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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-14

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, October 14, 1997


  • [01] Turkish fighter jets `buzz' Minister's plane
  • [02] Turkish S-300 claims ridiculed
  • [03] Attack on 'enemy' positions
  • [04] Praise for Yilmaz from Holbrooke
  • [05] Soldier fined for attack on tourists
  • [06] Policeman charged with having riot gear
  • [07] Teacher killed in crash
  • [08] Tourists fined for having hash
  • [09] Gangsters 'using north to launder dirty money'
  • [10] Bent police 'causing enormous damage'
  • [11] Drunken mortar thieves jailed
  • [12] CA needs independent safety structure - pilots' chief
  • [13] Record haul of points for Cyprus

  • [01] Turkish fighter jets `buzz' Minister's plane

    By Martin Hellicar

    TWO Turkish F-16 fighter jets `buzzed' a Greek airforce C-130 carrier flying Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to Cyprus yesterday afternoon. A Greek Defence Ministry official said the Turkish jets had "harassed" the minister's plane before being seen off by Greek jets taking part in the joint Greece-Cyprus Nikiforos military exercise.

    Greek journalists travelling with Tsohatzopoulos said the Turkish jets had come dangerously close to the C-130, which landed at Larnaca airport without further incident.

    The accusation came as Greece complained for the second day that Turkish warplanes were repeatedly violating the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) north-west of Cyprus in response to the war games.

    "This activity continues, but to a lesser extent than yesterday," Greek Government spokesman Dimitris Repas said.

    On Sunday, Greece stated Turkish planes had violated the Athens FIR in the Southeast Aegean on 60 occasions.

    Ankara denied any violations had taken place but Greek government spokesman Dimitris Repas said Greece had sent photographic evidence of the violations to Nato.

    The Cyprus government meanwhile lodged a complaint with the UN over violations of Cyprus air space by Turkish warplanes on Sunday.

    The complaint, also sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, stated that two Turkish RF-4 jets had violated Cyprus air space and flown over the Paphos area.

    The National Guard said the Turkish airforce planes were involved in a mock dogfight with two F16s accompanying Greek Corsair fighter bombers taking part in the third day of the exercises.

    The government also complained of mass violations of the Nicosia and Athens FIRs by Turkish jets on the same day.

    At Larnaca airport, Tsohatzopoulos said the intrusions were "part of Turkey's offensive designs" against Greece and Cyprus.

    "We are strong enough to ensure that Turkey's designs will not get through, " he said.

    President Clerides, commenting from Athens where he will meet Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis today, said he "denounced" the violations and "commended" the Greek air-force for "responding accordingly".

    US envoy for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, also commented on the incidents, saying he did not think they would lead to a crisis.

    "They are just training exercises," he said from Ankara, where he met with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

    [02] Turkish S-300 claims ridiculed

    By Jean Christou

    WESTERN military experts have ridiculed latest Turkish claims that the defensive surface-to-air Russian S-300 missiles can be converted to offensive ground-to-ground weapons.

    The claim was made by Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Sezgin.

    The Turkish Cypriot newspaper Birlik yesterday quoted Sezgin as warning that should the S-300s be modified for attack purposes, every measure would be taken to stop such an action.

    "We want the problem to be settled diplomatically but if a situation comes up which threatens Turkey, no one can stop us - we'll do whatever is necessary," he said.

    Sezgin said he believed that if Greek Cypriots turned the missiles into offensive weapons, world public opinion would prevent "such a crazy move".

    But according to yesterday's Daily Telegraph in London, Western military sources ridiculed the Turkish claims that the S-300s could be made offensive.

    "It would be like buying a Porsche and trying to convert it to a snowplough, " one said.

    The paper said many experts accused Turkey of exaggerating the threat to prepare domestic and western public opinion for a military strike against the Greek Cypriots.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel also commented on the missiles issue, in particular on remarks last week by Russian ambassador to Cyprus Georgi Muratov.

    Muratov told a TV station that any attempts by Turkey to strike ships carrying missile parts to Cyprus would be a cause for war.

    The comments, which have already been criticised by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, "lacked seriousness", Akbel said.

