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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, November 28, 1997


  • [01] Cassoulides' olive branch on EU
  • [02] Loizidou hopeful Turkey will pay damages
  • [03] MPs bicker over Hannay remarks on settlers
  • [04] New plunder hoard found?
  • [05] Census shows Turks moving to the north
  • [06] Government 'must comply with police torture ruling'
  • [07] Engineer killed in mid-air collision
  • [08] Inkombank signs $75 million loan agreement
  • [09] Interest rate cut on the cards
  • [10] Ports cost-cutting accord `may not be enough'
  • [11] Sufferers fall victim to bone marrow donor feud
  • [12] New guidelines planned for health treatment abroad
  • [13] MP 'stable'
  • [14] Fruit imports may be taxed
  • [15] Runaway tractor injures farmer
  • [16] Man pleads not guilty to killing
  • [17] Club owner arrested as pimping suspect
  • [18] Fred-TV aims to attract more than the fortunate few
  • [19] Bank calendar focuses on water wildlife
  • [20] Heritage protest to UN
  • [21] Clerides to mark Israel's 50 years
  • [22] Can your wallet make space for 54,000?

  • [01] Cassoulides' olive branch on EU

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday said Cyprus had no objection to entering European Union accession talks at the same time as Turkey.

    "Cyprus has no objections to sitting at the same table that Turkey is sitting at," Cassoulides said in London. He was speaking just hours before the end of an inconclusive meeting between British and Greek Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Costas Simitis on how the EU should treat Turkey.

    Cassoulides' comments would appear to distance Cyprus from Greece's insistence that Turkey be barred from EU accession talks. Greece is the only EU member opposing Turkey's participation in entry talks scheduled for early next year.

    Simitis said after meeting Blair that he had disagreed with the British premier's desire for Turkey to be included in accession talks, Reuters news agency reported.

    Cyprus has been included in the talks, prompting Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to threatened to boycott future Cyprus settlement talks and integrate the self-declared 'TRNC' with Turkey if the talks go ahead.

    Cassoulides emphasised that Cyprus's entry into the EU would be a gradual process, spanning four or five years. "We should not be asking for a blank cheque from the European Union," he said.

    He also made an apparent attempt to offer an olive branch to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday, saying the government would call off the planned delivery of Russian S-300 ground-to-air missiles if productive talks got under way.

    "We are not foolish enough to be landing missiles and deploying them if there is a dialogue on the demilitarisation of Cyprus," he said.

    He hinted that the government had other ways of enticing the Turkish side to the negotiating table. "We have many concessions up our sleeve," he said, without elaborating.

    [02] Loizidou hopeful Turkey will pay damages

    THE European Court of Human Rights yesterday reserved its final decision on whether Turkey should pay a Greek Cypriot compensation for occupying her land since 1974.

    The court has already ruled that Turkey violated Titina Loizidou's human rights by denying her access to her property in Kyrenia since the invasion. After the landmark decision last December, Loizidou decided to seek damages from Turkey.

    Her lawyer, Achilleas Demetriades, said after yesterday's final compensation claim hearing that European Commission President Stephan Trechsel had told the court Turkey should pay 100,000 in pecuniary damages and 20,000 in moral damages.

    "We are asking for 621,900 in damages, plus costs, and an equal amount in moral damages," Demetriades told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

    He said these figures were based on the 1974 value of the land Loizidou owns in Kyrenia, plus a 12 per cent annual rise in its value.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides appeared for the government at yesterday's hearing in Strasbourg.

    The court heard that Turkey had sent a letter sent to the court on June 18 in an attempt to have yesterday's hearing postponed "until a political solution is found for the Cyprus issue." The request was turned down.

    Loizidou told CNA last night she was delighted the hearing had gone ahead and was hopeful the court would award her damages.

    The court's final decision is expected in April or May.

    The court is not obliged to award Loizidou damages: it could decide last December's ruling is compensation enough for her.

    [03] MPs bicker over Hannay remarks on settlers

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    POLITICAL parties last night blasted Britain's Sir David Hannay for his comments on Turkish settlers - but bickered angrily among themselves on who to blame.

    A lively debate in the House of Representatives saw the opposition slamming the government and a spirited defence from Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades.

    The ghost of the 1992 Ghali Set of Ideas, particularly a proposal for a census on both sides of the Green Line, also cast a long shadow over the three-hour debate.

