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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, August 13, 1998


  • [01] Boat people clash with police for second day
  • [02] Parties step up attacks on Clerides
  • [03] Engineers assess fire damage
  • [04] Court chaos as prosecutors fail to get their act together
  • [05] Bomb hoax forces CY plane to land in Athens
  • [06] SBA police probe axe attack
  • [07] Bishop's lawyer blames Greek businessman
  • [08] Arrivals up in June
  • [09] Miller in Ankara on Monday
  • [10] Air conditioners send electricity consumption to new heights
  • [11] Vets 'not doing their jobs on abattoirs'
  • [12] Turks held for illegal entry
  • [13] Ball-bearing found for faulty chopper

  • [01] Boat people clash with police for second day

    By Martin Hellicar

    BATON-WIELDING riot police were sent in to quell a protest by about 40 boat people outside their Limassol hotel yesterday morning after violent clashes with police.

    Four policemen and four demonstrators were injured in the scuffles, which erupted after police tried for the second time in as many days to deport some of the boat people.

    Calm had been restored by mid-afternoon.

    "It was an uprising by those blacks down there," a duty officer at Limassol police headquarters said.

    Ninety-three African and Arab boat people have been living under police guard at the Pefkos hotel ever since they were rescued from a fishing boat found drifting off Cyprus on June 29.

    All of the boat people involved in the protest were reportedly African.

    "They were using sticks and injured a number of policemen. Two or three officers were slightly injured, while another was kept in hospital. He needed stitches for two cuts to the head and was feeling dizzy so the hospital kept him in," the duty officer said.

    He said the protest had begun at about 11am and 60 officers, including members of the rapid response unit (MMAD) from Nicosia, were called in to deal with it.

    The demonstration was reportedly sparked when police arrived with a van to take a number of the boat people away for deportation. On Tuesday, police abandoned a similar attempt after their van was pelted with bottles and plates by the boat people.

    Thirteen of the survivors have already been sent away and those remaining fear they will follow suit without their asylum claims ever getting a proper hearing.

    The demonstrators poured into the busy street outside the Pefkos hotel brandishing bits of broken furniture and branches.

    Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) radio reported that the demonstrators began chanting and hurling insults at assembled police. Scuffles broke out after police moved in to disarm the protestors, CyBC radio reported.

    Other boat people reportedly pelted police with plates and furniture from the hotel balconies.

    But demonstrators claimed their protest had been peaceful and was broken up by baton-wielding policemen lashing out indiscriminately.

    "They treat us like animals," one man protested. "We are human beings."

    And he warned he would do anything to protect himself: "I am ready to die, we are ready to die."

    He also wondered where the situation would lead. "They rescued us, they fed us, they spent money on us, and now they want to kill us."

    Another immigrant said he had nothing against the Cyprus government, and that all he wanted was "one paper for one year," referring to his application for political asylum. "Our life is in danger (back home)," he explained.

    The demonstrators returned to the hotel building shortly after midday, chased by police and riot squad officers.

    Both the hotel and the surrounding area were cordoned off.

    Protests continued from the hotel balconies for a time, but by mid- afternoon order had apparently been restored.

    In a statement issued last night, the Alien Support Group, which has championed the case of the boat people, blamed the authorities for the disturbances.

    "We have been warning for weeks that... things would get out of hand," the statement said. "There has been no dialogue (with the detainees) and no real effort positively to handle the matter."

    Immigration department head Christodoulos Nicolaides said yesterday no boat person would be deported before his or her asylum claim had been considered by the UNHCR.

    "They will not be repatriated for any reason before a final decision from the appropriate services on whether they are or are not refugees," Nicolaides said.

    He also denied that police had orders to deport seven Sudanese boat people on Tuesday. "There was no intention to deport them, they were just to be transferred elsewhere for the sake of their own comfort; the hotel is overcrowded," he said.

    But a police statement issued after Tuesday's incident stated the intention had been to take the Sudanese "to holding cells... after an order for their deportation."

    Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides said last month that all the boat people were to be sent away after visiting UNHCR officials ruled that only three of them were genuine asylum seekers.

