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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-02

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, August 2, 1998


  • [01] Police desperate for clues in gangland execution
  • [02] Turkey must comply with court ruling
  • [03] Archbishop swings behind Chrysanthos
  • [04] Missiles and summer lull combine to depress market
  • [05] One in six works in the civil service
  • [06] Auditor-general probing civil service kickbacks
  • [07] Tourists arrested over fake Sterling notes
  • [08] Mosaic floors found at Curium basilica

  • [01] Police desperate for clues in gangland execution

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE AUTHORITIES were yesterday no closer to tracking down the masked gunmen who killed Andros Aeroporos outside a cabaret at dawn on Friday, despite a massive police manhunt to catch the murderers.

    Coming out of a top-level meeting at Limassol police station to review the state of the investigation, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis was yesterday less than optimistic about catching the killers.

    Though Koshis would not reveal the content of the discussion, he did describe the hit as a "well organised crime", and called on the public to come forward with any information.

    Judging by the style and execution of the shooting, police believe it was a professional contract killing, planned weeks in advance.

    The minister also conceded that he had been a little too confident in recent statements, which suggested that police had gained the upper hand in the fight against organised crime.

    And Koshis added he could not comment on whether he was optimistic or pessimistic about solving the case.

    Police have failed to solve almost all the recent gangland murders.

    A four-hour autopsy carried out on the victim yesterday by state pathologist Panicos Stavrianos concluded that the cause of death was from multiple injuries - mainly to the chest and stomach - by a rapid-fire weapon.

    Stavrianos said it was impossible to ascertain how many bullets had hit Andros, but said it was certainly more than ten.

    Pathologist Marios Matsakis, representing the Aeroporos family, said he believed the findings indicated that more than two gunmen had been involved.

    Police hopes that Ukrainian artiste Olena Kulyk could shed some light on the investigation were dashed yesterday. Kulyk was with Andros at the time of the machine-gun attack outside the Show Palace, and was herself hit twice.

    The nineteen-year-old had yesterday recovered enough to give a police statement from her hospital bed, but police said she had been unable to identify any of the attackers or give any solid leads.

    Kulyk told police that she had only met Andros for the first time a few hours before the shooting.

    Apart from the burnt-out wreck of a Mazda 323, it appears the only other piece of hard evidence the police have is an eye-witness, who may have seen the attackers before they put on their hoods.

    Father-of-two Andros died in a hail of 28 bullets, many of which hit him directly as he tried to start his car.

    The 32-year-old was gunned down only a month after being acquitted -- along with brothers Hambis, 35, and Panicos, 25 -- on charges of attempting to kill Larnaca gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros.

    Police said yesterday that Fanieros and his son Loukas had been questioned as part of their murder investigation.

    Koshis said the Aeroporos brothers had not been given police protection because police intelligence had concluded that their lives were not in any danger.

    "It was judged that they were not in any danger, and for this reason neither the victim nor anyone else was put under police protection," Koshis said.

    However, five weeks ago, police HQ leaked information to the press, which suggested they had information that a new round of gangland bloodletting was imminent.

    The leak appeared in the papers just days after the Aeroporos brothers were acquitted in Nicosia on June 19.

    Apparently, Koshis did not take this information seriously enough, as he remained upbeat that organised crime was on a downward trend.

    But Andros Aeroporos' murder has forced the authorities to change tack, and Koshis yesterday suggested certain people would now be offered police protection to avoid any further bloodshed.

    Andros' funeral will take place in his home village of Kolossi in Limassol this morning.

    [02] Turkey must comply with court ruling

    By Elias Hazou

    TURKEY MUST abide by the European Court decision on Titina Loizidou or face the consequences, Foreign Minister Iannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Turkey liable to pay compensation to Kyrenia refugee Loizidou "for prevention of enjoyment of her property."

    The court ruled Turkey was to pay 300,000 in pecuniary damages and a further 20,000 in moral damages.

    The ruling has been hailed as a"landmark decision" in Cyprus, but dismissed as "unfortunate" by Turkey.

    Asked yesterday if the decision carried any political implications, Cassoulides replied: "Our stand is that Turkey must comply. If it does not, it must face the consequences, which begin with sanctions and end with its expulsion from the Council of Europe."

