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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-20

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

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


Saturday, June 20, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus rules out 'children's games' in skies
  • [02] Aeroporos brothers freed
  • [03] Cyprus repeats demilitarisation plan amid rising tension
  • [04] Foreign Office reassures British tourists
  • [05] Turks release Greek Cypriot
  • [06] British Interpol seek bishop on fraud inquiry
  • [07] Amnesty blasts discriminatory provisions in new gay law
  • [08] Police call for tougher laws to fight growing drugs problem
  • [09] Russian arrested over assault claim
  • [10] Larnaca shuts down
  • [11] Cyprus Airways links up with Air UK for expanded regional service
  • [12] Extra summer ambulances
  • [13] US offers expertise to tackle drought

  • [01] Cyprus rules out 'children's games' in skies

    CYPRUS said yesterday it would not play "children's games" with Turkey in the skies over the island and had no more plans for visits by Greek military aircraft.

    But Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz urged Greece to "stop testing our resolve" on Cyprus and said military actions undertaken by Athens there posed a threat to Turkey itself.

    Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said this week's stopover of four Greek F-16s and two transport carriers was part of a long-scheduled exercise.

    "We had absolutely no intention of either causing a crisis or provoking anyone. There was a training exercise which we had planned for a very long time," he said.

    Turkey sent six F-16 planes to the occupied north on Thursday in reaction to the Greek aircraft's arrival at a military base in Paphos on Tuesday.

    Cyprus and Greece played down the move, describing it as a reaction by Ankara to its failure to be accepted for fast-track entry to the European Union.

    "We are not going to follow the game of small children, that because four planes came and then Turkey sent six we will send eight... there are no more exercises with the participation of the Greek air force, at least for the period before us," Cassoulides said.

    Yilmaz, speaking in Bucharest at the end of a two-day visit to Romania, said the main problem remained what he called attempts by Athens to turn Cyprus into a Greek island.

    "Turkey wants a fair and just solution in Cyprus and remains prepared to co- operate. But the first condition for such a solution is to reject any attempt to transform the island into a Greek island...," Yilmaz said in Turkish. "Our recommendation to Greece is to stop testing our resolve."

    Yilmaz said the unprecedented arrival in Cyprus this week of Greek military aircraft and proposals to install Russian missiles in the government- controlled area constituted an issue "that goes beyond the dimension of a Cypriot problem. It is in fact a threat to Turkey."

    Turkey, he said, had repeatedly denounced the proposed deployment of Russian surface-to-air missile system in the autumn and repeated pledges to take whatever measures were necessary to counteract them.

    "Installing Russian missiles in the southern part of Cyprus not only destabilised peace in Cyprus, but is also an action which will lead to the deterioration of the balance in the eastern Mediterranean," he said.

    "This issue does not concern only Turkey. But Turkey will without hesitation take all measures incumbent on it."

    Yilmaz said there were no plans to seek mediation in the long-running dispute over the island's future. But Britain, the former colonial power in Cyprus, had to be reminded of its responsibilities as a guarantor of stability.

    "We are not waiting for mediation from anyone," he said. "We only wish to remind Britain that it has a duty... as a guarantor."

    Washington expressed concern at the incidents over Cyprus this week. Kenneth Bacon, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said a US aircraft carrier, the Eisenhower, would be in the Mediterranean soon on a previously scheduled tour.

    Cassoulides said the Eisenhower would be heading to the Adriatic because of the crisis in Kosovo, and not for Cyprus.

    He reserved especial criticism for international media which, he said, reported "false news" on Cyprus.

    "Unfortunately the international press has reported false news, maybe by mistake, which may have created some problems internationally. These issues are being dealt with and controlled," he said. He did not elaborate.

    Meanwhile, UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan for the second time this week appealed for parties to the Cyprus dispute to avoid stoking tension.

    "In recent days, there have been signs of increased military activity in Cyprus and in the region," a brief statement issued through a UN spokesman said.

    "The secretary-general reiterates the appeal he made in his good offices report of June 16 and trusts that all parties involved will abstain from any action which could add to the tension," the statement concluded.

    Annan was referring to an appeal he made in his latest report on the so far fruitless efforts to revive talks aimed at reuniting the island under a federal system.

