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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-05

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

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


Wednesday, August 5, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] 6 British tourists remanded as drugs suspects
  • [02] 'Moratorium not enough to justify cancellation of missile deal'
  • [03] Pressure builds up against the bishop
  • [04] Aeroporos murder: police probe urine sample and Russian mafia
  • [05] Solomis admits there's a long a way to go on Health Service
  • [06] Abattoir alarm
  • [07] Boat people end hunger strike
  • [08] Toddler critical after crash
  • [09] Official plays down algae report

  • [01] 6 British tourists remanded as drugs suspects

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SIX BRITISH tourists were yesterday remanded in custody on suspicion of dealing in drugs following a police raid on their Ayia Napa holiday flat.

    The six tourists, all from Hackney in east London, were remanded for eight days by a Larnaca court. They have been named as Geoffrey Girling, 26, Martin Parish, 25, Paul Cunningham, 26, Martin Girling, 23, Joseph Xenophontos, 24, and Jonathan Wisbey, 24.

    They face charges of importing, possessing, and supplying drugs.

    Famagusta drug squad said it was now in contact with British police to discover whether the suspects were supplied by a major narcotics ring or had previous criminal records.

    Investigating officer Daniel Muller told the court that the tourists had been arrested in a 1.30am raid on their apartment, following a tip-off.

    Drug squad officers found 16 grammes of cannabis in the flat as well as 10 grammes of cocaine, 13 ecstasy tablets and five syringes with traces of heroin, Muller said.

    The drugs had been found hidden in a packet of biscuits, items of clothing and kitchen drawers, among other places.

    Muller quoted the tourists as saying "they had no idea" when asked about the drug find.

    When Wisbey returned at 6.30am, a body search uncovered a small amount of cannabis and cocaine, police said.

    Famagusta drug squad said it had received information which implicated Geoffrey Girling in selling drugs to other tourists in Ayia Napa.

    During yesterday's remand hearing, the tourists said they had come to Cyprus for a two-week holiday and the drugs were for their personal use only.

    [02] 'Moratorium not enough to justify cancellation of missile deal'

    By Martin Hellicar

    A REPORTED US proposal for a moratorium on overflights would not be enough to persuade the government even to postpone the arrival of the S-300s, the leader of governing Disy, Nicos Anastassiades, said yesterday.

    The US would have to guarantee intervention to stop Turkish fighter jets violating Cyprus airspace before the government would reconsider deploying the Russian-made ground-to-air missiles, he said.

    Anastassiades was commenting on widespread reports that the US had proposed a moratorium on overflights by Greek and Turkish fighter jets in exchange for Cyprus agreeing to buy shorter range missiles.

    According to press reports, the US ambassador in Athens, Nicolas Burns, tabled the proposal during his meeting with Greek deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Monday. The US is proposing that the British bases on the island undertake to monitor Cyprus airspace with the aim of halting overflights by the Turkish and Greek air force, the reports suggested. In exchange, Cyprus would cancel its controversial order for the S-300s, replacing these with shorter range S-15 missiles, which could not strike Turkish soil.

    Anastassiades declined to comment directly on the reports, saying it would not be right to do so till after Kranidiotis - who arrives on the island for an official visit on Friday - had had a chance to brief President Clerides on the issue.

    "What I do know is that certain preconditions have been set by our side, and we insist on these preconditions," the Disy leader said.

    He said a moratorium agreement would only have credibility if those enforcing it were empowered actually to intercept Turkish fighter jets.

    "We need a guaranteed moratorium on flights, a guaranteed no-fly zone and not just a moratorium under which, most likely, there would just be confirmation of violations without the interception power which would deter an offensive move," Anastassiades said.

    Such a guaranteed no-fly zone would be enough for a postponement, but not cancellation of the S-300 deal, he said. He repeated the government position that only tangible progress towards a settlement or demilitarisation of the island would persuade the government to cancel the missile deal.

    The moratorium idea was first put forward by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos earlier this summer after tit-for-tat landings of Greek and Turkish F-16s brought tensions on the divided island to boiling point.

