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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, August 7, 1998


  • [01] Nature experts cast doubt on 'lost paradise' project
  • [02] Koshis briefs MPs on bishop
  • [03] Anastassiades: Britain not willing to police a no-fly zone
  • [04] How to deal with organised crime
  • [05] Government seeks to reassure on abattoirs
  • [06] Onoufriou refuses to plead for mitigation
  • [07] Tourist rape victims 'not being taken seriously'
  • [08] Rolandis promises help in Limassol hotel sewage battle
  • [09] Cypriot children evacuated from Greek forest fire

  • [01] Nature experts cast doubt on 'lost paradise' project

    By Martin Hellicar

    AN AMBITIOUS 24 million plan to create a vast wildlife park outside Limassol has raised eyebrows among wildlife experts.

    The World Wildlife Aid Foundation (WWAF), a Cypriot-run charity based in London, announced this week a plan to build a 1,000-acre wildlife park near Diarona village.

    In a press release, the WWAF said the park, to be named 'The Lost Paradise' sanctuary, would be "the most unique international multi-purpose animal sanctuary ever created".

    The park, to be completed by the year 2001 at a cost of between 20 and 24 million, would act as an education and conservation centre, housing "endangered species rescued from unsuitable surroundings throughout the world," WWAF said.

    Long-term plans include establishing breeding colonies of endangered species, like "mountain gorillas, snow leopards and many others", said the press release.

    The sanctuary would also rehouse animals now at Limassol Zoo.

    But a senior Veterinary Department source told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the project was "highly suspect". And the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) questioned the efficacy of breeding mountain gorillas or snow leopards in Cyprus and the legality of removing endangered species from their native habitats.

    WWAF said they were "involved in negotiations with the Cypriot government, who have offered their active support for this important animal welfare project".

    One of the project architects in London told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the park idea had been "enthusiastically received" by the government and local environmentalists. The mayor of Limassol, Dimitris Kontides, had been receptive to the idea of giving animals at Limassol Zoo a new home at 'The Lost Paradise', he said.

    He said the WWAF hoped to fund the project "mainly through donations". All money made from park visitors would be ploughed back into WWAF's animal conservation work, he added.

    The Veterinary Department source confirmed that the WWAF had approached the government with a wildlife park proposal. But he said the government was sceptical about the project.

    "It appeared to be a serious application, but then the organisation turned out to be made up of just three persons of the same family," the source said.

    "They are very cleverly using initials that resemble those of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) but they have no connection with the well-known organisation."

    The WWF in the UK confirmed yesterday that they had no links with the WWAF.

    "WWAF put things in a way that sounds good, but when you dig a little it begins to look very suspect," the Veterinary Department source said.

    "We saw the press release on the project. They say they will bring animals from foreign countries to Cyprus, but how can you do this? It is against the principals of conservation," he said.

    "Who are these people to think they can do this?"

    The WWAF architect said the organisation, a charity registered two years ago, had top wildlife experts on board capable of managing species breeding programmes. He told the Cyprus Mail these experts were unavailable for comment because "they are currently contracted elsewhere - they are acting as consultants for us."

    Establishing breeding colonies of mountain gorillas, snow leopards and other threatened species was a "very feasible plan", he said. "It is not as difficult as one might think to get endangered animals, as their habitats are being destroyed," the Cypriot architect said.

    "We do not want to keep the animals enclosed indefinitely. If suitable habitats become available we would return them to their natural environments," he added.

    However, WWF UK's international conservation officer, Paul Toyne, said both the gorillas and leopards were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). "So it is illegal to trade in these animals, and it is certainly illegal to remove them from the wild," Toyne said.

    Without commenting on the WWAF plans directly, Toyne challenged the feasibility of breeding captive mountain gorillas and snow leopards in Cyprus.

    "One would have to question whether the situation in Cyprus resembles that in Pakistan or the Himalayan foothills where the snow leopard lives, or that in the cloud forests of Burundi and Rwanda where the mountain gorillas live."

    "Unless they were to try to recreate these habitats, I don't see the feasibility of such a plan," he said.

    "If there is a need to captive breed these species then it should be done in the countries where they are actually found."

    About 600 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, in two separate populations. Snow leopards are doing better, surviving in remote areas of Pakistan and North India. The Amur snow leopard, however, is down to an estimated 30 animals in the Russian far east and to another 140 in captivity.