    In that report, he said: "I strongly hope that all parties involved will abstain from any action which could further exacerbate tension and I count on their fullest support in the United Nations continuing efforts."

    [02] Aeroporos brothers freed

    THREE Aeroporos brothers were yesterday acquitted of charges of attempting to murder gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros in Larnaca on May 29 last year.

    The Nicosia assizes ruled that there was no prima facie case for brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, Aeroporos to answer, dismissing the prosecution case.

    Chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides has testified that Hambis was the instigator, Andros the architect and Panicos the hit man for the drive- by shooting. Simellides, 28, is serving a nine-year sentence for driving the get-away motorbike for the attack.

    He told the court that Panicos shot at 57-year-old Fanieros with a machine- gun as he sat behind him on a motorbike. The father-of-three also described how the three brothers forced him to take part in the shooting and how Andros planned the hit.

    Defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou labelled Simellides a liar who had cut a deal with police to help secure the conviction of the Aeroporos brothers in exchange for seeing out his sentence at a country estate and passage abroad afterwards.

    The high-profile, 12 month, trial was conducted under heavy police security, and Simellides and his family were shadowed by police bodyguards throughout, for fear an attempt might be made on the chief witnesses life.

    Simellides and his family were kept under police guard at the country home of a former police chief.

    In its decision, the court criticised police for the special treatment they had given their chief witness.

    The three-bench court also stated that there were contradictions in both Simellides's and police testimonies. One police witness had told the court the bike that the hit-men had escaped on was red, whereas another said it was blue.

    The court noted that no finger-prints belonging to any of the Aeroporos brothers were found on the motorbike, nor on any of the other items found by police with Simellides' help.

    Fanieros narrowly survived the attack outside his gambling club in Larnaca, despite being hit in the neck as he came under a hail of machine-gun fire. The attack was described as a gangland hit, part of an on-going feud between Limassol and Larnaca gangs allegedly vying for control of drugs, prostitution and gambling rackets.

    The three Aeroporos brothers, arrested in June last year after they were implicated by Simellides, have been in custody for over a year.

    [03] Cyprus repeats demilitarisation plan amid rising tension

    CYPRUS has reiterated its proposal for demilitarisation of the island in a letter to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    Speaking at his regular press briefing, Stylianides said President Glafcos Clerides had sent the letter to Annan on Thursday, adding that it included "concrete proposals" about the island's demilitarisation, as well as a "timetable" for its implementation.

    He gave no details of the government's suggestions, but said: "we have proved through these specific proposals that we are in favour of the reduction of tension."

    The announcement came as tension escalated after Turkey sent six warplanes to the island in retaliation for the earlier visit of Greek warplanes to the government-controlled areas.

    Stylianides also defended the Greek planes' visit, saying this was "perfectly legal within the framework of the joint defence pact that Cyprus has with Greece."

    He dismissed the likelihood of a military clash over Cyprus.

    [04] Foreign Office reassures British tourists

    THE BRITISH Foreign Office yesterday said there was no reason for Britons not to holiday in Cyprus, despite increasing tension on the island.

    A Sunday Times report last month claimed the Foreign Office had prepared a contingency plan for evacuation of 250,000 British tourists in the event of an outbreak of war on the island this Summer. The arrival of Greek and Turkish air force F-16s in Cyprus this week has added to the talk of war, sparked by the expected delivery of Russian S-300 missiles to the island in the Autumn.

    But a Foreign Office spokesman yesterday told the Cyprus News Agency that there was no reason for tourists to stay away.

    "Our position regarding visits to Cyprus by British citizens has not changed as a result of recent developments on the island," the spokesman said in London.

    "British citizens can visit Cyprus as usual and we do not see any reason for those who are planning such visits to change their plans," he said.

    The spokesman also said Britain's special representative for Cyprus, Sir David Hannay, was planning to visit the island "next month".

    [05] Turks release Greek Cypriot

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    A 50-year-old Greek Cypriot from Yeri who was detained by the Turkish occupation forces on Wednesday was released yesterday.

    Andreas Kyriacou was held when he entered the Turkish-occupied area accidentally while driving on the old Nicosia-Limassol road.

    According to police, Kyriacou appeared before an illegal court in the north which sentenced him to either one month in jail or a 202 fine.

    Kyriacou paid the fine and was released into the hands of United Nations personnel who drove him to Ledra Palace. His car was also returned to him.

