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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, June 25, 1998


  • [01] Deal on the missing is 'dead and buried'
  • [02] Union defends pilot's decision to ground Dublin flight
  • [03] Interest rate reform before summer recess
  • [04] 'Time to address the crux of the Cyprus problem'
  • [05] Turkey urges Britain to defuse Cyprus tension
  • [06] One minute they're in, the next they're out
  • [07] House probes 'massive scandal'
  • [08] Drivers are careless and immature
  • [09] Lawyers back Efstathiou over Aeroporos party
  • [10] Church rallies as bishop stands accused
  • [11] Police seek charges for child abuse
  • [12] Focus on breast cancer
  • [13] British tourists held for stealing hotel safe
  • [14] New parliament excavation yields Hellenistic remains
  • [15] Furniture strike looms

  • [01] Deal on the missing is 'dead and buried'

    By Jean Christou

    AN AGREEMENT between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to resolve the contentious issue of the missing is dead and buried, the Greek Cypriot side said yesterday.

    The agreement, made on July 31 last year between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, was once and for all to determine the fate of 1,619 Greek Cypriot and 803 Turkish Cypriot missing persons.

    In January this year, the two sides went as far as exchanging files on a total of 600 people, 400 Greek Cypriots missing since 1974 and 200 Turkish Cypriots who went missing during the intercommunal troubles between 1964 and 1974.

    A further meeting was held in May to discuss plans for the exhumation and identification of remains.

    But shortly afterwards it emerged the process had run into trouble when the Turkish Cypriot side began imposing conditions.

    Yesterday, Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos said he believed the Turkish demands had put and end to the dialogue on the missing.

    "The July agreement is dead and buried," Christopoulos told the Cyprus Mail. "I'm afraid there is not much hope of it being revived."

    Christopoulos said the Turkish side was insisting that all those killed in the coup and listed among the missing should first be removed from the list.

    "This has nothing to do with the agreement on the exchange of information," Christopoulos said.

    A UN spokesman confirmed that the demand made by the Turkish side relating to the coup had not been part of the July agreement between the two leaders.

    "This is not a position which could be accepted by the Cypriot government and it is not in line with the agreement made in July," the spokesman said.

    The spokesman said the UN would try to restart the talks, but Christopoulos said outgoing UN chief Gustave Feissel had already made several such attempts, "but to no avail".

    "We have now decided to go ahead with the resolution of the issue on our side alone," Christopoulos said.

    He was referring to the proposed exhumation of the remains of some 20 to 25 Greek Cypriots known to be buried in cemeteries in the free areas.

    The remains of one man, buried along with two other unknown persons at a cemetery in Nicosia, are to be exhumed after legal permission is granted.

    The Greek Cypriot side has been aware all along that a certain number of unidentified people are buried in the free areas, but Christopoulos said nothing had so far been done to identify them because a DNA bank was only now being set up on the island.

    "The relatives would not have been satisfied with anything less than scientific proof," he said.

    [02] Union defends pilot's decision to ground Dublin flight

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PILOTS union Pasipy yesterday defended the actions of a Eurocypria captain who grounded a flight from Dublin when delays threatened to force him over his allotted flying time.

    "As much as passengers want to arrive on time, so do the pilots and crew. It is not justified to say the pilot deliberately grounded the Eurocypria flight," the union said in a statement.

    It argued that if the pilot had gone through with the flight to Larnaca, he would have broken strict international regulations and put the safety of 173 passengers at risk.

    "The Eurocypria pilot would have exceeded his flying time by 2 hours and 45 minutes. Pilots of all companies are obliged to follow regulations to the letter or face the sack," the Pasipy statement said.

    Insurance companies are unlikely to pay up in the event of an accident if the pilot has overshot his flying time, the statement went on.

    Eurocypria flight ECA 808 from Dublin was behind schedule due to delays in cleaning and loading the aircraft and heavy air traffic at the airport.

    The captain's refusal to exceed his allotted flying time meant the Airbus arrived a day late at Larnaca on Monday.

