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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, December 23, 1997


  • [01] Stolen church treasures returned
  • [02] Diko to back Iacovou for president
  • [03] Countdown to polling day
  • [04] Greek detained after crossing north
  • [05] Court rules out crucial evidence in Aeroporos trial
  • [06] Georgian held over murder of Russian Greek
  • [07] Turkey cannot have a veto over accession, says EU rapporteur
  • [08] Ministry appeals for revival of Othellos festival
  • [09] Romanian artiste dies of meningitis
  • [10] No more credit at the school canteen
  • [11] Four-horse race for league championship

  • [01] Stolen church treasures returned

    By Andrew Adamides

    PART OF the hoard of stolen Cypriot religious treasures found in the possession of Turkish 'art dealer' Aydin Dikman arrived back on the island from Germany yesterday.

    The 32 pieces plundered from the occupied areas originally came from frescoes and one mosaic. The frescoes were originally part of the church of Antiphonitis and the mosaic from Kanakaria.

    The artefacts arrived at Larnaca airport at around 3pm. Church representative Bishop Vassilios said he was happy the relics had been returned, bud saddened by the state they were in.

    The items will be displayed at the Archbishopric "until they can be returned to their place of origin", he said.

    The stolen artefacts were discovered earlier this year hidden behind false walls and ceilings in several Munich apartments belonging to Aydin. The finds came after a lengthy international police operation.

    All of the items will eventually be returned to Cyprus.

    Byzantologist Athanasios Papageorgiou, who was involved in cataloguing the religious treasures and who had restored the frescoes in situ, said he did not believe Dikman's arrest would solve the problem.

    He said Dikman was collecting the artefacts on orders of others who remained at large.

    He said some of these collectors were known to the Cypriot authorities, but nothing could be done about them as there was no evidence which could stand up in court.

    "Today they are all millionaires through selling priceless stolen Cypriot artefacts," he said.

    [02] Diko to back Iacovou for president

    CENTRE right party Diko yesterday announced its backing for George Iacovou in February's presidential elections. Iacovou is standing as an independent, but has the full backing of the communist party Akel.

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou said after meetings of the party's executive and central committees that the party had compared all the possible candidates and had chosen Iacovou as the best all-rounder.

    His electoral campaign programme was "very satisfactory", Kyprianou said. He emphasised that the decision to back Iacovou had been taken in the "national interest" and that his own candidacy was now withdrawn. He said this was in spite of those party members "who had insisted" he stand.

    Kyprianou said the decision had been taken with no bitterness towards President Glafcos Clerides whatsoever - but that he trusted Iacovou a lot more than Clerides.

    The coalition between Kyprianou's party and Disy was dissolved several months ago after being formed during the 1993 presidential elections.

    Yesterday's Diko executive committee meeting voted in favour of Iacovou 11 to 2. The decision was later ratified by the central committee, with 79 members in favour and seven against. There were five abstentions.

    Speaking after the Diko announcement, Iacovou said he felt confident about the February poll. "I am sure with this decision, my candidacy assumes such a momentum that our victory in the presidential elections will be achieved," he said.

    [03] Countdown to polling day

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE government decreed yesterday that the island would go to the polls to elect a new president on Sunday, February 8.

    According to assistant chief returning officer, George Theodorou, all hopefuls must submit their candidacy thirty days in advance, by January 9.

    Under the constitution, presidential elections are held every five years.

    There are an unprecedented seven candidates vying to become president, including incumbent Glafcos Clerides, 78, who has topped most recent polls.

    Clerides candidature is backed by the island's largest party, the right- wing Democratic Rally (Disy).

    Independent George Iacovou, 59, a former foreign minister, is backed by communist party Akel, the island's second biggest party.

    Iacovou is seen as the main obstacle standing between Clerides and a second term.

    With the centre-right party Diko coming out in favour of Iacovou yesterday, he is a very serious contender for the presidency.

    Diko helped Clerides into power, then withdrew its ministers from the cabinet two months ago, unhappy about the "one-sided partnership".

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou is determined to see Clerides defeated at the polls after feeling snubbed.

    The only other heavyweight among the contenders is former president and United Democrats' leader George Vassiliou, 66, still a popular figure.

    Vassiliou narrowly lost the 1993 election by a margin of less than half a percent (under 2,000 votes).

    But this time round, his bid for the presidency is severely hampered by his failure to secure the backing of any major party.