    "We do not aim at making a political issue out of these court rulings, but Turkey is still obliged to abide by these decisions," he added.

    A Turkish foreign ministry statement on Thursday said the court's ruling could not be applied, claiming that responsibility for developments in the occupied areas, lay with the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and not Turkey.

    But the court refused to recognise the 'TRNC' as a valid legal entity, referring to it instead as a "subordinated local administration," and imputing full responsibility for events there on Turkey.

    This, according to Cassoulides, "clearly shows that Turkey is responsible for what goes on in the part of Cyprus that it occupies."

    Commenting on Friday's statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that the ruling had closed the door on any resumption of talks, Cassoulides said Denktash obviously could not be relied upon any more.

    "Now it's (because of) the court's decision. Before that it was the missiles, and prior to that it was (Cyprus') EU membership," he remarked.

    [03] Archbishop swings behind Chrysanthos

    By Elias Hazou

    ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos yesterday came to the defence of embattled Limassol bishop Chrysanthos, saying he felt any allegations of wrongdoing by were unfounded.

    The two met at Kykkos Monastery yesterday, where Chrysanthos is understood to have told his side of the story to the archbishop.

    During Chrysanthos' prolonged absence, the archbishop had expressed concern over the damage done to the Church by the allegations of the bishop's involvement in a multi-million dollar fraud, saying Chrysanthos would have to be suspended if they were proved to have any substance.

    But after yesterday's meeting, Chrysostomos swung behind his bishop, saying he was convinced there was no evidence connecting Chrysanthos to the fraud.

    The elusive bishop finally arrived on the island on Friday, after a two- week absence that fuelled rampant speculation on his whereabouts. On his return to Larnaca airport, he told reporters he had no objection to talking to anyone about the allegations.

    Asked where he had been since July 16, Chrysanthos said he had visited various countries in south-east Asia on a "personal mission."

    Two British detectives arrived in Cyprus on July 20 to question the bishop on his alleged involvement in a $3.7 million fraud case. Four people have been arrested in Britain in connection the case.

    After the meeting with the Archbishop, Chrysanthos told reporters that he intended to meet with Cyprus police tomorrow in the presence of the Scotland Yard detectives, but left open the option of reserving the right to remain silent.

    Under the law, anyone who has not been formally charged is required to appear before the police for questioning, but is not obliged to speak if he chooses not to.

    Church authorities are also anxious to put an end to the unbridled rumours that have Chrysanthos withholding charity money intended for community projects. The Russian Orthodox Church is also claiming that $700,000 it gave for the building of a Russian church in Limassol have gone to waste.

    Chrysanthos told reporters yesterday that the Holy Synod would convene on Tuesday to examine these matters.

    [04] Missiles and summer lull combine to depress market

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHOWING little sign of life, the island's bourse appears to have succumbed to its customary July-August hibernation, but traders and analysts say the impact of the summer sojourn on the market has been made worse by the unresolved issue of the S-300 missiles.

    "It is summer time, volumes are low, many people are away on holiday and sentiment has been pretty negative too," was the slightly grim diagnosis offered by Neophytos Neophytou of AAA United of the market's current slumber.

    The official all-share index closed up nearly 1 per cent on Friday at 84.27 but only slightly up on last week's 84.08 close.

    Volume was generally low throughout the week - less than 700,000 on Friday - and traders said the over 1 million volumes recorded on Monday and Wednesday reflected in part internal transfers rather than genuine trade.

    The all-share index has now shed nearly 10 points since its spectacular rise in the January to April period came to a halt following the May 4 announcement by US envoy Richard Holbrooke of his failure to restart talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides on a Cyprus settlement.

    The negative sentiment that arose then has since been kept alive by the continuing controversy over the Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles, an issue which has taken centre stage in life on the island since the announcement of their purchase was made in January 1997.

    In the 18 months since then, the issue figured prominently in last February's presidential election, provided talk show hosts with a popular topic and gave politicians something to talk about. To headline writers and conspiracy theorists, it was simply a Godsend.

    Not so though in the fragile world of finance and investment, where sentiment and investor confidence could disappear in virtually no time at all.

    The market plunged in January 1997 when news first emerged of the missiles deal, triggering threats of military action by Turkey if their deployment went ahead (this is now scheduled for November), and expressions of displeasure at their purchase by Washington and London.