    The proposal was welcomed by Nicosia, but Ankara has said it will not consider this or any other form of pay-off to the Greek Cypriot side to persuade it not to bring the missiles.

    Nato has said it would be willing to police a no-fly zone over Cyprus and Britain offered to do the work on the ground.

    The US and EU have made their opposition to the 200 million missile deal clear, saying it increases tensions on the island. Turkey has warned deployment of the missiles could lead to war. The government insists the missiles will come, but has put back delivery till October.

    It is believed the Greek side will define its final position on the moratorium issue when Clerides meets Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Athens on August 27.

    [03] Pressure builds up against the bishop

    By Elias Hazou

    POLICE and the Attorney-general yesterday seemed far from satisfied by Limassol bishop Chrysanthos' input into a $3.7 million fraud investigation to which he has been linked.

    On Monday, Chrysanthos met with police investigators, and effectively washed his hands of any involvement in the fraud. In a terse statement delivered to police, he regretted he could not be of "no further assistance in this matter."

    He also denied receiving, using or having any "access" to the 3.7 million.

    The police are investigating the cleric's alleged involvement in the fraud case, after four suspects arrested in Britain named him as their accomplice.

    But in exercising his right not to respond to questions, it appears that the bishop has drawn even more attention to himself.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides told reporters that the investigation was far from over, and that further sessions between Chrysanthos and the police would follow until questions were answered.

    He went on to say that if incriminating evidence was found against the bishop, then Chrysanthos would be dealt with like any other citizen. "No- one is above the law," he added.

    The Attorney-general met with Archbishop Chrysostomos on Monday and briefed him on the ongoing investigation.

    The Archbishop also met on Monday with Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, who reportedly presented him with new evidence implicating Chrysanthos in other shady business dealings, beyond the alleged fraud.

    It was reported yesterday that the two British detectives, who have been on the island in connection with the case since July 20, insist on questioning the bishop, and are considering asking for the cleric's extradition to Britain, should he continue to refuse to testify.

    One of the detectives was present at Monday's meeting as an observer.

    The possibility of extradition could not be confirmed by the Attorney- general's office.

    But Eva Papakyriakou, head of the Unit for Combatting Money-laundering, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that there was sufficient evidence to justify further investigation into the Cyprus angle of the $3.7 million fraud.

    Asked whether the unit's involvement suggested the investigation was turning to money-laundering, Papakyriakou simply said that the unit was "somewhat involved".

    But she added that her department was co-operating with the Economic Crimes Division of the police and would only become fully involved if concrete evidence of money laundering came up.

    Though denying he had any part in the alleged fraud, Chrysanthos has not denied knowledge of the business transaction. He told reporters on Monday that the money involved was "clean", adding that it had been legally moved between banks. And Chrysanthos' lawyer, Sotiris Karapatakis, added yesterday that the money had been moved from Cyprus to an Australian bank. He denied that any money laundering was involved in moving the cash.

    With the police investigation expected to be long drawn-out, pressure on Chrysanthos to provide any sort of detailed account now seems to be coming from the Church itself.

    The Holy Synod convened for an extraordinary session yesterday to discuss the ratification of election results for the Morphou bishopric, and also "various other matters", an Archbishopric spokesman told the Mail.

    These matters, as expected, turned out to be Chrysanthos' business dealings.

    In a statement issued after the meeting, the Synod noted that "based on documents presented and what the Bishop of Limassol informed the Synod, it was ascertained that he had undertaken commitments and entered agreements of a financial nature without the prior approval of the Holy Synod and the Financial Council."

    The statement went on to say that a Church committee would be set up to investigate the matter.

    Speaking to reporters after the Synod's marathon meeting, Chrysanthos admitted that he had not informed the Archbishop of certain business transactions, adding that he was "happy because the Church system works well, in a democratic manner and according to the rules of the Church that we love and respect."

    The Church's governing body has the authority to expel any of its members from its ranks, and can also defrock any Church member who has broken ecclesiastical law. In these cases, the matter is resolved by a vote.

