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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Friday, June 19, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkish jets land in tit-for-tat manoeuvre
  • [02] Deputies grapple with growing tenders scandal
  • [03] Greenpeace intercepts Israeli ship dumping waste off Cyprus
  • [04] Taxi murderer says he lied in implicating colleague
  • [05] Police seek Russian after maid claims assault
  • [06] Britain blocked defence sale to Cyprus?
  • [07] Businessman was shot twice in New York
  • [08] Youths held for burning teacher's car
  • [09] Health care plan for foreign workers
  • [10] Anti-bases activist arrested
  • [11] Revenge rape by sacked gardener
  • [12] Pensioner killed by car

  • [01] Turkish jets land in tit-for-tat manoeuvre

    By Jean Christou

    TURKEY sent six of its F-16 fighter jets to the occupied areas yesterday in retaliation at a parallel move by Greece which flew jets into the controversial Paphos air base earlier this week.

    The tit-for-tat manoeuvres have further raised tensions on the island and damaged already strained relations between Nato allies Greece and Turkey, while the international community is angry that its efforts to reconcile the two sides appear to be scuppered at every turn.

    On Tuesday, the Cyprus government welcomed the first official landing of four Greek warplanes at the Paphos air base as part of the 1993 defence dogma between the two countries. By Wednesday all of the planes had left.

    Yesterday, it was the turn of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who said the arrival of the six Turkish aircraft was merely restoring the equilibrium on the island.

    Welcoming the Turkish pilots at occupied Lefkoniko airfield yesterday, Denktash said: "Your presence here is an indication that 65 million people are only 40 miles away."

    A flotilla of Turkish naval vessels had docked at the occupied ports on the north of the island just 24 hours earlier.

    The six F-16s swooped into the occupied areas around noon yesterday and were clearly visible over Nicosia.

    Bristling with weaponry, the jets were parked under tight security on the tarmac at Lefkoniko, with anti-aircraft guns stationed on the runway.

    Three of the planes left later in the afternoon heading back towards Turkey.

    Government reaction to Ankara's latest show of force was short and sharp. "Cyprus remains calm to the attempt by Turkey to create critical tensions," the government spokesman said in a brief written statement.

    Earlier, Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou had said Turkey was reinforcing its military presence in the north with the introduction of new weapons systems from Turkey. "The reinforcement of the occupying presence unfortunately exposes Turkey's expansionist aims and Turkey's refusal to co- operate to find a peaceful and just solution to the Cyprus problem," he said.

    Reaction in Athens was also harsh. "It is not (Turkish Prime Minister Mesut) Yilmaz's right to send fighter planes to the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus," said Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    "It is completely illegal, because first of all there shouldn't be a Turkish occupation there."

    Yilmaz yesterday warned the Greek Cypriot side that they would come off worse from any escalation in tension.

    "The Greek Cypriots would be the ones to suffer from an escalation in tension," he said in Bucharest, where he is on a state visit.

    Asked about the possibility of war on the island, Yilmaz said: "Of course we do not want such a thing. But to a large extent this depends on the attitude of the Greek Cypriots."

    "With the air force on the island, Greece has exhibited its offensive intentions directed against Turkey. It is out of the question for Turkey not to respond to that."

    He said, however, that Turkey would call on Britain to help head off military tension on the island.

    "Diplomatic initiatives will be made with Cyprus guarantor power Britain," Yilmaz said.

    Diplomatic sources in Nicosia yesterday criticised the Greek Cypriot side for allowing Greece to land planes at Paphos. Describing it as "injudicious", the source told the Cyprus Mail: "It couldn't have been at a worse time - the last day of the EU Cardiff summit."

    "Things were really upbeat in Cardiff and we have been working behind the scenes with Turkey," the diplomatic source said. "Now we must wait a little longer to see what Turkey will say about Cardiff."

    The source said the international community was still hopeful for the UN- backed intercommunal talks despite the imminent disappearance from the scene of US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke.

    Holbrooke, the architect of the Bosnia peace accord, has been appointed the US ambassador to the UN and will withdraw from the Cyprus effort, in which he achieved little in the time he spent on the island.

    But the diplomatic source indicated Holbrooke's departure would not end the US initiative on Cyprus.

    [02] Deputies grapple with growing tenders scandal

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SUSPICIONS of price-fixing by a cartel of construction companies did not prevent the government from approving overvalued tenders for public works.

    This was revealed during yesterday's House Watchdog Committee probe into allegations that eight private construction companies had colluded in submitting pre-agreed prices in bids for government contracts.

