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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, November 6, 1997


  • [01] Clerides gains some time for reshuffle
  • [02] Lyssarides to broaden search for coalition
  • [03] Protests as Turks blast mock missile sites
  • [04] Turks refuse to allow restoration work at Apostolos Andreas
  • [05] Consumers' Association warns of laser pen menace
  • [06] British UN soldier held on suspicion of rape
  • [07] Party leaders express willingness for dialogue
  • [08] Doctors' strike looms
  • [09] Simellides concludes testimony
  • [10] Kilani murder suspect charged
  • [11] Woman reports stolen baby... 48 years on
  • [12] Kythrea refugees march against occupation
  • [13] Two held over prostitution racket

  • [01] Clerides gains some time for reshuffle

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday accepted the resignations of the five Diko ministers but then urged them to stay for a while longer.

    In a cordial procedure at the Presidential Palace, Clerides accepted the resignations, but then bought a few more days before he had to appoint replacements.

    "I have asked them to stay on for a period. There are issues which they have prepared and have to be taken to cabinet to be concluded," said Clerides on meeting the out-going five.

    The ministers of commerce (Kyriacos Christofi), defence (Costas Eliades), interior (Dinos Michaelides), agriculture (Costas Petrides) and labour (Andreas Moushiouttas) will remain in their posts until early next week to solve pending issues.

    The new appointments are expected next week. Until then, the present cabinet will meet tomorrow and Monday to tie up loose ends.

    The delay allowed the outgoing ministers to attend tonight's press conference on the government's achievements and gave Clerides time to ponder on suitable people for the vacant positions.

    "New cabinet members will be appointed for only three months and they will not necessarily come from the ranks of the ruling Democratic Rally party (Disy)," said Clerides, hinting his appointments may cover a wider spectrum.

    Clerides was diplomatic about his true feelings concerning the untimely split.

    "I respect party decisions whether I agree with them or not."

    Following the resignation submissions from the five, Clerides thanked them for their contribution to his administration.

    "I must say that on no occasion did I think it necessary to make a reshuffle concerning the Diko ministers.

    "If I become president again I would be very glad to have them as my ministers."

    They in turn reciprocated the political niceties.

    The president is due to make public on Saturday his intentions for the 1998 elections. Many expect Clerides to announce his candidature for a second term in office.

    [02] Lyssarides to broaden search for coalition

    By Aline Davidian

    EDEK leader Vassos Lyssarides last night doused hopes of an Edek-Diko coalition for next year's presidential elections.

    The veteran socialist politician announced he would be holding discussions with all parties today, except Disy and the Liberal party, to discuss possible alliances in the forthcoming elections.

    The latest round of political horse-trading came as Diko ministers presented their resignations from the government, dealing a final blow to the Democratic party's governing coalition with right-wing Disy.

    Lyssarides said yesterday that the delay in Diko's proposal for an alliance with Edek had led to an impasse. Diko officials only began making serious overtures to Edek last week in anticipation of the final split with Disy.

    The proposal which had eventually came through from Diko, the Edek leader added, was unlikely to bring results in the elections.

    Lyssarides said his new round of contacts "would take place without prior conditions or pre-suppositions and without any specific candidacy assumed".

    The candidate eventually chosen, he added, would have to fulfil "the criteria of capability and uprightness so as to carry out a common programme".

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou last night expressed disappointment with Lyssarides' stance, but did not rule out the possibility of his party co- operating with Edek in the future.

    [03] Protests as Turks blast mock missile sites

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS has made representations to the United Nations over the strengthening of the Turkish forces in the north as hundreds of people there yesterday turned out to watch mock attacks on missiles.

    Hundreds of Turkish Cypriots cheered as Turkish commando forces blew up mock S-300 missile sites during the final day of the Toros military exercises in the occupied areas,

    The attack on the mock anti-aircraft missiles was a message to the Greek Cypriot side, which is planning to deploy the defensive Russian S-300 missiles on the island next year.

    Colonel Bahattin Ozturk, assessing the final day of the exercises, described the results as perfect.

    "All targets were destroyed without error," he said.

    "We can hit the missile sites with planes just as easily," air force Major Salim Oldac said.

    Onlookers, including women and children waving flags, cheered as around 30 Turkish commandos landed from two helicopters and placed explosive charges around four model missile launchers.

    The devices blew up with a loud bang, sending thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

    "This exercise has been a warning to those who could make miscalculations," General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, head of Turkey's land forces, told reporters.

