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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-10

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, October 10, 1997


  • [01] Lack of trust is the problem: Hannay
  • [02] Four tourists killed in crash
  • [03] Two claim torture by Paphos police
  • [04] MMAD `did not use excessive force' in Chlorakas shoot-out
  • [05] CA chairman grilled on leaked report
  • [06] Points, speed cameras and clamps: police want them all
  • [07] Tougher fines planned to save water
  • [08] House goes back to work
  • [09] House to launch 1974 coup inquiry
  • [10] Changes planned for electoral law
  • [11] Contradictions in murder suspect's statements, police say
  • [12] Second policeman held in connection with hash find
  • [13] Azur owner willing to implement law, but not collective agreement
  • [14] Annual war games start today

  • [01] Lack of trust is the problem: Hannay

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CYPRUS peace process is suffering from a lack of trust between the two sides, Britain's special envoy Sir David Hannay said last night.

    "The sad truth is that in Cyprus there is a lack of confidence in the good faith of the other side which undermines efforts to reach an agreement," he told the Belgian Royal Institute for International Affairs in Brussels.

    In his speech, Sir David said the Greek Cypriot side believed the major Turkish Cypriot objective was to realise a totally separate state. And the Turkish Cypriots are convinced the Greek Cypriots are hell-bent on majority rule in a new republic.

    The British diplomat said that further UN-brokered peace talks would concentrate on detailed legal texts concerning the constitution of a bi- zonal, bi-communal federal Cyprus.

    And he said he believed that any new Cyprus agreement would have to encompass territorial adjustments.

    "In 1992 the UN made a proposal for something approximating to a 28-72 per cent split. Neither Cypriot party ever accepted this proposal, but it is possible to speculate that the final outcome will not be very far removed in either direction," he said.

    The arms build-up on the island was also a major stumbling block to any settlement, and made any outbreak of hostilities more likely, Sir David said: "Present arrangements are fundamentally inconsistent with a settlement."

    He said there was a good argument for having an international military presence during the early years after a settlement.

    He also said that Britain viewed the island's EU accession process as a "genuinely positive development", dismissing claims that the country's constitution prevented Cyprus from joining the European Union while Turkey was not a member.

    "I must say that I have found no support for this contention," he said.

    Sir David did warn that Britain considered a divided Cyprus joining the EU a "second best solution".

    But he was upbeat about efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, saying that an opportunity now existed to heal what he called "one of Europe's oldest and most painful wounds".

    [02] Four tourists killed in crash

    By Martin Hellicar

    FOUR Iranian tourists, three men and a woman, were killed when their hire- car collided head-on with a lorry on the Pomos to Polis road in the Paphos district yesterday morning.

    The driver of the car, a Swiss visitor, and another Iranian passenger, both women, were seriously injured in the accident and were being treated in Paphos hospital last night. The lorry driver was less seriously hurt.

    Police said the saloon car driven by 29-year-old Marlis Huber veered on to the wrong side of the coast road and smashed into the truck, driven by 35- year-old Kato Pyrga villager Klitos Theodorou Kotzas. The accident happened at about 11.35am. Witnesses said it took rescue crews about an hour to extricate the victims from the wreckage of the car. Unconfirmed reports said the lorry was overturned by the force of the impact.

    Three of the victims died at the scene and the fourth died in hospital shortly afterwards.

    Those killed were 39-year-old Ismail Ashrafabasi, Hamidreza Sharifi Nejad and Afshin Heidarpour Hassan, both 27, and 30-year-old Jaleh Charifi Nejad. The injured passenger was 25-year-old Mastaneh Ashrosabadi.

    [03] Two claim torture by Paphos police

    TWO Ukrainian men are claiming they were tortured by Paphos police officers after being detained for failing to pay a £8 bar-bill.

    Igor Kovsharev, 25, and Alexander Gargagav, 27, yesterday alleged they had been handcuffed to chairs in a Paphos central police station interrogation room and beaten repeatedly on the back and bare soles of their feet with metal rods.

    The two were arrested in a Paphos cabaret on Sunday night after a barman complained to police they had refused to pay a drinks bill.

