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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, August 19, 1998


  • [01] Pub owner hurt in gangland bombing
  • [02] 'Take Turkey to task over arms build-up'
  • [03] Nadir escape pilot jailed for two years
  • [04] Solomou to be temporary head of English School
  • [05] Pardoned Israeli was wanted on theft charges
  • [06] Police in forged money probes
  • [07] Jet-skis in two crashes
  • [08] Bodies to be exhumed
  • [09] Police officer suspended
  • [10] Government in property probe
  • [11] Russian woes unlikely to trouble Cyprus
  • [12] Ports in 1997 "far from success"
  • [13] Titanic hunt called off as Leo sinks without trace
  • [14] Teenager dies in car crash

  • [01] Pub owner hurt in gangland bombing

    By Martin Hellicar

    POLICE were yesterday investigating the third suspected gangland hit on the island in less than three weeks.

    Pub owner Charalambos Neoptolemou, known as Lemis, 29, was seriously injured when a bomb went off outside his establishment, the Cassandra bar on Limassol's Vironos Street, just before midnight on Monday.

    Police believe the attack was part of a feud between rival underworld gangs vying for control of the lucrative cabaret market - thought to be a front for prostitution, drugs and gambling rackets.

    It comes in the wake of two other suspected gangland hits. On July 31, 32- year-old Andros Aeroporos was gunned down outside a cabaret in Limassol. Ten days later, 31-year-old Loucas Fanieros was lucky to escape unhurt when his car came under machine-gun fire in the Larnaca red light district.

    On June 19, Andros Aeroporos and his brothers Hambis, 35, and Panicos, 25, had been acquitted of the attempted murder of Loucas's father Antonis Fanieros, 57, on May 29 last year.

    After Andros' death Justice Minister Nicos Koshis expressed concern that gangland reprisals might follow.

    Police spokesman Stelios Neophytou said yesterday it was "likely" the Limassol bomb attack was linked to the attacks on Andros Aeroporos and Loucas Fanieros.

    "Lemis was a man involved in business of the night," he said.

    Lemis, from Trachoni village outside Limassol, was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for injuries to the right leg and other parts of the body.

    Police said he was in a stable condition and was being kept under police guard at the hospital.

    Radio reports suggested the bomb had been planted in a hedge near the Cassandra pub and detonated by remote control.

    Lemis' sister and brother-in-law witnessed the bomb blast, having bid the victim good-night just seconds before. They were both treated in hospital for shock.

    There were no customers in the pub at the time of the attack. The explosion, which was heard all over Limassol, shattered the windows of the pub and neighbouring shops.

    Six people were questioned yesterday by police in connection with the bomb attack but no arrests were made.

    No one has yet been arrested in connection with the attacks on Andros Aeroporos or Loucas Fanieros either.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [02] 'Take Turkey to task over arms build-up'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday called on the international community to reprimand Turkey for bolstering its forces in the occupied north of the island.

    "Strengthening of the occupation forces has been going on since the summer of 1997. Representations have been made and there will be others," government spokesman Christos Stylianides told his press briefing.

    He was commenting on Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou's claim on Monday that 50 extra tanks and heavy artillery pieces had arrived in the north last week and had been deployed in attack formations.

    Omirou also claimed the tanks and weapons systems in the new shipment were US-manufactured.

    "The Defence Ministry and Foreign Ministry are collecting information (on the Turkish arms build-up) to make its case," said Stylianides. "As we all know, Turkish tanks are positioned in an attack formation."

    The government estimates that more than 40,000 Turkish troops and around 500 tanks are deployed in the occupied areas.

    Stylianides pointed to Ankara's rejection of American efforts to broker an overflight ban over Cyprus - in which the S-300 missile deal would be scrapped as part of the agreement - as a prime example of Turkey's tension- raising diplomacy.

