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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-11

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, August 11, 1998


  • [01] Houses ravaged in blaze: villagers evacuated
  • [02] Heatwave death toll now 48
  • [03] Plane grounded by court order
  • [04] Bishop: Now Church names four-man team in probe
  • [05] Inquiry after junta coupist on stop list `came into Cyprus freely'
  • [06] `Revenge' shooting: police pledge tighter security
  • [07] Not-so-civil war over civil service
  • [08] Sign the list if you are not willing to be an organ donor
  • [09] Two more road deaths
  • [10] Kokkina `can be re-opened, says Denktash
  • [11] Cyprus set to sign nuclear safety code
  • [12] New roundabouts `ready by 2000'

  • [01] Houses ravaged in blaze: villagers evacuated

    By Andrew Adamides

    VILLAGERS near the Akrotiri bases area were evacuated yesterday when a fire ravaged houses, destroyed trees and damaged vehicles despite the efforts of local firefighters and British soldiers.

    Late last night, a spokesman for the British forces said the blaze was being "fought effectively".

    Among the buildings ravaged by the fire was Air House, the residence of Major-General Angus Ramsay, Commander of the British Forces in Cyprus. The impressive building and its extensive gardens were said to be "gutted".

    The fire originally broke out in scrubland near Happy Valley at around 2.30pm, although the cause is not yet known. Fanned by strong winds coming in from the sea, the blaze spread quickly in the area of North and South Paramalli, from where 300 people were evacuated from the garrison's married quarters.

    Buildings and vehicles there were damaged by fire and smoke, some extensively. The road from Happy Valley into Episkopi was closed off because of the flames and trees and vegetation in the area were destroyed.

    British Forces spokesman Captain Jon Brown said that a lot of the bush "had just disappeared". The full extent of the damage would not be known until the fire was out and a damage survey had been carried out, he added.

    Three hundred soldiers and local firefighters were fighting the blaze, with four local fire tenders joining bases' fire fighting vehicles. In addition, a Wessex helicopter fitted with a "Rainmaker" water tank and a Gazelle observation helicopter were being used.

    As the Cyprus Mail went to press, Brown was cautious about the state of the fire and refrained from describing it as "under control". He said however, that the efforts being made had been effective.

    Episkopi garrison is home to more than 4,000 military personnel and their families. As of late last night, there were no reports of injuries caused by the fire.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [02] Heatwave death toll now 48

    By Andrew Adamides

    AT LEAST 48 people have now died as a result of the scorching heatwave which has plagued Cyprus since the beginning of the month.

    Speaking after visiting Nicosia General Hospital yesterday, Health Minister Christos Solomis described the situation as "very serious". But he drew attention to the fact that almost all of the deaths were of old age pensioners aged over 72.

    "We had no deaths among young people," said the minister. "This means that those people who were able to control their lifestyles and take precautions have done so."

    Solomis also said he was not worried about international press reports regarding the high temperatures, as anyone who travelled to the coast could see "tourists enjoying our seas". He said that none of those who died had been out at the beach.

    The British High Commission said it was not issuing travel warnings since none of the heatwave victims were British tourists.

    Hospitals, however, have remained on high alert, while the Health Ministry and the Pancyprian Medical Association have both issued guidelines on how to deal with the heat.

    Between 7pm on Sunday and 7am yesterday, Larnaca General Hospital's first aid department recorded dealing with 124 heat-related cases.

    Dr Androulla Christodoulou said that over the weekend, 600 heat-related cases had been brought in.

    The effects of the heat have been so far-reaching that hospitals are now reporting problems in finding beds for patients in Limassol and Larnaca. Doctors are also having difficulty finding space for bodies in morgues.

    The Health Ministry has called on people to avoid the sun as much as possible, especially around lunch-time when it is at its height. They also advise eating light meals and fruit, drinking plenty of water and avoiding coffee and alcohol.

    A heatwave is defined as any temperature over 38 degrees. According to Meteorological Services Director Cleanthis Philaniotis, during July there were 18 days which qualified.

    He said that not only has August been special because of the continuing heat but because there have been eight consecutive days over 40 degrees.