    Pilots blame Cyprus Airways management for enforcing tight flight schedules that come unstuck when delays occur.

    "We would like to clarify that flight schedules are determined by the company and not the pilots."

    And CY management were also blamed for not responding quickly enough to the pilot's request to fly to Athens and have another crew take over from there.

    However, Pasipy said their allegiance to the company and passengers should not be questioned:

    "To all those who doubt the pilots' love for their company, it is worth noting that two weeks ago during a strike in France, the Cyprus Airways crew loaded the aircraft themselves to ensure that the flight took off."

    [03] Interest rate reform before summer recess

    THE GOVERNMENT will put a bill freeing interest rates to the House before the 56-seat chamber goes into summer recess on July 10, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    The bill is part of a drive by the government to liberalise its financial sector and harmonise legislations with those of the European Union in preparation for membership of the 15-nation group. Cyprus opened accession talks with the EU in March, but is not expected to be a member before 2002 at the soonest.

    "It is important that we give the European Union and the rest of the world the feeling that a very important sector is being liberalised and modernised," Christodoulou told reporters.

    When adopted by parliament, the new bill will replace an antiquated 1944 law, which sets a ceiling of nine per cent on interest rates in Cyprus. The legislation was introduced by British colonial authorities to combat usury.

    The interest rate on deposits and loans currently stand at 6.5 per cent and 8.0 per cent respectively.

    Christodoulou said the draft bill would allow for an unspecified transitional period during which the new system would be screened for possible inadequacies. It would also have a clause protecting those who had already taken out housing loans.

    [04] 'Time to address the crux of the Cyprus problem'

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said that his demands for state-to- state talks for a Cyprus settlement are not a hinderance to such a solution, but will actually help efforts for a settlement.

    In an interview with the Turkish Daily News, Denktash said the time had come for talks to be held that would address the "crux" of the Cyprus problem: political equality between the two sides. Decades had been lost, he said, while the Turkish Cypriots hoped that intercommunal talks would result in a settlement and the Greek side tried to consolidate its image as the island's only legitimate government.

    "There can be no agreement while embargoes on us continue," he added. "We shall not accept the resumption of talks on the intercommunal basis."

    Denktash also blamed the European Union, saying it must recognise the harm it had caused to the Cyprus issue by beginning accession negotiations with Cyprus. He said that the EU had to see that a settlement would remain out of reach as long as it maintained "a policy of ignorance on Cyprus".

    But he said the Cyprus problem was the Greek side's "masterpiece".

    Asked about the S-300 missiles ordered by the government, Denktash said tensions on the island would "climax" if the missiles actually arrived, as "measures against such a development are being taken."

    "What I expect from a clever man like Clerides is to see this reality, and stop making calculations in haste." Were the missile situation to boil over, Denktash added, it would be all the fault of Clerides.

    Asked if the claims that there was no political will on either side of Cyprus, or in Greece and Turkey for a solution, Denktash said "Rubbish... Nonsense... I never heard of any foolish claim like this."

    [05] Turkey urges Britain to defuse Cyprus tension

    TURKEY yesterday urged Britain to move decisively to defuse growing tension on the island.

    "It has been requested from the guarantor state Britain to use all means at its disposal to stop military activities on Cyprus that increase tension," read a statement from Turkey's foreign ministry.

    Tension on the island has been running high over Turkey's strong objections to the government's S-300 Russian missile deal.

    Things came to a head last week when six low-flying Turkish fighter jets landed in the north, responding to the earlier arrival of four Greek F-16s at the Paphos air base.

    The statement from Ankara pointed to the Paphos base and the arrival of Greek jets as reasons why tensions were nearing fever pitch.

    A British embassy official in Ankara confirmed the letter.

    "They hope Britain will act to ensure a reduction in tension in general and the non-deployment of the S-300 missiles," the official told the Reuters news agency.

    Britain and America oppose the deployment of the missiles, due to arrive in October.

    After last week's aerial activity, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said there would be no more Greek jets coming for the foreseeable future.