    And despite moments of humour, the acrimonious exchanges forebode a bitter election campaign ahead.

    The debate followed an interview by Hannay, Britain's special envoy to Cyprus, to Phileleftheros newspaper arguing settlers were now part of "reality" and have been given Turkish Cypriot 'citizenship'.

    The government has already protested to British High Commissioner David Madden, and Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides last night raised the issue in London with Hannay himself.

    In response to the outcry, the Foreign Office issued a statement yesterday clarifying that Hannay's remarks did not represent "a shift in Britain's policy of not recognising the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'."

    But deputies, having discussed the issue in committee at the proposal of former Disy president Yiannakis Matsis, decided on a full-fledged debate in the plenary session. This, they said, would make clear their refusal to accept any pressure or settlement which contains unacceptable conditions such as the continued presence of the settlers.

    But there the wall of unity seemed to crack. Diko President Spyros Kyprianou said a retraction was called for. Talk of 'Turkish Cypriot citizenship' was like proposing a solution based on two political entities, he said.

    In a veiled reference to President Clerides' argument that his term has seen an increase in international interest in the Cyprus problem, Kyprianou queried whether this interest was not directed towards "closing" the issue.

    Edek President Vassos Lyssarides said that down the years the Cyprus government has failed to take a firm stand on the settlers and other important policy issues, thereby sending the wrong message to the international community.

    Akel's Demetris Christofias said Hannay's statements were doubly worrying. "On the one hand they leave the settlers on the island, on the other they promote indirect recognition of the breakaway state," because only a state can grant citizenship, he said.

    He accused Clerides of using conflicting terms - 'settlers' and at other times 'migrants' - in letters to the UN, and said the response to Hannay's comments had been lukewarm.

    The United Democrats' George Vassiliou spoke in similar vein, saying the Greek Cypriot side should have agreed to a census, thus blocking Turkey's expansionist aims. This was naive, Lyssarides interjected.

    Disy's Anastassiades said the government had taken several correct steps on the Cyprus problem, and accused Akel of "sterile opposition".

    Diko deputy Alexis Galanos said the House had turned the debate into election wrangling and proposed that it approve a resolution to be sent to the British House of Commons.

    Independent deputy Marios Matsakis was more scathing. "I take my hat off to Hannay. He knows us well. With just a few words he has managed to turn us against each other," he said.

    [04] New plunder hoard found?

    GERMAN police yesterday discovered what is believed to be another hoard of church mosaics plundered from churches in the occupied areas.

    A government announcement said the treasures had been confiscated and would be examined by a local expert who was on his way to Germany to determine their authenticity. No further details were available.

    In October, German police seized a massive haul of Cypriot ecclesiastical treasures from a suspected Turkish smuggler.

    [05] Census shows Turks moving to the north

    THE TURKISH Cypriots said yesterday that at least 15 per cent of people living in the north are mainland Turks.

    "The census shows that of the 200,587 total population, 30,702 are Turkish citizens," Ahmet Zeki Bulunc of the 'Northern Cypriot Planning Organisation' told reporters.

    Since the 1974 invasion, tens of thousands of mainland Turks have settled in the self-declared state in the occupied north.

    The Cyprus government says this is a deliberate attempt to alter the island's demography.

    The head count showed that only 137,398 of the people living in the north had been born on the island.

    Most of the 27,062 Turkish Cypriots not born in Cyprus are thought to be mainland Turks who have taken the relatively simple step of taking Turkish Cypriot 'citizenship'.

    Another 5,425 people were of other nationalities.

    There were 104,000 Turkish Cypriots on the island in 1960 when it gained independence from Britain.

    The census, carried out in December 1996, did not include the 30,000 Turkish troops stationed in the north.

    The Turkish Cypriots had previously declined to give a breakdown of the number of Turkish citizens in the north compared with Turkish Cypriots.

    A 1994 census by the government showed the Greek Cypriot population to be 623,000.

    [06] Government 'must comply with police torture ruling'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE GOVERNMENT has no option but to comply with a Supreme Court decision overturning its sacking of three top policemen in connection with allegations of suspects being tortured, the attorney-general said yesterday.

    "The state has an obligation to conform with the court ruling," said Alecos Markides, speaking from Strasbourg.

    "This is what we mean when we talk about the rule of law."

    But he stressed that Wednesday's decision did not mean the torture of suspects was not carried out by members of the police force.