    Clerides is fighting his campaign as the man who can solve the Cyprus problem and the champion of the island's successful bid for EU accession talks, which begin next April.

    However, Iacovou has criticised Clerides for lack of any real progress on the 23-year-old Cyprus issue and claims he has mismanaged the economy.

    Under the constitution, if no candidate secures more than 50 per cent on February 8, a second ballot will take place the following Sunday between the two front-runners.

    Voting is compulsory, and over 400,000 people are eligible to vote.

    For the first time, 18-year-olds will be allowed to vote in the presidential elections. The previous age limit was 21.

    Theodorou said 1,000 polling stations would be open for voting on election day from 7am to 6pm. The elections would cost about £2 million, he added.

    [04] Greek detained after crossing north

    By Jean Christou

    A GREEK man living in Cyprus was yesterday remanded for three days by a military 'court' in the occupied areas.

    Spyros Lilles, 24, a salesman from Larissa in northern Greece, was arrested by Turkish forces in the early hours of Sunday morning in the Ayios Pavlos area of Nicosia.

    Reports suggested Lilles, who works for a company which distributes wines and spirits, was so drunk he did not know what he was doing when he crossed to the occupied areas at 5.45am.

    Unficyp spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said officers from the force, along with a UN doctor, visited Lilles yesterday in occupied Nicosia.

    "He is having problem recalling the exact sequence of events," Rokoszewski said. Otherwise, he added, Lilles was in perfect health.

    "He says he is OK and has been treated well and has no complaints," Rokoszewski said.

    Lilles' fiancée was due to cross north to visit him later yesterday or today to take him some personal items.

    "We are working on his speedy release and believe he will join his family for Christmas," Rokoszewski said.

    Rokoszewski confirmed that Turkish soldiers had fired a number of warning shots at two men coming towards the occupied areas. It was reported that the second man had turned back before entering the occupied areas.

    The Turks claim Lilles entered a first degree military zone.

    [05] Court rules out crucial evidence in Aeroporos trial

    By Aline Davidian

    THE NICOSIA Assizes yesterday ruled that potentially crucial evidence was inadmissible in the trial of the three Aeroporos brothers charged with the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros.

    The evidence in dispute was a Cyta computer record of calls made to and from the mobile phone of chief prosecution witness, Tassos Symellides, 28, on the night of the shooting. Such recordings might have proved that Symellides had contact with the accused before and after the May 29 hit in Larnaca. This would have lent weight to Symellides' testimony that the Aeroporos brothers Panicos, 25, Andros, 30, and Hambis, 35, were, respectively, hit-man, architect and instigator for the attack on Fanieros, 57.

    The brothers deny their charges.

    Defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou had objected to the recordings being used as evidence, claiming they were inadmissible as hearsay. He also said they would violate constitutional privacy laws.

    Prosecutor Petros Clerides had maintained the recordings were real evidence and therefore not restricted by the rule against hearsay.

    Presiding judge Dimitris Hadjihambis said yesterday that according to the British cases Wood and Spyby, computer recordings could be deemed real evidence; according to the Cypriot case Attorney-General v. Prokopiou, however, such evidence was inadmissible if technicians calibrating the recording computer had not given sworn testimony in the case.

    He also said the records in this case had been copied from the computer hard disk to other transportable disks and that this "broke the chain of causation" between the initial recordings and the copies eventually presented to police, thus violating the hearsay rule.

    This refuted Clerides' argument that all the copying of computer files formed one complete process or system.

    "We cannot connect the recordings with anything," said Hadjihambis, adding that such print-outs no longer represented the initial event - the recording of the phone calls. The "intervention of the human mind," said Hadjihambis, had flouted the original purpose of the recordings - the means to allow Cyta to charge the caller. This had been altered when the files were copied onto disks to be used as police evidence.

    Hadjihambis said laws protecting rights had to be "interpreted strictly", so that even if the evidence had been admissible, its release would have been in breach of constitutional privacy laws.

    The Cyprus constitution had incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights, said Hadjihambis, adding that a third party - Cyta in this case - could not release recorded phone numbers without the consent of both parties to the call.

    "Symellides' consent is not enough," he said, and stressed that "the pursuit of truth is no excuse for the watering down of rights."

    The trial is set to continue on January 14.

    [06] Georgian held over murder of Russian Greek

    POLICE yesterday arrested a Georgian man in connection with the murder of Greek Russian Costas Aslanides on Saturday morning.