    Tenders are supposed to be confidential, but according to information received by the Auditor-general's office, they are deliberately being overpriced, with companies taking it in turns to share out the contracts.

    The probe into the tender scam began last year, when the newly-appointed Auditor-general, Spyros Christou, told the committee that his deputy Thassos Neocleous had received an anonymous tip-off concerning price fixing in tenders for constructing the new Paphos air base.

    Neocleous said yesterday that the informer had predicted the tender prices correctly, but though the tender board was alerted, it still approved a £4 million contract, despite the offer being £200,000 higher than an official evaluation.

    "The tenders were suspect, but they were still approved by the tender board."

    Neocleous said the difference was not thought important enough to suspend the procedure as the project was top priority and highly sensitive.

    Accountant-general Leontios Savvides said he had also received information on the tenders, but no proof of over-pricing could be established.

    A former manager of one the eight firms concerned visited Neocleous last June, a month before the anonymous call, and claimed that price fixing was going on.

    "I told him we needed more evidence, and he brought me documents from the accounts of the company he worked for," Neocleous said.

    The accounts referred to two multi-million pound projects completed five years earlier, and indicated how over-pricing was carried out.

    Although Neocleous said the invoices showed no proof of over-pricing, there were credit items of around £30,000 to six of the "cartel" firms for the hiring of machinery.

    "This indicates there is collusion on invoices and estimates to ensure that everybody makes a profit," said committee chairman Christos Pourgourides.

    The committee also heard that many tender bids for public works usually exceeded evaluations by government experts.

    Disy deputy Socrates Hasikos said he had met a former "cartel manager face- to-face", who had told him the public purse was being ripped-off by these companies.

    "He came to me because he had his own interests to serve, not because he was patriotic or wanted to save tax payers' money," said Hasikos.

    According to Hasikos, the unnamed manager had been willing to testify before the committee behind closed doors, but backed down when he received a £100,000 settlement from his former company.

    But the deputy said the man was willing to return to Cyprus and give a statement to a new police enquiry into the matter.

    Christou believes that the government is losing millions by paying at least 20 per cent over the odds for major construction works, but says finding evidence which will stick is a thankless task.

    "I'm the first person to bring such evidence into the public light; when this was happening in the past, nobody was interested," Christou said.

    And Disy deputy Lefteris Christoforou questioned why the authorities had not checked the accounts of these companies, if they had documentary evidence of an alleged scam.

    But Pourgourides dismissed out of hand allegations that his committee would bury the issue because the construction companies were generous contributors to political parties.

    [03] Greenpeace intercepts Israeli ship dumping waste off Cyprus

    By Martin Hellicar

    GREENPEACE activists intercepted an Israeli boat dumping waste at sea south of Cyprus on Tuesday night, the environmental group announced yesterday.

    Mario Damato, director of Greenpeace Mediterranean, said activists in inflatable boats intercepted the Aribel as it dumped toxic sludge into the sea off Haifa.

    Greenpeace had chartered a boat from Cyprus to carry out the action, leaving the island on Sunday and waiting in the open sea until activists in Israel informed them the dumping ship had left Haifa, a Greenpeace press release stated.

    "The dumping operation has been documented at sea and the blackish sludge photographed and filmed to show the world how reckless the US-owned Haifa chemicals is when it comes to the Mediterranean sea," Damato said.

    "It is an insult to all the people living in the region, especially Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon to see this poison being dumped in international waters in their vicinity. Israeli citizens are the most directly effected, but pollution knows no frontiers," Damato said.

    "This polluting practice would not be allowed along the US coastline, so why is it okay to do it in the Mediterranean?" Damato asked.

    Two Greenpeace boats, marking the area with stick lights, flew a banner reading "Danger - Toxic Dumping Zone" and called over ship radio for the Aribel to stop dumping and return to port. The Aribel's response was negative, Damato said.

    "The operation has recently started being carried out at night. This looks like an attempt to hide the evidence of the outdated polluting practice," the Greenpeace press release stated.

    "The dumped waste is very acidic and contains heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium and mercury. Dumping of such materials leads to serious pollution of local sea zones and to negative impact on the marine ecosystem," Damato said.

    Greenpeace appealed to the Israeli government to end the dumping in line with the UN 'Year of the Oceans' campaign.

    "Israel is the only country known to be allowing routine dumpings of industrial wastes at sea in the world," Damato said.

    He accused Israeli Environment minister Rafael Eitan of breaking a promise made last July to stop all sea dumping by the end of 1997.

    Haifa chemicals has been permitted to dump another 60,000 tones of waste at sea until October.