    But UNHCR officials later returned to the island to reconsider the claims of 56 Iraqi Kurd and African passengers after they claimed they had not been interviewed by any official.

    In statements to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), UNHCR officer Freddie Galatopoulou backed Nicolaides, denying that the seven Sudanese faced deportation.

    "Nobody will be deported before all applications are examined," she said.

    "The boat people are tired of being shut in the hotel for almost two months now," she said, but added that "in most countries they are detained in prisons, not in hotels."

    Most all the survivors - who come from Sudan, Sierra Leone, Congo, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon - claim they face persecution in their home countries.

    The passengers weak with hunger and thirst when a Ukrainian cargo vessel found them crammed aboard the deck of the tiny Syrian-flagged trawler Rida Allah. They had been drifting for 10 days after the vessel developed engine trouble two days after leaving the Lebanese port of Tripoli on June 18.

    Police said two passengers died of thirst on the fishing boat and had been thrown overboard before the vessel was found and towed to Limassol.

    The Syrian captain of the trawler, 31-year-old Mohammed Mustafa, has been charged with causing death by negligence and carrying paying passengers on an unsuitable vessel. The survivors claim they parted with thousands of dollars each for passage to Greece or Italy on Mustafa's boat.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [02] Parties step up attacks on Clerides

    By Elias Hazou

    BOTH coalition and opposition parties yesterday continued their caustic criticism of the government in the Vintzilaios case, as ruling party Disy tried to play down the affair as nothing but humanitarian.

    Vasilis Vintzilaios, the junta's intelligence chief, was allowed entry into Cyprus last July on a five-day visit to tie up some outstanding financial matters. Special permission for the no.1 undesirable had been given by President Clerides himself, who by-passed the Interior Ministry and CID in doing so, instructing Justice Minister Nicos Koshis to issue a permit for the visit.

    Tuesday's outcry produced a statement by the Presidential Palace on behalf of the President who assumed responsibility for the matter.

    Communist Akel headed the anti-coup offensive, as the party's spokesman Nicos Katsourides yesterday suggested Vintzilaios' visit had purposes other than taking care of financial matters. "Was it really necessary for him to come to the island?" puzzled Katsourides. Hinting at a government conspiracy, he wondered: "Do they mean to tell us that not only was he allowed to enter the country, but he was also allowed to roam freely without any police surveillance?"

    The President, currently on an Aegean cruise aboard his yacht, is expected to clear up the matter on his return, and to appease coalition partners Edek, who have been equally critical of the incident.

    Party leader Vassos Lyssarides yesterday again called on the President to offer a public apology, and said that his actions constituted a "serious mistake".

    But ruling right-wing Disy tried to play down the affair. Party leader Nicos Anastassiades said that the incident should be seen rather as a humanitarian case. "It is a shame this issue has been politicised," he said.

    A government statement yesterday sought to clear the smoke, explaining that since Vintzilaios continued to be on the stop-list at the time of his arrival, it was within the Justice Ministry's jurisdiction to grant permission for entry. Such police affairs come under the Justice Ministry, the statement explained.

    Centre-right Diko added its voice to the outcry, with party leader and House president Spyros Kyprianou calling the incident a "huge issue that is far from over." Kyprianou said he intended to talk to the President on his return from holiday.

    The matter is expected to be raised by the parties when the House reconvenes after its summer break.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [03] Engineers assess fire damage

    By Andrew Adamides

    STRUCTURAL engineers were yesterday assessing damage to buildings in the fire-ravaged village of Paramali to decide how many were safe for occupation.

    British Bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the assessments would go on for some time, and that no-one would be moving back to the area for several days.

    Before the families' return, the buildings will also be viewed by an insurance assessor, who was due to arrive from the UK yesterday.

    Those evacuated from the village are still staying with friends, in hotels, or at the Akrotiri officers' mess.

    The fire, which began at around 1pm on Monday, has caused 2 million worth of damage to property on the base. Fourteen homes have been completely burnt-out. Vehicles and utilities were also destroyed, while other buildings were damaged by fire and smoke.

