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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-31

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

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


Friday, July 31, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Mixed reaction to Loizidou ruling
  • [02] Tourists claim police beat confessions out of them
  • [03] Boat people stage noisy protest
  • [04] War of words over British tree-cutting
  • [05] English School board replaced
  • [06] Tourists fined for nude swim
  • [07] Briton jailed for trying to skip hotel bill
  • [08] Boy critical after hit by taxi
  • [09] Green anger at Polemidhia stadium plan
  • [10] Parents protest 'discrimination' on military service
  • [11] Unions wrangle over CY deal
  • [12] Undercover sting turns nasty
  • [13] Christofias offers help on stalled tax talks with Russia

  • [01] Mixed reaction to Loizidou ruling

    By Elias Hazou

    REACTIONS to the European Court of Human Right's ruling on the Loizidou vs Turkey case began coming in yesterday, with the decision hailed in Cyprus, but dismissed as "unfortunate" in Ankara.

    In a written statement released yesterday, Kyrenia refugee Titina Loizidou said that the decision was important not only for her, but also for all Greek Cypriot refugees, though she added that the inability to enjoy her property could "not be counted in cold numbers and monetary compensation."

    "I am confident that the Cyprus Government... will use all available means of pressuring Turkey into allowing me to return to my native town of Kyrenia," she went on to say.

    Speaking at his daily press briefing, government spokesman Christos Stylianides pointed out that the decision was significant in that it "delegates responsibility to Turkey for the invasion", and that it "confirms that Loizidou is still the rightful owner of her property in the north."

    Achilleas Demetriades, Loizidou's lawyer, felt that Turkey would eventually have to pay up, and suggested that Turkish assets abroad might be targeted.

    But a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said yesterday that the court ruling was a hindrance to solving the division of Cyprus.

    "This issue can only be addressed and settled between the two states in Cyprus," it said. The statement added that individual cases like Loizidou's would block a general settlement of thousands of similar cases on both sides of the Green Line that divides the island.

    The Turkish foreign ministry said the case was a matter between the plaintiff and the authorities in the occupied areas, which the court did not recognise.

    "It is unfortunate that the Court has taken the judgments on the case without taking into account the fact that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is an independent state," it said.

    On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey should pay Loizidou £300,000 in compensation for "prevention of enjoyment of her property."

    The ruling was the conclusion of a case filed in 1989 against Turkey. In 1996, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had violated Loizidou's rights by denying her access to her property.

    By a 14 to three vote on Wednesday, the court granted £300,000 compensation for prevention of enjoyment of property, an additional £20,000 for moral damages and a further £137,000 to cover her legal costs.

    Ruling Disy party leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday welcomed the court's decision, congratulating Loizidou for showing "determination in her just battle, which the European Court's ruling at long last vindicated." This case, he went on in a written statement, "is strong proof that persistence and unity in a common cause can overcome the most difficult of obstacles."

    The United Democrats also issued a statement, saying the European court's decision "vindicated legal efforts that condemn Turkey for its unlawful actions in Cyprus."

    The ruling is widely viewed as having a significant political aspect. If Turkey refuses to pay up, this would potentially work to the Cyprus government's advantage in European diplomatic circles. As Demetriades put it: "if they (Turkey) want to be part of Europe, they should play by the club Europe rules."

    [02] Tourists claim police beat confessions out of them

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TWO LONDON Stockmarket runners fined £600 each yesterday for making false insurance claims are alleging that their confessions were beaten out of them by Ayia Napa police.

    Matthew Lowman and Nicholas West, both 19, from Buckhurst Hill, Essex, were fined by a Larnaca court for making a false claim about the theft of a few pairs of jeans and a bottle of aftershave from their Ayia Napa hotel.

    West, who earns £20,000 a year as a runner for Association Générale in the City, was fined for falsely claiming that a £30 bottle of aftershave and a £50 designer shirt had been stolen from him.

    Lowman, who earns £15,000 a year as a TRX Futures employee, was fined £600 for falsely stating that a pair of £76 Armani jeans, a pair of £50 Levis, and £83 in cash had been stolen from his room.