    Although his department had not finished checking their records yet, there had certainly not been such a long heatwave in the last 25 years.

    According to the British bases at Akrotiri, Saturday night saw a minimum temperature of 30 degrees recorded, the highest night temperature since records there began in 1957.

    Philaniotis said that although there will not be a dramatic change, tomorrow should see a drop in temperatures to their normal August level of around 37 degrees, with the arrival of sea breezes.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [03] Plane grounded by court order

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE first charter flight in Cyprus for an airline company based in Kazakhstan made history yesterday when the plane was hit with a court order preventing it from leaving the island.

    Local company United Perlite Industries Ltd. claims that the airline company, Sayakhat Ltd., owes them a total of $300,000, and had laughed off all attempts to get them to pay up.

    So yesterday morning United Perlite's lawyers, Nicos Clerides and Sotiris Dracos, obtained an order from Nicosia District Court preventing the Tupolev 154, flight number SAH9454 from Athens, from taking off from Paphos Airport for its final destination of Kazakhstan.

    A Paphos Civil Aviation official last night confirmed that the flight, which had been scheduled to leave at 18.50, had been stopped. He said the 87 passengers and 14 crew members were waiting in the departure lounge, and it was hoped that the passengers could either take a flight to their destination later yesterday or today.

    However, Clerides told the Cyprus Mail last night that the plane's grounding seemed to have done the trick, as a representative of Sayakhat was now negotiating with United Perlite, and it was hoped that the problems could be resolved. "They seem to be in good spirits," he said.

    If the Kazakhstan company still refuses to pay up, it faces a court appearance on Thursday to get the aircraft back. The Tupolev was last night under lock and key at Paphos Airport.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [04] Bishop: Now Church names four-man team in probe

    By Charlie Charalambous

    AS investigations into Bishop Chrysanthos' financial dealings continued, the Church yesterday appointed a four-man team to conduct an internal probe.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos moved to help protect the Church's name against further allegations which, although directed at Chrysanthos, have fuelled debate and seen public opinion turn against it.

    The Church's investigation team comprises top bankers and legal experts.

    In a short announcement from the Archbishopric yesterday, the four named as members of the Holy Synod's Special Investigation Committee were Elias Pantelides, the Church's chief auditor; Andreas Papavasiliou, executive consultant to the Popular Bank; Ioannis Epaminondas, Hellenic Bank's assistant general manager, and lawyer Antonis Paschalides.

    According to the announcement, the committee has a mandate "to investigate the various allegations concerning financial dealings of Metropolitan Limassol Chrysanthos."

    This move to investigate the bishop's business activities follows a Holy Synod statement last week, a statement which distanced the Church from the bishop's dealings. "Bishop Chrysanthos entered agreements of a financial nature without prior approval of the Holy Synod," it said.

    The announcement followed a clear-the-air meeting with Chrysanthos after his long absence abroad. The bishop's absence coincided with the arrival of British detectives, whom he eventually met, to enquire about his possible involvement in $3.7 million conspiracy to defraud case.

    The Church probe also comes 24 hours after the Cyprus Mail revealed that the bishop's US attorney, Lewis Rivlin, was being sued for $16 million by a charity organisation which educates impoverished girls in Ecuador.

    With the Cyprus Mail revelations being picked up by the Greek Cypriot media, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis was asked to comment.

    "The involvement of a priest in a case which has international ramifications obviously concerns us," said Koshis.

    He added that the several on-going investigations were continuing at a quickening pace. "Soon we hope to send the case file to the Attorney- general to give us his opinion," said Koshis.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [05] Inquiry after junta coupist on stop list `came into Cyprus freely'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ACTING president Spyros Kyprianou yesterday ordered an inquiry into allegations that a chief coup conspirator was allowed free entry into Cyprus despite being on the stop list.

    Akel whipped up a political storm by accusing the government of allowing known coupist and Eoka B stalwart Vasilis Vintzilaiou to enter the country for a personal visit.

    In view of the allegations, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis and Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides have been ordered to investigate whether Vintzilaiou arrived and departed from the island freely, even though placed on a list of banned persons.