    The fire has now been completely extinguished.

    Brown said that with the bases still preoccupied with the immediate aftermath of the fire, no thought had yet been given to the future of Air House, the residence of Major General Angus Ramsay, which was among the houses gutted by the fire.

    Major General Ramsay, Commander of the British Forces in Cyprus, is currently staying in accommodation on the base.

    No military equipment was damaged by the fire, although three British soldiers involved in fighting it were treated for smoke inhalation, and a fourth for heat stress. In all, 600 soldiers, airmen and local fire- fighters were involved in fighting the blaze.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [04] Court chaos as prosecutors fail to get their act together

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THREE drug cases, involving seven British tourists, were cancelled by a Larnaca court yesterday because of a prosecution bungle.

    A Larnaca judge refused to convene the court to hear the drugs cases - which are usually treated as high priority by judges - because the prosecutions office did not submit the charge sheets early enough for his consideration.

    When urged to push forward with proceedings, the judge stormed out of court, claiming the prosecution had not done its job properly, and went home leaving police officers in a quandary over what to do next.

    Five British tourists, all from Hackney, east London, were due in court to be officially charged with drug trafficking in order to enter a plea.

    Warehouse manager Geoffrey Girling, 26, pub owner Martin Parish, 25, printer Paul Cunningham, 24, student Joseph Xenophontos, 23, and florist Jonathan Wisbey, 23, are all suspected of importing, using and supplying drugs.

    They were arrested last week after police found a cocktail drugs -- cocaine (12 grammes), ecstasy (13 tablets) and cannabis (16 grammes) -- in their Ayia Napa hotel room.

    Their lawyer, Andreas Mathikolonis, said the five would have to be released at midnight because their remand order would expire.

    "The police will have to let them go tonight and ask them to turn up in court voluntarily tomorrow morning," the lawyer said.

    He added: "it seems the prosecution were under pressure due to the holiday period and didn't have time to process the charge sheets."

    Two other Britons also had their drug cases put back because of the prosecution's failure to inform the court on time.

    British tourist Colin Rich, 20, from Manchester, was to face charges of receiving five grammes of cannabis in the post and James Robb, 20, from Stoke, faced a stiff fine for possessing a very small amount of cannabis.

    After making the British suspects wait around in handcuffs for nearly four hours this morning, red-faced prosecutors conceded defeat, ushering them all back into police vehicles hoping tomorrow would be their lucky day.

    However, police prosecutors did manage to get their paperwork ready to secure a three-day remand order for two tourists from Nottingham.

    Dean David Smith and Christopher Moss, both 24, were arrested after police found a small amount of hashish in their hotel apartment.

    "We are very sorry, we didn't want any of this to happen, we were just trying to have a nice holiday," Moss, a computer operator, told the court.

    Every year, scores of British tourists leave the island with a ruined holiday and a criminal record, with many going on to lose their jobs because they were unaware of the fact that possession of relatively small quantities of drugs is considered a very serious offence in Cyprus.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [05] Bomb hoax forces CY plane to land in Athens

    PASSENGERS aboard Cyprus Airways flight 326 from Larnaca to London suffered an unexpected delay in their voyage last night when an unidentified person made a hoax bomb threat call to Larnaca control tower.

    The call was made at around 7pm, and according to control tower staff, the caller had a Cypriot accent. The control tower contacted the pilots, who landed at the closest airport, Athens.

    The passengers were evacuated and Greek airport security began a thorough search of the aircraft.

    With the search complete, the aircraft was cleared to continue on to Heathrow airport.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [06] SBA police probe axe attack

    A SIMPLE and carefree drive turned into an unforgettable experience for Stavros Michelides late last night, when he was suddenly stopped by an unknown person and threatened at gunpoint.

    Michelides was driving along the Trachoni road near the British bases area outside Limassol when he was pulled over by an unknown man who fired two shots in the air. The attacker told Michelides to step out of the car and then proceeded to chase his victim, brandishing an axe.