    "He seems to have forgotten he that is a representative of Russia which is a member of the UN Security Council and that his country's most important duty is to prevent tension in the region," Akbel is quoted as saying.

    He added Muratov's comments contradicted the atmosphere which prevailed at the recent meeting between the Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministers.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said at the weekend continued Turkish threats over the missiles makes their deployment all the more imperative.

    [03] Attack on 'enemy' positions

    THE penultimate day of the Nikiforos exercise yesterday included combined land, naval and air force manoeuvres in the Zygi-Maroni coastal area.

    The scenario provided for the destruction of 'enemy' positions by National Guard T80-U tanks and RMPO-3 armoured vehicles. Greek forces again made their presence felt, with Corsair bombers and F-16 fighters carrying out mock raids against land and sea targets.

    Greek naval vessels were also in the area in support of the National Guard forces.

    Acting President Spyros Kyprianou, watching the war games, expressed his satisfaction with the performance of the combined forces.

    The five-day exercise ends in the Larnaca area today. Greek Defence Minister Akis Tzohadzopoulos is expected to observe the last day, with National Guard parachutists expected to make jumps, weather permitting.

    [04] Praise for Yilmaz from Holbrooke

    THE US envoy for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, yesterday praised Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz amid rising tensions between Athens and Ankara.

    "I was enormously impressed. He (Yilmaz) laid out his government's position with clarity," Holbrooke told reporters after talks with Yilmaz.

    "I will be able to take a very positive view of the Turkish position to Washington when I report to Secretary (of State Madeleine) Albright and President (Bill) Clinton," he said.

    Holbrooke, the architect of the Bosnian peace accord, is on his first visit to the region since his appointment earlier this year as Clinton's Cyprus point man.

    "This trip is not a negotiating trip, because I'm not going to Nicosia or Athens. This is to discuss with the Turkish government their views on a variety of issues, primarily Cyprus," Holbrooke told reporters in Ankara.

    He is accompanied by US State Department Co-ordinator for Cyprus Tom Miller, who will travel on to Athens for talks with the Greek government.

    Yilmaz is also expected to visit London soon but no date has yet been fixed, Britain's envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay told President Clerides in London.

    Sir David said Britain's Minister of State Doug Henderson was also due in Ankara yesterday.

    "I will be visiting (Nicosia, Athens, Ankara) when it's useful, but I haven't made any absolutely firm decision on that," Sir David said.

    Asked by journalists to comment on critical remarks made by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash concerning his position, Sir David said: "The Cyprus problem is far too important to me to deal in terms of personalities, and certainly neither myself not my government feels that way.

    "We are not going to be diverted from the support we re giving to the UN for getting a settlement."

    [05] Soldier fined for attack on tourists

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A BRITISH soldier escaped a jail term in Cyprus yesterday when he was fined £750 for attacking two English tourists outside an Ayia Napa disco on August 2.

    Kings Rifleman Roger Bell, 26, from Liverpool walked from a Larnaca court a free man after the judge decided not to impose a custodial sentence in order to save his army career.

    "I have reached the conclusion to avoid passing a prison sentence and will impose only a fine, hoping he will use this chance that the court is giving him to make amends," said judge Michalis Christodoulou.

    Bell had faced up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm to tourist Barry Ford, 23, and common assault on his girlfriend Claire Harbour, 22.

    But the court decided to fine him £700 for the attack on Ford and £50 for common assault against Harbour. The court could have imposed a maximum £2, 000 fine.

    A visibly relieved Bell said after the court decision that he was happy to see his army career.

    "I'm glad the judge took my army career into account; he could have destroyed it otherwise," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    Any type of custodial sentence would have meant an immediate discharge from the British army.

    The storekeeper with the First Battalion Kings regiment has already been passed over for promotion since the August 2 incident.

    "I didn't know what to expect, but I expected a bigger fine," Bell said. "This is going to hold me back for a while," he added.

    The judge was also swayed by the fact that Bell sent part of his Stg£800 salary to his retired mother and blind father in Liverpool.

    But although Christodoulou believed financial punishment was sufficient he had some stern words for the private.

    "I observed that the accused with no good reason attacked English tourists causing Ford actual bodily harm because he dared ask him why he was urinating in a public place. His behaviour is not acceptable in a civilised society."