    On Monday they were brought before Paphos District Court and remanded on suspicion of resisting arrest and assaulting police officers. They deny attacking officers, and claim that after their court appearance they were taken back to the central police station and tortured.

    Kovsharev and Gargagav are due in court again today, and plan to make an official complaint. They also say they will sue the government for compensation.

    [04] MMAD `did not use excessive force' in Chlorakas shoot-out

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights has ruled Cypriot riot squad (MMAD) officers did not use excessive force when they shot dead a Paphos couple five years ago.

    On Christmas Eve 1993, Lefteris Andronicou and his fiancée Elsie Constantinou were killed after armed MMAD officers stormed a flat in Chlorakas outside Paphos where Andronicou had been holding Constantinou hostage.

    The families of the deceased lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in August 1994, claiming the government had violated Article 2 of the European Convention, which stipulates "no one shall be deprived of his life intentionally".

    Five of the court judges rejected the appeal, whereas four - including the chairman of the Cyprus Supreme Court, Georgis Pikis - upheld it.

    In a ruling released in Strabourg yesterday, the court stated "in the circumstances the use of lethal force could not be said to have exceeded what was absolutely necessary for the purpose of defending the lives of Elsie Constantinou and of the officers."

    The court noted that Article 2 states "deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary in defence of any person from unlawful violence."

    Police said at the time of the incident that Andronicou was armed and was threatening to kill Constantinou. He had been holding her against her will following a domestic dispute, police said.

    Andronicou was hit by 29 bullets and Constantinou by about 20 after two MMAD officers barged their way into the flat. One of the officers was injured.

    The court expressed "regret" that "so much fire power had been used by the officers." But it added "it could not substitute its own assessment of the situation for that of the officers required to react in the heat of the moment in what was for them a unique and unprecedented operation to save life."

    "We accept that the two officers involved in the raid honestly believed in the circumstances that it was necessary to kill Lefteris in order to save the life of Elsie and their own lives and to fire at him repeatedly to remove any risk that he might reach for a weapon," the ruling stated.

    The European court also rejected the families' claim that they had been denied access to a local court for determination of their civil claim against the government.

    The European court ruling backs the conclusions of an independent committee of inquiry set up by the government after the killings. The inquiry absolved the officers of any wrong-doing.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides welcomed the ruling as a "vindication" of the government but protested that the matter should have been settled by a local court.

    He said that, had the European court found in favour of the families of the deceased, the "impression" would have been given abroad that Cyprus had violated two young persons' right to life.

    He said the "deciding factor" in the court's ruling was the acceptance that the MMAD officers had acted to protect the life of Elsie and their own.

    The lawyer for the families, Michalakis Kyprianou, said they would not be giving up, but rather taking their case to local courts.

    "I am rendered speechless by the decision of the five judges," he said, adding that they had arrived at the ruling "despite" the "facts" that the MMAD officers had shot Andronikou another ten times while he lay on the floor and that his gun had been on the couch, and not in his hands, all along.

    [05] CA chairman grilled on leaked report

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS Airways chairman Takis Kyriakides yesterday tried to play down fears that wholesale sackings would be enforced under the airline's new survival plan.

    The chairman was hosting a press conference in Nicosia to launch the airline's 50th anniversary bash, but the gathering soon turned into a grilling over the leaked strategic plan.

    Leaked reports claimed commissioned experts had suggested that drastic cost- cutting measures were needed if the carrier was to stay in the air beyond the year 2000.

    "No one is talking about sackings, our aim is not just survival, but to progress and develop," said Kyriakides.

    Trying not send out the wrong messages, Kyriakides said he wanted the CA unions on board.

    "The staff have supported the airline despite some troubles we've had in the past. I want staff to feel they are shareholders in the future of Cyprus Airways."

    Although pushed hard by journalists to reveal the content of what he called the survival plan, Kyriakides refused to divulge any specific details.

    But he did say the commissioned report cost £180,000 sterling and not CY£300,000 as stated in the press.

    "The plan will be put before all the interested parties, and everything on the table will be up for discussion so we can find a way to save millions and increase profits."

    Kyriakides stressed on several occasions that the survival plan was a `working paper' only and not tablets of stone which could not be broken.

