CLAIMS by Diko president Spyros Kyprianou that his telephone is being bugged will be investigated immediately, the government said yesterday, stressing nevertheless that the Central Intelligence Service (KYP) had clear instructions not to tap phones.
Spokesman Manolis Christofides told his daily briefing that, on learning of the claims through the press, President Clerides had asked Justice and Public Order Minister Nicos Koshis to investigate as a matter of urgency.
Koshis will meet Kyprianou at the earliest possible opportunity to collect all the necessary facts to proceed with an inquiry, Christofides said.
And he added: "President Clerides has from the beginning of his term in office given strict instructions for respect of the privacy of communications.
"We welcome clarifications by a Diko press spokesman that the whole issue was not linked in any way with the presidential elections."
The spokesman said that Clerides did not know the contents of any of Kyprianou's conversation or those of any other citizen for that matter.
Kyprianou made the claim that his phone was being tapped in an interview to Sunday's Phileleftheros newspaper.
The newspaper interview ran as follows:
"Q: Have you ever thought that your telephone may be bugged?
A: I don't think (it may be bugged), I know. I try not to handle some very important issues on the telephone, but it is impossible to avoid it completely.
Q: How do you know?
A: I have several indications. A few days ago, I spoke with Tassos (Papadopoulos) on the telephone and the presidential palace was briefed immediately about the contents of our conversation."
The spokesman was asked whether he thought there could be a link between the timing of the allegations and the launch of Clerides' election campaign.
"We do not want to see any other dimensions. It is a serious statement by the second citizen of the Republic. He is referring to a very serious issue which must be investigated. We expect Mr Kyprianou to give all the necessary information," he said.
And he said the results would be made public, because this was essential for a "government in the sunshine".
Asked whether he could rule out whether KYP was bugging telephones, Christofides said: "I categorically state that KYP does not monitor telephones." He noted that if the president's instructions had been disobeyed, then there would be repercussions.
And he said he could not rule out whether "third parties" may have the means to tap phones, adding that the offence was a serious one.
The spokesman was also asked to comment on another section of the Kyprianou interview, in which the Diko leader claimed that foreign embassies wanted Clerides re-elected.
"This is a political evaluation, which I will not comment upon," he said.
Addressing the rally at the International Conference Centre in Nicosia, Clerides said he would be happy to withdraw from politics and leave others to assume office but that his candidacy would be necessary in reaching a Cyprus solution.
He said it was the momentum created for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem and for Cyprus' entry to the EU which had led him to seek another term.
Clerides said that during his term of office, the government had increased international interest towards a Cyprus solution, making it clear that Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash were the ones responsible for the lack of progress.
Opening the rally, Disy's deputy president Panayiotis Demetriou expressed the conviction that Clerides' would be reelected as he has been "successful" and was the only politician who could secure a Cyprus solution.
Party leader Nicos Anastassiades praised the achievements of the now defunct Disy-Diko coalition government describing its five year term as the "era of a social state". He said he was convinced that Diko ministers would be "in Clerides' new cabinet."
Twenty-five-year-old Atef El-sayed Mitwali is recovering under police guard at Limassol general hospital from wounds sustained when he was shot in the legs by a policeman after he allegedly resisted arrest.
On Sunday morning, the Egyptian was singled out in Heroes Square by a police patrol which asked to stop and search him.
According to police, the man reacted by pushing away one of the officers, Andreas Agathocleous, in his attempt to escape.
They claim that, when Agathocleous gave chase, Mitwali pushed him to the ground.
A scuffle followed, in which the officer produced his service pistol to fend off the Egyptian, who allegedly had his hands around the policeman's throat.
In the ensuing tussle, the officer fired his gun, injuring the man in the legs.
Mitwali was rushed to hospital, where he is said to be out of danger.
The policeman was also treated for grazes to his body and a blow to the head.
Police said investigations following the incident ascertained that Mitwali had been staying in Cyprus illegally since August.
The Egyptian will remain under police guard as he is suspected of causing actual bodily harm to a policeman while on duty.
According to a statement the 34-year-old tourist gave to police, she was raped by the man who was taking her to her hotel.
But police said yesterday the woman had first alleged that she had been raped on November 21 at around 10pm, then changed her mind and said the incident took place at 6.30am the next day.
Following a police investigation, CID officers located the suspected taxi driver and brought him in for questioning.
A police press release said the driver had admitted to taking the women to her hotel, but that he claimed he had done so at 9am, and not 6.30 am.
The taxi driver also denied he had any sexual contact with the tourist, police said.
Both the woman and the taxi driver underwent a medical examination at Limassol hospital, but no signs of rape were found, police said.
Further samples were taken for extra tests.
Police sources said no arrest had been made because of inconsistencies in the woman's statement.
Limassol CID are continuing their investigations.
The poll, published by Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris, said only 1.5 per of those questioned opposed EU entry, while just 3.5 per cent refrained from answering.
