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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, November 20, 1997


  • [01] Squaddies 'trashed hotel office'
  • [02] Talking about 'all sorts of things'
  • [03] Pollution forces villagers to abandon homes
  • [04] Michaelides coalition bid falls flat
  • [05] Heavy rains wreak havoc
  • [06] Youths charged with attacking tourists
  • [07] Soldiers in buffer zone stone throwing
  • [08] Refugee title deeds no good as collateral
  • [09] Deputies urge police to clamp down on drugs
  • [10] 'No alibi' for Aeroporos brothers
  • [11] Bases deny protesters were in Akamas during war games
  • [12] Pittas in Halloumi pizza deal
  • [13] Cleaner dies from ladder fall

  • [01] Squaddies 'trashed hotel office'

    By Jean Christou

    TWO BRITISH soldiers were yesterday remanded for five days by the Larnaca court on suspicion of causing malicious damage to a local hotel.

    Carl Towns and Philip Hughes, both 19 and members of the King's Regiment at the British base of Dhekelia, have been remanded on suspicion of trashing the account's office of a hotel on the Larnaca-Dhekelia road.

    Their court appearance came as a fellow soldier in the King's Regiment, Keith Hollywood, 23, pleaded guilty to his part in a spate of burglaries in Ayia Napa earlier in the year. The burglaries involved goods worth 17,000.

    Hollywood will be sentenced tomorrow, while police are still looking for another British soldier from the King's Regiment in connection with the burglaries. He has been named as Paul Walsh, who has been absent without leave (Awol) for several months.

    The latest incident allegedly took place in the early hours of Sunday, police said. They added that another four squaddies were also being sought in connection with the trashing of the hotel.

    British bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne-Jones confirmed that Towns and Hughes had been remanded by Cyprus police.

    He said the two were located and arrested by British Military Police within the bases and handed over to Cyprus police on Tuesday. They had been Awol since early October.

    Wynne-Jones said he knew nothing about another four soldiers being involved in the alleged incident.

    The entire 600-strong King's Regiment travelled to Kuwait last week for military exercises.

    "We will continue to assist the Cyprus police with their enquiries," Wynne- Jones said.

    The court heard that, at around 1am on Sunday, a group of what is believed were British soldiers broke into the accounts office of the Larnaca hotel by smashing a window.

    They then allegedly trashed the entire office, turning over computers and furniture and causing 3,000 worth of damage.

    The break-in was discovered by an employee of the hotel at 5am.

    Police said fingerprints found at the scene matched those of Towns and that both he and Hughes had given voluntary statements.

    [02] Talking about 'all sorts of things'

    By Jean Christou

    THE UN Secretary-general's special envoy for Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, yesterday began a round of contacts on the island.

    Cordovez, who arrived late on Tuesday night, met President Clerides yesterday for two hours but was non-committal on what had been discussed.

    The UN envoy will meet Clerides again this afternoon.

    It is Cordovez's first official visit since his appointment as special envoy. He acted as chief mediator in the two rounds of direct talks between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in New York and in Switzerland during the summer.

    Cordovez was yesterday vague on what he had discussed with Clerides: "I have been talking about all kinds of things," he said after the meeting.

    Cordovez brought a message from UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan assuring both sides of his intention to continue his mission of good offices.

    Present at the meeting were Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Under-secretary to the President Pantelis Kouros and government spokesman Manolis Christofides.

    Cordovez was accompanied to the meeting by UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel and Unficyp Senior Adviser Peter Schmitz.

    The meeting was expected to discuss the latest developments in the Cyprus problem. Cordovez's visit has been described by the UN and the government as "investigative".

    On his arrival on Tuesday night, Cordovez repeated that no developments on the Cyprus problem should be expected until after next year's presidential elections.

    "I don't think we can expect any news from this trip for the simple reason that what the Secretary-general proposed to the two leaders in January this year was to initiate a process of negotiations probably after the elections, " he said.

    Cordovez will leave the island tomorrow to fly to Athens where he will meet Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    He will then fly on to Ankara on Monday to meet Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

    Next Wednesday he will be in Brussels for meetings with EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek.

