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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-01

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, August 1, 1998


  • [01] Hooded hit-men spray car with bullets
  • [02] The bishop is back
  • [03] Denktash: Loizidou ruling closes door to talks
  • [04] New English School board to take on headmaster dispute
  • [05] Private doctors hit back at minister
  • [06] US base report blown out of the water
  • [07] Police arrest drugs 'brain'
  • [08] Water Board plumber arrested for false testimony
  • [09] Sir David Hunt: writer and High Commissioner
  • [10] Norwegian boy gets better
  • [11] Enclaved to appeal to Annan on Vienna III
  • [12] Four hurt in head-on crash
  • [13] Health co-operation with Greece

  • [01] Hooded hit-men spray car with bullets

    Aeroporos brother, 32, gunned down

    By Martin Hellicar

    ANDROS Aeroporos, a member of the notorious Kolossi clan, was gunned down outside a Limassol cabaret in the early hours yesterday, the apparent victim of a gangland hit.

    Nineteen-year-old Ukrainian artiste Olena Kulyk was also hit by two bullets in the 3.20am machine-gun attack outside the Show Palace club in the Yermasogia tourist area.

    She was in a stable but serious condition in hospital last night.

    The 32-year-old victim and his brothers Hambis, 35, and Panicos, 25, were last month acquitted of charges of attempting to kill gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros in Larnaca on May 29 last year.

    Police pulled out all the stops in an effort to track down yesterday's killers, drafting officers from Nicosia to help their Limassol colleagues in the manhunt.

    Police said a burned out Mazda saloon found near Moutayiakka village outside Limassol shortly after the shooting was the vehicle used by the hit- men. The car had been stolen from a showroom earlier in July.

    Yesterday's attack was seen as part of a long-running feud between underworld gangs vying for control of lucrative gambling, prostitution and drugs rackets.

    Father-of-two Andros was shot shortly after leaving the Show Palace with Kulyk, a club employee, and getting into his Ford Escort that was parked outside, police said.

    "As soon as Andros moved his car he was shot at from a car in which there were two hooded men," a police statement read.

    The victim's car was riddled with 28 bullets.

    Andros was hit six times and died instantly, while Kulyk was hit in the hand and stomach. She later underwent emergency surgery in Limassol General Hospital.

    The shooting was reportedly witnessed by two persons standing on the steps of the club, who told police the hit-men, in a dark car, shot at Andros from behind his car and then drove round to the side of the Ford to let off another round. A police source described the attack as a "well-planned hit."

    Not long after the attack, the fire brigade was called out to deal with a burning car on the edge of a cliff outside Moutayiakka. Police said the Mazda car had apparently been doused in petrol before being set alight and firemen were unable to put out the blaze before it completely gutted the car. A statement later in the day said all indications were that it was the car used in the killing.

    Commenting on yesterday's murder, government spokesman Christos Stylianides admitted that the island did have an organised crime problem, and called on the public to help police fight crime.

    "In order fully to combat crime, which creates a very negative picture of our society abroad, we need the co-operation of the public," the spokesman told his daily press briefing.

    Ironically, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, speaking on a state TV current affairs programme on Thursday night (less than five hours before Andros' murder), said a police crackdown had succeeded in forcing underworld figures to behave.

    Andros is the second member of the Aeroporos clan to be killed in the suspected gangland feud.

    In October 1995, his uncle, Onisiforos "Foris" Onisiphorou, was killed outside his gambling club in Limassol's notorious Heroes Square. A sniper hidden in an unused building directly opposite the first floor club shot him with a Kalashnikov rifle.

    Andros' older brother, Hambis, narrowly survived a machine-gun attack in 1995. Hambis had to undergo extensive surgery in Israel after being shot outside a Limassol nightclub on June 17.

    Eight other people fell victims to bomb attacks, suspect car accidents or shootings as the feud raged out of control in 1995.

    After a 10-month lull, Petros Yianakou was killed by a car bomb in Paralimni in September 1996. A district judge and his young daughter were injured in another car bomb blast soon after.

    The feud died down again until May last year when Fanieros was seriously injured in a drive-by machine-gun attack outside his gambling club.

    Andros and his two brothers were implicated in the attack on Fanieros by Tassos Simellides, who was convicted as get-away driver for the attempted murder. Simellides named Hambis as instigator, Andros as architect and Panicos as hit-man for the attack.