    "We need to select and agree the right way forward, and without making the necessary changes we cannot invest in the future."

    The chairman was also diplomatic about the kind of radical change needed if the airline was to extend its expiry date beyond the year 2000 (the deadline given by the experts if CA failed to re-organise).

    "I'm an optimist. I believe that the interested parties will be able to find a solution."

    But the CA boss conceded that tough negotiation battles with the unions lurked around the corner.

    "Our major problem will be persuading all interested parties to co-operate and support the aims of this plan."

    The major objectives of the plan are to increase revenue (the company is already £7 million in debt), reduce costs and to carry out a total re- organisation.

    Kyriakides said the company had less than three years to start operating at a profit and run as an efficient concern.

    "We must operate without help from a third party and introduce the necessary investment."

    In response to criticism that the company was spending money it didn't have on celebrations, Kyriakides said next week's bash in Nicosia "cost next to nothing".

    A photographic exhibition to be held and made permanent at Larnaca airport cost the airline £12,000.

    "Cyprus Airways has reached an important landmark which should be celebrated," he said.

    [06] Points, speed cameras and clamps: police want them all

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    A POINT system for driving offences, clamping and compulsory use of crash helmets for mopeds are among the measures under review by police in their fight against road accidents.

    Documents sent to the House Communications Committee for its on-going probe on fatal traffic accidents show a greater concentration of road deaths over the weekend, at night and over the two summer months of July and August.

    They also point to a steady increase in the number of foreigners killed on the island's roads - from 14 of a total of 101 victims in 1990 to 32 out of a total of 128 in 1996.

    The trend continued in the first half of the year with foreigners accounting for 14 of the 43 fatalities, or 32.5 per cent. The number of foreign drivers (tourists, workers or permanent residents) involved in accidents also rose from 1,490 (out of a total of 13,585) in 1995 to 1,520 (out of a total of 12,637) in 1996.

    Police have focused on road safety campaigns and more intensive patrols. But they are also considering changes to the law and driving regulations and the use of speed cameras.

    According to the police documents, a draft bill is currently under review. Pending a final decision police have asked for speedy action on the following:

    * obligation to keep motor vehicles safe * introduction of a point system on drivers licences * warning bars on the back and sides of trucks * extra bumpers * obligations for drivers to ensure unhindered use of their hands while driving * use of crash helmets by passengers on mopeds and motorbicycles

    Police said a bill to introduce speed cameras to photograph drivers who were speeding or jumping red lights and to punish them with an out of court fine of £50 for red lights and £1 per kilometre for speeding offences was ready.

    But it has still not been approved by the Council of Ministers pending a study on the cost under way at the Finance Ministry.

    Police are also pushing for the introduction of clamps to deal with illegal parking, but have found local authorities reluctant to take charge of the scheme.

    Police said illegal parking should be the responsibility of local authorities, to allow traffic police the concentrate on cutting road accidents.

    They are also trying to be freed from the responsibility of investigating road accidents which involve only material damage - investigations, police said, took up valuable time and manpower resources.

    Other proposals include introducing road safety classes in schools as part of the normal curriculum and sending police officers abroad to train on accident investigations, including the reconstruction of accidents on computers.

    [07] Tougher fines planned to save water

    FINES will double and water development officials will be brought in to help deter consumers from wasting water under a new bill unveiled yesterday.

    The proposal to amend a 1991 law - presented to the House Agriculture Committee - would make the use of a hose to wash a car or a pavement punishable by a £30 out of court fine.

    And if new ideas are taken up, the ban will be extended to cover verandas, gates and the road in front of the house.

    Under the same bill, officials from the department of water development will be empowered to report offenders.

    But the fines will continue to be collected by officials from water boards and from local authorities and municipalities which currently hold exclusive responsibility for implementation of the law.

    Nicos Tsiouris of the department of water development of the Agriculture Ministry said higher fines would help the fight to preserve water by acting as a deterrent.

    And he said representatives of elected bodies had shown an "inability or unwillingness" to implement the law.

    Water Board officials welcomed any measure which would help preserve water, but expressed reservations about the whole principle of policing, saying they preferred to work by persuasion.