    According to the Archbishopric spokesman, no member of the fold has ever been expelled, "not during this century at least."

    [04] Aeroporos murder: police probe urine sample and Russian mafia

    By Charlie Charalambous

    WITH investigations in the Andros Aeroporos murder at an apparent dead-end, attentions are now focusing on a urine sample.

    TV claims concerning the urine evidence, found at the scene of the burnt- out Mazda thought to be the getaway car, were confirmed yesterday by police press spokesman Stelios Neophytou.

    With a lack of any real hard evidence, police are now pinning their hopes on DNA tests of the urine.

    "Yes we have found urine samples, which could help identify the attackers," Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Police are also questioning a number of foreign suspects, with suggestions that the Russian mafia could be involved in the apparent contract killing outside the Show Palace cabaret last Friday.

    Informed reports claim a number of Russians have been questioned, though without any progress being made.

    It is understood one of the bouncers outside the cabaret told police that he saw a fair-haired, foreign looking man waiting behind Andros' Ford Escort just minutes before the shooting.

    "We are following all leads and searching all possibilities. We can't say the killers are Russian or any other nationality, because they could be Cypriot; nothing is a 100 per cent certain," Neophytou said yesterday.

    The police manhunt is focusing on all those who have a criminal past and had a conflict of interests with the Aeroporos clan, he added.

    And Neophytou also said police had not ruled out the possibility that more than two masked gunmen might have been involved in the killing.

    Pathologist Marios Matsakis made a similar suggestion as representative of the Aeroporos family during Saturday's autopsy, which found that Andros had been hit by more than ten bullets from a rapid fire weapon.

    Police say the weapon used was a Kalashnikov; ballistic tests are now being carried out on the spent cartridges.

    Ukrainian artiste Olena Kulyk, still recovering in hospital after being wounded in the attack, has told police she was unable to identify the gunmen.

    [05] Solomis admits there's a long a way to go on Health Service

    By Charlie Charalambous

    HEALTH Minister Christos Solomis yesterday conceded that the government's elusive National Health Scheme was no nearer reality now than it had been five years ago.

    Responding to criticism from the Medical Association, Solomis said it was wrong to suggest that there was general agreement among all the social partners on how the system should be funded and organised.

    The Association said it had agreed on all aspects of the system with previous minister Manolis Christofides, and implied Solomis was dragging his feet on the matter.

    "The Association may have agreed on specific aspects concerning health care provision, but on serious issues such as funding there has been no exhaustive discussion by the social partners," Solomis told a press conference yesterday.

    The minister then revealed the sheer task facing the government in trying to implement free and comprehensive health care, which marries the private and public sector by introducing a referral system (based on the British General Practitioner model).

    "Serious issues -- like the funding of the scheme, which will cost between 180 and 200 million a year to operate, and the involvement of some 3,000 to 4,000 health care professionals -- have not been broached."

    He added that such thorny issues were still in the process of being discussed in an effort to iron out problems which have delayed the introduction of the scheme.

    Other sticking points include the percentage contribution of employees and subscribers alike, which previous administrations have failed to resolve.

    And the minister pointed out that efforts to move away from the basic principles of the scheme only contributed to increasing its final cost.

    [06] Abattoir alarm

    By Athena Karsera

    THE CYPRUS Consumer Association has expressed serious concern about the state of the island's slaughterhouses.

    Some establishments, it charged yesterday, do not even have doors on their refrigerators or refrigerated meat transporting vehicles.

    The consumer body was presenting to a news conference the results of a study carried out after scheduled and spot checks on abattoirs, sometimes accompanied by a veterinary surgeon.

    What it found were repeated violations of legal requirements regarding the slaughter of animals, as well as lax hygiene conditions at the abattoirs themselves.

    And besides concerns on the proper storage of the meat, several slaughterhouses were found not to have the appropriate anaesthetizing equipment.

    Other matters having a direct effect on consumer health included slaughtered animals and meat being left on the floor, the lack of inspection before and after slaughter, slaughterers not wearing correct uniform, children helping with the killing, animals not being gutted within the prescribed 30 minutes, and doubt over whether equipment was even cleaned after use.

