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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-22

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, January 22, 1998


  • [01] 'The law of the mafia rules'
  • [02] Does Albright support Clerides?
  • [03] Party leaders queue up for Cyprus problem briefing
  • [04] Hannay's new brief welcomed
  • [05] Court rules against mother's custody claim
  • [06] Arabs held after boat runs aground
  • [07] Theft suspect admits to bomb attack
  • [08] Neighbour 'admits to Kyrenia murder'
  • [09] Turkish Cypriots 'sought to sell guns, fake notes and livestock'
  • [10] Waiter held for restaurant thefts

  • [01] 'The law of the mafia rules'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FIVE years of the Clerides administration have seen dangerous criminals become TV celebrities and mob rule allowed to flourish unabated, Diko claimed yesterday.

    Diko pulled no punches in a statement lambasting President Clerides for what it says is his poor record on stemming the tide of organised crime.

    "The Cypriot citizen feels that he lives somewhere in Italy during a period in which the law of the mafia rules," said yesterday's Diko statement.

    It charged the president with not taking rising crime seriously and side- stepping the issue during his reelection campaign.

    "The explanation is simple: the efforts of the Clerides presidency, in various sectors, have shown negative results. Crime, for example, has seen a disturbing rise during the five years under Clerides," said the statement. Diko was the junior government coalition partner backing Clerides for all but the last three months of his five-year term.

    Focusing attention on law and order is seen by political observers as a move by Diko to score political points on a popular issue so far not given prominence during the campaign.

    The party argued yesterday that serious crime had become such a daily occurrence that citizens were justifiably anxious and felt more insecure as a consequence.

    Diko's terse statement went on to say:

    "Criminals under the Clerides government have become model TV celebrities and the pursuers of crime treated as common criminals."

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou kept the heat on Clerides yesterday by challenging him to a TV debate during a meeting earlier in the day.

    Clerides told Kyprianou he would consider the request.

    Meanwhile, however, Kyprianou is struggling to keep his own party together and to silence the rebels who reject Diko's endorsement of independent Akel- backed candidate George Iacovou.

    Diko practically accused its rebels, and in particular presidential candidate Alexis Galanos, of selling out to Disy for the promise of a ministerial post if Clerides was reelected.

    "The Diko rebels do not have principles, ideologies or morals. All they are interested in is their own self interest and individual benefit," said a separate party statement yesterday.

    Galanos hit back at his detractors and said he represented the "heart" of the party and its principles.

    "I represent 50 per cent of the party not willing to vote for Iacovou in the first round," Galanos said during a visit to the stock exchange.

    He said Kyprianou would be foolish to disregard his candidature, which represented the true feelings among Diko members.

    Meanwhile Justice Minister Nicos Koshis again appealed to all political parties to stop recruiting police officers to bolster their campaigns.

    He said the police were there to fight crime not elections.

    "This phenomenon is regrettable, especially at a time when the police have found their feet and achieved significant results in fighting crime," said Koshis in Limassol.

    An official announcement by the Election Service said yesterday that 446, 731 citizens (including 25,402 18-year-olds) are eligible to vote on February 8.

    [02] Does Albright support Clerides?

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    US SECRETARY of State Madeleine Albright's statements came under the microscope yesterday, with differing opinions on the top diplomat's reference to the presidential elections.

    In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Albright said Cyprus was one of the difficult areas of the world, but that Washington would press on with efforts to improve ties with Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

    Referring to the presidential elections, Albright said Washington would see whether "that will allow the process to move forward."

    There were some hints this could be seen as indirect support for incumbent president Glafcos Clerides, and as such interfering in Cyprus' internal affairs.

    The government denied any interference. And it said Cyprus had a duty to listen carefully to what foreign diplomacy had to say, particularly those who had a role to play in a Cyprus settlement.

    "We are not talking about intervention in the internal affairs of the Republic... foreign governments have the right to determine their policy and action according to information they take into consideration," spokesman Manolis Christofides said,

    US interest in the Cyprus problem was clear and constituted "the most serious US interest ever shown from the day there was a Cyprus problem," he added.

    He said there was no "danger" from the US initiative, since it was being developed within the framework of the United Nations. All agreed, he added, that there were critical times ahead and that there would be developments soon.

    In an oblique reference to President Clerides' chief rival in the presidential elections George Iacovou, Christofides said statements which were derogatory about the US interest and President Bill Clinton's special envoy on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke damaged the Cyprus cause.