    The motive for the assault was not established, but SBA police at Episkopi are investigating the bizarre incident.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [07] Bishop's lawyer blames Greek businessman

    AT LEAST some pieces of the puzzle would seem to be falling into place in the backlog of cases implicating Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos, if the cleric's American lawyer is to be believed.

    Lewis Rivlin, who -- as first reported by the Cyprus Mail -- is being sued by an Ecuadorian charitable foundation, has given his side of the story on the maze of allegations surrounding Chrysanthos' business dealings.

    In an telephone conversation with Alithia, Rivlin said he in turn was suing a Greek businessman in Athens in connection with the case of the Portuguese businessmen who claim Chrysanthos swindled them out of $1.5 million. Rivlin is also suing the same Greek in the case of the Ecuadorian foundation.

    According to Rivlin, the Greek businessman, who owns the Z-Finance S.A. company in Athens. persuaded Chrysanthos to open an account at ING Bank in Athens, where profits would be transferred after investment in a high return scheme. Rivlin claims that Chrysanthos was misled into believing that the profits from the investment would be used in humanitarian projects.

    The money was later reportedly transferred to another bank account before the relative documents had been signed by Chrysanthos' lawyer. Neither Rivlin nor the bishop have access to this account, the lawyer claims. Rivlin also said he intended to appeal a Washington D.C. District Court decision against him in the lawsuit filed by the Ecuadorian foundation.

    Last week Justice Minister Nicos Koshis informed the House ad hoc Committee on Crime that a total of 26 cases involving the bishop were being examined.

    Chrysanthos has not been formally charged in connection with any case, while investigations seem likely to get back into full swing after the customary mid-August summer break.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [08] Arrivals up in June

    THERE was a marked increase in the number of people visiting Cyprus in June, the Department of Statistics and Research reported yesterday.

    Arrivals reached 302,931 in June, recording an increase of 14.5 per cent on June 1997.

    Departures were up 16.1 per cent on last year, reaching 297,354.

    Most arrivals were from European countries with the United Kingdom leading with 37.9 per cent. Greece and Israel were next on 8.4 per cent each, followed by Russia with 8.1 per cent, Sweden with 5.8 per cent, Germany with 5.3 per cent and Switzerland with 3.7 per cent.

    The total number of tourist arrivals in June was 248,426. The United Kingdom was again dominant in the tourist sector with 45.7 per cent, trailed by Russia with 10.8 per cent, Sweden 7 per cent, Germany 6.8 per cent, Switzerland 3.7 per cent, Norway 2.6 per cent, and Denmark and Greece on 2.5 per cent.

    Males accounted for 44.5 per cent of the tourists, and the mean age of visitors was 37.6 years. The vast majority of visitors, 92.3 per cent, said they would be staying in hotels or similar establishments, while 5.4 per cent stayed with relatives and friends, and the remainder stated they would be staying "elsewhere".

    The average intended duration of stay was 13 nights.

    The number of Cypriots travelling abroad was also up: 40,138 Cyprus residents returned from overseas in June, compared to 31,442 in May. Most -- 32 per cent -- had visited Greece. The UK was the next most popular destination chosen by 17.5 per cent of Cypriots travelling abroad, followed by Israel, Russia and Lebanon.

    Almost half stated that their main reason for travelling was to go on holiday, with 27.7 per cent taking business trips and the remaining 18.5 per cent going for educational purposes.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [09] Miller in Ankara on Monday

    US SPECIAL co-ordinator Thomas Miller will visit Ankara on Monday, with the S-300 missiles and proposals for a no-fly zone that might prevent their deployment expected to be high on the agenda.

    Miller is exploring ways of postponing and eventually cancelling the arrival of the Russian-made missiles to Cyprus. Turkey has threatened a military strike on the missiles if they are deployed.

    The idea of a no-fly zone, which might make the anti-aircraft missiles redundant, was first proposed by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. Turkey has so far consistently opposed plans for a flight moratorium over Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, the US newspaper Defence News, which is considered to be the voice of the Pentagon, has raised the concern that the delivery of the S- 300 missiles might spark a war in Cyprus and the broader region.