    The defence ministry meanwhile yesterday confirmed that 10 Turkish fighter planes had on Tuesday violated the Nicosia Flight Information Region, northwest of Paphos.

    Turkish F-4s and F-16s were taking part in war games codenamed 'Sea Wolf' and conducted in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

    Sea Wolf is scheduled to end tomorrow.

    [06] One minute they're in, the next they're out

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    THE HOUSE security fiasco, which appeared temporarily solved on Tuesday, entered a new phase of misunderstanding yesterday as police returning to guard duties were once again barred from entering the building.

    The House ad hoc security committee, which met on Tuesday, believed that police measures to protect House president Spyros Kyprianou and the parliament building had been decided.

    The committee had agreed to back the cabinet's plan of placing Paphos Gate police in charge of the security of the building, until a permanent solution was reached, within 20 days, by a newly-formed joint ministerial and police committee.

    Other House officials, and particularly the House President were, however, not of the same opinion.

    When Paphos Gate police officers were yesterday instructed to return to guarding the House building from within, an official told them they could not enter the House and would have to patrol the grounds from the outside.

    It seemed there was some disagreement as to what the ad hoc committee's decision meant. So the special committee formed to find a permanent solution to the security problem held an emergency meeting to examine the new developments.

    They came to the conclusion that the problem lay in the misinterpretation of Tuesday's decision. The House President had apparently thought the agreement meant a return to the way things were before the cabinet decided to halve the number of police officers guarding politicians.

    In the meantime, the guards remained outside.

    The problems began last week, when Kyprianou reacted angrily to the reduction of his personal guard from 35 to 13 police officers and banned all guards from the House.

    Tuesday's committee supported the reduction of Kyprianou's personal guard.

    Akel deputy and former deputy police chief Costas Papacostas, who is a member of the special ministerial-police committee on security, said yesterday that the problem must be re-examined from another angle.

    "When the President of the House has not been informed on the basics, obviously the decision cannot be applied," he stressed.

    [07] House probes 'massive scandal'

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    A "SCANDAL of unprecedented proportions" involving alleged forgery and pandering to interests was brought before the House Interior Committee yesterday by Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou.

    Yiangou alleged that the Shacolas Group trade and finance empire had forged documents and had had a building licence approved by a retired Town Planning employee so it could build a commercial centre in the Strovolos suburb of Nicosia.

    Raising again the issue of town planning relaxations, which he has brought to the attention of the committee in the past, Yiangou claimed "it is much worse than even I had imagined."

    "It is a scandal of unprecedented proportions, not just a matter of town planning relaxation," he added.

    In a statement presented to the committee, Shacolas Group executive Nicos Shacolas denied that there was any relaxation. The statement informed the committee that the licence had been granted with a number of restrictions and preconditions. These included the reduction of the planned commercial centre and the enforcement of regulations regarding the construction of parking spaces, roads and other projects around the centre.

    "All these rules and restrictions do not constitute a relaxation," Shacolas argued.

    Yiangou, however, gave further details on the procedure followed to give what he insisted was a relaxation, saying that instead of the application going to the appropriate ministerial committee, it had gone straight to cabinet.

    He claimed that the Town Planning department was against the relaxation, which changed the relevant area from an industrial zone to a zone of industrial activity to accommodate the Shacolas Group and its sub-division, ITTL Trade Tourist and Leisure Park, so they could build a multi-purpose commercial centre on the plot in Strovolos.

    Yiangou further claimed that the companies involved had got a retired senior Town Planning official to sign a licence for the project last November, and then allegedly forged the documents to make it appear that he was still working at the time he had signed the licence.

    "As if by magic, following some 'unknown' intervention," Yiangou said, "certain persons' negative stance was converted to a positive one."

    "The relevant report was done," he continued, "and the relevant recommendation had to be signed. There was a question of who should sign it and so those in authority decided to recall to duty, just for a few hours, a senior Town Planning official who had retired, with the exclusive aim of getting this recommendation signed."