    The Israeli embassy in Nicosia has stated the waste was being dumped 300 km away from Cyprus, and was not affecting the marine ecosystem. A land-based disposal solution for some of the waste was to be found within six months, it added.

    The Cyprus Fisheries department also sped to give assurances that fish caught off Cyprus were contamination-free.

    But local greens have refused to accept the government and Israeli embassy positions.

    [04] Taxi murderer says he lied in implicating colleague

    By Martin Hellicar

    A LARNACA airport taxi driver was yesterday acquitted of charges of helping a colleague dispose of the body of a French tourist he had shot on Christmas day last year.

    Panicos Andreou, alias Shioferos, 38, from Xylotymbou village, had pleaded not guilty to helping 36-year-old Kyriacos Zanas, from Kiti outside Larnaca, dump the body of 49-year-old Jacqueline Françoise Chomik down a 100-foot deep dry well at Xylotymbou.

    Shioferos was acquitted by Larnaca District Court after Zanas, who is serving a 20-year sentence for the killing, testified that he had lied when he implicated his colleague in a statement he made to police after his arrest on February 7.

    Zanas had told police Shioferos led him to the well in Xylotymbou, 60km from the site of the shooting at Moni outside Limassol, and then helped him lift Chomik's body from the boot of his taxi cab and dump it down the well.

    But in court yesterday, Zanas changed his story, saying Shioferos was not with him when he disposed of the tourist's corpse.

    "I decided to make the statement to police in order to implicate Shioferos because I had reason to believe he had tipped off police," Zanas told the court.

    Zanas became chief suspect after police acting on a tip-off found bloodstains in the boot of his taxi cab. He was arrested after the DNA blueprint of blood stains was found to closely match that of Chomik's relatives.

    Zanas then led police to the dry well where Chomik's body was found, more than a month after her disappearance.

    In his initial statement to police, Zanas also said he and Shioferos had gone to a Christmas party in Larnaca a few hours after the shooting, while Chomik's corpse lay in his cab. He also said the two of them took in a floor-show at a Nicosia cabaret after dumping the corpse.

    But Zanas retracted this yesterday, saying he told Shioferos of the murder after disposing of the body. "But because I was drunk I don't know if he understood what I was telling him," he told the court.

    After Zanas' testimony, public prosecutor Mikis Avraamides asked the court to declare the murderer a hostile witness.

    The court reconvened after a midday recess and judge Tefkros Economou acquitted Shioferos and said Zanas would face trial for hostile testimony.

    Zanas shot Chomik after picking her up from the airport to take her to her Limassol hotel and after an argument over the fare. he drove onto a dirt track near Moni and shot her three times with a hunting gun.

    [05] Police seek Russian after maid claims assault

    By Jean Christou

    A RUSSIAN businessman is being sought by police in connection with an alleged assault on his Filipina maid.

    Police at Lycavitos in Nicosia said an arrest warrant had been issued yesterday for Vadim Smelianski on suspicion of assaulting his maid Marietta Gantalou from the Philippines.

    A spokesman said Gantalou, 29, had filed an official complaint yesterday morning, saying her employer had assaulted her late on Wednesday at his home.

    Still wearing her blood-stained clothes in which she fled the family home yesterday morning, Gantalou told the Cyprus Mail that she fell down in the kitchen and hit her head on the floor after her employer and his wife, both in their thirties, allegedly dragged her there in an attempt to force her to wash dishes.

    With blood streaming from the left side of her head, she said she got up and, although she complained of feeling dizzy, she still had to wash the dishes.

    Gantalou said that when she had finished, her employers tried to clean her injury in the bathroom, but she fled to her room.

    "I stayed in my room and then I fell asleep," Gantalou said.

    "In the morning my ma'am told me to wash my clothes and I told her I would but instead I ran away."

    Gantalou said she fled to a friend's house and from there to the immigration department. She said immigration brought her to police, who transferred her to hospital where she was treated and returned to the Lycavitos police station to make a formal complaint. Police officers later brought her to the Philippine Consul's office.

    She said the row on Wednesday had erupted around 10.20pm after she finished the family ironing and her employer's wife had told her to wash three plates in the sink.

    Gantalou said she refused because she had just finished ironing and had completed her dishwashing duties prior to that.

    She said it was not the first run-in with her employers, since she had begun working for them in February 1997.

    Once, she said, her female employer had thrown a bowl of baby cereal on her and then cleaned up the table with Gantalou's clothes.

    On another occasion, she claims they threw her luggage down the stairs.

    [06] Britain blocked defence sale to Cyprus?