    Vintzilaiou, the Greek junta's former intelligence chief and coup conspirator, is claimed to have come and gone from the island without any obstacle - although he had been placed on the stop list.

    Akel, backed by Diko and Edek, earlier called on the government to come clean on the "visit" and reveal who invited him and why. Opposition parties argued that Vintzilaiou should have been arrested as a common criminal, not be the centre of a cover-up.

    However, the head of Cyprus Special Branch, Nicos Ioannou said he had no knowledge of Vintzilaiou entering the republic. But he confirmed that the former intelligence chief was on the stop list.

    Unperturbed by the official response, Akel boss Demetris Christofias yesterday sent a number of sensitive questions to Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, demanding answers. Christofias wanted to know why the coup conspirator was allowed entry and who invited him.

    Christofias also wanted answers on why the intelligence service was instructed to hush up the matter.

    Kyprianou said if the newspaper reports were true then allowing such a persona non grata to rub shoulders with politicians was "unacceptable".

    "We need to know, if the reports are accurate, who is responsible for this whole issue as Vintzilaiou is on the list of persons barred entry to the island," said Kyprianou yesterday.

    Edek said the issue opened up a whole can of worms over who is politically responsible, plus the need for disciplinary action if the claims are valid.

    Later in the day, the Justice Ministry issued an official response which said that Vintzilaiou was allowed permission to visit the island to tie up some outstanding financial matters.

    "The family and lawyer of deceased businessman Yiangos Papdopoulou asked the authorities that Vasilis Vintzilaiou, who is director of the Papadopoulou business, be allowed to come to Cyprus and permission was given," said the ministry statement.

    It added that the coupist was received by Papadopoulou's daughter, Nikki. Vintziliaou's visit began on July 23 and ended on July 27, said the ministry.

    This response may prove to be less than satisfactory for the opposition parties.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [06] `Revenge' shooting: police pledge tighter security

    By Martin Hellicar

    POLICE yesterday promised tighter security measures to prevent a gangland bloodbath in the wake of an apparent revenge attack for the slaying of Andros Aeroporos.

    Loucas Fanieros, 31, escaped unhurt when his car came under machine-gun fire in Larnaca in the early hours of Sunday morning, police reported.

    Ten days ago, 32-year-old Andros Aeroporos - one of three Aeroporos brothers charged with the attempted murder of Loucas' father, Antonis, on May 29 last year - was gunned down outside a Limassol cabaret.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said after the murder of Andros Aeroporos that a gangland feud could erupt. Sunday's attack was seen as a the start of such a vendetta.

    An extra-ordinary meeting was held at Larnaca police headquarters yesterday to review the situation.

    "Certain measures have already been taken, but in the meeting we had today we found some new ways to reinforce these measures for the general protection of the Larnaca public," Larnaca police chief Andreas Stavrou said after the meeting. He did not say what these new measures would be.

    He said police had not yet made any progress towards finding the people behind Sunday's attack. "Police investigations are still at an initial stage and are moving in every direction," Stavrou said. No-one has yet been arrested for the attack on Andros Aeroporos.

    The attack on Loucas Fanieros took place at about 1.30am on a side-street leading onto Stratigou Timagia Avenue in Larnaca's red light district.

    Police said eight shots were fired at Fanieros' car from a first-floor flat by a gunman using a Kalashnikov weapon. One of the bullets went through the roof of Fanieros' car but neither he nor his two passengers - his Russian- Pontiac bodyguard, Spartakos Papadopoulou, and Antonis Antoniou, from Lymbia - were hurt.

    Police cordoned off the area but were not able to stop the culprits escaping. Unconfirmed reports suggested the attackers made their getaway in a saloon car.

    Shortly after the attack, Loucas Fanieros told reporters police could easily have caught the gunman had they got to the scene earlier.

    His father, who arrived on the scene soon afterwards, joked with reporters about the ineptitude of the would-be hit-men. "They couldn't even get one man. They are an insult to the guns they carry, they're not even good enough for the army."