    The deputy stressed that dates were allegedly forged, called on the Attorney-general to intervene and demanded that the licence be shelved pending discussion by the House.

    Deputies, convinced by the force of Yiangou's allegations, agreed to pass on the matter to the Attorney-general. Disy deputy Antonis Karras said the committee could not continue discussing the matter until the "very serious allegations" made by Yiangou had been investigated by the state legal services.

    Committee chairman Nicos Katsourides stressed that it had to be ensured that construction of the commercial centre would not begin for as long the issue was being investigated by the Attorney-general and considered by the House.

    [08] Drivers are careless and immature

    By Andrew Adamides

    A STUDY carried out by local research group Amer has concluded that Cypriot drivers are thoughtless, egocentric, careless and immature, Amer general- manager Yiannis Papadopoulos said yesterday.

    The study, carried out by Amer on behalf of the police, who are battling to bring down the high number of accidents on the island's roads, was aimed at identifying the factors that contribute to accidents and finding ways of preventing them.

    Papadopoulos told a press conference that a staggering 40 per cent of drivers had been involved in one or more accidents, and that the highest risk group was of males aged between 18 and 24.

    He also shed further light on the characteristics of Cypriot drivers, who believe breaking the law is something that others do, and feel that punishment for road misdemeanours should be stricter.

    They are, he went on, risk-taking and careless, they ignore other road users and their immediate environment, and are impulsive.

    On the plus side, however, he said the study concluded that Cypriots did have good driving skills and kept their cars in good condition.

    But the poll also identified another factor in Cyprus driving problems: the fact that drivers do not seem to know the real cause of accidents.

    "Everyone says speed kills," Papadopoulos said. "Nobody says lane-changes kill, even though statistics show that 30 to 40 per cent of accidents are caused by this."

    The press conference was also attended by Justice Minister Nicos Koshis and outgoing police chief Panicos Loizou, who described the study as "an extra tool" in dealing with accidents, adding that it had confirmed which areas the police must work on.

    Koshis said the government's goal was to slash the fatal accident rate by 10 per cent by the end of the year. There were, he said, around 130 fatal accidents each year, and Cyprus needed a three- to five-year programme aimed at reducing the toll, as the required changes could not be made overnight.

    These, he said, include changes in legislation and the cultivation of different driving attitudes.

    He also put the blame partly on the police and pointed out that while drivers were going through the British bases areas, the tough policing there ensured better road discipline, while everywhere else drivers lost all sense of discipline because there was little fear of reprimand.

    The findings were released the morning after the roads claimed yet another life. Neophytos Charalambous, 16, was merging with traffic on the old Limassol road on his motorcycle late on Tuesday afternoon when he was hit by a car driven by farmer Costas Georgiou, 62.

    Charalambous, from Ypsonas, was seriously injured and died shortly after the accident occurred.

    Police are investigating.

    [09] Lawyers back Efstathiou over Aeroporos party

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL may be piqued, but the majority of lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou's colleagues believe he did nothing wrong by attending a party thrown by his clients the Aeroporos brothers to celebrate their acquittal on charges of attempted murder.

    Alecos Markides has accused Efstathiou of overstepping the mark, especially when he stated during Sunday's party at Kolossi village that he would be seeking an audience with the chief of police for Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25.

    Efstathiou retorted that an invitation from his clients' parents following Friday's court victory obliged him to show up at the party. And he said his clients simply wanted to see the chief of police to assure him they would stay on the straight and narrow path. Efstathiou also attacked Markides for saying the Assizes had been wrong to acquit the three.

    Markides says his office will challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.

    Most lawyers asked to comment on the Markides-Efstathiou spat yesterday agreed Efstathiou that had no choice but to attend the bash. The response of Nicosia lawyer Xenis Xenophontos was typical: "When I handled criminal cases and I won, and my clients invited me out to celebrate, I would go."

    The chairman of the Bar Association, Xenos Xenopoulos, declined to comment on the matter, saying it was not something the Bar was investigating. "We have a meeting this afternoon and it is not on the agenda," Xenopoulos said.