    But on June 19, after a year-long trial, the Assizes court dismissed Simellides' testimony and freed the Aeroporos brothers.

    [02] The bishop is back

    By Elias Hazou

    THE WAIT for Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos finally came to an end yesterday when he suddenly showed up at Larnaca airport.

    Reporters at the airport awaiting the arrival of Greek Health Minister Costas Yitonas were stunned to come across Chrysanthos in the airport's VIP lounge. The bishop had arrived on an Olympic Airways flight from Athens.

    "I am not afraid of speaking to anyone," insisted Chrysanthos, adding that there was no case against him.

    Bishop Chrysanthos is wanted for questioning by Scotland Yard detectives who are in Cyprus investigating a 3.7 million fraud. He had been missing from the island since July 16.

    The bishop said yesterday he would be meeting Archbishop Chrysostomos and members of the Holy Synod on Sunday, during Archbishop Makarios' annual memorial at Kykkos Monastery. He also denied reports that the Holy Synod would convene today, explaining that Church protocol dictated an eight-day notice first needed to be issued.

    Chrysanthos confirmed that his luggage had been checked by airport security on his departure about two weeks ago, but that he considered this to be standard procedure for anyone.

    Airport customs officers yesterday took copies of various documents found in the bishop's luggage on his arrival.

    Asked whether he objected to speaking with Scotland Yard detectives, Chrysanthos said that he had "no problem talking to anyone about anything."

    But he confirmed that he wanted any questions to be put in writing.

    Chrysanthos declined to respond to the allegations surrounding him, saying he did not wish to go into details before meeting the Archbishop.

    Responding to a reporter's comment that public trust in the Church had been shattered, Chrysanthos simply remarked: "That depends on who wants to shatter it."

    Phase two of the Chrysanthos saga is now set to begin, with British police, Cyprus police and the Church all waiting to question him over the fraud allegations.

    British detectives Brian Hill and John Logan arrived on the island last Monday to investigate the Cyprus angle of the 3.7 million fraud. But the bishop had already left the island. Four people have been arrested in Britain in connection with the fraud, apparently claiming Chrysanthos was also involved.

    Police sources have told the Cyprus Mail that the bishop has a right to refuse to be questioned by the British detectives.

    The investigation is set to take considerable time, as the accounts of several banks are still to be examined.

    But even if he is cleared of involvement in this particular case, Bishop Chrysanthos still has to answer a number of questions about allegations of shady business dealings with his bishopric's funds.

    His parishioners have accused him of withholding charity money intended for community projects, the Russian Orthodox Church says 700,000 it gave for the building of a Russian church in Limassol have gone to waste, and rumours that the bishop is involved in the purchase of a hotel in Larnaca have not pleased the Church, which forbids any member from holding personal bank accounts and using Church funds for private purposes.

    [03] Denktash: Loizidou ruling closes door to talks

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday condemned the European Court's decision to award damages to Kyrenia refugee Titina Loizidou, saying it closed the door to any peace talks with the Greek Cypriot side.

    The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Wednesday ordered Turkey to pay a total of 320,000 Cyprus pounds in damages to Loizidou for depriving her of the use of, and access to, her property in Kyrenia.

    The court held that Turkey, as the occupying power, was responsible for developments in the north and it rejected any legal status for the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state.

    But Denktash yesterday said the decision amounted to the "total closure of all doors" between Turks and Greeks on Cyprus.

    "Until this decision is reversed, there will be no discussions with the Greek Cypriot side on bi-communality," Denktash said, referring to repeated calls by the United States and the European Union for him to resume UN- chaired reconciliation talks.

    "The court's decision closes its eyes to the realities of Cyprus, to the 35 year-old situation," Denktash said.

    "(The decision) ignores the laws, disrupts human rights at the root, is biased and politically-motivated," he said.

    On Thursday ,Turkish Cypriot 'Foreign Minster' Taner Etkin had described the ruling as "unacceptable and totally stripped of the facts", repeating his side's contention that the Cyprus problem could only be solved on the basis of the existence of "two sovereign, independent and equal states".

    Etkin said that the property issue could be settled through exchange and compensation -- "as proposed in the 1992 Set of Ideas and accepted by both sides".

