|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-27
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Thursday, November 27, 1997
 Court reinstates officers suspected of tortureBy Charlie Charalambous
THREE senior police officers sacked by the government last year following torture allegations had their dismissals overturned by the Supreme Court yesterday.
In a unanimous decision, the judges ruled that the sackings violated the human and constitutional rights of the three officers - Elias Kyriakides, Theodoros Stylianou and Charalambos Taliadoros.
"We have been inconvenienced, but in the end justice shone through," said Stylianou, who was a Limassol CID officer at the time of the allegations.
He and Taliadoros, also a former Limassol CID officer, said they would return to the force, now that they had been vindicated by the Supreme Court.
Former Limassol police chief Kyriakides would not say whether he would return to work, but said he was glad his name had been cleared.
Stylianou, summing up the feelings of the three men, said:
"We've done nothing to be ashamed of. We tried to maintain order and apply the law.
"All the brutality allegations have been disproved."
Taliadoros, however, said all three were victims of persecution and that it was not just a case of simple dismissal. "Our presumption of innocence until proven guilty was violated," he said.
The Council of Ministers kicked the three out of the force in March last year after an independent inquiry found them guilty of torturing suspects to extract confessions while in detention.
At the time, the Cabinet was advised by Attorney-general Alecos Markides that, based on the inquiries' findings, the policemen could be sacked in the "public interest".
There were actually 12 policemen named in the inquiry's report, which covered allegations of brutality between 1990 and 1993.
Markides ruled that eight should be punished, but the cabinet decided that only three should go because the rest were of lower rank and therefore bore a lesser burden of responsibility.
The inquiry, which completed its findings in November 1995, singled out Limassol police HQ as the place where the systematic use of violence and torture on detainees was carried out.
However, the Supreme Court judges yesterday agreed that the cabinet had overstepped its authority in sacking the senior officers, since a criminal court had cleared two of them and that no disciplinary procedure had taken place.
They argued that the policemen had been held accountable for a criminal act that no court of law had found them guilty of.
Furthermore, the judges said, the three policemen were not allowed to exercise their right to defend themselves.
Four years ago, Taliadoros and Stylianou were cleared on brutality charges by a criminal court after an unsuccessful prosecution by the Attorney- general's office.
The court found the men innocent, even though it said there was evidence to suggest that a detainee had been tortured, but not enough to identify the culprits.
The three will now seek legal advice about filing for compensation.
In a reaction to yesterday's ruling, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said his ministry was reviewing the whole issue.
 Pittokopitis air-lifted after minor heart attackA CHEST pain turned into a minor cardiac episode for Diko Paphos deputy, Nikos Pittokopitis yesterday, who had to be flown from Paphos to Nicosia General Hospital by helicopter.
Whilst entertaining a friend at his Droushia family home, the 57-year-old Deputy experienced chest pain at about 12pm and was driven to Polis Chrysochous hospital. From there he was taken to Paphos General Hospital where it was established that he had suffered a minor cardiac episode.
Despite his stable condition, doctors deemed it necessary to transfer him to Nicosia General Hospital for treatment.
At approximately 4pm, he was flown by helicopter to Nicosia and angiograms run at the General Hospital were positive.
Cardiologist Dr. Costas Zambartas said treatment could involve either surgery or a course of drugs.
"We shall certainly encourage him to stop smoking," said Zambartas.
Pittokopitis' condition improved steadily upon admission to the General Hospital and he was able to receive well-wishers. He shall continue to remain under medical supervision whilst further tests are run.
 Clerides stars in Keve showBy Hamza Hendawi
WITH pomp and fanfare, the island's rich and powerful thronged the ballroom of a five-star Nicosia hotel last night for the annual general meeting of the 70-year-old Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve).
But it was not the grey men in expensive dark suits who starred in the glitzy show, but one Glafcos Clerides, who knows a good audience when he sees one.
Greek music composer Vangelis' sound track for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire blasted out of the speakers as President Clerides entered the giant room packed full with hundreds of businessmen, captains of industry, politicians and diplomats.