    Government Spokesman Manolis Christofides, in the first official response to the Supreme Court ruling, said the cabinet had acted in good faith and that no one was to blame.

    He was referring to Markides who had consulted the cabinet on the sackings. In March 1996 Markides advised the cabinet that it could sack three senior policemen involved in the torture allegations, based on the findings of an independent inquiry.

    "Let's not forget the aim. An international body had accused Cyprus of unacceptable torture methods on citizens at police detention centres. It was an issue that everyone wanted to clear up," Christofides said.

    On Wednesday the Supreme Court said the cabinet had no authority to fire Elias Kyriakides, Theodoros Stylianou and Charalambos Taliadoros.

    Kyriakides was Limassol police chief and the other two high-ranking CID officers in the town at the time the torture allegations were made.

    The judges agreed the sackings were unjustified because a criminal court had already cleared Taliadoros and Stylianou, and no disciplinary proceedings were carried out.

    Markides acknowledged that the Supreme Court did not adopt his own interpretation of a law relating to cabinet authority.

    He believed, in view of the torture claims, that the police officers could be fired because of exceptional circumstances.

    But this week's Supreme Court judgment said this was tantamount to presuming the officers were guilty until proven innocent - which was an infringement of their human rights.

    All three were sacked after an inquiry concluded that systematic torture of detainees took place at Limassol police HQ. It named the officers as being involved.

    "The question of torture and those responsible for it is a non-existent issue," Taliadoros said yesterday.

    He and his two colleagues are demanding their immediate reinstatement on the force.

    [07] Engineer killed in mid-air collision

    A CYPRUS-based British RAF engineer has been killed in the US when his single-engined plane crashed through the roof of a house after a mid-air collision.

    Mark Francis from Swansea was in the US for training. He was flying a leased Cessna 176 and coming to land at an airfield near San Diego in California when his aircraft collided with a Cessna 156 piloted by a student flyer and his instructor. The accident happened on Tuesday.

    Francis' aircraft broke apart and the engine crashed through the roof of an empty house, landing in the kitchen, reports from the US said. The fuselage and cockpit hit the edge of the roof and crashed in the back garden.

    The plane's tail fell two streets away. The other pilot had minor injuries as he landed on a nearby street.

    A man who was working in his garden at the time of the collision said: "I heard a big, loud sound and looked up and I had to run because the tail was falling right towards me."

    A British bases spokesman said yesterday they had no further information to add to reports already published about the tragedy.

    [08] Inkombank signs $75 million loan agreement

    By Hamza Hendawi

    INKOMBANK, one of six Russian offshore banks operating here, has signed a $75 million-loan agreement with a syndicate of 29 leading international banks. The money will be used to provide trade finance for the Limassol- based bank's corporate clients and reliable businesses.

    The bank said yesterday the loan agreement was repayable over a 12-month period with a four per cent interest above the London Interbank Offered Rate, better known by its acronym LIBOR.

    The loan, which takes to $267 million the total insecure loans borrowed so far by Inkombank on the international market, is likely to be a watershed in the island's relentless drive to secure its place as the world's gateway to doing business with Russia and enhance its standing as a key regional offshore centre. Cyprus is home to a 30,000-strong Russian community.

    In addition to the six Russian banks in Cyprus, other offshore units on the island are doing business with Russia.

    The weekly newspaper Financial Mirror said on Wednesday that the Credit Suisse First Boston Bank has booked a staggering $6.6 billion of its investments in Russia through its offshore unit in Cyprus.

    There has been no word from the bank on the newspaper's report.

    Established in 1988, Inkombank is one of Russia's five largest banks, and yesterday's statement said the latest loan deal would "strengthen the Russian economy and grant Russian enterprises access to international financial resources".

    Russian investments in Cyprus are the fourth largest outside the former Soviet Union after the United States, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Cypriots are also among the top investors in Russia.

    Last October, Cyprus hosted a seven-day conference on investment in southern Russia attended by scores of local businessmen and others from Greece and Italy.

    "I think 25 to 30 of the more than 200 projects tabled at the conference represented exceptional opportunities," Alex Christofides of the Cyprus Development Bank, told the Cyprus Mail this week.

    Marios Eleftheriadou, CIS sales manager at Nicosia's International Merchandising Centre, said Cyprus was being used by hundreds of Russian businessmen as a forward centre from which they are developing markets in the Middle East and Africa.