    "There must be seriousness and responsibility. Expressions such as 'Holbrooke is nothing but a banker' are an insulting reference, especially when the president who appointed him said he was one of the best negotiators the superpower has," he said.

    On Albright's statements, Diko president Spyros Kyprianou - who chairs the House of Representatives - said the Cyprus problem did not depend on the elections but on the extent to which the US government had taken the political decision to oblige Turkey to abandon its expansionist policy.

    "If it does not do so, there will be no way out. For the moment, there does not seem to be any indication of this." he said.

    Edek president Vassos Lyssarides said he had not seen the full text of the statements. "If she meant the election period does not lend itself to contacts, that is natural. But if she meant a degree of preference towards one candidacy or the other, then this must be condemned," he said.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades said Albright's remarks were not a message on the elections, but a message that the superpower was not prepared to concentrate on the Cyprus problem if some candidates were derogatory about its efforts.

    Akel chief Demetris Christofias said that what the Greek Cypriot side was interested in was for the US not to continue to consider Turkey its most important ally.

    [03] Party leaders queue up for Cyprus problem briefing

    By Aline Davidian

    CYPRUS problem developments after the February presidential elections would be critical, party leaders agreed yesterday after meeting with President Clerides.

    But they also outlined their fears regarding foreign intervention in the matter.

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou, the first to visit the presidential palace, was briefed by Clerides and Foreign Minister Yiannakis Casoulides on recent discussions with the Greek government.

    After the meeting, Kyprianou said his fears had been heightened regarding the national problem.

    "There is not the slightest indication from the Turkish side for a more positive stance... quite the opposite" he said, adding "this is something acknowledged by the Americans".

    He said the country was passing through "an exceptionally difficult and dangerous," period and stressed that after the elections, all political leaders would have to adopt a new strategy to face the situation.

    Playing down Kyprianou's statements, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday the real worry for the Diko chief was the "superficial approach" adopted by a "particular presidential candidate" who was not taking post- election Cyprus problem developments seriously.

    Diko has refused to renew its five-year coalition with Disy, choosing instead to join left-wing Akel in backing independent candidate George Iacovou.

    Anastassiades criticised Kyprianou for dwelling on any negative developments which might occur.

    "If the negative developments are the (EU entry) negotiations... or the attempts by the Americans, the UN and the EU to find a solution (to the Cyprus problem)... I do not see why certain people should be worried" the Disy leader said.

    Akel General Secretary, Dimitris Christofias for his part came out of his meeting with Clerides saying the situation regarding the Cyprus problem was "critical" and would remain so even after the elections.

    He said the Greek Cypriot side was on the brink of concession and pointed out that neither British Special Cyprus Envoy, Sir David Hannay nor US Presidential Envoy Richard Holbrooke were "pointing their arrows in the right direction".

    "I have stated many times that we are on the step before final concessions, " said Christofias.

    Echoing Christofias' note of urgency, Liberal Democrats' chief George Vassiliou stressed the need for immediate post-election action by the Greek Cypriot side to prevent potentially negative developments regarding the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting with Clerides, he said Turkish Cypriot participation in Cyprus' EU membership negotiations, set to commence in the spring, must be cleared up as soon as possible.

    "If we give the impression... that we are not in a hurry (to resolve the issue of Turkish Cypriot participation in the EU talks) then I fear the consequences will be very bad," he said.

    The need for immediate concerted action after the elections was also stressed by Liberal party leader Nicos Rolandis.

    Rolandis, who met with Clerides a little after midday, said the Greek Cypriot side would have to prepare to engage with foreign initiatives regarding the Cyprus problem.

    Last to meet with Clerides was New Horizons leader Nicos Koutsou who said yesterday matters concerning the national problem should not be discussed during the lead-up to elections.

    But he conceded that post-election developments would indeed be critical and Greek Cypriot measures would significantly influence the course of the national problem.

    In the meantime, Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides said yesterday foreign initiatives regarding the problem were progressing but had merely been suspended during the election period.

    Lyssarides had already met with Clerides on Tuesday.

    [04] Hannay's new brief welcomed

    BRITISH diplomat Sir David Hannay's new expanded brief will give him more influence to promote progress on Cyprus, the government indicated yesterday.

    Hannay, Britain's special co-ordinator on Cyprus, has also just been appointed British Prime Minster Tony Blair's personal envoy to Turkey.