A beaming Clerides, whose campaign for re-election got off to a flying start with a well-attended rally on Sunday, shook hands, flashed smiles and later gave a 12-minute speech that resembled a pre-election broadcast.
Clerides was in good company. Keve Chairman and former Cyprus Airways boss Vasilis Rologis is known to be an ardent supporter of the president, whose time at the helm has been seen as generally good for business.
"We shall endeavour to enhance offshore activity and establish Cyprus as a business and economic centre in this vital region," declared Clerides confidently.
"We have achieved to a satisfactory degree convergence with the Maastricht criteria to eliminate economic obstacles in our course for European integration," he said. "Our decision to become a member of the EU is irreversible."
Cyprus is scheduled to open accession talks with the 15-nation European Union early next year.
Clerides, however, struck a less lofty note when he called on Cypriot employers and employees to pull their socks up "to adjust to global and local economic circumstances and adopt a comparable attitude."
He said he wanted lower costs, increased production, new trading methods and technological advancement.
Rologis, in a highly unusual request, last week urged presidential candidates not to make the economy an issue in their campaigns so as not to undermine the public's confidence.
Speaking last night, he called for a faster pace of economic modernisation and spoke of the need for golf courses and specialised museums to attract "quality tourism."
 CA union slams 'unworkable' strategic planBy Martin Hellicar
THE BIGGEST Cyprus Airways (CA) union, Synyka, yesterday claimed the airline's new strategic plan was "designed" to put staff on the breadline.
Synyka chief Costas Demetriou said the government, and not the national carrier's employees, should bear the financial brunt of the effort to put the airline on the road to solvency.
"What we want is what governments in other countries do for their national carriers to be done by our government too," Demetriou told a press conference.
He described the plan - presented to the union by CA management on Monday - as "strangulating and unworkable", saying it relied exclusively on pay cuts to achieve cost reductions. Plans to slash pilots' and stewards' pay by 10 per cent, freeze other wages and stop overtime would lead to "primitive working conditions". These cuts would total £6.8 million for 1998, £16 million for 1999 and £20 million for the year 2000, Demetriou said.
The government should inject cash into the debt-ridden airline rather than just guarantee its loans, Demetriou said. And he refuted suggestions that CA employees enjoyed fatter wage packets than other workers in similar posts elsewhere.
To make up for the wage cuts, the plan provides for six per cent of a future CA share issue to be made available to employees at a reduced rate, but Demetriou said this was no compensation.
"The government will make money on the share offer - as shares will be sold to the private sector as well - on the back of workers," he claimed.
The union man also slammed CA for hiring a foreign consultant to produce the strategic plan. "Foreign experts always produce plans that are not applicable to the political and social realities in Cyprus," he said, adding that there were plenty of Cypriots qualified to do the job. He also claimed that unions had not been consulted while the plan was being drawn up and that the plan had cost £300,000 to produce, £140,000 more than official CA estimates.
The strategic plan, championed by CA as the best way to tackle the national carrier's multi-million-pound debt, has been more warmly received by CA pilots union Pasipy. But Pasipy did say they had not seen any cost-cutting proposals yet.
The unions are due to have another meeting with management to discuss the plan on December 2.
 Port costs to be reduced in bid to clinch £2 million dealBy Aline Davidian
AN AGREEMENT to cut port costs was reached yesterday between licensed stevedores, trade unions and the Cyprus Port Authority (CPA), which it is hoped will attract much-needed foreign shipping lines to the island's beleaguered ports.
The agreement was reached in the wake of a recent proposal by a major German-Dutch shipping company to use Cyprus ports as cargo transfer points. The proposal, however, demanded lower port costs.
The company in question ships an estimated 200,000 containers a year, potentially providing Cypriot ports with over £2 million per annum.
In a bid to clinch the deal, the parties have therefore agreed to reduce port loading and unloading costs by 17 per cent, those of licensed stevedores by 10 per cent and Port Authority costs by 40 per cent.
The new prices are to be put to the shipping company by the CPA over the next few days.
