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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, December 25, 1997


  • [01] Ship's captain tells of nightmare ordeal
  • [02] Campaigning turns nasty
  • [03] US would oppose moves to partition
  • [04] Greens slam EAC over sub-stations
  • [05] Greek held for murder of Turk in Belgium
  • [06] Soldier dies of crash injuries
  • [07] The perfect Christmas present
  • [08] Christmas cards for the enclaved
  • [09] Cassoulides welcomes UN stance

  • [01] Ship's captain tells of nightmare ordeal

    By Charlie Charalambous and Martin Hellicar

    A RESCUED British captain has told the Cyprus Mail how he feared for his life during a ship's mutiny off Cyprus.

    Father-of-two Ian James Wilkinson, 59, spoke about his nightmare ordeal yesterday morning shortly before flying back home to Wigan, Lancashire, to be re-united with his family for Christmas.

    "I thought I was going to be used as a hostage when the ship came to Cyprus, " Wilkinson said.

    Wilkinson was escorted unharmed off the Blue Breeze by Cyprus marine police at about 10pm on Tuesday following an alleged

    mutiny on board. The ship was in international waters about 22 nautical miles off the coast of Limassol, reportedly bound for Latakia in Syria, when marine police intervened.

    The Panamanian authorities had sent a massage to the Merchant Shipping Department saying the vessel - which left Lagos, Nigeria, on November 6 bound for Gibraltar - had changed course and was "effectively hijacked".

    Wilkinson said the ship's owner had been in constant contact with the mostly Syrian crew and was issuing threats to the crew if they did not take the ship to Syria. "It was clear he would stop at nothing and I started to fear for my own safety," Wilkinson said.

    "I asked to be let off at Gibraltar, but I was denied," he said.

    The crew allegedly rebelled when the European Bank, which holds the mortgage on the ship ordered it to dock at Gibraltar. The bank is apparently in dispute with the ship's Syrian owners and was seeking an arrest warrant for the ship.

    "The master of the ship was listening to the owner and clearly disobeyed instructions of the mortgage holder to take the ship to Gibraltar," the captain said.

    "I was kept in the dark as to where I was going, I was not allowed to communicate our position to the outside world. I felt like a hostage," Wilkinson said.

    He said he got a "bad feeling" as soon as the ship passed Gibraltar and didn't sleep well at all.

    A police launch and helicopter had been tracking the 16,500-ton container vessel since Monday after receiving a message that Wilkinson could be in a life-threatening situation.

    Asked what his first thoughts were, he said he wanted to get back home for Christmas as "at one stage I thought I would never see my family again."

    A family re-union is planned in Newcastle today.

    He laughed off suggestions by the British Foreign and Commonwealth office that there had been no mutiny and that he just wanted to get off at Cyprus in order to be home in time for Christmas.

    Wilkinson, who got ashore at 2am yesterday, spent the night in a Limassol hotel before catching the 9.30am flight to London.

    Although the ship's crew had defied Wilkinson's orders to go to Gibraltar, the Blue Breeze was allowed on its way after the Briton was taken off the vessel, as Cyprus authorities had no jurisdiction to impound the ship.

    [02] Campaigning turns nasty

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE KNIVES were out yesterday between erstwhile government coalition partners Disy and Diko.

    Diko responded to Disy's offensive against Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou by challenging Disy to a public debate.

    Smarting at Diko's decision to back George Iacovou, and not President Clerides, in the February presidentials, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said Kyprianou was "serving his own family interests" by choosing the Akel- backed former Foreign Minister. He also said the issue of the size of Kyprianou's personal guard would be "examined" right after the elections.

    Anastassiades, who had repeatedly wooed Diko and Kyprianou before they finally ruled-out resurrecting the Disy-Diko alliance which got Clerides into office in 1993, said Kyprianou's guard had to be "got down to the level it should be." Over two dozen officers are currently deployed to protect Kyprianou, who is House President.

    Diko spokesman Andreas Constantinou responded yesterday by saying Kyprianou challenged Anastassiades and Clerides to a public debate.

    Constantinou said Anastassiades was guilty of attacking those he had once sweet-talked, while Clerides was guilty of scaremongering in an effort to secure his re-election. He said Clerides was claiming the country would be led to catastrophe unless he was re-elected.

    Kyprianou's son Marcos, a Diko deputy, has come to his father's defence. He has accused Disy and Anastassiades of waging a personal vendetta against his father and his family.

    He also "revealed" that Anastassiades had offered him the post of Foreign Minister in exchange for Diko backing Clerides's re-election campaign.

    Meanwhile, veteran Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides said he considered Akel's proposal that Edek join with Akel and Diko in backing Iacovou "insulting".

    He said such a three-party alliance had been tabled in the past but rejected by Akel. He accused Akel leader Dimitris Christofias of being after extra votes rather than co-operation with Edek.

    [03] US would oppose moves to partition

    US STATE Department Spokesman James Foley has said Washington would not support a permanent partition of Cyprus as threatened by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz after the EU's perceived snub of Turkey's membership application.

    Foley made the comments during his daily press briefing on Tuesday after Yilmaz's recent four-day visit to the US.

    The spokesman said the US believed Turkey had a "European vocation and should move toward eventual full membership with the EU".

    Asked whether, during his visit, Yilmaz had repeated threats to partition Cyprus if Turkey did not get better EU treatment, Foley said he was not aware that Yilmaz had "made that specific statement".

    "I can tell you if it did come up... we would have said (that) our view... is to oppose any moves in that direction," said Foley.

    He reiterated US support for a "negotiated solution which would result in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation."