    The tourists pleaded guilty to making a false claim, but they later said they had no choice but to sign a confession that was put in front of them.

    "I was hit about ten times in a separate room in the presence of three CID officers," West claimed after the court decision.

    The teenagers then described how they were allegedly treated when they entered Ayia Napa police station at 10pm last Monday.

    "Some of our belongings were stolen, so we went straight to the police thinking they would help us, but we made a big mistake," said Lowman.

    West said that their friend Paul Clark, 19, from Chigwell, Essex, who allegedly had five pairs of jeans stolen, was not asked to file a complaint.

    West claimed the Ayia Napa duty sergeant had accused them of lying before they could even explain what had happened.

    "As soon as I mentioned insurance, he said: 'if you're lying I will put you in jail'," Lowman claimed.

    Ayia Napa police deal with hundreds of insurance claims every year, mainly from British tourists, with a high incidence of false claims.

    Both teenagers claim they were made to sign pre-written police confessions, to which they allegedly agreed under heavy duress and threats.

    "I saw Nicholas being slapped in the face before they took him away. I was shouted at by six police officers; I'm only 19, it scared the crap out of me," Lowman said.

    The two tourists said that after a few hours of hostile questioning, they were willing to sign anything and admit their guilt.

    "They (police) gave us a statement and told us to sign it, which we did," said Lowman.

    The next day, Lowman and West claim they were taken back to Ayia Napa police station and made to sign a second statement, saying they did not wish to change their admission of guilt.

    During yesterday's brief court hearing, the tourists' Cypriot defence lawyer, George Midis, hinted that police methods might have been unorthodox, although he did not make any specific allegations of brutality.

    "My clients are disappointed at the behaviour towards them by the police," Midis told the court.

    Judge Tefkros Economou replied sternly:

    "It is the court which should be disappointed, because we can't allow people to make fools of the police; maybe a jail term will help them get over their disappointment, so I urge you to withdraw the statement."

    The lawyer agreed to retract the statement.

    Last August, the police ordered an investigation into allegations by British tourists that Famagusta CID terrorised confessions out of them.

    Andrew Esqulant and Lester Brown, both 19 and from Bexley in Kent, claimed they had been coerced into making confessions about filing false insurance claims.

    Esqulant's stolen credit card was used while he was in police custody.

    And his father Tony confirmed yesterday from the UK that the insurance company had paid up in full, despite the Cyprus court's decision to fine them £280 each for making a false claim last year.

    The police investigation cleared Famagusta CID of any wrongdoing.

    [03] Boat people stage noisy protest

    MANY of the 'boat people' being held under police guard in a Limassol hotel say they have not yet been questioned by the UNHCR on their applications for political asylum.

    The illegal immigrants, currently under threat of deportation, staged a noisy protest at the Pefkos Hotel yesterday, banging on pots and buckets and waving placards.

    "They are sending us to go to Africa to die," a spokesman for some of the immigrants told a news conference in the hotel.

    Doros Polycarpou of the Alien Support Group said 30 African and 26 Iraqi Kurd immigrants have not yet been questioned by the UNHCR, which he said had not yet received their applications.

    The 56 applications have been submitted again to Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides, who is legally required to pass them on to the UN, he said.

    "The government should have helped these people and forwarded their claims. This did not happen," Polycarpou claimed.

    Rwandan Peter Osagiedeliyi, 30, is spokesman for the Africans under guard at the hotel. "They are sending us back to a country where there is a war and life is not safe," he said yesterday.

    The spokesman for the Arab refugees, Suhaib Anwar-Salhih, 30, an Iraqi Kurd, said that 50 immigrants are continuing a hunger strike begun four days ago.

    "We came here hungry and we'll go home hungry," he said. Anwar-Salhih said he and his wife left Iraq "as life there was dangerous".

    Polycarpou accused the government of being undemocratic in not keeping the immigrants informed of developments about their case.

    Amnesty International lawyer Doros Kakoulis said the position is clear: "Legally the government is obliged to provide political asylum or find another county for these people and investigate cases where someone asks for asylum. In no case should someone be returned to a country where he is in danger."

    Even if an application for asylum is rejected by the UNHCR, the immigrant has the right to appeal within a month, he said.