    The Fanieri and Aeropori families are believed to be members of rival underworld gangs vying for control of lucrative drugs, prostitution and gambling rackets.

    Andros Aeroporos and his brothers Hambis, 35, and Panicos, 25, had been acquitted of involvement in the drive-by machine-gun attack on Antonis Fanieros on June 19, just weeks before Andros was shot dead outside the Show Palace cabaret in Yermasogia, Limassol.

    Andros was the second member of the Aeroporos clan to be killed in a suspected gangland feud. His uncle, Onisiforos "Foris" Onisiphorou, was shot dead outside a Limassol gambling club in October, 1995. Andros' brother Hambis survived a machine-gun attack in June that year, thanks to extensive surgery in Israel.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [07] Not-so-civil war over civil service

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE BATTLE over the island's elephantine public service turned into a full- scale war yesterday, with the boss of the powerful civil servants union, Pasydy, lashing out against Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    Commenting on remarks made last month by the minister, in which he sharply criticised the performance of the civil service, Pasydy Secretary-general Glafcos Hadjipetrou said: "He has made a disservice to himself and his government.

    "This approach does not honour or show respect to the government, the ministry or the minister himself," said Hadjipetrou, in response to Christodoulou's assertion that the civil service has been going downhill since the creation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. "The minister should have refrained from such statements," said the union boss.

    Later yesterday, Christodoulou was asked by reporters to respond to Hadjipetrou's comments. "It is wrong to be short-sighted when faced with facts and it is wrong not to recognise reality... because that won't help us in redressing the situation," he said. Christodoulou, in unusually blunt remarks on what has traditionally been a politically sensitive subject, made a scathing attack on the public sector late last month, saying its services were poor and that it was a drain on public finances.

    "The real problem is the mentality that exists - that from the moment a person joins the civil service he has a guaranteed salary, whether he works or not.

    "It is an example to be avoided but it appears very attractive to those working in the private sector," he said on July 29, after a meeting chaired by President Glafcos Clerides which discussed the civil service.

    Describing Christodoulou's view of the public sector as "unjust" and "mistaken", Pasydy's Hadjipetrou said the performance of the civil service mirrored that of the government.

    "If the performance of the public sector is poor, that means the performance of the government is also poor, because the civil service executes government policies," he said after a meeting between his union's leadership and House Speaker and Acting President Spyros Kyprianou.

    Reforming and reducing the size of the public service - which employs one in every six working Cypriots and swallows 60 per cent of the state budget in salaries and pensions - has been a long-standing demand of independent economists and bankers.

    But successive governments have shied away from tackling the obvious ills of a fast-growing civil service, fearing that the political cost could be too great to pay. Instead, they (including the present Clerides administration) have allowed the civil service to grow, partly as a way of pandering to party followers in a country where every vote matters.

    There were 47,745 people employed by the public sector at the end of 1996, nearly three years into Clerides' first five-year term in office, compared to 33,958 in 1981.

    But need to reform the civil service has become an issue of some urgency now as the cash-strapped government looks around for ways to reduce a fiscal deficit which is set to grow to seven per cent of GDP by the end of the year if no additional sources of revenue are found.

    Christodoulou, one of the most powerful members of Clerides' Cabinet, has already spoken of reductions in the salaries of newly-recruited public sector staff, but pledged to be "conservative" when it comes to salary cuts for others.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [08] Sign the list if you are not willing to be an organ donor

    By Athena Karsera

    A LIST of people not willing to donate their organs after death is to be set up within the next few months.

    Although a Bill, passed in 1987, effectively made all Cypriots potential organ donors, it was never enforced.

    The Director of the Paraskevaideio Transplant Centre, Dr. George Kyriakides, says this was because Cypriots were not yet psychologically prepared to accept the idea, despite being aware of it.

    The new, computerised list will also make unnecessary the difficult job of asking the next of kin about organ donations from a deceased loved one. If the deceased's name is not on the list, it will be taken for granted that he or she was prepared for organ donation.

    Dr. Kyriakides said the new system avoids the problems of families taking such a decision at a time when they are understandably under a lot of emotional strain. He said the list would "force, in a way, people to make a decision".