    Turkey's Minister of State for Cyprus Sukru Sina Gurel said on Monday that Ankara rejected the overflight ban proposal and continued to take all necessary measures on Cyprus. "We cannot accept this kind of bargaining regarding the missiles," Gurel said before the arrival in Ankara of US State Department envoy Thomas Miller. "We will continue to take all the necessary measures."

    Stylianides called this "a statement which the international community should take into serious consideration in order to understand exactly who is responsible for the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean".

    He declined to comment on reports in the Athens press claiming that the missile deal had been postponed for a further nine months.

    Greek papers had reported that President Clerides would make such an announcement to the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

    Clarifying the government's position on a possible postponement or cancellation of the missile deal, Stylianides said it would only come about "if important steps are made towards the demilitarisation of Cyprus, or if intercommunal talks resume with prospects for progress".

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [03] Nadir escape pilot jailed for two years

    A MAN who helped indicted businessman Asil Nadir escape Britain in a sensational flight to the occupied north of Cyprus was jailed for two years yesterday.

    Peter Diamond, 57, was convicted on August 3 at the Old Bailey in London for obstructing justice by enabling Nadir, the former chairman of collapsed food and electronics conglomerate Polly Peck, to flee the reaches of British law in 1993.

    "At best you were naive," Judge Michael Hyam told Diamond, who is a qualified pilot. "At worst, you showed a cynical disregard to the effect your actions might have on the administration of justice."

    Nadir's escape, four months before he was scheduled to face trial in Britain on charges of theft, was a wild climax to one of Britain's more dramatic boom-and-bust stories. Polly Peck grew dramatically in the early 1980s, but eventually collapsed in 1991 with debts of $2.1 billion after investigators began probing irregularities in Nadir's finances.

    Nadir claimed he could not get a fair trial in Britain and in May 1993 he jumped $5.2 million bail to flee the country. Diamond arranged for a light aircraft to fly Nadir to northern France, where the businessman boarded an executive jet bound for northern Cyprus.

    Diamond did no flying on the journey, but accompanied Nadir and remained with him on the island until January 1998, when he returned to Britain on business and was arrested.

    Nadir still faces 13 charges of theft in Britain involving 30 million pounds from his companies.

    While Diamond has denied any wrongdoing, he said during his trial that he believed Nadir had been treated unfairly by British authorities and needed a chance to prepare his case before returning to Britain to face trial.

    "I always thought it would be sorted. I never doubted his integrity," Diamond told the court during his trial.


    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [04] Solomou to be temporary head of English School

    THE ACADEMIC year will begin as normal on September 15 at the English School, with senior master Emilios Solomou taking over as temporary headmaster in the wake of Thomas Thomas' removal from the post.

    Although there has as yet been no official statement from the new school board, sources yesterday said that the board took its decision on Monday to remove Thomas from the post in order to allow the Autumn term to start as normal, and with the provision that an amicable deal be reached with him.

    Tomorrow, the board is expected to meet Thomas and the parents' association to discuss such a deal.

    It is believed that in spite of the fact that Thomas will not be continuing as headmaster, some of the changes he implemented in the school will be retained.

    The staff had accused Thomas of treating both their members and pupils in an improper manner, and of making an unfair promotion. Although the last school board found him blameless, staff passed a vote of no confidence in Thomas by 59 votes to three. All but one head of department had also threatened to resign if Thomas stayed on as head.

    There was no response yesterday from Thomas' official residence.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [05] Pardoned Israeli was wanted on theft charges

    AN ISRAELI imprisoned for jewellery theft was granted a presidential pardon and was about to be put on a plane home, despite the fact he was due to appear in court on theft charges, when he was detained again.

    Larnaca District Court heard yesterday how police took 51-year-old David Hihinashvili to Larnaca airport on Monday to put him on a flight to Tel Aviv. President Glafcos Clerides had earlier that day granted his freedom to Hihinashvili, sentenced to six months&#146; imprisonment earlier this year for a Paphos jewellery theft. But airport immigration officials found Hihinashvili's name was on a stop list as he was due to appear in court on September 19 in connection with a 7,000 jewellery theft.