    [06] British Interpol seek bishop on fraud inquiry

    By Charlie Charalambous

    BISHOP Chrysanthou of Limassol has been linked to a British police investigation into a conspiracy to defraud $3.7 million from an investor.

    British Interpol have contacted Cyprus police requesting their co-operation in cracking the scam; they want the bishop to be questioned as part of the enquiry.

    "I can confirm that we have received a request from British Interpol for our co-operation in a case of attempted fraud in which the bishop (Chrysanthou) has been named," CID chief Nathaniel Papageorgiou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Chrysanthou's name was mentioned after three Britons were arrested in London for allegedly attempting to defraud a British businessman of $3.7 million.

    They apparently offered the businessman a bogus 300 per cent return on his investment and said they represented the bishop who would act as the guarantor, according to witness statements.

    "We are collecting evidence from the British authorities, which we will study carefully before deciding on our course of action," Papageorgiou said.

    According to reports, the British suspects claim the money was deposited at a Cypriot bank in London then channelled to an offshore bank in Cyprus.

    The suspects also allege that the bishop and another wanted Briton are co- owners of a US company with capital valued at $200 million.

    [07] Amnesty blasts discriminatory provisions in new gay law

    By Martin Hellicar

    AMNESTY International yesterday called on the government to revise a recently approved bill decriminalising homosexuality, fearing that gays could still face discrimination.

    "The organisation is concerned that the new legislative provisions could still result in the imprisonment of people solely for their homosexuality, including for private sexual relations between consenting adults," the human rights group stated in a press release.

    The controversial decriminalisation of sex between consenting adult males was passed last month after last-minute adjustments were made to provisions to dampen the objections of the Church and many deputies. The long-delayed bill was approved just eight days ahead of a Council of Europe (CoE) deadline for Cyprus to comply with a 1993 European Court of Human Rights ruling to decriminalise homosexual relations.

    Amnesty noted that the new legislation was "clearly discriminatory as it defines the age of consent for sexual activity between males at 18, while the age of consent for heterosexual activity is 16."

    Amnesty added that restrictions on privacy applied only to sexual activity between males.

    "In particular, the application of the revised article 171, which carries a sentence of up to five years imprisonment for 'unnatural acts between males performed in public or which involve one of the persons being aged under 18', and which includes in its definition of acts performed 'in public' those which take place 'between more than two people or in the presence of a third party', could continue to lead to the imprisonment of male adults solely for engaging in consensual homosexual relations in private," Amnesty stated.

    Another article providing for a year's imprisonment for "indecent behaviour or invitation or provocation or advertisement aimed at performing unnatural acts between males" could also lead to discrimination, Amnesty stated. "It could lead to the imprisonment of individuals solely for having exercised their right to freedom of expression and to freedom of assembly and association," the organisation said.

    "Amnesty International urges the Cypriot authorities to amend the legislation to bring it into line with international standards," the human rights group stated.

    The organisation warned that for as long as the law remained as it stood, Amnesty would adopt as prisoners of conscience any individuals jailed "for engaging in sexual relations with one or more adults, while having taken reasonable precautions not to be seen or heard by others."

    [08] Police call for tougher laws to fight growing drugs problem

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    THE DRUG squad has called for more effective legislation and for the creation of an Anti-drug Council to help in the fight against drugs.

    In a press conference yesterday launching a week-long anti-drugs campaign, Police chief Panikos Hadjiloizou and drug squad commander, Tassos Panayiotou, pointed to an increasing tendency to drug use, particularly among young people.

    According to statistics available to police, there has been an increase in drug use among people between the ages of 21 and 35.

    A professional breakdown of people arrested on drug-related charges revealed that the highest ratio involved manual workers, who constitute 30.1 per cent of drug offenders. Further behind were tourism industry employees (13.9 per cent), private employees (13.3 per cent), followed by the unemployed at 11.4 per cent.

    Police argue that this year has seen an increase in the use of cannabis and its derivatives, marijuana and hashish. This is regarded as a dangerous tendency by police, because of the belief that the use of so-called 'soft' drugs like cannabis can lead to addiction to more far dangerous hard drugs.