    Market traders and analysts argue that the missiles issue has been a thorn in the side of the market, and say that its impact on investors by far outweighs that of market fundamentals.

    "The missiles issue is unsettling the market," was how one analyst, John Pitsillos of Share Link Securities, summed up the effects on the market.

    "The market does not respond to fundamentals any more, it responds to the political situation," mused Yiannos Andronikou of Suphire Stockbrokers Ltd.

    But while August is not expected to witness any dramatic moves on the bourse, the remainder of the 1998 might be less than dull.

    The traders and analysts said several news listings were expected before the year's end, including successful tour operators Salamis, supermarket giant Orphanides and Cassoulides printers.

    [05] One in six works in the civil service

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE STATE pay-roll is spiralling out of control, with latest official figures showing that one in six of the working population works in the wider public sector.

    Earlier this week, President Clerides held a special meeting with civil service heads and ministers in an effort to cut the growing mountain of red tape and trim the huge government wage bill.

    Around 60 per cent of the government's 1998 budget will go on paying salaries and pensions.

    And with the expansion of local autonomy and the creation of new municipalities, the number of people employed in the wider public sector rose by 41 per cent between 1981 and 1996 (the latest year for which figures are available).

    There were 47,745 employed in the public sector at the end of 1996, compared to 33,958 in 1981.

    During the same period, the number of people employed by local authorities doubled, and some semi-government organisations like Cyprus Airways and the utilities services have seen a similar workforce explosion.

    As a consequence, the amount paid out in wages has also soared to levels that are worrying for the government, and for financial analysts, who believe greater efficiency and productivity is needed for a healthy economy.

    And since 1996, the government's wage bill has increased by another 100 million.

    Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said this week that such a heavy burden on the state purse could not continue, and that drastic action would have to be taken without delay.

    In a bid to raise revenue, the minister has come up with a tax raising package, which is expected to come back to the House in October, after it was rejected in May.

    The government is now also looking at ways to streamline the public sector, which could include liberalising various services and selling off state- owned shares.

    [06] Auditor-general probing civil service kickbacks

    THE AUDITOR-GENERAL is investigating allegations of kickbacks to senior civil servants by construction companies.

    A number of allegations have recently been made that high-ranking civil servants have been bribed by construction companies offering them special rates for building their private residences.

    The Auditor-general's office has said it intends to crack down on corruption in the civil service. As a first step, tighter regulations will be imposed on bids made by construction companies.

    This week, a meeting at the Presidential Palace to discuss the state of the civil service considered such allegations of corruption, following a high- profile investigation into the case against Water Board Head of Development, Lakis Christodoulou.

    Christodoulou is being investigated for allegedly using public funds, including Water Board employees, to work on the construction of his private home. The Auditor-general has submitted a report on the issue to Attorney- general Alecos Markides.

    [07] Tourists arrested over fake Sterling notes

    A BRITISH tourist was yesterday remanded in custody for four days by a Larnaca court, suspected of distributing false 20 Sterling notes.

    Andrew Mark Manning, 23, was arrested by police after a Hellenic Bank employee reported that a British tourist had tried to exchange four counterfeit 20 notes.

    Police said that when questioned, Manning said he had no idea that the notes were fake and that he had brought them with him from England.

    A police search of the suspect's hotel room failed to uncover any more fake money.

    Ayia Napa police are investigating.

    [08] Mosaic floors found at Curium basilica

    THE LATEST round of excavations at the ancient Curium site have been completed, announced the Department of Antiquities this week.

    The ten weeks of excavations were directed by Dr. Demos Christou, former Director of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.

    In this latest phase, the floors of the Early Christian Basilica were uncovered, and the church's auxiliary constructions were also explored.

    After removing a thin layer of earth about 20 cm thick, the archaeologists discovered remains of multicoloured mosaic floors with elaborate geometric compositions of lozenges, rosettes, cross-shaped ornaments, and triangular and rectangular motifs.

    The latest finds have been dated to somewhere between the end of the fifth century and the beginning of the sixth century A.D.

    Most of the mosaic floors are preserved on the south aisle and the eastern part of the north aisle.

    Excavations also uncovered the remains of a rectangular room of rough stones at the exterior western part of the Atrium. The room is dated to the end of the fourth century A.D.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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