    Giorgi Lekishvilli, 21, was arrested by police at a residence in Larnaca following a tip-off.

    The suspect was then driven to Limassol police station, where he was questioned about the brutal murder of Aslanides.

    Police would not comment on how they had tracked down Lekishvilli to Larnaca or on the circumstances of his arrest.

    Twenty-three-year-old Aslanides was attacked at around 2am on Saturday after leaving a Limassol night club.

    He received stab wounds to his chest, arm and leg and died an hour after being rushed to Limassol hospital.

    [07] Turkey cannot have a veto over accession, says EU rapporteur

    TURKEY cannot have a veto over Cyprus' EU aspirations and the island should join the Union as soon as accession talks end.

    This is the view of Dutch Euro-MP Jan Willem Bertens, rapporteur of the European Parliament on Cyprus' application.

    "I and my colleagues in the European Parliament have continuously said that Turkey cannot have a veto with regard to the Cyprus accession to the Union. The European Council has expressed similar views several times and is now living up to its promise," he said.

    Cyprus is due to start accession talks with the European Council in April. Bertens was speaking to a gathering organised by Intercollege's Research and Development Centre in Nicosia on Saturday evening.

    The Liberal Group Euro-MP told an audience, which included politicians and foreign diplomats, that some national governments saw the island's partition an obstacle to membership.

    "Behind the scenes, I notice that many governments exclude accession of a divided island. But they also know that the status quo on the island is untenable."

    The European Parliament's view is that the Union must negotiate in good faith with Cyprus. As soon as negotiations are concluded Cyprus should be allowed to join. This would be the best message of all to Turkey.

    "Only if the Union will really stick to this policy will the illegal occupier, Turkey, give way and allow for a fair solution to be found."

    Bertens said Cyprus was ready for membership. "Whereas accession will be far off for all other candidates, things could go quite quickly for Cyprus, having adapted to 80 to 90 per cent of the acquis communautaire it is in a very different situation from countries which have just adapted to 15 to 40 per cent of the EU legislation."

    The EU will not succumb to Turkey's threats. "We can't give in to Turkish blackmail, the start of accession negotiations could well be the best way to finding a solution to the conflict on the island."

    The accession talks are a viable instrument for change on the island, he added. "If played well, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will return to the negotiating table.

    "But they will only come back if they are convinced that Cyprus will join the Union with or without the Turkish Cypriots... But this only works if the member-states are willing to keep their word and let Cyprus join with or without a solution to the conflict. If Turkey knows that they still have a veto over de facto accession of Cyprus, Turkey will still continue opposing the talks," he said.

    For its part the Cyprus government must do all its can to make UN efforts to reach a political settlement a success. And the European Union and the United States must give backing to the process through a well co-ordinated approach.

    [08] Ministry appeals for revival of Othellos festival

    THE EDUCATION Ministry has formally asked the Council of Ministers to reinstate the Othellos Festival.

    The Paphos festival, which was a huge success in 1996, was due to go ahead again this year, but was abruptly cancelled in July.

    The Education Ministry's Cultural Service said at the time that it had had no forewarning of the cancellation; organisers said the festival had been scrapped due to lack of government interest.

    Thousands of specialised tour operators who had promoted the festival found themselves out of pocket after cancellations from opera buffs prepared to travel to Cyprus from as far away as Australia and Japan.

    German organiser Rudolph Sauser said recently he was still prepared to bring the festival back to Paphos next year and was waiting for a response from the government.

    In the meantime, the Turkish Cypriot authorities have arranged with another German organiser for a festival in August next year in occupied Salamis - also called the Othellos festival.

    The Education Ministry has now decided to take action to retrieve the festival and bring it back to Paphos in 1998, a spokesman at the Cultural service said yesterday.

    The spokesman said they had already sent a letter to the Council of Ministers to ask them to consider re-staging the festival.

    "We hope the Council of Ministers will decide soon," the spokesman said. "This matter is urgent."

    He added that as soon as the cabinet took its decision, he would contact Sauser to see whether the festival could be arranged for 1998.

    [09] Romanian artiste dies of meningitis

    AN 18-year old Romanian artiste working at a Larnaca night spot has died in hospital of septic meningitis, Larnaca police said yesterday.

    Daniella Alina Dulgern had been bedridden since Thursday and was taken to Larnaca hospital at 4am on Sunday by colleagues when her condition worsened. She died in hospital soon after being admitted.