    Turkey has repeatedly threatened to destroy the S-300s if they are deployed on the island.

    A military official told Reuters in the north: "There are different scenarios for destroying the batteries. They can be destroyed by jets or tanks or by special forces. This is just one scenario."

    Turkish F-16 jets staged bombing runs on other mock targets near occupied Morphou, and F-4 planes staged a mock invasion of the coast of the island from a landing craft also used in 1974.

    In its letter of protest over the exercises and overflights, the Cyprus government said Turkish actions during the manoeuvres were a violation of the island's sovereignty and integrity and also violated international law.

    It added the actions also increased tension on the island.

    [04] Turks refuse to allow restoration work at Apostolos Andreas

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE OCCUPATION regime has again scuppered a government plan to renovate the occupied monastery of Apostolos Andreas.

    The House refugee committee heard yesterday that the regime had recently informed the government, through the UN, that it would not allow repair work to be carried out with any government involvement.

    Accounts given by Greek Cypriots allowed to visit the monastery in recent months testify to the remote pilgrimage site's general state of collapse and disrepair. The occupation regime has repeatedly turned down government requests to arrange for repairs to the Karpas monastery and other monuments.

    The committee met yesterday to continue its discussion on the destruction of cultural, religious and archaeological heritage in the north. The "main event" of the meeting - a briefing by Cyprus's Honourary consul to the Hague, Tasoula Georgiou Hadjitofi, on the recovery of priceless artefacts stolen from churches in the north - was held behind closed doors.

    Hadjitofi was instrumental in the recovery of Byzantine mosaics and icons worth about 46 million from suspected Turkish antiquities smuggler Dikmen Aydin in Munich, Germany, in early October.

    Disy deputy Lefteris Christoforou described the recovery as the "biggest find of stolen treasures in the world," but the general conclusion from the session was that it was but a drop in the ocean.

    Church antiquities consultant Athanasios Papageorgiou said there were more than 500 churches and chapels in the occupied areas and it was impossible to know what the fate of all of them was. But, he said, there was evidence of churches being turned into mosques and "worse" - stables, toilets and storerooms.

    "Even the five churches that the occupation regime keep as examples of preservation have had items stolen from them and replaced by newer items," Papageorgiou said.

    Deputies stressed the need to protest such desecrations at the international level, but the representative from the Attorney-general's office warned against "politicising" the issue.

    "Exposing the occupation regime does not actually help in the process of recovering relics," she said.

    The director of the Antiquities department, Pavlos Flourentzou, said the government was working to get an agreement with the US to ban the import of all Cyprus antiquities to the US.

    Committee chairman Aristofanis Georgiou criticised the UN, saying they had failed to act to protect monuments in the north.

    [05] Consumers' Association warns of laser pen menace

    By Andrew Adamides

    LASER pens and key-rings set to be banned by ministers in the UK are still widely available in Cyprus, and incidents similar to those which have occurred abroad have also been reported here.

    The pens and key-rings, which retail on the island for around 13 at toy and novelty shops, project a high intensity laser beam. If shone in the eyes, this can cause serious damage and possibly permanent blindness. Victims of attacks with the lasers in the UK include police and firemen, a vicar, a Midlands bus driver, Oasis stars Liam and Noel Gallagher and footballer Vinny Jones.

    Christoforos Ioannides of the Cyprus Consumers' Association said yesterday that he had recently contacted the Ministry of Commerce over the devices after receiving several complaints.

    He said the ministry had conferred with the health department over the laser novelties and had informed the Consumers' Association that the packaging of the devices would now carry new warning labels.

    However, Ioannides added that since this had been decided, the association had received a complaint from a mother that her son had returned home from school suffering from eye irritation after playing a game in which children shone the laser pointers in each others' eyes to see who could stand it the longest.

    Ioannides said he intended to contact the Commerce Ministry about the matter again today.

    The laser pointers are also being offered as prizes through a Peoplestel competition on Sigma television. A spokesperson for the company said yesterday that there had only been five competition winners, of whom three had chosen the pens: they had all been warned. She added that the competition was set to run until next week, but, in light of the new information, the competition would be reviewed after seeking advice from the Consumers' Association.

    [06] British UN soldier held on suspicion of rape

    By Jean Christou

    A BRITISH soldier serving with the United Nations force in Cyprus has been arrested for allegedly raping a female colleague, it was revealed yesterday.