    A statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry likewise rejected the ruling on Thursday, maintaining that responsibility for events in the north lay with the so-called Turkish Cypriot state.

    Ankara's reaction to the ruling was yesterday described as "audacious and naive" by Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

    He said Turkey would very soon face a dilemma, "because it is forced to respect and bide by the decision. If it doesn't it will have to leave the Council of Europe".

    His sentiments were echoed by Government spokesman Christos Stylianides who underlined that Ankara's attitude "proves the audacity with which it handles international decisions and decisions by recognised international courts".

    According to Stylianides, "the Council of Europe has a series of sanctions it could take, including expulsion".

    [04] New English School board to take on headmaster dispute

    By Charlie Charalambous

    NEWLY-APPOINTED English School board chairman Daniel Hadjitofis said yesterday he would pull no punches in taking on the crippling row over the position of controversial headmaster Thomas Thomas.

    "Something must change for the school to function, because right now it is not functioning at all," Hadjitofis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Hadjitofis' appointment by the Cabinet on Wednesday is seen as a damning vote of no confidence in his predecessors, who backed Thomas to the hilt in a dispute with staff over alleged promotion rigging and bullying tactics.

    Hadjitofis said he had no idea why he was given the nod, though he does have his suspicions.

    "I fully respect the previous board and they were hard-working, but I assume the decision came about because they got involved in the row."

    Although still finding his feet, the chairman said his first priority was to have a clear-the-air discussion with Thomas on his return from the UK.

    "I think the first thing is to get the school going, and I need to get teachers and the principal to work together because the row only hurts our children."

    Staff have passed a vote of no confidence in Thomas by an overwhelming 59 votes to three, and all but one head of department has threatened to resign if Thomas stays.

    "Our policy is unchanged: our view is that Thomas has to go, but we are not going to impose this on the new board but discuss it," Staff Association head Antonis Antoniou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Nevertheless, the introduction of a new board is likely to ease tensions, as the Staff Association is willing to allow it an initial period of grace.

    "We believe the appointments are a step in the right direction and we will give the board time," Antoniou said.

    The new spirit of co-operation is underlined by the fact that many of the ten new board members have close connections at the school, having either taught or studied there.

    One member, Magda Nicholson, is also involved in the parents association, which wants Thomas out for the good of the school.

    She believes the Thomas affair is an issue the board must deal with right away.

    "Definitely, the first issue we need to discuss is whether Thomas should go or not," Nicholson told the Cyprus Mail.

    One of the options, according to Antoniou, may be to call for a new investigation into the allegations against Thomas.

    The previous board's internal inquiry found Thomas blameless.

    "I believe that if we are looking to the future it must be a future without Thomas," Antoniou said.

    [05] Private doctors hit back at minister

    By Elias Hazou

    THE EXECUTIVE Committee of the Pancyprian Doctors Association yesterday accused Health Minister Christos Solomis of deliberate disinformation to sway public opinion against private practitioners.

    At a press conference by the association, Chairman Antonis Vassiliou suggested that Solomis was trying to stir up trouble between private practitioners and the civil service medical unions.

    "The Health Minister's actions can only be described as vengeful," Vassiliou said, referring to a recent announcement released by the Health Ministry.

    The announcement circulated to the media by the ministry reported that cleaners were often employed as nurses in private clinics.

    "If this is true, then it is the ministry's responsibility to investigate the issue," Vassiliou stated, adding that the announcement was a ploy attempting to blacken the reputation of private practitioners.

    Tensions between private practitioners and the Health Ministry have risen since the Pancyprian Association of Doctors this week walked out of the National Health Committee, a government advisory body. "It is a ghost committee," Vassiliou said yesterday, noting that it had never actually convened to discuss health matters.

    Apparently, the association walked out in protest because the ministry had not consulted it before passing a law that would allow foreigners to be employed as nurses.

    Wishing to set the record straight, Vassiliou pointed out that the association did not in fact oppose the decision, but that it believed that staff needs could be satisfied by better allocation of Nursing School graduates.

    "We do not ask for preferential treatment," he said, refuting Solomis' remarks on Wednesday that the association demanded that other unions should not "have a say in the matter."

    Vassiliou said private clinics were constantly low on staff, because nurses employed there were quickly appointed to government hospitals. He added that private clinics could not compete with the salaries and benefits given to civil servants.