    Bell changed his plea to guilty when charges were reduced to causing actual bodily harm and charges of grievous bodily harm against a third tourist Shane Bell, 23, were dropped completely.

    The three tourists testified that up to eight soldiers took part in the beating outside P'zazz disco in Ayia Napa.

    Three other soldiers originally accused of the attack had their cases dismissed by the prosecution, although one other rifleman, Stuart Spencer, 20, had his charges suspended.

    The British forces commander in Cyprus, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Millar, issued a statement yesterday apologising to the victims and condemning the behaviour of drunken soldiers.

    "Isolated incidents such as this are regrettable in the extreme and I pass on my sincere regrets to Mr (Shane) Bell, Mr Ford and Miss Harbour. It has clearly been a thoroughly unpleasant experience for them all," his statement said.

    Millar said the ban on visits to Ayia Napa by the 600-strong Kings Regiment would remain in force for the time being.

    "Loutish behaviour breaches the most basic and fundamental rules of good behaviour and discipline, and is not tolerated in the Armed Forces," he said.

    Millar also suggested that the incident, as far as the bases are concerned, is not entirely closed.

    "The Republic of Cyprus retains jurisdiction in this instance and I am taking legal advice as to the courses of action open to us."

    [06] Policeman charged with having riot gear

    A NICOSIA policeman has been charged with unlicensed possession of an electric baton, an irritant gas sprayer and a number of bullets.

    Officer Andreas Papageorgiou, arrested on Saturday and charged and released on Sunday, has been suspended from duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

    [07] Teacher killed in crash

    A 25-year-old nursery school teacher was killed yesterday when her car was involved in a head-on collision on the Nicosia to Palechori road just past Anthoupolis.

    Police said Despina Savva Kulili, from Palechori, was driving to her village from Nicosia at about 12.10pm when the accident happened.

    The victim's car veered on to the wrong side of the road and smashed into a car coming from the opposite direction, driven by 28-year-old Eleni Onoufriou, police reported.

    Onoufriou was slightly injured.

    Kulili's car was completely destroyed and Onoufriou's was badly damaged.

    [08] Tourists fined for having hash

    FOUR British tourists were yesterday fined £900 each for possession of small quantities of hashish.

    Londoners Stephen Walsh, John Mercy, Gary Taite and Joseph Taft pleaded guilty before Famagusta District Court to possessing the 13 grams of cannabis police said they found in their Ayia Napa hotel rooms on October 6.

    Presiding judge Michalakis Christodoulou said the sentences would have been heavier were it not for the fact that the four had not been pushing drugs, and were only in their twenties.

    [09] Gangsters 'using north to launder dirty money'

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    DIRTY money and drugs are being channelled through the Turkish-occupied north to Europe by Turkish organised crime, officials from Cyprus' Intelligence Services (KYP) said yesterday.

    They told the House Ad Hoc Committee on Crime that drugs from Turkey transit through the port of Famagusta and the airport at Tymbou and are shipped on to Europe.

    Profits are channelled through the dozens of offshore banks and companies in the north or laundered through the 18 or so casinos operating in the occupied area.

    Officials alluded to a shady Israeli company operating in the north and said Canadian authorities were investigating its possible connection to money laundering deals from drugs and weapons.

    They said there were links between Turkish crime rackets, semi-state organisations and the Turkish state itself, adding that terrorist organisations, most notably the Grey Wolves, were also involved.

    And they said economic interests had become so huge as to constitute a potential obstacle to efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem.

    On drug trafficking they said Turkish Cypriots and Turks had been involved in recent drug busts in the United Kingdom. Statistics show that 10 per cent of heroin seized in the UK in 1996 had been shipped there through the Turkish-occupied areas.

    KYP boss Nicos Ioannou said offshore banks and other offshore companies in the occupied north were in the hands of mainland Turks, with Turkish Cypriots nominal shareholders only.

    Mainland Turks set up banks and companies in Cyprus to channel funds from drugs and because they believed Cyprus stood a much better chance of joining the European Union soon that Turkey. They were also involved in the setting up of casinos, he said.