    Toyne stressed that captive breeding was a very difficult task, and successful reintroduction of captive bred animals even harder.

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [02] Koshis briefs MPs on bishop

    By Elias Hazou

    DEPUTIES were yesterday briefed by the Justice Minister on the extraordinary spate of allegations closing in on Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos.

    The briefing came in an extraordinary session of the House ad hoc Committee on Crime, as yet new allegations against Chrysanthos continued to surface.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said it was still "too early" to draw any conclusions, adding that the Attorney- general was being briefed on the matter on a daily basis.

    He did not rule out the possibility that police investigators might travel abroad to gather further evidence.

    During yesterday's session, deputies raised the question of state control over Church finances. This could turn out to be a complex and delicate issue, since the Church currently enjoys a special status and is not subject to financial controls applicable to private businesses.

    Akel deputy George Lilikas said the Church should not be involved in business activities, and suggested its funds be channelled to non- profitable organisations.

    His interest in Church finances was yesterday echoed by Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, who said that the Cabinet would be briefed on the matter.

    Meanwhile, new allegations continued to surface against the bishop yesterday. Simerini claimed the bishop was involved in a massive $3 billion deal with a Polish businessman. Chrysanthos had allegedly promised to come up with the money if his partner provided letters of guarantee from one of Europe's top banks.

    And the same paper said that a case had been filed in 1990 against the bishop involving the export of asbestos, which the Church controls. The money from the exports, some $2 million, never reached Cyprus. The investigation into the case had reportedly revealed that a number of foreign companies had received commissions from the sale of asbestos. Chrysanthos allegedly owned 51 per cent of the shares of one such company, which earned a three per cent profit for the sale of asbestos abroad.

    The case had apparently been filed with the then Attorney-general, who later shelved the matter.

    Other reports said that the bishop, on his return to Cyprus from the Philippines last weekend, had brought with him documents that showed him as the administrator of 25 tons of gold. The documents had been found in the bishop's suitcases, which had been searched by policemen at the airport.

    One document was a power of attorney for Chrysanthos to handle "billions of dollars" for humanitarian purposes. There was also documentation showing that the amount was in coins and 25 tons of gold. The documentation had allegedly been given to Chrysanthos by a Roman Catholic priest in the Philippines.

    The cleric is currently being investigated by police for his alleged involvement in two fraud cases.

    Four people arrested in Britain have named the bishop as their accomplice in a $3.7 million scam that allegedly saw the money transferred to the Cyprus offshore branch of Yugoslav-based Karic Banka.

    Scotland Yard detectives have been in Cyprus in connection with the case for the last two weeks.

    Chrysanthos met twice with police investigators this week. On Wednesday, he was questioned for over seven hours by officers of the Economic Crimes Division.

    The other case submitted to the Attorney-general involves a claim by three Portuguese businessmen that Chrysanthos swindled them out of $1.5 million. According to the businessmen, Chrysanthos had promised to invest their money in US bonds and shares that would yield a high return.

    Meanwhile, Chrysanthos is said to be planning to attend an ecclesiastical conference in Stockholm on Monday, which raises the question of whether he will be allowed to travel abroad. Chrysanthos's lawyer Sotiris Karapatakis told reporters on Wednesday he did not believe "His Eminence qualifies to be placed on the stop list."

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [03] Anastassiades: Britain not willing to police a no-fly zone

    BRITAIN is not willing to police a no-fly zone over Cyprus, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday.

    The plan is being considered by the US in exchange for a cancellation of the government's controversial Russian missile deal. It had been suggested that any no-fly zone might be monitored by British radar facilities on the island.

    But Anastassiades contends that monitoring is not enough, and any no-fly zone would have to be actively policed.

    Speaking after a morning meeting with British High Commissioner David Madden in Nicosia, Anastassiades said he had explained the government's position on the proposed moratorium, and explained to Madden what would have to happen in order for the government to cancel or postpone the S-300s deal.

    He added that he had also expressed "how serious" Cyprus was about these positions.

    According to local press reports earlier this week, the moratorium proposal made by US Ambassador to Greece, Nicolas Burns, suggested that the British bases on Cyprus might undertake to monitor Cyprus' airspace with the aim of preventing flyovers by the air forces of both Greece and Turkey, in exchange for which Cyprus would order shorter-range S-15 missiles, rather than the S-300s.