    Spokesman Manolis Christofides was asked whether the government believed Hannay's new, upgraded role would help push forward efforts for a settlement.

    Christofides described Hannay as an "experienced diplomat" whose brief now covers three basic and related issues - the Cyprus problem, Cyprus' course towards Europe and Turkey's relations with the European Union.

    The government sees EU accession talks and Turkey's EU ambitions as catalysts in efforts for a political settlement in Cyprus.

    Hannay's new brief " gives a new dimension to the personality of the diplomat, to his influence and how he can affect the issues he is handling, " the spokesman said.

    "Sir David Hannay... is a personality with reinforced possibilities to influence a settlement in Cyprus, and Cyprus' EU course and Turkey's prospects in Europe," he added. The framework for future action has been set out by the British EU presidency, which believes efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem must be intensified.

    "The appointment and the assignments of Sir David convey this interest," the spokesman added.

    Asked whether Sir David would now be in a stronger position to negotiate, Christofides said it was clear the British diplomat was a respected personality. "We anticipate his abilities and persuasiveness will contribute to progress" he added.

    Asked whether there was not also concern because Hannay had in the past spoken of a rotating presidency and said some settlers may have to stay in Cyprus, Christofides said neither points had been accepted by the government."There is a difference between discussing and accepting," he said.

    [05] Court rules against mother's custody claim

    THE SUPREME Court yesterday rejected a Greek mother's application for a habeas corpus to force her Cypriot in-laws to return her teenage children to her custody.

    Aspasia Kalfopoulou appealed to the court last year, claiming her children were being "influenced" against her by their grandparents - in whose Paphos home they have been living since their father was killed in a car crash two years ago.

    The court rejected these claims in a decision released yesterday. The court added that the children, aged 13 and 14, seemed to be living with their grandparents by choice and were not being held illegally, as Kalfopoulou had claimed.

    Her lawyer said she was considering an appeal against yesterday's ruling.

    Kalfopoulou was given custody of her children by a Salonica court but the Paphos District Court later ruled the grandparents should have custody.

    The grandparents have always claimed the children wanted to stay with them.

    To resolve the clash between the Paphos and Salonica court decisions, the Attorney-general, Alecos Markides, advised last year that the youngsters should be returned to their mother.

    But this advice was not acted upon, seemingly because police were loathe to force the kids to leave their grandparents.

    Kalfopoulou came over to Cyprus to fight for custody of her children last July and went on a two-week hunger-strike in an effort to draw attention to her plight.

    She has also taken her case to the European Court of Justice, alleging the government has violated her rights and those of her children.

    [06] Arabs held after boat runs aground

    TWELVE Arabs whose boat run aground in bad weather at Protaras were yesterday arrested by police as illegal immigrants.

    Ten Syrians and two Lebanese men were later remanded for eight days in custody by a Larnaca court.

    The suspects said they were on their way to Crete from the Lebanese port of Tripoli when the boat hit rocks in choppy seas off Protaras.

    But police said that some of the men had planned to disembark in Cyprus and look for work in Limassol.

    According to police, the 36-year-old Lebanese skipper charged $1,500 each for the trip to Crete and $500 for Cyprus.

    The Lebanese skipper and his 18-year-old son did not possess travel documents, but the Syrians all carried passports.

    Police are investigating whether the Syrians had entered Cyprus illegally in the past.

    [07] Theft suspect admits to bomb attack

    AN AYIA Napa pub owner arrested on suspicion of theft has admitted to a failed bomb attack against the resort's post office last February, the Famagusta District Court heard yesterday.

    Police now believe Georgios Mavrou may have also been responsible for a bomb attack on the Ayia Napa primary school earlier that same month, as identical devices were used in both attacks.

    No one was hurt in either attack.

    Mavrou, known as Hadjouis, was remanded in custody for eight days yesterday.

    Investigating officer Spyros Spyrou told the court Mavrou was arrested on Monday in connection with the theft of 28,000 worth of valuables and cash from safety deposit boxes at an Ayia Napa hotel last week.

    Mavrou denied involvement in the theft, but made a voluntary statement admitting to planting a home-made explosive device at the Ayia Napa post office on February 28, Spyrou stated.

    The bomb was defused before it went off after an anonymous telephone warning was received by a private TV station.

    Spyrou told the court an identical warning had been received before a bomb blast at the resort's primary school a week earlier. The caller had warned police to stop "hassling" a certain person, Spyrou said.