    Senior Larnaca - Famagusta medical officer, Constantinos Mallis, said the environment of the night spot where Dulgern worked was very dangerous. The meningitis microbe was always present in the environment, he said, and an enclosed space with poor ventilation helped it spread.

    This was the second meningitis death in Cyprus, he said, but the two occurrences could not be linked.

    The Health Ministry said yesterday there was no reason for public alarm, since isolated bouts of meningitis occurred every year.

    [10] No more credit at the school canteen

    THE HEADMASTER of a Nicosia school has stepped in to stop his canteen giving credit to pupils.

    He told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he had spoken with the canteen woman, and that there would be no more 'buy now, pay later' at his school.

    The practice at the Nicosia elementary school was revealed to the Cyprus Mail last week by a furious parent. She complained that her children had been running up tabs kept for them by the canteen woman.

    [11] Four-horse race for league championship

    By George Christou

    THE TITLE race was thrown wide open at the weekend, as leaders Anorthosis dropped another two points on Saturday night and are now just one point in front of Omonia, whom they meet as soon as the league programme resumes in the new year.

    With only three points separating the leaders from the fourth-placed club - the impressive Ethnikos Achna - the championship has all of a sudden been turned into four horse race. To add more interest to the proceedings the four top teams are involved in fixtures against each other on January 3. While Omonia go to Anorthosis, third-placed Apollonas travel to Achna.

    After taking maximum points from their first nine games, while the title contenders were struggling, it looked like Anorthosis would retain the championship with ease, but recent results have restored parity. From the last three games, Anorthosis have taken just two points.

    It was never going to be easy for the champions at the Tsirion stadium against Apollonas. The 1-1 draw was a fair result as they dominated one half each, with Apollonas the better side in the first 45 minutes.

    The crowd was treated to a passionate, if scrappy, encounter. The players were not helped by the heavy pitch, made almost unplayable by the reserve sides' tie prior to the main match. The ball was regularly hoofed into the air as playing it on the ground was not very advisable.

    Anorthosis started cautiously, giving Apollonas the upper hand. Yet the best chance fell to the visitors, with Louca firing the ball over the bar from close range in the 11th minute.

    Apollonas opened the scoring from a set piece after half an hour. Papavassiliou took a corner-kick, Vata headed the ball into the area and Georgiou headed past Panayitou.

    Anorthosis raised their game significantly in the second half, taking control of midfield and dictating the play. They were helped by Apollonas' decision to retreat in order to protect their slender lead.

    The equaliser came midway through the second half, when Kotsonis crossed and Okkas outjumped the Apollonas defence to score with an exquisite glancing header.

    Four minutes later Apollonas were reduced to 10 men, Mladenovic being sent off for a second bookable offence. The champions went looking for the winner, but Apollonas held on for the draw. They are now in third place, two points off the lead.

    In Larnaca, Aek's run of 10 games without defeat was ended by the modest village side, Ethnikos Achna, who beat them 1-0. A week earlier Ethnikos had inflicted Anorthosis' first defeat of the season.

    Ethnikos' recent form is the best in the first division. They are unbeaten in their last nine games, having won eight of them. More significantly and a pointer to their success is their defensive record. In those nine games they have conceded just four goals.

    The Achna club are now fourth, three points behind Anorthosis and even their likeable coach Slobodan Vutsecovic does not know what to make of this success. "I did not expect us to have so many points and be so high in the table after 12 games," he said.

    Asked whether Ethnikos was eyeing the UEFA Cup place (finishing second) he replied: "Europe is a difficult proposition. Don't ask me now."

    On Sunday his side's counter-attacking game, based on solid defenisve organisation, was too much for Aek. Vutsecovic ordered his players to man- mark Aek's Brazilians who, consequently, had one of their quietest games. Toinze managed to rattle the Ethnikos crossbar with a close range shot in the second minute, but that was the sum total of the Brazilian threat.

    Ethnikos contained Aek with consummate ease for the rest of the half and struck just before the interval. Mousic received the ball just outside the area and played it deftly through to Neocleous, who finished clinically.

    Aek were very disappointing after the interval and despite having a lot of the possession, never really threatened the well-drilled Ethnikos defence.

    In Nicosia, bottom club Ethnikos Ashia scored their first ever victory in the first division, defeating Alki 2-0 and taking their points tally to five. First half goals, by Tutic (from the penalty spot) and Mitsingas gave the Ashia fans the Christmas present they were hoping for.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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