    The Union of Cypriot Municipalities gave backing to the bill, but smaller communities questioned the value of bringing in a second set of officials to do the same thing.

    [08] House goes back to work

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    THE HOUSE of Representatives yesterday voted in tax incentives for the stock market but stumbled on the complexities of translating laws from English into Greek.

    In their first session after the summer recess, deputies gave unanimous approval to a tax incentive package to encourage new public companies to join the stock market.

    The package is seen as a step in the direction of giving Cyprus' newly established official stock exchange a boost.

    But a proposed amendment on the use of English in the island's laws proved a far trickier issue.

    As tabled, the bill aimed to bypass pitfalls created by incorrect or imprecise translation of laws from English into Greek. It suggested that where mistakes were spotted, the original English text should supersede the Greek version.

    For Edek president Vassos Lyssarides this was wrong. He said Greek and Turkish were the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus. If there were problems with the translation, they should be corrected. The alternative proposed by the bill effectively meant that Cypriots had to turn to a third country and a third language to interpret their laws.

    Not so, argued Disy deputy president Panayiotis Demetriou, who chairs the House Legal Committee which unanimously recommended approval of the bill. The proposal was intended only as a practical, technical step to clear misunderstandings and facilitate the course of justice. The official languages remained unchanged.

    Others, mostly lawyers, but also United Democrats president George Vassiliou and Akel general secretary Demetris Christofias spoke in a similar vein.

    Put to the vote the bill was approved 23 votes to seven - with the two Edek deputies present, five Disy deputies and independent Marios Matsakis voting against.

    [09] House to launch 1974 coup inquiry

    THE HOUSE of Representatives will soon launch an inquiry into the 1974 coup which led to the Turkish invasion, House president Spyros Kyprianou said yesterday.

    He told reporters the House would secure the minutes of an exhaustive investigation carried out in the Greek parliament years ago.

    The decision follows the admission by a member of the Greek junta that the coup against President Makarios had been planned in Athens.

    Diko and Edek have asked for a House debate on the issue. Disy submitted its own topic for debate - the urgent need for the House of Representatives to obtain the official minutes, conclusions and other evidence which make up the records of the committee of inquiry on the Cyprus file set up by the Greek Parliament.

    Asked yesterday whether it was possible for the inquiry by the House to start before the February 1998 presidential elections, Kyprianou said: "Yes, this is possible."

    He said it was impossible to say when the inquiry would end, but added that it was essential to establish the truth.

    [10] Changes planned for electoral law

    CHANGES could be in the pipeline in election laws - including scrapping the £300 ceiling applied to the election campaign of parliamentary candidates.

    The bills would also shorten voting hours by 90 minutes and introduce separate ballot papers for each electoral alliance.

    For the presidential elections, candidacies would have to be submitted at least 20, and not the current 10 days before the polls.

    The proposed changes are contained in a batch of draft bills sent to the House of Representatives yesterday for approval. Other proposals include the government's controversial proposal to change the law on evidence, and a move to allow district courts to try cases which carry heavier fines.

    Another government bill would introduce a new regime at Larnaca and Paphos airports to deal with ground handling.

    All the bills are subject to the approval of the House of Representatives.

    [11] Contradictions in murder suspect's statements, police say

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A 66-YEAR-old man was yesterday remanded for eight days as a suspect in the Kilani murder investigation.

    Michalis Panis is now being held for further questioning following the murder of fellow villager Matheos Christofi, 60, on Wednesday afternoon.

    The victim was brutally murdered with a meat-clever on a village street.

    The suspect had christened the victim's son and their wives are cousins.

    During the hearing at a Limassol court CID officer Andreas Karyolaimos said the police had firm suspicions, based on witness accounts, which implicated Panis in the murder.

    He told the court that Panis was examined by a coroner who said he had small scratches on parts of his body which indicated he was involved in a struggle.

    Panis says he received the marks during work on his vineyards.

    Police believe that a watch found at the crime scene belongs to the suspect.

    But Panis, in his statement, told police he never wore such a watch with a strap, but only one with a chain.