    "It is very difficult to make such contacts in Russia. Cyprus is also a place to meet potential clients since some people are afraid to go to Russia because of the reports of crime, the Mafia and the poor infrastructure there," Eleftheriadou told the Mail.

    [09] Interest rate cut on the cards

    By Hamza Hendawi

    A CUT IN commercial interest rates by half a percentage point is expected to be announced soon, market analysts said yesterday.

    "There is a lot of liquidity. The banks have a lot of money and no one is borrowing. When this happens, interest rates are cut," Lambros Panayiotides of CLR Stockbrokers, one of the island's top brokerages, told the Cyprus Mail. "The cut will be by a half percentage point like the last one," he said.

    Panayiotides and other market analysts could not say exactly when a cut will be announced, but appeared to agree it will come sooner rather than later.

    "The demand for lending is down because of the economic slowdown," said Yannis Tirkides, a top economist with the Popular Bank. "We are in a recession and things will get better in 1998, but the recession will not end."

    Earlier this week, the Central Bank sent the Association of Commercial Banks a letter inviting it to meet on December 17 to discuss "credit policies in 1998", according to Takis Pantzaris, the association's chairman.

    "There is excess liquidity," Pantzaris said yesterday. "But I don't think there is a real need for a cut at present."

    "Anyway, I don't see that any change in interest rates could take place before the December 17 meeting," he added.

    No comment was immediately available from the Central Bank, but a cut in commercial interest rates should, at least in theory, inject life into business activity by making borrowing cheaper.

    Lower interest rates on deposit accounts should also encourage investors to search for more attractive alternatives such as equities or government bonds for their savings.

    Interest rates on deposit accounts were reduced by a half percentage point to 6.5 per cent in March, while the rate on lending was similarly cut in July. It now stands at 8 per cent. The cuts came into force on different dates to spare the banks incurring possible losses as a result.

    A ceiling of nine per cent on interest rates has been in force since 1944, but this is destined to disappear as the island prepares to open accession talks with the European Union early next year.

    Already, anticipation of a cut in interest rates is seen as partly responsible for a substantial increase in the value of shares traded in the stock market this week, with Tuesday hitting nearly 750,000 - nearly twice the per session average seen so far in 1997.

    Most of the trade, however, is concentrated on bank equities.

    Beside the excess liquidity, partly caused by the economy's slowdown, the analysts saw recent cuts in yields on government bonds as a further indication that commercial interest rates are ripe for a cut.

    They said the six issues made by the Central Bank so far this year have shown a systematic decline in yields. The last one, with a 10-year maturity and made on November 14, has a yield of under 7 per cent. Government bonds have been traded on the Cyprus Stock Exchange since April.

    Borrowing abroad, often a cheaper prospect than borrowing at home, is stringently regulated by the Central Bank and requires a special permit.

    "The government should allow interest rates to float and the ceiling on interest rates must be removed," said Tirkides of the Popular Bank.

    [10] Ports cost-cutting accord `may not be enough'

    By Jean Christou

    AN AGREEMENT to cut port costs is a step forward but may not be enough to save the troubled sector, Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) Chairman Dinos Erotokritou said yesterday.

    Commenting on the decision reached between the licensed stevedores, trade unions and the CPA, Erotokritou said all sides were still talking - and he hoped a better deal could be reached. "Things are going well," he said.

    Wednesday's deal came in the wake of the possibility of Limassol port luring a major German-Dutch shipping company which could bring in some 2 million a year in badly needed revenue.

    It was agreed to reduce port loading and unloading costs by 17 per cent, those of licensed stevedores by 10 per cent, and CPA costs by 40 per cent.

    "The reductions were made but whether they are competitive enough or not, I do not know," Erotokritou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Shipping Agents' Association president Lefteris Kouzoupas said the parties had also agreed the port would operate on a round-the-clock basis on normal civil-servant overtime rates as opposed to the special rates which have applied until now. This would be an interim step, he said.

    Kouzoupas agreed with Erotokritou's evaluation that there is room for further cost reductions "provided we improve the way we work".

    "We were most encouraged by the understanding shown by all parties that unless we collaborate to reduce costs and work more effectively with no industrial action we could lose our customers," Kouzoupas said.

    Increased competition, particularly from Egypt where costs are lower and ports operate around the clock with little disruption, has taken its toll on the island's transshipment industry.

    Several of the world's largest shippers, such as Cosco and Evergreen have pulled out of Cyprus in the past five years.