The Cypriot port industry has been in dire straits for some time now, facing increased competition from ports in the Middle East, in particular Port Said in Egypt. This operates round the clock and has lower costs than Limassol. Cypriot ports also suffer from a lack of equipment and storage space for containers.
These problems are shortly to be discussed in a high profile seminar on the container shipping industry, taking place in Nicosia on December 8 and 9. This is being organised by the Dubai Conference Division of the Institute for International research.
 Egypt cruises plummet since Luxor massacreCRUISE traffic to Egypt is down at least 50 per cent, local operators said yesterday.
Less than two weeks after the November 17 massacre of 64 tourists and Egyptians in Luxor, local cruise operators are counting the cost of low bookings and cancellations.
"It's not really a matter of cancellations because cruises are not booked up far in advance," said Louis' marketing manager George Michaelides.
Michaelides, who has just returned from the World Travel Market in the UK, said the problem was that foreign tour operators had removed Egypt from their programmes entirely.
He said people were still taking cruises, but "it's very quiet".
"We have Russians, Germans and Cypriots still going," he said.
Michaelides said that although the official position was that Luxor, where the massacre occurred, should be unlisted, operators were taking their business away from other sites as well.
He could not say how long the problem would last, but operators are relieved the killings did not take place before the summer season when thousands take cruises as part of their package deal to the island.
"Like all other incidents, we believe it will go back to normal but it will take longer than usual this time," Michaelides said.
He said the foreign tour operators were adopting a "wait and see attitude".
In the meantime, Michaelides said Louis, the island's biggest cruise operator, would continue its full programme to Egypt and take all the necessary security measures.
In the immediate aftermath of the atrocity last week, New Paradise Cruises had said business would suffer in the short-term but predicted tourist would soon go back.
Paradise executive Nicholas Anastassiades told the Associated Press that travellers through Limassol went through stringent security when they boarded boats for Egypt; within Egypt, their buses are accompanied by armed escorts in front and behind.
In September, Paradise Cruises started diverting its buses to secondary sights within Egypt after an attack on tourists in Cairo killed 10, but tourists grumbled that they wanted to go to Cairo. The tours were back within two weeks, Anastassiades said.
"I feel a lot safer in Cairo than I would in LA," he said.
 Population of occupied areas leaps above 200,000THE results of a census taken in the occupied areas last year are expected to be announced at a press conference today, Turkish Cypriot papers have said.
The papers yesterday quoted the Turkish Cypriot news agency TAK, which was told by the 'Undersecretary of the State Planning Organisation' that the population of the north had risen to 200,587.
A recent announcement by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) expressed concern at the increase in the population of the occupied areas.
According to 1992 figures, the population in the government controlled rose from 505,000 in 1974 to 575,000 at the end of 1990, an increase of 13.7 per cent.
The population of the occupied areas increased from 115,600 in 1974 to 171, 500 in 1990, an increase of 48.35 per cent in the same period.
The conclusion was that the rise could only be accounted for by an influx of migrants to the north.
Now, according to yesterday's press reports, the population there has jumped to over 200,000.
It is though at least 60,000 of the 115,000 original Turkish Cypriots have left the island. If these figures are true, and unless there has been a significant rise in the reproduction rate of Turkish Cypriots, it would mean almost three-quarters of the population of the occupied areas was now made up of settlers. Turkey also stations 35,000 troops on the island.
 Bride dances on without a groomBy Jean Christou
A GREEK Cypriot groom went directly on his honeymoon, leaving his jilted bride to hold the wedding reception alone to the strains of Gloria Gaynor's I will Survive.
In an interview with American TV at the weekend, Greek-American Nicole Contos, 27, and her mother told how London Cypriot Tasos Michael, a 35-year- old lawyer, had stood her up at a New York church and taken off to Tahiti, their honeymoon destination.
Contos, the daughter of a wealthy Greek emigre to the US, said: "I'm hurt and I'm heartbroken, but I still love him and I know he still loves me." The couple met last year on holiday in Greece.
Michael, the son of a Greek Cypriot man who emigrated to the UK in the 1960s, fled to Los Angeles still wearing his wedding clothes and caught a flight to Tahiti. He sent his best man Chris Christou to break the news to his bride and their 250 guests.