    The 109 passengers aboard the Rida Allah were found drifting in Cyprus waters on June 29. Ten Syrian immigrants have already been deported, but only three of the boat people have been granted political asylum by the UNHCR so far.

    Disaster struck two days after the start of their voyage from Tripoli in Lebanon. The engine failed and they spent the next nine days adrift at sea. Two men died of hunger and thirst and were thrown overboard. The Syrian captain is now in custody facing charges of carrying passengers on a boat deemed unsafe.

    [04] War of words over British tree-cutting

    By Martin Hellicar

    AN UNEASY calm returned to the Xylophagou area yesterday following Wednesday night's clashes between bases police and local residents protesting over the clearing of forest land.

    Bases spokesman captain Jon Brown condemned the "violent" actions of the protestors and defended the British army's right to clear a firing range in the Xylophagou forest, which lies within the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area (SBA).

    The Green party called a press conference to attack the bases for arresting one of their members and felling trees, labelling both actions "illegal".

    Brown said seven bases policemen and two British soldiers had been injured in "scuffles" during Wednesday night's protest on the Xylophagou to Ormidia road. A similar demonstration had been held in the same area the night before.

    "SBA have no objection to peaceful protests. However, violent behaviour as displayed last night, which resulted in injuries of several SBA policeman and special constables is most definitely in breech of law and not peaceful in any way," Brown said.

    "This violent behaviour, which included large-scale stoning perpetrated by protestors, is to be deplored."

    The spokesman said three protestors - two of them women - had been arrested during the clashes but not held.

    "Due to the size of the crowd, the three were dislodged by police and bundled into cars," Brown said.

    He said another man, Sotiris Christou, had been arrested in the firing range area earlier in the day.

    Green party member Christou yesterday charged bases police with "illegally" arresting him for parking his car in the Xylophagou forest and then keeping him handcuffed in solitary confinement for seven hours overnight without allowing him access to a phone or a doctor.

    Brown denied the allegations, saying Christou had only been held for three hours and was not handcuffed while in detention. "He was released on bail to reappear before a bases court to face charges of criminal traffic obstruction, traffic obstruction and obstructing a public thoroughfare," Brown said.

    Brown also dismissed Green party allegations that bases police had acted "aggressively and not at all politely" towards party members who tried to visit the firing range on Wednesday afternoon.

    Green party leader George Perdikis also charged the bases with illegally clearing state forest land in a covert effort to create a firing range.

    "This operation is obviously being carried out for the creation of a firing range and not for reasons of protection of the natural environment. The aim is to create a firing range and to get rid of the farmers from the area," Perdikis said.

    He handed journalists copies of a 1987 Forestry Department licence issued to a Xylophagou farmer allowing him to plant acacias in area now being cleared.

    Brown countered that the area being cleared was "part of land belonging to the bases and designated for military use."

    He denied any covert action on the part of the bases: "We have no hidden agenda."

    "This is an operation to remove trees illegally planted on MOD land in order to create a firing range," Brown said.

    The greens vowed to continue to campaign against British army exercises and forest destruction anywhere on the island.

    The tree-cutting continued yesterday.

    [05] English School board replaced

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE ENGLISH School's unpopular headmaster, Thomas Thomas, could soon be out of a job following the government's decision to replace the entire school board.

    The removal of the old board, which had backed the headmaster to the hilt, could spell the end for Thomas.

    The government announced yesterday that the Council of Ministers had appointed a new board during a meeting on Wednesday.

    The decision follows a ministerial committee probe into allegations of favouritism by Thomas in the appointment of a female teacher to a senior position.

    Staff, backed by the parents, have called on Thomas to resign immediately to avoid further disruption when the new term begins in September.

    They also accused the board of whitewashing an internal investigation into the allegations against Thomas.

    This view was conveyed to the ministerial committee, which took its recommendations to the Cabinet for further action on Wednesday.

    Teachers have welcomed the move as a moral victory, as they believe many of the new members support their views about how the fee-paying school should be run.

    "We believe this is a board that we can do business with, and we think Thomas' position is very shaky," a staff source told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The government announcement about the new board gave no indication of the reasons behind the decision.

