants trying to enter Greece. According to the chief of Olympic planning, police Gen. Vassilis Constantinidis, security forces will take responsibility for 155 Olympic facilities around Greece on July 1.

Athens international airport also said Tuesday it planned to have more than 2,000 security personnel, including anti-terrorist forces, guarding the facility during the Olympics. Airport officials said they were expecting 2 million passengers in August compared with 1.5 million during the same month last year.

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