Contos was left sitting in the Manhattan church on Saturday, but refused to crumple when she was told the groom would not be coming.
Instead, she went ahead with the $65,000 reception and was the first up on the dance floor when the band played Gloria Gaynor's hit 1970s song I will Survive.
"This was supposed to be a fairytale wedding. Well it did not have a happy ending. There just wasn't a groom. It was not the happiest occasion but I held my head high and I am glad I went through with it. He should be very embarrassed about this," Contos said.
She is still prepared to believe that Michael is just suffering from pre- wedding nerves.
"I do still hope this has a happy ending but I suppose I don't know at this stage," she told reporters. "I think he wanted to be alone for a while to think things over."
However, Michael told journalists on the phone from Tahiti that he was stunned by the amount of interest in him. "I suppose it's because Americans don't have a princess to write about," he said. "I have not got any supermodels beating down my door... I just wanted to get away."
Back in the UK, Michael's family was critical of Contos and all the publicity which was given to the wedding cancellation.
The painted a picture of an attractive, successful man who is popular with the Greek community there.
Michael's younger sister Chrystalla, 27, a stewardess with British Airways, said: "Tasos is a nice guy and wouldn't want to hurt anyone by doing something like this."
She was also critical of the bride for going public.
"I can't believe this woman carried on dancing after what happened. It is so Hollywood," she said.
 Man killed by exploding tyreA MAN was killed yesterday as he changed the tyre of an excavating machine near the electrical power station of Vasiliko which is currently under construction.
According to witnesses, 30-year-old Iosif Porphyriou from Limassol, had been trying to fix the tyre of the excavator since the morning. The tyre exploded, critically injuring him in the chest from the force of the released air. He was rushed to Larnaca General Hospital but died from his injuries soon after.
Police reports yesterday said two other men died in hospital of injuries sustained in earlier road accidents.
Stavrianos Stavrianou, 21, from Limassol, died on Tuesday while being treated at Limassol hospital. He was injured in a car crash last Saturday on the Limassol to Platres road.
Kyriakos Loizou, 70, from Ayios Andreas also died of his injuries after a car accident which occurred on Tuesday on the Ayios Pavlou road in Nicosia.
 Clerides goes back to the House on refugee title deedsBy Bouli Hadjioannou
PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday asked the House of Representatives to reconsider a packet of laws aiming to stop the government from issuing title deeds to refugees.
His request will go before an emergency meeting of the House Refugee Committee on Monday. Unless parties have a change of heart, the fight will probably then move on to the Supreme Court.
The six laws, pushed through the House by all political parties except Disy on November 13, were the culmination of a dogged dispute between Clerides and the parties over the wisdom of giving refugees title deeds for property.
Opposition parties and Diko - even though at the time it still had five ministers in the Clerides government - had argued that the move sent the wrong political messages and risked being interpreted as a sign the Greek Cypriot side was willing to agree to an exchange of property.
When political arguments failed to convince, they voted through legislation to tie governments' hands.
The president's response was to send the laws back for reconsideration on the following grounds:
<li>that they tended to create unfair discrimination between refugees who have already been issued title deeds and those who have not;</li> <li>that they tended to seek to block implementation of part of Clerides' pre- election programme, which, by his election to the presidency, enjoyed the support of the people;</li> <li>that implementation of the pre-election programme had started nearly five years ago and that a delayed effort to block the "final result was not considered politically correct";</li> <li>that the laws create unfair discrimination between refugees and other citizens of the republic;</li> <li>efforts to put restrictions on government spending during the financial year made it impossible for the government to exercise proper economic policy.</li>
The House Refugee Committee will discuss the issue on Monday amid signs that it will stick to its guns. Committee chairman Aristophanes Georghiou of Akel told reporters yesterday he did not think the arguments cited by the president would lead to a change of opinion.
If deputies vote down the President's request, Clerides will have the choice either to abide by their decision or to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
 Refugee housing 'out of touch with reality'HOUSING schemes for refugees are inadequate and proposed increases in housing aid totally out of touch with reality.