    Asked about smuggling across the Green Line, Ioannou said this mostly involved livestock and fish. Smuggling of weapons was very small he said, adding that smuggling was on the wane - in part because of renewed efforts by British Bases police to fight illegal activities.

    Asked what happens to the Cyprus pounds paid to Turkish Cypriots by their Greek Cypriot collaborators and whether it is laundered, Ioannou said the money usually makes its way to England.

    "We are talking about thousands of pounds, not millions," he said.

    [10] Bent police 'causing enormous damage'

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    A HANDFUL of policemen is damaging the credibility of the force by tipping off suspects ahead of raids, Justice and Public Order Minister Nicos Koshis said yesterday.

    "Their number is very small - perhaps 10 to 15 policemen throughout the island - but the damage they are causing is enormous," he told the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Crime.

    "If we did not have this problem then the police in Cyprus would enjoy the best reputation in society."

    Koshis was careful to distinguish between those members of the force who do it for money, and those who tip off friends or relatives about comparatively minor offences such a planned raid for illegal workers or violation of opening hours by restaurant owners.

    "They see it is a matter of friendship that they have to warn someone who is a friend," he said.

    Koshis was asked to the House committee to account for his statements that there was a fifth column in the police. He made the comments after police tried to raid five bookmakers and found them all closed - because someone had apparently tipped them off.

    "This situation has been in the police for sometime. Everyone knows, only we never admitted it. I made this statement in order to send the message to those who help illegals," he said.

    The minister said that his move had been appreciated by the public who had come forward with information. There was a general reluctance to make a sworn statement, he said, but the information is useful to police.

    Taking a case to court is impossible unless someone is caught red-handed but suspected informers have been transferred, Koshis added.

    Tempers rose when Akel deputy Aristophanes Georghiou said Koshis' statements only confirmed what his colleague, Kikis Yiangou of Akel, had been saying all the time.

    "The problem with Kikis Yiangou is that he sets off a rocket and then pretends nothing happened," Koshis said.

    Georghiou demanded that the minister retract the statement. Koshis said that Yiangou had never once come to see him with information.

    "That's because predecessors and other government officials did not take his warning seriously," Georghiou countered.

    Koshis said he would invite Yiangou to his office.

    "Why should anyone invite Yiangou? It's not a party or a wedding," interjected Rikkos Erotocritou of Disy.

    [11] Drunken mortar thieves jailed

    TWO DRUNKS got away with mortar parts from a Larnaca area National Guard camp in March while the sentries slept, a court heard yesterday.

    Pantelis Minas, 24, from Liopetri, and Andreas Georgiou Kremmastos, 21, from Ayia Napa, were sentenced to 15 and six months imprisonment respectively for the theft of army hardware.

    The Assizes court, sitting in Larnaca, ruled that the two men had not planned the theft and had been drunk at the time. Hence the relative lenience of the sentences imposed.

    The court heard that on the night of March 22, Minas and Kremmastos went out drinking in Ayia Napa and then decided to raid a Liopetri camp. They stole 38 mortar parts which they later dumped in a well in the Ayia Napa area.

    The guards at the camp slept through the raid, the court heard. When the guards woke to find the mortar parts missing they cut a hole in the perimeter fence to make it look like the thieves had sneaked in round the back of the camp, the court heard.

    [12] CA needs independent safety structure - pilots' chief

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways needs to establish an independent structure to ensure its safety standards are flawless, an international expert said yesterday.

    Captain Rob McInnis, president of the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA) which represents 100,000 pilots in 94 countries, said an independent safety structure is fundamental to any airline.

    "Cyprus Airways has a good history and is considered a safe airline. However its pilots and IFALPA have observed certain shortcomings in Cyprus Airways we feel should be rectified," McInnis told a press conference in Nicosia yesterday.

    He also said the provision of a confidential reporting system where pilots can report problems without fear of reprisals is also a necessity to ensure airline safety.

    "Confidential incident reporting is vital, but it will not work unless the pilots have faith in the system," he said.

    McInnis said the pilots could be the company's biggest allies.

    "A pilot who is secure in his job and has the confidence in his employers and is treated as a professional will be a safer pilot," he said.