    The suspect had a history of long-running feuds with the victim which stretched over 30 years, a police officer said.

    He said the rows were usually over property rights and said antagonism between the two had worsened in the last few days before Christofi's death.

    According to police, there are serious contradictions in Panis' statement about his movements on the day of the murder.

    His lawyer Yiannakis Thomas complained to the court that he was denied access to his client when he was taken to the place station for questioning.

    According to Kilani residents, the victim had rows with other neighbours in the village when he blocked their right of way.

    The village improvement board had taken legal action after complaints by residents.

    [12] Second policeman held in connection with hash find

    A COLLEAGUE of special policeman Andreas Flourentzou, re-remanded yesterday in connection with a massive drug seizure last month, has been charged with drug possession.

    Larnaca District Court heard that 31-year-old Loukas Panayioti Kakouri used to work the same shift at Larnaca airport customs with 24-year-old Flourentzou, and often gave him a lift to work from Latsia outside Nicosia where they both live. Kakouri was been charged with possession and use of illegal narcotics and then released, the court heard. The alleged drug offenses took place in the Nicosia area.

    Both Flourentzou, who was arrested late last month, and Kakouri have been axed from their police posts.

    Police believe Flourentzou master-minded the smuggling of hashish from Holland to Cyprus. He was arrested after police made what they described as their biggest ever haul of marijuana - seven-and-a-half kilos - destined for the local market.

    The drugs were allegedly found in the hand-luggage of 20-year-old Nicos Nicolaou, from Yeri village near Nicosia, when he arrived on a September 24 evening flight from Amsterdam via Athens. Customs police searched the youth's baggage after receiving a tip-off.

    Flourentzou, who was on duty at the airport at the time of the seizure, was named as an accomplice by Nicolaou, police said.

    Nicolaou apparently said Flourentzou was to have warned him if drug squad officers were present at the customs check, so that he could dump the narcotics.

    Flourentzou was yesterday remanded for a further six days to give police time to take another 20 statements in connection with the investigation.

    Nicolaou and two other men whom police say he named as members of his drug- smuggling ring - Andreas Charalambous, 23 from Latsia outside Nicosia, and 20-year-old Akis Afxentiou, from Yeri near Nicosia - are also being held in connection with the same investigation.

    Police are also after four other men thought to be involved in the illicit operation and are searching for a man Nicolaou allegedly named as his supplier in the Netherlands.

    [13] Azur owner willing to implement law, but not collective agreement

    YIORGOS Tsanos, the owner of the troubled Azur hotel in Limassol said yesterday hat he was "ready to implement the law", but not the collective agreement between himself and workers unions Peo and Sek.

    After a meeting with Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas, Tsanos said the collective agreement had no legal validity and pointed out that the unions had asked mediators into the dispute for the implementation of the law. rather than the agreement. Moushiouttas confirmed this, and added that the law stipulated lower levels of compromise than the collective agreement.

    The dispute between Tsanos and the unions has been going on since July, when workers walked out claiming Tsanos had illegally hired foreign workers. The most recent flare-up, on Monday, had two striking workers accuse Tsanos of attacking them inside the hotel.

    [14] Annual war games start today

    AIR and naval forces from Greece will take part in this year's annual "Nikiforos-97" National Guard exercise, which begins today.

    One of the main phases of the war games, on October 14, will be watched by Greek Defence Minister Akis Tzohadzopoulos. Details about the exercise were revealed yesterday by National Guard Chief of Staff Dimitris Fasaris at a press conference at army headquarters.

    He said recent national guard acquisitions, such as the Russian-made T-80 tanks, would be used more extensively during this year's joint exercises. He also said National Guard parachutists would take part in the exercises, weather permitting.

    There will also be a search-and-rescue exercise 30 nautical miles off the Paphos coast.

    At the same time as the Nikiforos exercise, the Greek airforce will carry out its "Toxotis" exercise within the Nicosia Flight Information Zone (FIR).

    Fasaris said the Paphos air base would be used "to the extent that it can be, as it is not yet ready."

    The war games begin today with reservists reporting in to their units and will end next Wednesday with a military parade in Larnaca. About 9,000 reservists are expected to take part.

    © Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail

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