    It said the Pentagon was not ruling out Turkish air attacks against Cyprus, which would be concentrated on the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos. The paper also revealed that the missile situation in Cyprus was now considered the most fragile in the world.

    Defence News also stated that although the S-300 missiles were considered to be defensive, they were also capable of offensive use. The paper said the missiles had the power to hit Turkey itself, while simultaneously shielding Greek warplanes which could then be free to attack air bases in eastern Turkey.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [10] Air conditioners send electricity consumption to new heights

    THE ELECTRICITY Authority reported yesterday that last Friday had seen the highest ever demand for electricity, at 590MW.

    This represents a rise of 10.9 per cent on use on the same day last year.

    The rise is credited to the increased use of air-conditioning due to the recent heat-wave. A decrease in demand has already been reported, with many industries closing for a summer break.

    Although there is no reason for concern, the Electricity Authority advises people to be careful with the amount of electricity they consume, in their own interest, and for that of Cyprus' economy.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [11] Vets 'not doing their jobs on abattoirs'

    KOFINOU abattoir chairman and Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades yesterday accused the veterinary services of not doing their job properly.

    Demetriades, who is chairman of the administrative council of the Central Abattoir at Kofinou, said the state Veterinary Services often allowed rural abattoirs to be reopened after they had been closed down for falling below regulation standards.

    Demetriades went on to report that the Central Abattoir, created in 1988, aimed only to serve the three main towns, but that over the years it had been asked by governments to take on an additional 62 rural areas. It now provides for 75 per cent of slaughtering on the island. The central abattoir also exported a large number of slaughtered pigs to Greece, a member of the EU, proving its high standards.

    Rural abattoirs have accused Kofinou of aspiring to a monopoly of slaughter on the island.

    Demetriades accused the government's Technical Council of trying to close down the Central Abattoir by refusing to give financial aid to raise standards. The Municipalities Union, which the Mayor also heads, was forced to give the aid to prevent this closure, and to help the slaughterhouse obtain a European Union certificate for export.

    The Central Abattoir is calling for standards at all abattoirs to be raised to European specifications. It wants an independent body to be set up to monitor the island's slaughterhouses.

    Demetriades also warned Kofinou would sue the Veterinary Services if it failed to keep the rules on checking abattoirs, and was also studying the possibility of publishing a list of butchers co-operating with the Central Abattoir, so the public could purchase thoroughly checked meat.

    The Consumer Association caused an outcry last week when it reported that hygiene standards were well below acceptable levels in many of the island's abattoirs.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [12] Turks held for illegal entry

    TWO TURKISH nationals are to appear in court today after they were arrested for illegally entering the island at Oroklini on Tuesday.

    Enver Salicu and Haci Barut, both 29 from Ankara, were arrested by police on the Pyla to Larnaca road when their hired car was stopped.

    Police uncovered a stash of cigarettes, perfumes and cosmetics, believed to have been bought in the occupied areas.

    The two Turks were taken to a Larnaca court yesterday, but failure by the prosecution to prepare the necessary papers meant their case was delayed by 24 hours.

    Police said the two entered Cyprus through the occupied port of Kyrenia on August 10.

    Thursday, August 13, 1998

    [13] Ball-bearing found for faulty chopper

    THE NATIONAL Guard helicopter grounded for want of a 230 ball-bearing has been fixed, according to yesterday's Alithia.

    In July, the paper reported that the helicopter had been grounded for two years because the Finance Ministry had ordered the Defence Ministry to seek a discount on the offending part. Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou hit back at the claims, saying his ministry was not responsible for any red-tape bungle over the issue, and that the helicopter had only been out of service for a "matter of months". He also played down rumours of a rivalry between the two ministries over defence spending, calling the information "unsubstantiated".

    The latest Alithia report quoted a Defence Ministry source as saying the machine had been fixed for some time now, after the ball-bearing had been obtained from the manufacturer. The source also said a further three helicopters suffering from the same problem had also been fixed. There was no mention of whether or not the parts were obtained at full price.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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