    The chance to reverse the trend has come with the interest shown by the German-Dutch outfit which could bring in 200,000 containers a year for transshipment.

    Erotokritou said the island's offer to the company must be submitted by December 10 while Kouzoupas said they hope to finalise the deal with unions and stevedores between December 5 and 10.

    Meanwhile the critical condition of the container shipping industry in the region will be the subject of a high-profile seminar in Nicosia next month.

    The two day conference on Container Shipping on December 8 and 9 is being organised by the Dubai Conference Division of the Institute for International research (IIR).

    [11] Sufferers fall victim to bone marrow donor feud

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    WHY IS an island of 600,000 duplicating precious resources in the search for bone marrow donors? This question was put by deputies in the House Health Committee yesterday, but there appeared to be no clear answer to it.

    At issue was the fact Cyprus has ended up with two bone marrow donor banks - one set up at the Paraskevaidion in 1994 and the second at the newly- established Karaiskakion.

    Both said they had nothing against each other and would be able to co- operate. But the 90-minute debate also saw exchanges over experience and costs.

    It had Costas Eliades of the Patients' Support Movement noting that feuding was counter-productive because it upset sufferers. He also called for rational use of resources, and added: "I wonder why we did not build on existing resources and infrastructure?"

    United Democrats leader George Vassiliou had a similar query. Why had the Health Ministry not first tried to bring the two groups together to discuss the possibility of joint action, before opting to back the Karaiskakion?

    Replies from the Health Ministry will be submitted in writing, but an official present yesterday said the ministry had been persuaded the Paraskevaidion could not build up a donor bank as effectively as a voluntary drive by the other movement. The Paraskevaidion said it could have coped - provided it was given help.

    The issue came before the Health Committee after complaints by the Paraskevaidion of unfair discrimination by the government. Its director George Kyriakides said he had written on several occasions to the Health Ministry asking for help to pay the costs of running the bank.

    But he said he received no reply, and later found out the ministry had decided to subsidise the Karaiskakion, which is only in the process of being set up.

    For Kyriakides this was unfair discrimination against the Paraskevaidion, which has links with banks abroad and access to four million donors. The centre has already carried out searches for some 1,530 non-Cypriots and 30 Cypriots, for whom three donors were found, he said.

    The other side painted a different picture. Karaiskakion chairman Efstathios Efstathiou said theirs was a voluntary non-profit organisation set up to meet the very real need of establishing a bank with some 20,000 donors, after it was established that the Paraskevaidion could only process 10 to 15 donors at a time. Volunteers would be tested for free - whereas the Paraskevaidion had charged up to 90, he said. Capacity was for up to 100 donors a week, and the centre was linked to England's Anthony Noland Bone Marrow Trust in England, with access to a network of 3.5 million donors.

    Not true, countered Kyriakides and other scientists. No-one had had to pay (except in one instance in the early 1990s when the centre was not yet properly established). And had the Paraskevaidion been given the aid it too could process an equal number of voluntary donors.

    [12] New guidelines planned for health treatment abroad

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    NEW GUIDELINES and income criteria are planned to regulate who qualifies for free medical treatment abroad.

    But it remains unclear whether the government will agree to deputies' proposals to incorporate the guidelines into law.

    The issue was raised in the House Health Committee yesterday, with deputies backing a call from the Heart Patients' Association for a new law stipulating who is entitled to free medical treatment abroad.

    There will also be clear income criteria setting out how high a subsidy should be given to more well-off patients who choose to go through the government system.

    The issue was raised by Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides, who said that although he recognised the good intentions of all sides, it was essential to legislate to ensure equal treatment for everyone - irrespective of who they know.

    "We must get rid of the suspicion that criteria are not fair," he said, adding that a bill drafted by the Heart Patients' Association could serve as a basis for a new law.

    Pavlos Dinglis, whose association drafted the bill, said that over the past few years heart patients were being asked to contribute sums ranging from 500 to 2,000 to their medical treatment abroad.

    He said both the attorney-general and the ombudsman had upheld his association's complaint over the system. And he said the draft bill would set clear guidelines - anyone with an income of below 500 a month would be eligible. Others would have to pay according to their income.

    Dinglis said Health Minister Christos Solomis had told him the government had similar plans. He said Solomis did not appear to disagree with the idea of pushing the guidelines through the House of Representatives.