    The drug squad commander, however, stressed that the exact extent of the drug problem in Cyprus was no yet known, due to the lack of any accurate studies on the subject. Police chief Hadjiloizou added that "in relation to other countries, the situation in Cyprus is not disheartening, but the dangers are there and they are high."

    Hadjiloizou said the drug squad, which has increased its staff by 60 per cent since the beginning of the year to cope with the growing problem, attributed great significance to both prevention and treatment for drug users.

    "We attribute huge importance to education campaigns in preventing the spread of drug use, and for that reason the drug squad has filmed an education video which offers ample information on drugs and their tragic consequences," he said.

    Panayiotou stressed that the drug squad were having a hard time arresting drug traffickers due to pubic disinterest in the problem as well as inadequacies in the law as it stands. The drug squad commander said that for police to confront the drug problem more effectively, "there are three urgent necessities".

    He listed the need for a scientific study on the use of drugs in Cyprus; said the House should consider the setting up of an anti-drug Council and Fund; and called for better drug laws to act as a deterrent.

    [09] Russian arrested over assault claim

    A RUSSIAN businessman was arrested yesterday in connection with an alleged assault on his Filipina maid.

    Vadim Smelianski was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his maid Marietta Gantalou.

    Gantalou, 29, had filed an official complaint on Thursday morning saying Smelianski had assaulted her late on Wednesday at his home.

    Gantalou said that during a row over washing dishes, her employers dragged her into the kitchen, and she fell and hit her head on the floor.

    With blood streaming from the left side of her head, she said she was forced to continue working.

    The following morning she fled the family home and lodged an official complaint with police.

    [10] Larnaca shuts down

    LARNACA closed down yesterday in protest at what residents and officials see as a lack of essential infrastructure in the town and district.

    Shops and other businesses closed for two hours, from 11am to 1pm. A gathering took place in front of the Town Hall and was addressed by mayor George Lykourgos. Present were deputies, representatives of all political parties and local district officials.

    Lycourgos cited a whole series of projects for the town and district that he said had not been carried through.

    And he drew attention to a list of promises made by President Clerides to the city authorities in May, 1996; the promises had all remained unfulfilled, and no time frame had been set out for any of the projects.

    Larnaca officials warn of an escalation of action if nothing is done to revitalise the city.

    [11] Cyprus Airways links up with Air UK for expanded regional service

    CYPRUS Airways (CY), in collaboration with Air UK, is covering six more destinations to Britain thus offering better service to the island's increasing number of travellers.

    CY has signed a deal with Air UK offering connecting flights from Stanstead airport to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Aberdeen, Jersey and Guernsey.

    The deal comes into effect on Monday June 22. Cypriot travellers will be able to fly to Stanstead with Cyprus Airways and from there continue to any of the other six destinations on an Air UK flight with minimum transit time. In the same manner, British travellers can reach Cyprus from these six airports without excess inconvenience.

    CY flies to Stanstead airport every Tuesday and Friday, departing from Larnaca airport at 10.30am.

    [12] Extra summer ambulances

    AMBULANCES are to be stationed on the island's highways during the tourist season from July 1 to October 15 1998.

    According to the decision of the Council of Ministers, the extra ambulances will operate to cover the island's four main roads, as well as the Troodos area.

    One will be stationed at Pissouri, to cover the Limassol to Paphos highway; one at Xylophagou for the Paralimni to Larnaca road; one at Polis to cover the Polis to Paphos stretch; and an ambulance will also be stationed at Kyperounda to service the Troodos area.

    Since the summer of 1997, motorway ambulance stations in Kofinou and Linopetra have been operating on a permanent basis.

    The Kofinou Station covers the Kofinou to Limassol, Kofinou to Nicosia and Kofinou to Larnaca stretches of highway. The Linopetra Station covers the Nicosia area.

    [13] US offers expertise to tackle drought

    THE United States is looking into ways of contributing towards solving the acute water shortage in Cyprus, US ambassador Kenneth Brill said yesterday.

    Brill was speaking after a meeting with Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Costas Themistocleous at which water-related issues were discussed.

    Brill said the US was co-operating with senior officials at the ministry and with the minister himself "in exploring some areas where our expertise and our experience in the water issues in the US can contribute to the situation here and the government's efforts to deal with the water situation in Cyprus."

    The ambassador said the meeting had seen good discussion about areas of co- operation, and added: "we hope to do some more work together."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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