    [03] Pollution forces villagers to abandon homes

    By Martin Hellicar

    MARI village is to be abandoned because of environmental problems but the government and residents cannot agree on how this should be done.

    The Larnaca district village is suffering the effects of pollution and land- loss caused by massive industrialisation all around it and everyone is agreed that the former Turkish village - now housing a refugee community - is uninhabitable.

    But, as the House refugee committee heard yesterday, residents want the whole community to be moved to a new site, whereas the government is proposing they be re-housed within various existing communities.

    The committee heard the government was offering financial compensation to sweeten the bitter pill of community break-up. But Mari villagers made it clear to deputies they were not happy with this and wanted to stay together as a community.

    Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou alleged the government was against re-locating the whole village because the area that had been proposed for a new site - Ayios Georgios Alamanou Pentakomou - was earmarked for a golf-course development. Yiangou claimed the government were favouring big financial interests.

    Disy deputy Lefteris Christoforou accused the EAC - which is building the new Vasiliko power station near Mari - of failing to deliver on a promise to provide cash to help relocate the village.

    Yiangou said 70 per cent of the community's farming land had been eaten-up by the Vasiliko cement works, Vasiliko power station and other industries. He said water sources in the area had been polluted by seepage from the cement work's fuel store and that atmospheric pollution was also unacceptably high.

    [04] Michaelides coalition bid falls flat

    By Martin Hellicar

    FORMER Interior Minister and Diko vice-president Dinos Michaelides yesterday undertook a personal initiative to try and resurrect the Disy- Diko coalition.

    Michaelides visited President Clerides with a mystery proposal aimed at securing a right-wing victory in the February presidentials. His proposal fell on deaf ears.

    "I considered it my duty to meet the President today to investigate with him the possibility of electing a new President from the first Sunday of the elections," he said after the meeting.

    "I am sorry to say that my efforts did not bear fruit," he added.

    He did not say what his proposal had been but reiterated that Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou was still his party's chosen candidate for 1998. This would seem to indicate Michaelides had proposed to Clerides he abandon his own candidacy in favour of Kyprianou's.

    Michaelides said he had not proposed a "third candidate" for Disy and Diko to unite behind - dismissing the idea that he had suggested Attorney- general Alecos Markides.

    Rumour has been rife recently that Markides might emerge as a candidate to unite Disy and Diko after the recent collapse of the coalition that got Clerides elected in 1993. Markides has admitted he has been asked to stand by persons from various parties but has refused to say whether he will stand or not.

    In a move interpreted as an effort to quash a possible Markides candidacy, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said anyone within Disy not supporting Clerides's re-election would have to leave the party after a party meeting on Sunday.

    "Till Sunday every opinion is welcome, but after Sunday anyone who wants to disagree has the right but must place himself outside the party," he said.

    He said Sunday's meeting would mark the start of the campaign to get Clerides re-elected.

    Anastassiades declined to comment on the possibility of a Markides candidacy, except to deny that this would split his party.

    A clear favourite for 1998 has yet to emerge. Clerides has Disy's support, Kyprianou has Diko's, Edek is backing its leader Vassos Lyssarides, Akel independent candidate George Iacovou, the United Democrats their own George Vassiliou and the Liberals Nicos Rolandis. Various attempts to form coalitions have got nowhere with the result that, as things stand, no candidate is likely to secure a majority vote in the first round of the elections.

    [05] Heavy rains wreak havoc

    THE ISLAND was deluged by heavy rainfall yesterday after several gloomy days of false alarms.

    Strong showers in the early hours of the morning turned into full-blown thunderstorms, keeping the fire department busy in all parts of the island. They received 33 calls to move trees and electricity pylons which had fallen across roads due to the strong wind.

    The area most affected was around Paphos, where several roads were blocked, causing traffic chaos. Two houses were flooded and the fire services had to pump excess water out. Heavy winds uprooted trees and the electrical supply in several villages was interrupted.