    Christos Eliades of the Movement for the Rights of Patients came out in support of the proposal. But he said that it should also include a right of patients to choose where to go, and procedures to ensure decisions are taken speedily.

    Eliades said he knew of cases in which patients who did not know people in high places were shunted from one department to the other, or forced to wait for a decision.

    This was denied by the Health Ministry Director-general Achilleas Patsinakos, who said the Cyprus system was unmatched anywhere in the world. Heart patients were asked to pay for treatment abroad only if they chose not to receive the treatment free in Cyprus or at four hospitals in Greece, he said.

    On the proposed new guidelines, Patsinakos said the government has drafted some of its own "similar if not more generous than those of the Heart Patients' Association". These have been put to the Council of Ministers, but there is no plan to enact them into legislation, he added.

    [13] MP 'stable'

    PAPHOS Diko Deputy Nikos Pittokopitis was reported to be in a stable condition yesterday after suffering a "minor cardiac episode" on Wednesday. He is recuperating in Nicosia General hospital.

    He will remain under medical supervision to determine if surgery is required. Cardiologist Dr Costas Zambartas said such a decision could only be taken after further tests.

    Pittokopitis was flown to Nicosia by helicopter on Wednesday afternoon on the recommendation of doctors in Paphos.

    [14] Fruit imports may be taxed

    A FIVE per cent levy may be slapped on imported fruit and vegetables to guard against unfair competition, Interior Minister George Stavrinakis revealed yesterday.

    He was briefing the House Agriculture Committee on a demand by agricultural organisations to scrap a 5 per cent toll on perishables sold at municipal markets.

    Committee chairman Christos Mavrokordatos of Akel said the toll was antiquated, dating back to Ottoman rule, and that it deprived producers of much-needed funds.

    The 2.5 million collected this way every year should go to the producers who already face hard times, and a more logical fee should be charged for use of municipal services, he said.

    Stavrinakis said the government was sympathetic to the organisation's demand, but added that the municipalities relied on the revenue and felt strongly about losing it.

    But he also said imported fruit seemed to enjoy an unfair advantage over local produce because it was subsidised by producer countries and sold at supermarkets, and was therefore exempt from the toll.

    A ministerial committee set up to examine the issue had proposed a similar tax be levied at the point of sale, and it would be up to the municipalities to find ways to collect the tax, he said.

    A spokesman from the Union of Cypriot Municipalities said it would not object to abolition of the levy provided the state made up for the shortfall in income.

    [15] Runaway tractor injures farmer

    A 70-year-old Paphos villager had to be airlifted to Nicosia by police helicopter yesterday after he was flung over a wall by his runaway tractor.

    Police said farmer Dimitris Nearchou was seriously injured when his tractor crashed into a house in Kelokedara village, flinging him over a garden wall and on to a concrete courtyard two metres below. Nearchou had been driving the tractor home from the village square when it suddenly accelerated out of control down a steep lane, police said.

    The accident took place in the morning and Nearchou was first taken to Paphos hospital. But because of the seriousness of his condition he was airlifted at about 3pm to Nicosia general hospital.

    [16] Man pleads not guilty to killing

    KILANI villager Michalis Efstathiou Panis, 66, yesterday pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of fellow villager Matheos Christofi on October 8.

    Police believe Panis killed 60-year-old Christofi with a meat-cleaver on a street in the quiet Limassol district village in broad daylight.

    No witnesses to the Christofi's death have so far come forward and no murder weapon has been found. The suspect has claimed the scratches found on his body - which police believe were the result of a struggle with the victim - were sustained while pruning vines.

    Police say the suspect and the victim had a long-running feud, despite the fact that Panis had christened Christofi's son.

    The Limassol Assizes set the next hearing for the case for December 5.

    [17] Club owner arrested as pimping suspect

    A NICOSIA cabaret owner is being investigated on suspicion of forcing a Romanian artiste in his employ into prostitution, police said yesterday.

    Pavlos Hadjimakris, 50, was arrested on Wednesday after a 21-year-old artiste working at his nightclub complained to police she had been forced to have sex with club customers for money, police said.

    She apparently turned up at a Nicosia police station accompanied by a man who alleged he had paid Hadjimakris 150 to have sex with her three times this month.

    [18] Fred-TV aims to attract more than the fortunate few

    By Charlie Charalambous

    NICOSIA will be hit with a double whammie next Monday when the capital gets a taste of its first local television station with the island's sole morning-only schedule.