    The unnamed soldier is due to be flown back to the UK today through the British bases, military sources said, though they added he was not being detained in the SBA.

    "We are aware of the allegations of sexual assault of a female British soldier serving with Unficyp, and the Royal Military Police serving with Unficyp are investigating," the military sources said.

    They added that, according to their information, the soldier would be flown back to the UK today.

    Unficyp remained tight-lipped over the issue, but spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski confirmed that an alleged rape had been reported and that a soldier had been withdrawn from his duties on the Green Line and was being detained.

    "There is an investigation pending by the proper British military authorities about the allegation which has been made," Rokoszewski said.

    He had no further information on the case, he added.

    However, other sources in the UN said the soldier, serving with the British contingent Britcon which monitors the Eastern Nicosia area of the island's 180-km buffer zone, was arrested on Monday morning shortly after the alleged incident took place.

    "The arrest was made on the same day," the sources said, adding that as far as they were aware the alleged rape took place within a UN-controlled area.

    There are 387 British soldiers serving in Unficyp.

    [07] Party leaders express willingness for dialogue

    By Jean Christou

    POLITICAL party leaders yesterday agreed they should respond positively to a UN call for an open-ended dialogue on the Cyprus question after February's presidential election.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan had sent letters outlining his position both to President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Party leaders yesterday outlined their views during the national council meeting which discussed the contents of Annan's letter.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said there was agreement for a new dialogue but pointed out that such a dialogue should be "substantial and productive".

    "We do not advocate talks for the sake of talks," he said, adding that in the reply to the UN Chief, reference would also be made to the negative Turkish Cypriot stance that has hindered progress so far.

    Similar views were expressed by Akel leader Demetris Christofias, who said "our side is always ready for a dialogue", adding that the Cyprus problem could only be solved through peaceful means.

    Christofias also called on the international community to direct its attention towards the Turkish side.

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou said there was no disagreement among party leaders regarding the reply to the UN chief.

    "In my view there was unanimity as far as the reply to the UN chief is concerned," Kyprianou said.

    Socialist Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides said the Greek Cypriot side should avoid making further concessions because it had already gone "beyond the safety net of concessions".

    "A successful dialogue should be based on the will of both sides to contribute in that direction," Lyssarides said. He added that neither Ankara nor Denktash showed any good will.

    United Democrats' leader George Vassiliou expressed satisfaction with the decision taken, stressing the Greek Cypriot side should enter a dialogue without preconditions.

    "Denktash's completely negative attitude should not affect the way we respond to Annan's letter," Vassiliou said.

    [08] Doctors' strike looms

    SPECIALIST state doctors will begin a three-day strike today, having threatened to do so for a month.

    The doctors claim the Health and Finance Ministries knew about the pending strike, but neglected to meet their demands.

    Spokesmen for the specialists said they were striking to demand better working conditions from the Ministries.

    They warned that if nothing was done after the strike, they would stop working overtime.

    Their actions are likely to have grave consequences on patients and hospital wards as the strike includes specialists from all medical fields.

    The chief demand is for specialists to be on duty only every third day and every third weekend. Under present legislation, they must be on duty every other day and alternate weekends. Monthly remuneration of 100 as well as an additional two days off are also being demanded.

    The Ministry of Health is reported to have been in contact with the Finance Ministry, recommending a modification to the appropriate regulations.

    Permanently employed doctors in the civil service have also made demands for better working conditions, but there are no signs at present of meeting them.

    [09] Simellides concludes testimony

    By Martin Hellicar

    "I AM now more afraid than ever," chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides told the Assizes yesterday in concluding his testimony against three Aeroporos brothers accused of attempted murder.

    Father-of-three Simellides - already convicted for acting as get-away driver for the May 29 shooting of club owner Antonis Fanieros - emphasised his fear of the accused in an attempt to lend credibility to his claims that they forced him to join in on the hit.

    "The Aeroporos brothers may be behind bars but they have friends and relations on the outside who could do me harm," the 28-year-old witness said. The Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, deny involvement in the drive-by machine-gun attack in Larnaca which seriously injured 57-year-old Fanieros.

    Police have mounted a massive security operation during the high-profile trial, fearing the notorious Aeroporos clan might try to wipe out Simellides.