The charge, levied by Akel deputies in the House Refugee Committee yesterday, was denied by government officials.
They said there was no need for new government housing for refugees, while the proposed 13.7 per cent rise in housing aid was in line with the increase in the cost of living index and conformed to the long-term practice of adjusting aid to the index.
Officials also spoke of empty houses in some districts and said many others were held by non-approved residents, such as children of old refugees.
Delay in approving regulations made it difficult to evict them, and the only action available was a time-consuming procedure through the courts, they said.
This only had committee chairman Aristophanes Georghiou of Akel declaring that a representative from the Attorney-general's office would be summoned to the committee to explain why it was taking so long to process draft regulations.
At issue was an Akel proposal, based on suggestions submitted by the Pancyprian Refugee Committee (Pep), to raise state aid by some 25 per cent.
The same proposal would raise the income threshold for a refugee to be eligible for a home in a government housing estate from the current £4,400 to £7,200.
A PEP spokesman and Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou argued that the £4,400 limit was totally out of touch with reality.
"The only people who qualify are soldiers or people who rely on the social welfare department for help," Yiangou said.
But government officials countered that there were enough refugee houses to go around. And they said a couple with an income of £1,000 a month would be eligible to state aid.
There was a heated discussion on who was considered to be in possession of a refugee house illegally, with officials referring to relatives of older refugees who have either died or moved to an old people's house refusing to relinquish possession.
On the proposed increase, Georghiou said the committee would try to reach a compromise around the 15 per cent figure. The issue remains before the committee.
 'Bureaucratic delays mean money is not being spent'THE refugee financing agency plans to lend out £7.5 million next year, but deputies are angry that bureaucratic procedures mean sums earmarked for this year have not been spent.
The issue was raised during examination by the House Refugee Committee of the agency's budget for 1998.
The Finance Ministry's Andreas Chimarides said the agency for the equal distribution of wealth was budgeting £7.5 million for housing, professional, educational and medical loans.
It would also issue guarantees for another £7 million - £3.5 million each for housing and professional loans, he added.
Officials from the agency said all the money budgeted this year for housing and 70 per cent of cash for educational loans had been approved. But only 30 per cent had been absorbed in loans for medical treatment or for the purchase of household equipment. The sums for professional schemes was also low (40 per cent) because applications were not well completed.
But deputies, in particular Lefteris Christoforou of Disy, were not satisfied. He said that although the government had generously assigned some £11 million in loans and guarantees for the scheme, only 30 per cent of the money had actually been given out because of bureaucratic difficulties.
"There is a difference between approving an application and actually handing out the money. Unless the money is distributed by the end of the year it will be lost because it cannot be carried forward to next year," he said.
And Christoforou said figures from the agency indicated that only £3 million had actually been handed out to applicants.
And he said that of the 900 applications, 60 per cent had been approved, 30 per cent rejected while in 10 per cent of cases applicants had not followed their applications through.
Officials countered that procedures to process applications took between three and five months, adding that part of the delay was the fault of the applicants.
And they said £2.8 million had been approved so far, with £2.3 million already handed out and the rest in the pipeline.
The cooperative credit bank said that once paperwork was completed it would be able to issue loans of up to £50,000 with government guarantees.
The Housing Finance Organisation said the agency subsidised lower interests for applications it approved. But applicants still had to make a deposit, just like other members. "We do not have the money to lend out without a deposit," a spokesman said.
 Three years jail for growing cannabisTHE Larnaca Assizes yesterday sentenced two men to three years imprisonment for growing cannabis plants.
Father-of-four Kyriacos Georgiou, known as Kakis, from Larnaca, admitted to growing 75 cannabis plants at his farm in the Kiti area. The plants were discovered by police on May 12. A small quantity of hashish was also found in the 59-year-old's trouser pockets at the time, the court heard.
Kakis told the court he had been growing the hashish for an Egyptian who had promised to pay him £6,000 for the drugs.