    [08] Neighbour 'admits to Kyrenia murder'

    A MAN has confessed to the gruesome murder of an 82-year-old woman from occupied Kyrenia, Turkish Cypriot papers reported yesterday.

    Ulviye Ahmet, who lived 50 to 60 metres from Kyrenia harbour, was raped and brutally murdered on Sunday.

    The papers say the murderer turned out to be the victim's neighbour, 35- year-old Huseyin Yalcin Sonat, whom they describe as "a drunkard and a wastrel who lives on his bedridden father's pension and occasional jobs as a house painter".

    Sonat is reported to have told 'police' that he committed the crime under the influence of alcohol.

    The papers say an autopsy showed Ahmet had died of cerebral haemorrhage and a fracture to her neck caused by blows from a blunt, heavy object.

    In a separate case, 'police' in the north claimed another success, saying a man had confessed to the rape of a student nurse; they named the suspect as Selcuk Gergin, 22, and said he was the victim's boyfriend.

    Gergin, who was arrested with two other suspects, admitted he had agreed to deliver his girlfriend to his friends Ismail Kilic and Fatih Barut for unlawful sex, the papers report.

    'Police' reports said Gergin picked up the nurse at 7pm on Tuesday in Kilic's car and drove her to a beach near Kyrenia.

    The three then allegedly gang-raped her and abandoned her in an unconscious state.

    The other two suspects are also said to have confessed to their part in the attack.

    [09] Turkish Cypriots 'sought to sell guns, fake notes and livestock'

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE CHIEF prosecution witness in the trial of two Turkish Cypriot alleged smugglers yesterday denied he had conspired with police to entrap the accused.

    "It was a police plan, not mine. I was under police instruction," Andreas Maltezos, from Dhali village near Nicosia, told the Nicosia Assizes under cross-examination by Turkish Cypriot lawyer Youstrel Katri.

    Katri is defending 41-year-old shepherd Ozman Kondoz and 33-year-old butcher Mustafa Veli, both from occupied Louroudjina, against five charges relating to alleged smuggling of sheep and goats from the north and gun possession. Kondoz and Veli - who have pleaded not guilty to the charges - were arrested in October following a buffer-zone sting operation involving Greek Cypriot police. Police said they found a pistol and bullets in the possession of the accused at the time of their arrest.

    Maltezos stuck by his original testimony yesterday, saying he had gone straight to police after Veli and Ozman had asked him to find buyers for guns, fake 10 notes and animals. He told the court he had met the accused for the first time in the mixed buffer-zone village of Pyla, where he had been invited for lunch by some Greek Cypriot friends in July. Maltezos said the accused had asked him to find a "moneybags" to buy 30 pistols, two Kalashnikovs, a G3 automatic, a million pound's worth of fake 10 notes from Turkey and 2,000 sheep and goats from them.

    He told the court he agreed to call Veli and then went to a police officer and told him what the Turkish Cypriots were proposing.

    Maltezos said he subsequently had a number of meetings with the two suspects in Pyla, informing police of his activities each time. He introduced an under-cover officer, with the pseudonym Andros, to Veli and Kondoz as a prospective buyer for the guns and animals, he told the court.

    Maltezos said the two Turkish Cypriots were arrested by under-cover police after handing a pistol to Andros during a meeting Maltezos had arranged.

    In reply to Katri's persistent questions, Maltezos insisted he had only played along with what police told him to do and had never acted to entrap Veli and Kondoz.

    Armed police patrolled the environs of the courthouse yesterday, after reports of renewed threats against Maltezou's life. Last week police said Maltezou had been threatened in an attempt to stop him from testifying.

    Court procedure yesterday was hampered by the need for translation from Turkish to Greek and vice-versa.

    The trial continues.

    [10] Waiter held for restaurant thefts

    A LARNACA waiter was remanded in custody for eight days yesterday on suspicion of having stolen 50,000 in cash, whisky, cigarettes and jewellery.

    Police told Larnaca district court that Savvas Demetriou Fteros, 30, had admitted to carrying out 17 burglaries from restaurants.

    Police investigator Christakis Mouzouris said that a large quantity of whisky and cigarettes had been found in the suspect's home. Police believe he is also connected to two other burglaries, committed in Larnaca in 1993.

    The suspect is unemployed and said he used up most of the cigarettes and whisky on his roulette.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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