    Cypriot citizens will be asked to visit offices in their area over a set period to state their instructions, i.e whether they do not want to be donate their organs. They will also be requested to make their wishes known to their families.

    The list will be accessible exclusively to medical personnel directly involved in the transplant process. Once a deceased person has been established as a suitable donor, the list will be checked and organ transplants will only go ahead if the prospective donor is not on the list.

    A similar `opt out' list system is already operating in Belgium and Portugal and there are plans to introduce it in France. Recent polls in Cyprus and France have shown that 88% of the public are willing to be organ donors.

    Till now a card system offered to all people over the age of 13 and indicating that the person is willing to be a donor, has been used. This method, however, has not proved very effective because some potential donors do not obtain a card, or if they do they may not always carry the card on them.

    Another problem is that the card donors do not always tell their families.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [09] Two more road deaths

    TWO more road deaths in the early hours of Sunday have added to the mounting toll of casualties in Cyprus.

    In the first accident, a car driven by Christos Fissenjou, an 18-year old National Guardsman from Larnaca, was in collision with an oncoming car driven by Marios Filaretis, 18, also a National Guardsman.

    One of the two passengers in Fissenjou's car, Michalis Samuel Prajiotis, 22, a policeman from Oroklini, was killed; the other, Pambos Charalambous, 17, was seriously injured. He was taken to Larnaca General Hospital where he is reported to be out of danger.

    Fissenjou himself escaped with light injuries and is recovering in Nicosia General Hospital. Filaretis suffered light injuries, as did his passenger, Marios Georgiou. They were taken to a private clinic in Ayia Napa.

    The second accident occurred at around 7am on the Pegia to Paphos road and involved three cars. A car driven by Taurill Tourseu, originally from Georgia, was in collision with another car, driven by Dina Constantinou. A van, driven by 37-year-old Panicos Charalambous, which was following behind, was also involved in the accident.

    Tourseu, a resident of Paphos, died of his injuries while Constantinou and Charalambous were not seriously injured.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [10] Kokkina `can be re-opened, says Denktash

    ACCORDING to Turkish press reports, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has suggested he would be willing to re-open the abandoned Turkish Cypriot enclave of Kokkina if its former residents wished to move back there.

    Kokkina can only be reached by land from the occupied areas by travelling across government-controlled land.

    Speaking after he and more than 700 other Turkish Cypriots visited Kokkina on Sunday to commemorate events which took place there during the 1964 intercommunal troubles, Denktash said that if Turkish Cypriot Kokkina villagers wished to return there, he would be willing to "resettle" them.

    Asked how they would get to the village, he said this would not be a problem as they could travel through the free areas, just as Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas travelled through the occupied areas to reach their homes.

    He also said that three other villages in the area could be re-opened too.

    The reports also quoted "Foreign and Defence Minister" Tanner Etkin as backing Denktash by saying that the regime could find the money to re-open the settlement.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [11] Cyprus set to sign nuclear safety code

    CYPRUS is set to sign the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the ministerial council announced yesterday.

    According to an official press release, Attorney-general Alecos Markides is expected to table the relevant Bill in the House of Representatives.

    The convention is seen as extremely important to the island due to Turkish plans to build a nuclear power plant near Akkuyu Bay, just 125 kilometres from Nicosia. Articles from the convention call on countries planning to build nuclear plants to consult with neighbouring states over the plans for proposed installations.

    The Turkish plans have generated concern not only from Cyprus but also from Greenpeace and other international environmental organisations.

    Tuesday, August 11, 1998

    [12] New roundabouts `ready by 2000'

    THE four roundabouts on the Limassol to Paphos road will be ready by the year 2000, "independently of the costs", said Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides yesterday.

    The minister said that the international construction companies which will undertake the building of the roundabouts, would be selected this September.

    The construction "will begin at the end of the year and will last about 52 weeks," said Michaelides.

    He confirmed that there is no delay on the general roadworks going on in the Limassol area - which have plagued residents, shopkeepers and tourists - and that the project will be completed "at the end of October as planned".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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