    But other lawyers were not so coy - though not one openly criticised Markides.

    "There was nothing wrong with what Mr Efstathiou did," said lawyer Eleni Vrahimi.

    "Every lawyer has to keep an office and needs customers, this is how we make our living," she said. "His clients are the Aeroporos brothers, whether he likes it or not. He was invited to the party by their parents, he had no reason not to go."

    Another lawyer said clients might sometimes be "scum", but this did not mean their lawyer was not obliged to celebrate a court victory with them. The Aeroporos brothers all have previous convictions for violent offenses.

    One top lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous, bucked the general trend, saying the Aeroporos brothers were well-known criminals and Efstathiou should have shunned the celebration.

    "If we accept that the court was right, then there would seem to be no reason not to go to the celebration. But everyone in Cyprus knows who the Aeroporos brothers are... he should not have gone," the lawyer said.

    Efstathiou's request for an audience with the police chief got a more mixed response.

    "He may have been straying into territory not his own on this one," said Xenophontos.

    Vrahimi disagreed. "If they (the Aeroporos brothers) want to see the police chief, then every citizen has the right to do this, and as their lawyer, he (Efstathiou) can act on their behalf in any capacity," she said.

    Markides has advised President Clerides against allowing the chief of police to meet with the brothers.

    The Assizes acquitted the three after dismissing the testimony of chief Prosecution witness Tassos Simellides, who named Hambis as instigator, Andros as architect and Panicos as hit-man for the attack on Antonis Fanieros.

    In their decision, the judges stated police and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis had "made promises" to Simellides - who is serving a nine-year sentence for acting as get-away driver for the shooting on May 29 last year - to get him to testify against the Aeroporos brothers.

    During the year-long trial, 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 being ensured passage abroad afterwards.

    Last year's attack was described as a gangland hit, part of an on-going feud between Limassol and Larnaca gangs vying for control of lucrative gambling, prostitution and drugs rings.

    Fanieros, 57, survived despite being hit in the neck as he came under a hail of machine-gun fire.

    The Assizes noted that no finger-prints belonging to any of the Aeroporos brothers were found on the motorbike, the machine-gun or any of the other items found by police with Simellides' help after the hit.

    [10] Church rallies as bishop stands accused

    By Charlie Charalambous

    AS BRITISH detectives prepare to visit Cyprus to question Bishop Chrysanthos of Limassol over fraud allegations, the Church has rallied round in his defence.

    "There could be people trying to hurt the bishop, foreigners and Cypriots who want to harm the Church," said Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos yesterday.

    The Paphos bishop said he was also a target of similar fraud scams, and believes his Limassol counterpart could be involved in a set-up.

    The Limassol bishop faces a series of allegations, which relate to money laundering and attempting to defraud to the tune of $3.7 million.

    And other allegations have surfaced, which claim he used Church property to secure loans for his business interests.

    "I don't know what has happened or if the reports are true or lies, we don't know.

    "If the claims are true, then it's not the right thing to do, but the bishop is innocent until proven guilty," said Bishop Chrysostomos.

    So far Bishop Chrysanthos has kept silent on the accusations, but he has been in contact with Archbishop Chrysostomos, who is keeping a keen eye on developments.

    He is expected to give a statement to Cypriot detectives soon, in the presence of officers from London.

    British police say they have three statements from suspects involved in the alleged investment fraud, who claim they were working on behalf of Chrysanthos.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said the police were determined to clear up the issue and stated the bishop had no other option but to give a statement.

    Bishop Chrysanthos, who returned to Cyprus from Greece on Tuesday, has said he will speak publicly on the matter after studying the media reports.

    [11] Police seek charges for child abuse

    POLICE are to charge a Limassol man for physically abusing his partner's five-year-old daughter.

    Suspicions were raised when the young girl was taken to Limassol general hospital on Monday suffering from bruises.

    Concerned doctors, believing the girl was a victim of abuse, called in the welfare services.