    But Anastassiades said a moratorium would only be acceptable if the US would guarantee intervention to stop Turkish fighter jets violating Cypriot airspace.

    Replying to journalists' questions after his meeting with Madden, Anastassiades said the British "are not discussing a guaranteed no-fly zone over Cyprus". He went on to say that he had presented thoughts of his own on the matter and added that he had asked to meet Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis regarding the matter. Kranidiotis arrived on the island last night.

    For his part, Madden described the meeting as "very interesting", saying he called on Anastassiades "very regularly", which kept a "good dialogue going" so the two could understand their respective positions. He made no direct comment on the content of his discussion with Anastassiades.

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [04] How to deal with organised crime

    By Andrew Adamides

    ORGANISED crime may appear to be on the decrease, but in reality it is just a case of the perpetrators keeping it more low-key, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis told a house ad hoc committee on crime yesterday.

    He said the major problem facing police in their attempts to crack down on this particular area of criminal activity was that few of the victims of organised crime came forward as they feared for their lives.

    Koshis' statements came after the suspected gangland slaying of Andros Aeroporos outside Limassol's Show Palace cabaret a week ago. Just before the ruthless murder, the minister had suggested that police were gaining the upper hand in the fight against organised crime, despite leaked reports suggesting that a new round of gangland violence was imminent.

    The leak appeared just days after Andros and his two brothers, Hambis and Panicos were acquitted of the attempted murder of Larnaca club owner Antonis Fanieros.

    Koshis told the committee that the killing of Aeroporos, which police suspect could have been carried out by members of the Russian mafia, had grown out of a battle between underworld figures for control of drug smuggling operations. He added that police feared there was a strong likelihood of revenge killings, and were taking necessary precautions.

    It is thought these could include police protection for some parties thought to be involved, although Koshis said that not all suspected gangland figures could come under police protection, as this would be impossible to implement.

    Koshis also said that in order more effectively to battle organised crime, he intended to form an "incorruptible" police team, created specifically to target this area of criminal activity.

    He also said that he intended soon to visit the island's ports to study new ways in which to combat smuggling and prevent drugs from entering the country. He paid special attention to Limassol port, saying "anyone who wants to come in comes in and anyone who wants to go out goes out."

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [05] Government seeks to reassure on abattoirs

    A CONSUMERS Association report on the state of the country's abattoirs was exaggerated, the government has said.

    The head of government Veterinary Services, Pavlos Economides, said the state of slaughterhouses posed no danger to public health, and that government controls on abattoirs were thorough and effective.

    On Tuesday, the Consumers Association told reporters that its spot checks had found repeated violations of legal requirements regarding the slaughter of animals, and lax standards of hygiene.

    Economides said the Veterinary Services were aware of problems and had sent proposals to the Council of Ministers, which were pending approval.

    Proposals have also been made for the liberalisation of slaughterhouses and for the creation of an independent service to monitor the Kofinou and Paphos abattoirs, he said.

    He added that the conditions as described in the Consumer Association's report would if true constitute penal offences, and requested that specific charges be made.

    The General Secretary of the Butchers' Association, Costas Livadiotis, also sought to reassure consumers, saying nothing unsuitable was going on in the market, and warning that the Consumer Association's claims may affect the economy.

    And he charged that the Kofinou abattoir was trying to establish a monopoly. The Consumer Association report said conditions at Kofinou were the best on the island.

    But the president of the Administrative Council of Kofinou Abattoir, Nicosia Mayor Lellos Dimitriades, denied the butchers' charge, saying Kofinou was not trying to take over from the smaller community abattoirs, even though it would be in a position to satisfy all rural needs.

    Demetriades echoed the Consumers Association concerns, saying the state of many community abattoirs was miserable, and adding that similar charges had already been made by the Municipalities' Association five months ago, with the government taking no notice.

    Both the municipalities and the Consumers Association have called for further investigations into the issue, demanding in particular for slaughterhouse to be examined by independent vets and not ones employed by the abattoirs themselves.

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [06] Onoufriou refuses to plead for mitigation

    SENTENCING in the judge bombing trial has been delayed for 24 hours after the accused refused to offer any mitigating circumstances against a long jail term.