The other man sentenced was 30-year-old Panayiotis Veggos who was found guilty of growing 77 hashish plants in pots in his Larnaca flat. The court took into consideration that Veggos was a drug addict - he claimed to get through 10 to 20 grammes of hashish daily - and had apparently been growing the drugs for his own use only.
 Man jailed for contempt of courtA LARNACA man was convicted for contempt of court yesterday after he threatened to abandon a hearing and swore at the judge.
Sixty-three-year-old Kyprianos Tsangarides was being tried before Larnaca District Court for illegal cultivation of state land. Tsangarides appeared before the court without a lawyer, as he had done at previous hearings. When the judge asked him if he had any statement to make he announced that he considered the court procedure illegal and refused to be a part of this "crime" being perpetrated against him. He then announced he was "off" and made to leave the dock.
The judge told Tsangarides he was guilty of contempt of court and asked him if he had anything to add before a sentence was imposed for this offence. Tsangarides's response was brief: "Damn it," he shouted.
He was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.
 Bomb hoax against Fanieros clubTHE LARNACA club of attempted murder victim Antonis Fanieros was the target for a hoax bomb attack in the early hours of yesterday morning, police said.
This is the second time police have reported such a hoax threat against Fanieros's gambling club since he was shot there on the night of May 29.
The Aeroporos brothers Hambis, Andros and Panicos are currently on trial on charges of attempting to murder Fanieros. Chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides, already convicted as get-away driver for the attack, has named Panicos as hit-man and his two brothers as architects for the attack. The trial continues on Tuesday.
 Palestinian appeals to Supreme Court for releaseA PALESTINIAN convicted of a bomb attack in Nicosia in 1988 has appealed to the Supreme Court for his release.
Omar Hawillo, 31, was officially released from jail last year after serving eight years of a 15-year sentence for his part in a 1988 bomb attack which killed three people in Nicosia.
He is still in custody at the prison's holding cells because the authorities do not know what to do with him.
On his release, he was sent to Lebanon, his home country, but was turned away because his passport was fake. No other country has been found accept him since.
Hawillo has staged several hunger strikes over the past 15 months to campaign for his release.
Now he is turning to the Supreme Court.
In his appeal, Hawillo's lawyers state he must be released because his detention is illegal, as has been ruled by the Ombudsman and the Attorney- general.
Hawillo was arrested in May 1988 after a bungled bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in Nicosia. A jeep rigged with explosives, driven by Hawillo's suspected accomplice, exploded on a busy bridge killing the driver and two bystanders. Nineteen other people were injured.
 Koshis reassures Kyprianou on bugging claimJUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis yesterday sought to reassure Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou that his phone-lines had not been bugged by government services.
Koshis met with Kyprianou to discuss the Diko leader's complaint that someone was listening-in on his private telephone conversations. President Clerides has ordered police to investigate the claims.
After the lunchtime meeting, Koshis said there was "no way" any state service would bug Kyprianou's or any one else's phone-lines. He did not rule out the possibility that some "third" party was listening in to Kyprianou's calls and said the police investigation would continue.
For his part, Kyprianou appeared satisfied with the assurances he had received. "The information is, as Mr Koshis told me, that a third party might be listening to my phone-lines. We did not arrive at any conclusions but he did not rule out anything," he said.
 Ombudsman says Akamas grazing illegalHUNDREDS of goats from a pen illegally put up on Turkish Cypriot land are decimating vegetation around the Baths of Aphrodite beauty spot in the Akamas, Ombudsman Nicos Charalambous has said.
In a ruling publicised yesterday, Charalambous slammed the Paphos District office for being slow to take action against the goat-herder concerned - with the result that grazing damage continues unchecked. The report notes the 1,100 animals in the illegal pen are apparently allowed to roam freely in the surrounding hills, overgrazing the local vegetation.
Charalambous calls on the Paphos local authority and Agriculture department to take immediate action to remedy the situation by finding an alternative site for the goat pen.
The Friends of the Akamas environmental group - whose complaint led to the Ombudsman's investigation - welcomed the report as a victory for their campaign to protect the remote peninsula.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997