    Foley said president Clinton hoped that after February's presidential elections, the two sides would "reengage under the UN aegis", moving toward "fruitful negotiations".

    [04] Greens slam EAC over sub-stations

    By Martin Hellicar

    ENVIRONMENTALISTS yesterday accused the Electricity Authority (EAC) of misleading the public over the safety of electromagnetic fields.

    The Ecologists and Environmentalists party claimed the fields generated by high-voltage sub-stations in built-up areas posed a risk to public health.

    Earlier this month, the EAC issued a statement dismissing as "groundless" fears that cancer hot-spots had been identified around such sub-stations.

    The EAC quoted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and "other acknowledged international experts" as stating "there is no serious indication to link electromagnetic fields with any illness."

    "The EAC believes the establishment of sub-stations in built-up areas is in keeping with policy implemented everywhere in the world," the statement added. "There is no other way to supply power. Moving such sub-stations away from the areas indicated by technical studies creates supply problems, " the EAC claimed.

    But the greens countered by alleging the EAC had misquoted the WHO. The Green party said the WHO began a five-year study of electromagnetic fields and health in 1996 covering 25 countries.

    "The WHO is therefore still considering the issue and has not arrived at any conclusion yet," the environmentalists stated.

    "The EAC wants to impose its interpretation without considering its customers' fears," the statement added. "The Health Ministry must take on its responsibilities and work with the EAC not to suppress the people but to take relevant safety measures at EAC installations."

    The issue of electromagnetic fields was brought to the fore recently after the House environment committee examined the proposed creation of a 132kv sub-station in Larnaca town.

    Local residents have opposed the plans and deputies questioned the wisdom of putting up such sub-stations in residential

    [05] Greek held for murder of Turk in Belgium

    A GREEK fugitive wanted in Belgium for the murder of a Turk was yesterday remanded in custody for seven days.

    Panayiotis Liakos Melas, from Mani in the Peloponnese, was arrested on Tuesday and was yesterday brought up before Nicosia District Court. The court heard Melas, 52, was wanted by Belgian police in connection with the killing of a Turkish national in that country last March.

    The case was postponed till January 12 to allow time for extradition documents to arrive from Brussels. The suspect told the court he was happy to go to Belgium to stand trial.

    [06] Soldier dies of crash injuries

    A 19-YEAR-old national guardsman died in Nicosia general hospital yesterday morning of injuries he suffered in a road accident last week.

    Ionnas Kyriacou Milis, from Meneou outside Larnaca, was seriously hurt in a collision on the Nicosia to Larnaca highway last Thursday.

    Milis, whose family come from occupied Lysi, was laid to rest at Dromolaxia cemetery yesterday afternoon.

    [07] The perfect Christmas present

    By Aline Davidian

    AN UNEXPECTED return of family photographs, long given up for lost, has proved the perfect Christmas present for 63-year old Harris Telemachou and his family.

    A builder by trade, refugee Telemachou currently lives in the old city of Nicosia, only metres away from the Cyprus Mail offices. He was given the box of photographs by Nicosia police, who had received it through the UN from a German of Turkish Cypriot origin, who now runs a restaurant in the occupied areas but is unwilling to divulge how the pictures came into his possession.

    Telemachou, however, was clear as to where the photographs were last seen.

    "They were in our house in Kyrenia; we left them behind during the invasion, " he said.

    Asked whether the photographs would now take pride of place in a new album, the grandfather of two replied with fervour "of course, to protect them against the course of time".

    The photographs included pictures of older members of the Telemachou family, childhood friends and, perhaps most poignantly of all, a yellowed clipping from 1957 issue of the Cyprus Mail, showing Telemachou and his wife on their wedding day.

    [08] Christmas cards for the enclaved

    Andrea Petranyi

    ENCLAVED children living in the occupied areas will be receiving thousands of Christmas cards this year from Canadians of Greek and Greek Cypriot origin.

    The idea was put in motion by the Hellenic Inter-University and College Council of Canada (HICC), a co-ordinating body encompassing Greek students' associations from 18 universities across Canada.

    "From my perspective, I can't fathom or even imagine what these people must be going through," HICC Public Relations Officer Costas Alexopoulos said.

    Alexopoulos was inspired to pursue the Christmas card signature drive last year after he came into contact through the internet with the Karpass Co- ordinating Committee in Cyprus. The Committee is dedicated to ensuring the well-being of the enclaved.

    HICC President Costas Coursaris, whose father is a Greek Cypriot, explained that the HICC had gathered signatures by circulating cards in parishes, diaspora gatherings and social events and from young children attending Greek language schools. Many of these children made their own cards and wrote personal messages on them. Coursaris explained that the Council would make this an annual event and was now also actively pursuing the possibility of sending toys to the enclaved children.

    [09] Cassoulides welcomes UN stance

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday welcomed a United Nations Security Council resolution which states that the negotiations on the Cyprus problem should continue as planned.

    Resolution 1146 expresses general support for the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-general. Specifically, it supports the Secretary-general's decision that talks should continue after the February elections, and refers to the Council resolution that the negotiations should be carried out between the two communities on the island.

    In his written statement, Cassoulides also said it was positive that the resolution considered the decision to hold EU accession talks with Cyprus as an important development in the search for a solution.

    He added that it was also the first resolution to refer to the missing persons issue.

    In addition, the resolution mentions the efforts to reduce tension along the Green Line, noting that "only one side (the Turkish Cypriots) has so far accepted this package". On this point, Cassoulides stressed that whatever the statement maintained, "the priority of the government is the security of the inhabited areas of Nicosia, rather than international documents."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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