    On Wednesday, Andreas Onoufriou, 48, was found guilty of the attempted murder of Limassol judge Michalis Mavronicolas and his five year-old daughter Marina in October 1996.

    Yesterday, Onoufriou, who has been conducting his own defence, was given the opportunity by the Assizes court to appeal for leniency before judgment was passed.

    However, Onoufriou refused the request and told the three-judge bench;

    "As I am innocent, there is no reason for me to request your mercy for something I didn't do."

    Mavronicolas was maimed and his daughter injured when a booby-trap device exploded underneath his car.

    The bomb exploded as the judge approached his vehicle to take his daughter to school.

    Onoufriou, a former clinic owner, was extradited from the UK last April to stand trial in Cyprus after leaving the island on the day of the blast.

    A taxi driver, who was the chief prosecution witness, gave evidence that Onoufriou had said he planned to kill the Mavronicolas after the judge had presiding over a debt-settling dispute involving the accused.

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [07] Tourist rape victims 'not being taken seriously'

    TOURISTS who claim they have been raped in Ayia Napa are being treated as liars by police, a mass-circulation Norwegian newspaper has alleged.

    In a lead article published this week - and released on the internet - VG cites four cases of Norwegian tourists being dealt with in a shoddy manner.

    According to the paper, Cyprus can longer be termed a "paradise island" because Norwegians are frequently becoming targets of alleged sex attacks with little or no assistance from the police.

    Norwegian tour operator Star Tours has confirmed to the paper that it has knowledge of claims by Norwegian women, who say they have been raped in Ayia Napa.

    Star Tours said it knew of four rape allegations since May. Police had done little to investigate, before closing the cases, the paper claimed.

    It also said that foreign tourists were scared to report sex crimes to local police because "police never take rape claims seriously. All such claims are treated as false."

    The paper goes on to say: "Police evaluate the stories as lies. They have a theory that tourists make such allegations so they can claim expenses for their holiday."

    To make matters worse, the paper quotes a Cyprus police inspector as saying: "Why rape when it's so easy to find somebody to have sex with?"

    An insurance company spokesman, Preben Sandborg Roe, is quoted in the article as saying insurance policy covers were for medical expenses only, not rape claims.

    VG is now urging all Norwegian tour operators who specialise in trips to Cyprus to issue warnings about the situation in Ayia Napa.

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [08] Rolandis promises help in Limassol hotel sewage battle

    LIMASSOL hotel sewerage fees are unbearable and the Tourism Ministry is hoping to resolve the problem, according to Minister Nicos Rolandis.

    Rolandis met representatives of the Cyprus Hotels Association (CHA) yesterday in Limassol and said the sewerage fees were particularly unbearable at a time when hotels costs are rising.

    Limassol hoteliers have for the last five years been complaining about the sewerage fees they have to pay as well as the assessment method of the Limassol Sewerage Council.

    The main point of contention is the assessment method, which charges hotels more than households, shops and other industries.

    The Tourism Minister assured hoteliers that his ministry would look into the matter with the hope of reaching a satisfying solution as soon as possible.

    CHA representative, Yiorgos Tsanos, stressed that the fees were unfair because hotels are expected to pay 0.88 per cent of the hotel's estimated value in sewerage fees, whereas other industries pay only 0.44 per cent of their value and households only 0.22 per cent. To illustrate the unfairness of the assessment method, Tsanos said hotels were usually only 50 to 60 per cent full, while apartment buildings were always 100 per cent full.

    In 1993, hotels took their case to the High Court which ruled against them, finding that the rate of the fees was fair.

    Thursday, August 7, 1998

    [09] Cypriot children evacuated from Greek forest fire

    FIFTY Cypriot children on holiday at a camping site outside Athens yesterday arrived on the island, having had their holiday cut short by fires ravaging forests outside the Greek capital.

    At no time were the children, aged between nine and 12, in any danger, since they had been evacuated early on Wednesday morning by the expedition's organisers.

    The only discomfort they had experienced was on Tuesday night, when as a means of precaution, they were told to sleep in their clothes in case they needed to be evacuated.

    But the children also had the chance to explore Athens after being moved to a hotel in the city.

    On their return to Cyprus, the children said they were sad their holiday had been cut short, but said that they had nevertheless enjoyed their stay in Greece.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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