    During his ten-day testimony, Simellides has described the three suspects as ruthless and violent criminals who were out to get Fanieros because they believed he had been behind a 1995 gun attack on Hambis. He told the court the brothers threatened to kill him if he didn't act as motorbike rider for the attack.

    He has named Panicos as the man who pulled the trigger on Fanieros and who shot at two officers who tried to intercept Fanieros' suspected hit-men on the Larnaca to Limassol highway shortly after the attack.

    The defendants' lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, has accused the witness of fabricating a story to get his clients convicted. He has claimed Simellides struck a deal with police to secure the conviction of the Aeroporos brothers in exchange for protection, money and a new start abroad.

    Twenty-five other prosecution witnesses are expected to take the stand at the Nicosia court when the trial continues tomorrow.

    [10] Kilani murder suspect charged

    SIXTY-six-year-old Kilani villager Michalis Efstathiou Panis was

    yesterday charged with manslaughter in connection with a brutal killing in his village on October 8.

    Police believe Matheos Christofi, 60, was killed with a meat cleaver. Forensic evidence has supported this, but no murder weapon has been found in the sleepy Limassol district village.

    Panis, who will answer to the charge before the Assizes court on Tuesday, has so far denied any involvement in the killing. He has claimed he was pruning in his vineyard two kilometres away when Christofi was killed on a village street.

    The suspect, who christened the victim's son, has stated the scratches found on his body - which police believe are the result of a struggle with the victim - were from his pruning work.

    Police also say a watch believed to be Panis's was found on the murder scene. Panis has retorted that he never wore such a watch.

    The suspect and victim had a history of long-running feuds, the court heard. Police said the rows were usually over property rights and antagonism between the two had worsened in the days running up to the killing.

    [11] Woman reports stolen baby... 48 years on

    A 66-YEAR-old Limassol woman yesterday complained to police that her newborn boy was stolen from a Limassol clinic 48 years ago.

    According to a police announcement, Koula Christodoulou, from the Kapsalos suburb of Limassol, said she now believed a baby she was told had died eight days after being born in February 1949 had in fact been stolen.

    Christodoulou said her husband was informed by clinic staff five days after the birth that his newborn son had died of heart problems. The mother only learnt of the death three days after this but, she told police, neither she nor her husband nor any of their relatives ever saw the dead baby.

    Christodoulou grew suspicious when she saw a television documentary a year ago which stated that babies had been stolen in both Greece and Cyprus at the time when she gave birth, police said. She is now alleging her son was taken from her and sold by the clinic, and is still alive.

    Limassol CID are investigating the complaint.

    [12] Kythrea refugees march against occupation

    A DEMONSTRATION by Kythrea refugees against the Turkish occupation went ahead peacefully yesterday despite the threat of rain. It was attended by refugees from the greater Kythrea region as well as Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides representing President Clerides and party representatives.

    Demonstrators sung vespers of St. Demetrianus, patron saint of refugees, in the Panayia Evangelistria stin Pallouriotissa Church, near the Mia-Milia checkpoint.

    Cassoulides, in reading Clerides' address, said the president thanked the organisers of the demonstration, vowing to continue the struggle till a solution was found.

    He stated that the government was encouraged by developments on the international front and remained "confidant" that they would "prepare the path for a just, viable and workable solution to our national problem".

    Demonstrators later walked to the checkpoint to hand over a resolution addressed to the UN General Secretary.

    [13] Two held over prostitution racket

    A HOTEL-owner and a truck-driver from Limassol were remanded in custody for five days yesterday on suspicion of running a prostitution ring.

    Police told the Limassol District Court that Anna Christodoulou, owner of the Hellas hotel, and Costas Theodoulou supplied customers for a Ukrainian artiste who has confessed to working as a prostitute.

    The Ukrainian was found in a Limassol apartment raided after a tip-off, police investigator Dimitris Chimonas said. The artiste apparently confessed to being a prostitute and named 60-year-old Christodoulou and 51- year-old Theodoulou as her pimps. The artiste said she worked from 9am to 4pm daily and charged customers 25 for sex, Chimonas said.

    She gave 10 of this money to Christodoulou, the court heard.

    Police found 13 used condoms in the raided flat and eight more in another flat where the artiste said another prostitute worked, the court heard.

    Chimonas said Christodoulou had admitted to receiving money from the Ukrainian but had pointed the finger at Theodoulou as the pimp. Theodoulou is denying all knowledge of the affair, the court heard.

    © Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail

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