    Police received phone calls from the girl's apartment block neighbours, who claimed they had heard screams and crying on the previous Sunday.

    It is understood that the girl pointed the finger at her mother's live-in boyfriend when questioned by police.

    The mother and the boyfriend have denied physically abusing the girl, but apparently told police there were a few cross words when the child refused to eat her food.

    Limassol police said the case file would be sent to the Attorney-general's office to see if there are grounds for legal action.

    [12] Focus on breast cancer

    ONE IN 15 women in Cyprus will suffer from breast cancer at some stage in her life, Dr Michalis Taliadoros told a press conference yesterday.

    And there are 300 new cases of breast cancer recorded each year in Cyprus, compared to 130,000 cases in the rest of Europe.

    Dr Taliadoros was speaking at a press conference announcing the establishment of the Breast Cancer Prevention Movement, which was officially launched on Monday.

    The Movement was created after two years of preparatory work by the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends with the aim of increasing awareness, educating the public and exchanging experiences about breast cancer; teaching women about checking their breasts for early signs of abnormalities; promoting programmes for early detection of breast cancer, and ensuring better treatment of patients.

    The president of the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends, Dr Anna Achileoudi, said the creation of a specific breast cancer movement was in keeping with international efforts in dealing with the serious and spreading problem of breast cancer. And she pointed to such organisations as the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the Breast Cancer Co-operative Group, which carry out clinical research on breast cancer throughout Europe.

    She also announced that Cyprus would be taking part in an upcoming European conference on breast cancer, the first ever to deal exclusively with this type of cancer. The conference will take place in Florence on October 3 and will discuss prevention, treatment and care of breast cancer victims.

    Regarding local treatment, Dr Taliadoros of Larnaca General Hospital said doctors in Cyprus were trying to find other ways of treatment apart from mastectomy. He stressed that there had been great progress in diagnosis and early treatment, leading to a more effective fight against the disease.

    [13] British tourists held for stealing hotel safe

    TWO TEENAGE British tourists were remanded in custody yesterday on suspicion of stealing over 1,000 from their hotel safe.

    A Larnaca court remanded Lee Almond, 18, and Paul James Hollinshead, 18, both from Liverpool, for two days in connection with breaking and entering a hotel office, and taking away the safe and its cash contents.

    CID officer Leonidas Kalogirou told the court that both teenagers had given statements admitting to stealing the safe from their Ayia Napa hotel (Mike's Hotel Apartments).

    The two Brits were spotted trying to prize open the safe only a 100 metres from the hotel and were arrested on Tuesday morning.

    Missing from the safe is 678, 85 sterling, and 270 in sterling traveller's cheques.

    Police said the tourists handed over 52 in cash and the travellers cheques but the remainder is still unaccounted for.

    Police also believe the Brits could have committed similar crimes in Ayia Napa since their arrival on June 11.

    [14] New parliament excavation yields Hellenistic remains

    EXCAVATIONS at the site of the new House of Representatives building have turned up Hellenistic and early Roman remains, the Antiquities department revealed yesterday.

    In a press release, the department said the central Nicosia dig had yielded two large parallel walls, seemingly delineating a large rectangular area with a number of subdivisions inside.

    On the upper levels, a large number of stone tools were found, along with clay artefacts, cooking pots and lamps. A rectangular structure believed to be a kiln was found in the centre, and close to this were a number of items, including jugs, bowls and cooking pots as well as a lead vessel and a plaque made of the same material.

    Also found were several examples of the Cypro Archaic II period, notably two broken terracotta figures.

    The excavation began on April 28 and ended on June 5, under the direction of Archaeological Officer Dr Despo Pilides.

    The site was first discovered last year.

    [15] Furniture strike looms

    THE furniture-making industry faces serious disruption after unions Peo and Sek announced strike measures yesterday.

    In a joint statement, the unions stated the action had been forced by the deadlock in negotiations with management for renewal of collective agreements.

    The unions said the strikes would be called selectively and successively at the various wood-working shops. The exact dates for the strikes are yet to be announced.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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