    In the Larnaca region, lightning hit the lightning conductor of the airport, causing an interruption in the power supply. Fortunately, the operation of the back-up generator meant the control tower was unaffected and flights could take off and land as normal.

    Trapped cars in the town's flooded streets had to be freed by the fire services while a fallen electricity pylon stopped traffic on the Dhekelia- Ormidia road for four hours.

    Similar problems, though on a smaller scale were reported in Nicosia and Limassol, whilst in the mountains, heavy rain fell steadily on Troodos and hail was recorded in Platres. Visibility in the area was reduced to the minimum by a thick mist.

    Meterological services director, Cleanthis Philaniotis, was positive about the much needed rainfall, stating the precipitation was expected to surpass the November average. Philaniotis said the rainfall was normal for this time of year, adding that "during October and November we (normally) have a lot of rain in the free areas and this is accompanied by strong winds and cold fronts."

    He attributed the current weather conditions to a cold front, predicting little rainfall for Thursday and Friday, with wetter weather on Saturday.

    [06] Youths charged with attacking tourists

    TWO Cypriot youths were yesterday charged by a Paphos court with causing actual bodily harm to two British tourists.

    Cypriots Demetris Kontos and Costas Constantinides, both aged 20, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    British tourists James Curtis, 26 and Lee Morley, 28, claim they were attacked by a gang of four Cypriots wielding sticks on Tuesday morning.

    Both received hospital treatment for cuts and bruises in what they claim was an unprovoked attack.

    Morley and Curtis told police the assault happened while they were taking a stroll along the beach in Kato Paphos with their wives.

    In view of the fact that the plaintiffs are tourists, the Paphos court has arranged for a hearing tomorrow morning.

    The Cypriot youths were released on 1,000 bail each and had their travel documents withheld.

    [07] Soldiers in buffer zone stone throwing

    NATIONAL guardsmen were involved in a stone throwing incident near the Green Line on Tuesday, Unficyp confirmed yesterday.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, five Greek Cypriot soldiers entered the buffer zone close to the Nicosia Municipal market and threw stones at Turkish military installations and cars in the area. No one was injured, but the rear window of a car was smashed, the Turkish Cypriot papers said.

    An Unficyp spokesman said yesterday: "Sector 2 observed and registered a stone throwing incident yesterday (Tuesday). The issue was raised with the National Guard and we consider the matter closed."

    [08] Refugee title deeds no good as collateral

    BANKS appear loathe to accept title deeds to refugee homes as collateral for loans, the Bankers Association confirmed yesterday.

    The controversial government plan to issue title deeds for refugee homes has met with stern opposition from the House, and the uncertainty this has created would seem to be compromising the value of the deeds as security for loans.

    Last week, the plenum passed a package of six bills designed to block the granting of the deeds after President Clerides declined to shelve the scheme following an earlier plea from deputies.

    Clerides then stated he would send the bills back to the House, and contest them at the Supreme Court if deputies refused to vote them down.

    "Would you feel comfortable giving loans on the strength of the title deeds while the whole issue was up in the air?" a Bankers association source said yesterday.

    "For as long as the matter has not been cleared up we have to remain cautious," he said, commenting on reports that banks had turned away refugees seeking loans on the strength of the deeds.

    One hundred deeds have already been issued, and the government has insisted it will go ahead with granting more.

    [09] Deputies urge police to clamp down on drugs

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DRUGS are being moved through Cyprus in containers, but the authorities do not have the means to intercept them.

    This emerged from yesterday's House Ad Hoc Committee on drug crime.

    "Police believe, to a large extent, that drug trafficking is done by containers but it's very difficult to detect because there are 400.000 or maybe more containers moved through Cyprus," said Committee chairman Doros Theodorou after a closed meeting.

    Theodorou said he was shocked to discover that containers could be effectively checked for drugs with the use of special scanning equipment.

    "Unfortunately the relative authorities haven't been provided with the necessary high-tech equipment and we call on the government to comply with a demand from this House to purchase the necessary equipment."

    The Edek deputy was speaking after a two-hour closed session with security officials to discuss classified information on drug-related crime.