    As a means of ensuring "smooth" operation in private clinics, the committee suggested that Nursing School graduates should work on a contract basis in private clinics for a fixed period, after which they would be transferred to government hospitals. In this way, Vassiliou continued, private clinics would become a "sort of nurses pool" or a middle point in nurses' career. Failing that, the government should give at least a three-month notice to clinics that some of their staff would be transferred to the civil service.

    There also seems to be disagreement over Health Ministry plans to modify fees for government health services.

    "If the cost of staying overnight in a (government) hospital actually costs 150, but is offered at 30 instead, the difference will eventually be payed by the taxpayer," Vassiliou said.

    He went on to say that Solomis had done nothing to institute a comprehensive national health plan, despite suggestions by the association. He added that the issue had been discussed in depth only with Solomis's predecessor. "The last time we talked to the Health Minister (Solomis), he told us that he was preparing a National Health Plan bill to be forwarded to the House - the only thing was,this was news to us," Vassiliou said, adding that the association had not been briefed.

    There are currently 200 foreign nurses employed in private clinics. Some 100 to 150 nurses graduate each year from the Nursing School, the majority of them joining the civil service where employment conditions are far more attractive than in the private sector.

    [06] US base report blown out of the water

    A REPORT that Limassol port would be used as a US navy base for the Mediterranean was blown out of the water yesterday by the US and Cyprus governments.

    A local media report suggested that the US navy's 6th fleet had agreed with the Ports Authority -- with the government's blessing -- to use Limassol port as a base.

    But US embassy spokeswoman Judith Baroody said yesterday no such agreement existed.

    "The US embassy in Nicosia has no knowledge of any agreement between the US government and the government of Cyprus about using Limassol port or any other port in Cyprus as a maintenance and supplies depot," Baroody told the Cyprus Mail.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides echoed the same sentiments during his briefing yesterday.

    "There was an approach three years on such a matter, it did not go any further and the matter remains there," said Stylianides, who added: "there is no agreement."

    Cyprus Ports Authority chairman Costas Erotocritou did confirm that the US fleet in Naples had approach him to enquire about using Limassol as a supplies and repairs stop, but not as a base.

    Although the US embassy is annoyed by the newspaper report, it said there might be some confusion over what was already happening on the ground.

    The US 6th fleet does occasionally visit Cyprus for supplies while it is in the Eastern Mediterranean, Baroody said.

    "To date in 1998, two US navy ships have visited Cyprus and used commercial and docking facilities at Limassol port."

    She added: "the US navy employs a Cypriot husbanding agent to provide support such as fuel during these visits, which last two to three days."

    [07] Police arrest drugs 'brain'

    AYIA Napa police have arrested a man believed to be the brains behind a case involving the attempted sale of drugs.

    Panayiotis Georgiou Demetriou, alias Kourkounas, is thought to be the accomplice of Charalambos Andrea Martis, alias, Pimbas, who was arrested on Wednesday night for conspiring in the drug sale and threatening a police officer with a knife.

    The arrests followed an undercover operation by Ayia Napa police following a tip-off that someone intended to sell 4kg of unspecified narcotics.

    A police officer dressed as an Arab had met with the suspect, agreeing to pay 20,000 for the drugs.

    Pimbas told a Larnaca court on Thursday that Demetriou had sent him to collect the money. He also said Demetriou had given him the knife with which he later threatened the police officer.

    Demetriou told the same court yesterday that he had in fact met with an Arab by the name of Raoush at the hotel, but denied that he had any drugs in his possession. He claims he told the "Arab" that he did not know anything about the narcotics and then walked out of the hotel room.

    Demetriou has been remanded in custody for four days.

    [08] Water Board plumber arrested for false testimony

    A WATER Board employee was yesterday remanded in custody for four days by the Nicosia district court.

    Sophoclis Aletaris, 45, a senior plumber at the Board, was arrested on Thursday. He is suspected of giving false testimony in the case against Water Board Head of Development, Lakis Christodoulou.

    Christodoulou is being investigated for apparently using public resources, including Water Board employees, to work on the construction of his private home.

    Invoices from private companies are also being investigated in connection with the alleged scam.

    Police are continuing an in-depth investigation, and a report by the Auditor-general has been submitted to Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous and Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

    The report establishes that there was wrongdoing, but Markides will decide whether there is a criminal case to answer once investigations are completed.