    Thomas is currently on vacation in the UK.

    [06] Tourists fined for nude swim

    FOUR ENGLISH tourists were yesterday fined £25 each by a Larnaca court for swimming naked in their hotel pool at 5am.

    Bank clerks David Baldwinson, 22, from Plumstead and Andi Costi, 20, from Woolwich along with electricians James Murphy, 19, from Bexley, Kent and Edward Stitson, 19, from Pembury in Kent were caught skinny dipping in Ayia Napa by eagle-eyed police on Monday.

    The four were arrested and questioned for several hours on Monday, and in court yesterday pleaded guilty to carrying out an indecent act by exposing themselves in a public place.

    Judge Tefkros Economou seemed to take the case lightly, when examining the charges.

    "Okay, but does baring one's chest constitute an indecent act?" Economou wondered.

    Police prosecutor Nicos Demetriou assured the judge that they were wearing nothing below the waist as well.

    "The facts I have before me suggest it was more than just bare chests," said Demetriou.

    The judge said the case was not serious enough to impose a custodial sentence, as there had been no children around at the time, nor anyone else for that matter.

    The four said they were relieved to get away with a small fine and promised to cover themselves up in future.

    [07] Briton jailed for trying to skip hotel bill

    LONDONER Robert Mackintosh, who tried to leave the country before settling his hotel bill, was yesterday jailed for 45 days by a Larnaca court.

    The 36-year-old was stopped at Larnaca airport on Saturday morning after police were told that he had failed to pay his £210 bill for a two-week stay at the Vasiliana hotel in Ayia Napa.

    Even though the father-of-five had brought the outstanding money to court yesterday, the judge said his offense was serious enough to warrant a jail term.

    Mackintosh's time in police custody will count towards his prison sentence.

    [08] Boy critical after hit by taxi

    A TAXI-DRIVER was being questioned by police yesterday after hitting a five- year old Norwegian boy with his car.

    The incident occurred late on Wednesday night when the taxi, driven by Alexandros Georgiou, knocked down Marius Baereg, who had been crossing the main Paralimni to Protaras road.

    Marius was seriously injured and taken to the Leto Clinic in Paralimni, where his condition yesterday remained critical.

    However, the doctor in charge at the clinic told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that there had been a slight improvement in the boy's overall condition, although the next two to three days would prove crucial to whether he would make a full recovery.

    Marius suffered multiple injuries, but the two main injuries of concern were internal bleeding to the right leg and a small brain haemorrhage. Both have been stabilised.

    The doctor believes that the young Norwegian's chances of survival are good.

    [09] Green anger at Polemidhia stadium plan

    By Athena Karsera

    AN ATHLETIC centre in Polemidhia National Forest Park, Limassol will be ready by in 2001, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous announced yesterday.

    But the Ecological Environmentalist Party and other green groups strongly oppose the construction, despite the minister's assurances that "an environmental study will be made so that the least possible damage can be done to the environment".

    Speaking on behalf of the Ecological Environmentalist Party, Harry Karayan said yesterday he was against the planned complex, which will stretch over 10,000 square metres, excluding the car-park, arguing the Polemidhia forest was the "only clean breathing space in Limassol".

    The Party also objects that the stadium will cause traffic problems in Limassol, because of its proximity to the city. They believe that the stadium should be built somewhere else, where less environmental damage would be done and less trouble be caused for the town.

    But the president of the Cyprus Athletic Organisation (KOA), Dimos Georgiades, defended the plan.

    He said it was KOA policy to provide a "palais des sport" in every town, and that Limassol was the only town left without one. He added that a lot of locations had been studied before the Polemidhia site was chosen, and stressed that "Koa respects the environment and will make every attempt for the project not to hurt the environment."

    The closed stadium will also house athletic federations and will provide a location for sports such as gymnastics, wrestling, and squash, besides catering for basketball, indoor football and handball. It is expected to help Cyprus' bid to host the Mediterranean Games in 2005.

    Work is set to begin at the end of 1999, after a competition is held to select the architect and after contractors have been chosen. The project is expected to cost five million pounds, which will be funded by Koa.