Eleven per cent of those asked believe Turkish Cypriots should join the EU immediately, while 42.2 per cent think membership should come after a solution, irrespective of Turkey's membership prospects. Another 40 per cent want to join only after a solution and only after Turkey's entry.
Those backing EU membership after a solution are mainly in the 25 to 44 age group, while the 18 to 24 age group mostly believes in joining immediately.
Kibris said the illiterate supported joining after a solution and only after Turkey's membership. Most of the people in this category reside in Famagusta and Kyrenia. People in villages also attached more importance to joining the EU once Turkey had joined, but residents of Nicosia would be happy to join before Turkey.
In the political spectrum, the poll found little difference on the issue between the views of left and right.
However, while 59.2 per cent of the right only wanted to join the EU after the Cyprus problem had been solved and Turkey became a member, this figure fell to 41.4 per cent of the left-wing electorate, which was generally more prepared to join before the motherland.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash again criticised the EU on his return to the island from Turkey on Sunday after undergoing an operation for heart problems.
Denktash said that by accepting the Greek Cypriot application as coming from the legitimate government, the EU had "shouldered the biggest sin".
He said if the world continued to pursue this approach, "there will be no other way but to talk on the basis of two separate states."
However, in a written statement published in yesterday's press, opposition Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat said its would be impossible to have Turkish Cypriot rights and interests accepted by threatening the world.
He said the Turkish side should give up its "zig-zagging policies" and pursue stable and feasible ones.
Talat said the Turkish Cypriots should participate in talks planned by the UN for next year without any preconditions and should continue until an agreement was reached.
A year ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Loizidou's human rights had been violated by Turkey by not allowing her to exercise her right to enjoy her property in Kyrenia.
Loizidou is seeking £500,000 in compensation from Turkey. Markides said the European court would decide on Thursday what damages Loizidou was entitled to.
He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee he had protested strongly to the British High Commissioner, David Madden, both verbally and in writing. The Foreign Minister said he would also be raising the issue with Hannay when they meet in London on Thursday.
Hannay, who is Britain's special envoy on Cyprus, had told Phileleftheros newspaper that the settlers were now part of the Cyprus reality and had been granted Turkish Cypriot "citizenship".
Cassoulides - who appeared before the committee after criticism from some quarters of a lukewarm government response - said any demand that Hannay be replaced would be excessive.
But he said it has been pointed out that such comments were not constructive. By making such statements, the British diplomat was putting restrictions on his own mission.
The issue was brought to the committee after political parties expressed concern in last Thursday's meeting of the House plenary about the statements from the high ranking British diplomat.
Disy former president Yiannakis Matsis, who was the first to raise the issue in the House plenary, said Hannay's remarks brought to question what kind of Cyprus settlement could be expected.
Under the Geneva convention, transporting populations and forcibly relocating locals constituted a war crime, Matsis claimed; but Hannay, without even referring to their number, appeared to accept that the settlers had Turkish Cypriot "citizenship", he said.
Matsis added that he had information there were 120,000 mainland settlers in the Turkish-occupied north, while the Turkish Cypriot population had shrunk to just 50,000.
There was criticism from Akel's Doros Christodoulides - who said the government had not handled the issue of the settlers properly in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe - and from Takis Hadjigeorghiou, who said the government should have written directly to Hannay to protest.
Edek's Demetris Eliades queried whether Hannay could be considered an objective mediator.
And Disy's Stelios Stylianou said that the government's response had not been just lukewarm, but practically inexistent.
"That is a matter of opinion," Cassoulides replied.
The issue is now expected to be debated in the plenary.
Sergei Ziouganov admitted to using a computer with an internet link to secure commercial transactions during June and July. The transactions were then charged to the credit cards of individuals living abroad. Ziouganov had acquired the card numbers by illegally accessing data from various banks.
The court charged Ziouganov on two counts: for illegally purchasing eight compact discs and one computer hard disk from American companies, and for wrongfully charging the items to the credit card of a German woman.
Other charges of a similar nature are also levelled at Ziouganov. The date for his trial has been set for December 16.
ENVIRONMENTAL groups and seafaring unions have criticised the decision by a Genoa court to acquit Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his father Loucas of charges relating to the explosion in 1991 of a Cypriot-registered tanker, the Amoco Haven.
"This is a shameful and dangerous verdict," said the Italian environmental group Legambiente.
"The similarities between the Haven and Moby Prince affairs are astounding," the Italian president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Grazi Francescato said in a statement.
He was referring to the recent acquittal of four men on charges of manslaughter in the Moby Prince ferry disaster off the Tuscan city of Livorno that killed 140 people in 1991.
At the centre of Haji-Ioannou case was the allegation that he and his father kept their ship in such bad repair that it blew up.
The Haven had been carrying one million barrels of Iranian crude when it was rocked by an explosion on April 11 1991, killing six crew members.
Much of the oil is thought to have burned off before the ship sank, though some 14,000 tonnes nevertheless spilled into the Mediterranean.
Prosecutors had asked for seven-year sentences for manslaughter against both father and son.