    [09] Sir David Hunt: writer and High Commissioner

    SIR DAVID Hunt, former British High Commissioner to Cyprus, died on Wednesday, aged 84.

    Sir David, who served as High Commissioner in Cyprus from 1965 to 1967, was a don turned diplomat. He was a great lover of the Classics and archaeology.

    He had gained a first in Classics at Oxford in 1936 and then became a fellow at Magdalen College until 1947, after which he joined the Diplomatic Service.

    His passion for action and responsibility was acquired during the war years, when he was an intelligence officer on the staff of General Alexander. His wartime adventures were expressed in his book, A Don at War (1966).

    In 1960, Sir David, as an Assistant Under-Secretary of State in the Commonwealth Relations Office, accompanied Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, on his tour of Africa. It was then that Sir David penned the famous "wind of change" speech for Macmillan which made such an impact.

    As well as Cyprus, Sir David served in Uganda and Nigeria, finishing his career as ambassador to Brazil from 1969 to 1973. He wrote a book about his years as a diplomat in 1975, An Ambassador Remembers.

    Sir David is survived by his Cypriot-born second wife Iro Myrianthousis, whom he met while he was Commissioner in Nigeria during 1967-69. He and Iro edited two books on Cyprus, Footsteps in Cyprus and Caterina Cornaro: Queen of Cyprus.

    Retirement did not stop Sir David form keeping busy. He became a regular book reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement and The Listener. He also joined the board of The Observer at the request of Tiny Rowland.

    Perhaps he is best remembered on television by his appearances on BBC's Mastermind, when in 1982 he became Mastermind of Masterminds in a tenth anniversary contest.

    Sir David is also survived by his two sons from his first marriage.

    [10] Norwegian boy gets better

    THE CONDITION of a five-year old boy hit by a taxi earlier this week yesterday showed further improvement.

    Marius Baereg form Norway was crossing the main Paralimni to Protaras road late on Wednesday night when he was hit by a taxi driven by Alexandros Georgiou.

    Baereg suffered multiple injuries, including a slight brain haemorrhage.

    Georgiou has been questioned by police, who were yesterday unable to give further details.

    [11] Enclaved to appeal to Annan on Vienna III

    THE COMMITTEE representing Greek Cypriots and Maronites from Turkish- occupied villages will sign a memorandum demanding the implementation of an agreement reached between the two sides in 1975 safeguarding good living conditions for the enclaved.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, President of the Karpass Co-ordinating Committee Nikos Falas said yesterday that the memorandum would be sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    The 1975 agreement, known as Vienna III, stipulates that the Greek Cypriot and Maronite enclaved should be entitled to a normal life and the right to education, religion, medical care and freedom of movement.

    Some 500 Greek Cypriots and 160 Maronites remain in the occupied areas.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday every effort was being made to implement the agreement, but added that Turkish intransigence on a range of issues blocked implementation.

    [12] Four hurt in head-on crash

    FOUR people were injured in a car accident yesterday morning.

    Giorgos Andrea Keleris, 22, and Charalambos Costas Aspris, 39, the drivers of the two vehicles involved were seriously injured. They are being treated at Larnaca Hospital.

    Aspris' 11 year-old sons, Pantelis and Panayiotis, were slightly injured and released from hospital after receiving first aid.

    The accident occurred on the Xylophagou to Liopetri road when, under unknown conditions, Keleris' car veered into the oncoming lane, provoking a head-on collision.

    Xylophagou police are investigating.

    [13] Health co-operation with Greece

    THE GREEK Health and Welfare Minister, Costas Yitonas, has arrived in Cyprus for a three-day visit at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart, Christos Solomis.

    A meeting with President Clerides yesterday focused on ways of providing treatment for more Cypriot patients at Greek hospitals, especially patients in need of heart surgery.

    During his stay, Yitonas will discuss with Solomis how Greece and Cyprus can co-operate in improving health matters in both countries.

    Special attention will be paid to the available EU programmes, which would be viable for both Greece and Cyprus. This could open the possibility for Cypriots to receive health care in Greece, unavailable in Cyprus, for free.

    A further important issue on the agenda will be plans for the creation of a human organ bank in Cyprus. This venture would be in cooperation with the Paraskevaidion Transplant Centre in Nicosia.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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