    [10] Parents protest 'discrimination' on military service

    By Elias Hazou

    PARENTS are threatening not to send their sons to the army in protest at the government's decision to give conscientious objectors a civilian alternative to military service.

    The threat came as the Cyprus Association of Parents called a press conference to add its voice to protests about the decision, which they see as discriminatory against those who do their national service.

    And a spokeswoman for the association told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that should the new law be enforced, they would oppose sending their sons to the army, so that they would not face that discrimination.

    In a statement released yesterday, the association outlined its reasons for opposing the new law.

    First, it says that no other state accepts the right to object to military service; second, the parents claim the move would mean discrimination against those who do serve their country; and finally, they say the new law cannot be accepted because it was proposed by religious minorities, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, who, according to the organisation, do not recognise the government's authority in such matters.

    In recent years, the government has come under harsh criticism from Amnesty International for its severe treatment of conscientious objectors, mainly Jehovah's Witnesses. The human rights group charged that unarmed alternatives were punitive in length, stretching way beyond 26 months.

    Earlier this week, the Pancyprian Organisation of Large Families expressed its anger at the decision, saying there were no acceptable grounds for refusing to do military service.

    [11] Unions wrangle over CY deal

    AN AGREEMENT reached on Wednesday between Cyprus Airways (CY) management and the airline's main workers union Synyka was yesterday rejected by a rival union.

    CY's independent workers' union Asykeka accused CY of having deliberately by-passed them. In a written statement issued yesterday, the union claimed it had not been present at the meeting between management and Synyka, and that the agreement reached was therefore not binding on all unions.

    Asykeka called on management to hold another separate meeting with them to reach common ground, adding that this would "help avoid any unpleasant developments."

    According to the agreement, Synyka agreed to suspend all wage demands until the end of 1998. For its part, management offered to provide a one-off lump sum of £325,000 in benefits for personnel, and also agreed to promotions for certain categories of staff.

    [12] Undercover sting turns nasty

    AN UNDERCOVER operation by Ayia Napa police turned nasty for one of the police officers involved, a court heard yesterday.

    Charalambos Andrea Martis, alias Pimbas, was remanded in custody for four days by Larnaca court, which heard how he had been arrested after fleeing the crime scene, where he had threatened an undercover officer with a knife.

    According to police, Pimbas had an accomplice, still at large, who is thought to be the "brains" behind a drug case.

    Ayia Napa police had received information on Tuesday that a person was looking for a buyer for 4 kg of unspecified narcotics.

    The court was told how an undercover police officer dressed as an Arab tourist arranged a meeting on Wednesday with the alleged drug dealer at an Ayia Napa hotel.

    At the meeting, it was agreed that the "Arab" would pay £20,000 for the drugs. The exchange would take place in the parking lot of the hotel, police said.

    But the court hear how the undercover officer was surprised when another person, Pimbas, later showed up and threatened him with a knife, demanding he surrender the cash. The officer managed to call for backup, and a chase followed, resulting in Pimbas' arrest.

    Investigating officer Efthymios Panayiotou said Pimbas testified that he had been sent by the other suspect, who would pay him £5,000 for his efforts.

    Police are still searching for the suspected drug dealer, who managed to escape from the scene.

    [13] Christofias offers help on stalled tax talks with Russia

    AKEL LEADER Demetris Christofias has promised to use his influence in Russia to kick-start efforts for the renewal of a 1982 agreement between Cyprus and the then Soviet Union on double taxation.

    The offer came yesterday after a meeting between Christofias and Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    According to Christodoulou, "differences between the two countries have diminished. We are not at a deadlock, talks will continue," and "the only difficult issue that remains to be discussed is the taxation of interest".

    Two rounds of discussions between Moscow and Nicosia have already taken place, and are expected to resume in September.

    Christofias may visit Moscow before talks begin.

    During the meeting, Christodoulou also briefed representatives of legal and accounting firms that deal in Russia on the efforts and requested their backing. Cypriot firms invest about £20 billion a year in Russia.

    President Glafcos Clerides discussed the renewal of the agreement during talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in his mid-July visit to Moscow.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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