    The subject of the transport of live animals to abattoirs 12 hours and more before they were scheduled to be slaughtered, and the fact that they often witnessed other animals being killed was also cited, especially as these are issues that the European Union is very strict about.

    Of the 67 abattoirs operating on the island, only seven are relatively new, with the rest dating back to the 1970s.

    According to the Association, the older slaughterhouses are in the worst state, and the best is the Central Abattoir at Kofinou, which supplies about 70 per cent of the island's meat.

    As all consumers were the same, said Association President Loucas Aristodemou, so the quality of meat should be universal.

    And he went on to suggest that Kofinou Abattoir be upgraded to EU standards, and that the older slaughterhouses simply be closed down until they too could be upgraded; all those without appropriate refrigeration should moreover be temporarily closed until the correct equipment could be obtained, and enforcement of regulations should be stepped up.

    The Association has sent its recommendations to Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides and Health Minister Christos Solomis.

    [07] Boat people end hunger strike

    By Martin Hellicar

    A HUNGER strike by protesting boat people holed up in a Limassol hotel ended "days ago", police stated yesterday.

    There have been conflicting reports about how many of the Arab and African passengers rescued off Cyprus on June 29 were involved in a hunger strike, which began on Sunday July 26.

    On July 27, police said less than 40 of the 70 men who began the strike in protest at a government decision not to allow any of them to stay were actually keeping to it. But three days later, on July 30, the boat people themselves said 50 men were still abstaining.

    A senior Limassol police officer said yesterday that none of the 103 passengers were on hunger strike. "There's no such thing, it ended five or ten days ago," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    It was not possible to contact any of the survivors at the Pefkos hotel to get their side of the story yesterday.

    The police officer confirmed that one of the passengers, a Bangladeshi man, had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was receiving treatment in Limassol hospital.

    "We will make sure he is healed first before he is sent away," the officer said. He said every care was being taken to ensure the boat people stayed healthy. "We have doctors at the hotel constantly," he said.

    The passengers have been complaining about the restrictive regime imposed by police guarding their hotel.

    The boat people - who hail from Sudan, Sierra Leone, Congo, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon - have also complained their asylum claims have not been given proper consideration.

    Only three of them were granted asylum status by the government, but even they are to be sent away to third countries.

    Limassol police said yesterday officials were still working on securing travel documents for the survivors so they could be sent to their home or to other countries willing to receive them.

    Ten Syrians among the 113 people rescued off a Syrian-flagged fishing boat found drifting off Cyprus a month ago have already been sent home.

    The boat people had been stranded for ten days and were suffering from the effects of dehydration and starvation when they were found by a Ukrainian cargo vessel.

    [08] Toddler critical after crash

    A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy was seriously injured after a road accident near Paphos on Monday night.

    The boy's two older brothers and mother were also injured.

    The accident occurred on the main Kallipea to Tsada road when the mother, Evangelia Papaioannou, 27, lost control of the twin cabin pick-up truck that she was driving, crashing it into a nearby field. All four victims were taken to Paphos Hospital.

    The two older brothers, Demetris, 8, and Takis, 6, were injured only slightly along with Evangelia and are out of danger. The four-year old boy, Constantinos, however, suffered serious brain injuries, which caused doctors to transfer him from Paphos Hospital to Nicosia General Hospital. His condition yesterday remained critical.

    [09] Official plays down algae report

    THE FISHERIES Department yesterday played down reports of algae invading the island's beaches.

    A senior officer at the department, Antonis Oikonomou, said the reports were greatly exaggerated.

    Referring to rumours that there was algae on Kornos beach in Protaras, Oikonomou, who visited the beach yesterday morning, said the algae actually found "would not half-fill a dustbin".

    He said that ever since a 1990, when algae had appeared on beaches in greater numbers than ever before, the Fisheries Department had been carrying out systematic checks on all beaches. He admitted that a small problem had recently occurred in Ayia Napa, but had been dealt with before it became serious.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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