    BRITAIN has blocked a British arms manufacturer from supplying the National Guard with spare parts for an anti-aircraft system, ANT1 television reported last night.

    The private TV station said Marconi had sent a letter to the Defence Ministry on May 27 informing them that the Foreign Office had refused to licence the sale of parts for a multi-million-pound system sold to the National Guard a few years ago.

    The Foreign Ministry had made an official complaint to the British government over the matter, but this had fallen on deaf ears, ANT1 stated.

    But British High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet told the Cyprus Mail last night that no such complaint had been made, "unless this was done in the last hour."

    The spokesman said he could neither confirm nor deny the report, but added that there were, and always have been, British government guidelines on the sale of military equipment to Cyprus.

    "If a company is to export to Cyprus equipment that could be used for military purposes then if they fall outside the guidelines we refuse (permission)," Cazadlet said.

    ANT1 suggested Britain had placed a blanket ban on British firms selling military hardware to Cyprus.

    [07] Businessman was shot twice in New York

    NEW YORK police have launched a murder enquiry into the death of a wealthy Cypriot businessman shot twice in his Manhattan apartment.

    A post mortem on the body of 50-year-old Costas Kaimakliotis, from Aradippou, found that his death had been caused by two bullets to the head and upper body.

    The father-of-five was a frequent visitor to New York, where he had business interests and a son at university.

    The man was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday after he failed to contact home over a three-day period.

    According to his brother George, police found finger prints on the apartment window that did not belong to the businessman.

    American police said there was no sign of a struggle or a robbery.

    Arrangements are being made to bring Kaimakliotis' body back to Aradippou by the weekend.

    [08] Youths held for burning teacher's car

    TWO TEENAGERS, one French and the other British, were remanded in custody for six days yesterday for allegedly setting fire to their teacher's Mercedes.

    Police believe the two 15-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, torched the car early this morning to get back at a teacher who they claim was victimising them.

    The Mercedes belonging to teacher Nicos Gregoriou, 32, was the target of an arson attack outside a block of flats in Limassol.

    The teenagers are pupils at the fee-paying Grammar School in Limassol, of which Gregoriou is also the owner.

    Police said that the two minors have apparently admitted to the arson attack in a voluntary statement.

    Yesterday's remand hearing at a Limassol district court was held behind closed doors.

    [09] Health care plan for foreign workers

    A BILL before the House Health Committee aims to provide free medical provisions for foreign workers.

    Current regulations do not sufficiently cover foreign workers' access to free medical care, and there is a problem in meeting the demands of those who seek it, health officials said yesterday.

    Although foreign workers do obtain some kind of medical cover when they sign employment contract, this is usually confined to that made available by the unions.

    Under the proposed bill, employers would contribute to a medical fund, expected to receive over a £1 million a year, to ensure free health care for the estimated 17,000 foreign workers on the island.

    Health and Labour Ministry officials said this would guarantee that foreign workers received the same right to free medical care as their Cypriot colleagues.

    The scheme does not include those employed by offshore companies because they tend to be covered by comprehensive private medical schemes.

    [10] Anti-bases activist arrested

    ANTI-BASES activist Hambis Himonas was arrested by Sovereign Base Area (SBA) police yesterday afternoon for allegedly failing to appear before a bases court on May 29.

    Himonas was due in court to face charges of illegally entering a bases firing range in early April.

    The anti-bases movement stated in a press release that Himonas's relatives had been bared by SBA police from visiting Hambis in custody until after 8pm last night - three hours after his arrest.

    Himonas is expected to appear before a bases court today.

    [11] Revenge rape by sacked gardener

    A 74-YEAR-OLD woman was brutally raped by a young gardener, bitter at losing his job, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris reported yesterday.

    The 24-year-old gardener took revenge for being sacked by raping his employer's mother-in-law, the paper said.

    The assailant allegedly broke into the elderly woman's house in occupied Kyrenia by removing a window pane. Holding a screwdriver to her throat, he savagely raped her, Kibris said.

    The woman, who passed out in fear and pain, was found by neighbours the next morning and taken to hospital.

    According to the Turkish press, the screwdriver and a wristwatch found at the scene of the crime helped 'police' track down the rapist.

    [12] Pensioner killed by car

    A 75-YEAR-OLD man died yesterday after being run over by a car.

    Charilaos Antoniou was struck down while he was crossing the road outside the hospital in Kyperounda at around 7.30am. Antoniou, from Polisticho, died instantly. The car was driven by Savvas Aristidou, 35, from Kyperounda.

    Police were yesterday searching for the driver of a red saloon car who they think may have witnessed the accident.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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