Also on trial was Christos Doules, former director of the shipping firm for whom prosecutors had sought a sentence of two years and four months.
All three men were facing charges of manslaughter, and intimidating and attempting to bribe witnesses.
Doules was also acquitted, and a civil suit over compensation was thrown out. The judge's reasons for absolving the men will be made public in 90 days.
"After this sentence, so few days after a similar one on the Moby Prince, we can undoubtedly say that Italy is prey to its oil interests," Francescato said.
The WWF said it would ask for a parliamentary enquiry into the transport of oil and dangerous substances in Italian waters.
Italy's Environment Ministry under-secretary said he was "greatly embittered" by the verdict. "The victims, the relatives and the marine environment that were all seriously damaged are left without convincing answers.
According to Lloyds List, seafarer unions have also expressed disappointment with the outcome of the Haven case.
Numast, the union which represents merchant officers, described the acquittal as "depressing", a sentiment also expressed by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
Only by making shipowners accountable for the state of vessels under their control would substandard ships be eliminated, Andrew Linington, head of communications at Numast said.
Even when shipowners were clearly linked with a ship that did not meet acceptable standards "it seems no action will be taken," Linington said.
The ITF said shipowners should be held responsible for negligence.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who also owns the UK-based EasyJet airline, said that due to the tragic nature of the case, the ruling had been "more cause for relief than celebration".
"My main comment is to ask why it took so long to clear innocent people of these terrible charges."
THERE was still no clear indication last night as to who
the Democratic Party, Diko, intends to put forward as its candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.
Speaking after a Central Committee meeting yesterday afternoon, party leader Spyros Kyprianou did specify, however that Diko had ruled out supporting either current President Glafcos Clerides or independent candidate George Iacovou.
But Kyprianou said the party was "at an advanced stage of negotiations with another personality", who the party felt could be successful in the elections. As expected, he also did not rule out his own candidacy.
The mystery personality is widely thought to be Attorney General Alecos Markides, with whom Diko is reported to have been holding talks regarding his possible candidacy.
Markides left the island yesterday for Strasbourg having made no clear statement as to his possible candidacy.
Kyprianou said "the person" with whom the party is holding talks could in his view, successfully handle the efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. All that remained, he told journalists, was to agree on a political agenda with emphasis on the Cyprus issue.
The Diko decision is expected to be announced before the end of next week.
It was Apollonas second successive draw - they were held by Ael the previous weekend - although they should have no complaints about the 2-2 draw. They deserved nothing more, considering how comprehensively they had been outplayed in the second half.
Apoel's performance after the interval earned the new coach Andreas Mouskallis' plaudits. "I want to praise my players for their second half display which inspired me," said Mouskallis, adding that Apoel deserved the three points.
The result once again favoured the table toppers Anorthosis, who saw their lead increase to six points. And Apoel can do the leaders another favour this weekend by beating second-placed Omonia.
In keeping with the tradition set this season, the Apoel board once again had to accuse the match referee of alleged bias because he had turned down two appeals for a penalty.
Apoel's habit of pillorying referees after games they have failed to win has become rather tiresome. No-one, apart from the club's own fans, will ever believe there is a refereeing conspiracy against Apoel, one of the biggest clubs in Cyprus.
On Saturday, referee Tasos Papaioannou was absolutely right to wave `play on', after Ioannou fell on Vata, looking for a penalty. The second penalty claim may have been more legitimate, but after one player tried to deceive the referee, it was understandable for Papaioannou to view Kozniku's fall, under the challenge from Charalambous, as another dive.
Apoel also maintained that the referee should have awarded a foul before Apollonas went in front, for a shove by scorer Georgiou on Timotheou. This was laughable. It was poor defending that caused Apoel to fall two goals behind and not a refereeing decision.
Timotheou was caught sleeping by Georgiou who dispossessed him and then had an incredible amount of time and space to balance himself and shoot past Petrides in the sixth minute.
Apollonas doubled their lead in the 37th minute, the Apoel defence, once again was caught sleeping. They failed to clear a long diagonal ball, Petrides rushed off his line unnecessarily, and the unmarked Vata just had to make contact with the ball in order to score.
In the second half Apoel were unrecognisable as they took control of midfield and pushed Apollonas back. From the first minute they went close, Hadjiloucas heading the ball against the crossbar. On the hour Kozniku pulled one back - his eight goal this season.
Substitute Alexandrou had been on the pitch for only a couple of minutes when he scored the equaliser. With three minutes remaining Aristocleous crossed, for Soteriou to head the ball against the post. The rebound went to Alexandrou who finished clinically from an acute angle.
On Sunday Alki scored their fist victory of the season, defeating Evagoras 1-0 in Larnaca. Yiatrou struck the winner in the 78th minute, to lift his club off the bottom place of the table. Alki were the only side to win at home at the weekend.
Ethnikos Ashias doubled their points in their first ever season in the first division, thanks to a 1-1 home draw against Anagennisis, but returned to the bottom of the table.