    Fred-TV is ready to assault viewing tastes, but only for those fortunate to be at home between 7am and 1pm in the Nicosia district.

    But station boss Michael Frederikou believes that not only housewives and pensioners will be attracted to the new channel on the block.

    Frederikou says the unprecedented step of producing an early morning news show offering traffic and weather updates for the capital is a pioneering move.

    Fred-TV will be pinning its hopes on the flagship news mag Kalimera Lefkosia ('Good Morning Nicosia') and its talk show to get the fledgling adventure off to a good start.

    The station will cover the well-trodden ground of politics, culture and finance but with a Nicosia twist.

    "Our own research indicates that with suitable programming, proper management and satisfying the target audience, the station has very good prospects," said Frederikou.

    The mainstay of Fred-TV will be bolstered by Greek films, a Latin soap and repeats of Danger Bay.

    The new station's range of programmes should provide a more eclectic choice when scheduling extends to 8pm from next February.

    [19] Bank calendar focuses on water wildlife

    THE BANK of Cyprus has launched the latest instalment in its `Natural Habitats of Cyprus' series of calendars. This year's photographs are of the island's water habitats.

    A team of 15 photographers contributed to the 180 images reproduced in the calendars, focusing on life in the Larnaca and Akrotiri salt lakes in particular. These lakes are of international importance as stopping-off points for migratory birds of all kinds, the most famous of which are flamingoes.

    Other water habitats featured include the main Troodos rivers - Kouris, Karkotis and Diarizos - flowing through the Paphos forest, which support fragile ecosystems which could otherwise not exist on the island.

    The calendars will be available to Bank of Cyprus clients from December 15.

    [20] Heritage protest to UN

    CYPRUS' Permanent Representative to the UN has protested to the General Assembly over Turkey's continued destruction of cultural heritage in the north.

    The protest letter from Ambassador Sotos Zacheos said the most recent provocation was the building of a mosque in occupied Kythrea on Greek Cypriot-owned land.

    "While the Cyprus government ardently protects places of worship belonging to all faiths in Cyprus, Turkey has not so far complied with its obligations under international law and UN resolutions on this issue," the letter said.

    Zacheos urged the General Assembly to be more effective in ending the desecration of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage in the north.

    [21] Clerides to mark Israel's 50 years

    PRESIDENT Clerides has accepted an invitation to attend a special ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Jewish state.

    The invitation was issued yesterday by Israeli Ambassador Shemi Tzur, who told reporters he had invited Clerides to take part in the celebrations at his Nicosia residence on December 23.

    The president will light the first candle during the ceremony to symbolise the good bilateral relations between Cyprus and Israel.

    Similar ceremonies will take place at Israeli diplomatic missions all over the world.

    Asked if concern over an Israel-Turkey military agreement had eased, Tzur said he was sure Cypriots understand "that the co-operation is nothing that would harm Cyprus in any way".

    He said assurances to this effect had been given to both the president and the foreign minister.

    [22] Can your wallet make space for 54,000?

    By Aline Davidian

    THE SKY may no longer be the limit for those prepared to pay the earth - $100,000 return tickets to space are being made available to civilians worldwide.

    This means Cypriots are also eligible to boldly go for a mere 54,000 a throw. And there is plenty of time left to save up, as the first flight is not until December 1, 2001.

    The extraterrestrial trip is the brainchild of Zegrahm, a private American company based in Virginia, which has developed its space programme in co- operation scientists linked to Nasa.

    The hefty ticket price buys five days of training at the Space Institute in Virginia with full-board accommodation, a 24-hour space flight and the return of each civilian to country of origin. Fliers also get to keep their own space suits.

    Given recent health statistics, potential Cypriot passengers will have to cut down on smoking and give up bad dietary habits in order to withstand the rigorous physical training involved. This will include coping with weightlessness, instruction on using a space suit, and tuition in astronomical theory.

    The flight will take place at 100 kilometres above sea level, with two Nasa pilots taking it in turns to control the spacecraft and act as 'tour guides'. Naturally, all six passengers on board will have window seats. On the return to earth, the paying passengers will be given a Nasa space certificate.

    Those unable to afford the December 1 inaugural flight may be pleased to learn that the trip will be repeated every weekend afterwards. There are also plans to build a lunar space station in 2004-5 so passengers can disembark on the moon before coming back down to earth.

    Further information on the space flight is available from the Xeronia travel agency in Athens.

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