    McInnis, who is on a two-day visit to the island at the invitation of CA's pilots union Pasipy, is expected to meet Cyprus Airways and Eurocypria management and Civil Aviation authority officials regarding safety and flight investigation procedures.

    McInnis also referred to the recent disciplinary investigation against a Cyprus Airways pilot who, on union instructions, landed in Paphos instead of Larnaca on July 2 during a work to rule.

    "I hope to convince them (CA) to listen to the pilots, and would certainly lobby them to convince them they were wrong in this instance," he said.

    Questioned about the role of politics in CA - the government owns 80 per cent of the airline's shares - McInnis said openness is hindered by political pressure, which makes employees more concerned about their positions than the real issues.

    He suggested that privatisation of the airline might help in this situation.

    "But prior to doing something this radical there should be an effort to see the airline run by aviation professionals, senior executives who understand the aviation business and are not politically motivated," he said.

    He also said the fact the Cyprus Civil Aviation Authority - dictated to by the British equivalent - makes for difficulties.

    "With the Civil Aviation Authority interacting with a foreign authority no one is minding the store and taking responsibility," McInnis said.

    "The safety experts agree that as airlines increase, safety has to be not only maintained but improved," he said.

    He said at the current rate of growth experts predict that in ten years there will be a major air crash every week.

    "This is unsustainable for passengers and pilots," he said. "Pilots have a professional responsibility to speak up when they encounter safety problems. They are the conscience of the airline industry."

    He said flight liberalisation also increases the potential for accidents and incidents. "No is opposed to liberalisation, but precautions need to be taken and minimum standards adopted," McInnis said.

    He added that developing countries account for 20 per cent of world air movements but for 80 per cent of accidents, because of safety oversights.

    "Human error is always going to be with us. The challenge is to contain it, " he said.

    [13] Record haul of points for Cyprus

    CYPRUS had to work hard for Saturday's 2-0 home victory over a resolute Luxembourg side which gave them a record haul of 10 points in World Cup qualifying.

    Despite reaching double figures in points Cyprus still finished second from bottom in Group Five, three points behind third-placed Israel. Luxembourg finished bottom without any points.

    Bulgaria had won the group despite losing 4-2 to Russia on Saturday night. Russia, who finished second will now meet Italy in the World Cup play-offs.

    Cyprus, quite clearly unused to the tag of favourites, laboured to break down the well-organised Luxembourg defence, despite being urged on by some 4,000 fans.

    The visitors could have been in front long before Nikki Papavassiliou opened the scoring 10 minutes from time, but keeper Panayiotou pulled off two very good saves.

    Just after the restart, substitute Alodio fired in a thunderous drive which Panayiotou did well to turn away for a corner. A minute later Panayiotou again came to the rescue, this time blocking Tais' shot.

    The first half had been rather uneventful, with Luxembourg's zonal defence keeping the Cypriot players at a safe distance from Koch's goal. Only once did Cyprus get a sniff of a chance, but Ioannou headed Pittas' cross over the bar.

    The best chance again fell to the visitors, Pittas clearing the ball on the goal-line after a header by Langers.

    Cyprus' build-up was too slow and unimaginative to trouble the visitors' defensive tactics, aimed at securing at least a point.

    They improved in the second half, when the arrival of Okkas, in place of Malekkos, and Agathocleous for Ioannou gave them more mobility and variety in attack. But they still had to wait until the 80th minute to score.

    Engomitis raced into the Luxembourg area and squared the ball for Papavassiliou to slide the ball into the net. While the home players were celebrating, Luxembourg defender, Vanek, hit Pounas and was shown the red card.

    With five minutes to go, Milenko Spoliaric, making his debut for the national side, crowned a good performance with a goal, heading in a cross from Agathocleous. Apollonas' two regular scorers had done the trick for the national side.

    Luxembourg coach, Paul Phillippe, could not hide his bitterness after the result, firing a scathing attack against the Albanian referee, whom he accused of prejudice.

    Phillippe said: "We did not like it when we heard that the referee would be from Albania and our fears proved justified. I was surprised he did not award a penalty (to Cyprus) in the first half, but he would have done if Cyprus did not manage to score."

    A case of sour grapes perhaps?

    © Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail

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