    But he said deputies were agreed after the meeting that police were not doing enough to crack down on pubs and discos where drugs were sold and used.

    "There are not enough measures for close surveillance on such places and we will look at changing legislation to stop minors going to discos."

    The committee also wants to get tough on those who cultivate cannabis plantations because the courts are failing to mete out harsh sentences.

    "There is a phenomena of courts giving light sentences to persons found growing large cannabis plants because they give the excuse that it's for their own us.

    "How can 150 plants be for someone's own personal use?"

    Theodorou added that the committee would study a proposal to set a threshold of a fixed number of cannabis plants above which claims of private use would automatically be rejected.

    "We have received statistics today which will help us stamp out drug crime, " he said.

    [10] 'No alibi' for Aeroporos brothers

    THREE Aeroporos brothers on trial for the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros have no alibi for the night of the attack, police told the Assizes yesterday.

    Following a request from defence counsel Efstathios Efstathiou, the Larnaca central police station log-book for the night of May 29 - when Fanieros, 57, was gunned down at his Larnaca gambling club - was presented to the court. Efstathiou had told the court the book recorded alibis for the Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25. But police investigator Theodoros Tziambos said this was not so.

    Father-of-three Tassos Simellides - serving a nine-year sentence for acting as get-away driver in the attack - has testified that Panicos was the hit- man while his brothers planned the shooting.

    The Aeroporos brothers have denied involvement in the attack, which 28-year- old Simellides described as a gangland hit.

    The court also heard testimony from police ballistics expert Andreas Nicolaides. He said the 30 bullets aimed at Fanieros and the two bullets shot at a police patrol car pursuing the suspected hit-men after the attack came from the same gun - a Kalashnikov police recovered with Simellides's help and which he said was used in the attacks.

    [11] Bases deny protesters were in Akamas during war games

    THE British bases yesterday denied claims by anti-exercises protesters that live manoeuvres had begun while demonstrators were in the area.

    "No live firing took place with anyone on the range that should not have been there," bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne-Jones told the Cyprus Mail.

    Wynne-Jones was responding to claims by anti-bases protestors yesterday that they had infiltrated the exercises in the Akamas on Monday.

    Limassol deputy Marios Matsakis and anti-bases lobbyist Christos Andreou yesterday showed journalists videoclips of themselves getting off a boat near the firing range.

    They said they got within 100 metres of the exercises despite the presence of various forms of detection equipment, including dogs, being used by the military and the police.

    Both men complained that local police had given the go-ahead for the exercises, despite knowing that there were demonstrators in the area and that they did not appear to care that they may have been in danger from live firing.

    The exercises which began on Monday will end tomorrow. They are likely to be the last British bases exercises in the environmentally sensitive peninsula as a new spot near Akrotiri has been earmarked for future manoeuvres.

    [12] Pittas in Halloumi pizza deal

    PITTAS Dairy Industries is taking a slice of the Pizza Hut action with the announcement that it has signed an exclusive deal to supply halloumi cheese to be used on a new variety of pizza.

    The international restaurant chain is introducing the "Vegetarian Supreme with Halloumi" to 163 outlets across the Middle East. If the pizza is successful, it might be introduced to all the chain's restaurants worldwide.

    The traditional Cyprus delicacy is currently making its appearance on pizzas in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Quatar, Jordan and Oman.

    There are also plans to introduce it to Cyprus, where Pittas already supplies Pizza Hut with feta cheese for its pizzas.

    Halloumi, which is made with goat's milk, hit the headlines recently with court battles to keep the name Halloumi registered to the Cypriot-made product. This prevents it from being applied to European-produced copycat cheese, made with cow's milk.

    [13] Cleaner dies from ladder fall

    A 60-YEAR-old woman died yesterday after a work accident.

    Maria Stylianou from Kakopetria was cleaning from a ladder at a house in Akaki when she slipped and fell four feet to the ground, suffering injuries to the head. The accident happened at around 1pm.

    She was taken to Nicosia General Hospital where doctors pronounced her dead.

    Police are investigating the cause of the fall.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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