    Police arrested the Israeli on the spot.

    "Where is the co-ordination between the police and immigration department?" District Judge Marios Georgiou asked yesterday.

    He demanded that the court be given a full report on how the mix-up occurred.

    Hihinashvili was released on 4,000 bail to reappear before the court on September 19 to face theft charges.

    He was also ordered to surrender his passport and report to Larnaca police headquarters twice daily.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [06] Police in forged money probes

    A LIMASSOL bank gave a Cypriot man 16 fake banknotes amounting to 100,000 Italian lira (some 30 Cyprus pounds) for a holiday in Italy, police confirmed yesterday.

    On returning to the island, Andreas Sophocleous, a furniture-maker from Erimi, handed over the notes to Cypriot police after discovering that the money was fake during his recent trip to Italy. Shopkeepers there refused to take the money claiming it was counterfeit.

    Three of the notes, which are being examined at Police Headquarters, have the same serial number.

    Police are treating the case seriously and have been investigating the circulation of counterfeit money in Limassol for the past three days. Their concern stems from the fact that the fake money had not been detected by bank controls and was put on the market and circulated with ease.

    Meanwhile, in a similar case, two fake 20 sterling pounds notes were exchanged for Cypriot money by an unknown man at a hotel on Sunday. The incident was reported to Famagusta police by Vassos Adamou, the hotel worker who exchanged the money. He discovered that the notes were forged when he had tried to deposit them. Both had the same serial number and have been sent for further forensic tests.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [07] Jet-skis in two crashes

    By Athena Karsera

    TWO BRITISH tourists were critically injured yesterday in Ayia Napa when the `banana boat' they were travelling on was hit by a jet-ski driven by another Briton.

    Lauren Sarah Schneider and Michelle Margaret Brandon were described by police as being "critically injured". The doctor treating the two at a private clinic was unavailable for comment.

    The two women were hit by David Whitworth, 22, when his jet-ski collided with their `banana boat'.

    Police want drivers of jet-skis to have special licences and legislation on the issue is now before the House of Parliament. Jet-ski drivers are currently required by law to be over 18 years of age and hold a valid driving licence.

    Whitworth is not licensed to drive a car. He has been arrested and is appearing in court today facing possible charges of negligent driving and illegally operating a jet-ski.

    Ayia Napa police are investigating.

    Although police on Monday reported that no serious accidents involving jet- skis had recently occurred in Cyprus, another serious incident came to light yesterday.

    On Sunday August 9, Russell Sleaper, 25, was seriously injured when the small sailing boat he had hired was hit by a jet-ski whose driver did not hold a driving licence. Sleaper's boat was stationary at the time.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [08] Bodies to be exhumed

    By Charlie Charalambous

    In an effort to confirm the identity of persons missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion, exhumations of remains will go ahead in October, the government said yesterday.

    "The government has decided to proceed with the exhumations, irrespective of developments in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, with a view to identify those buried in graves marked (as) unknown persons," Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

    He said that although both Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides had agreed to exchange information on missing persons, the process had been stalled and the government would go it alone with the help of international experts.

    "The presence of experts is essential for the process of exhumation and the identification of remains through DNA," Stylianides said.

    He said the experts co-operated with the Red Cross but did not officially represent them.

    The sudden activity concerning the remains of missing persons was prompted by the actions of two women whose husbands are among the 1600 Greek Cypriot classified as missing.

    In an effort to find their loved ones, the women dug up a grave of an unknown soldier on Monday.

    Androulla Parpas and Maroulla Siamisi said they were forced to take such drastic measures after being kept in the dark over their husbands'true fate for so long.

    Stylianides said the authorities would study the files of 126 missing persons believed to have been killed during the invasion, to ascertain whether the women's husbands are among them.

    Of the 1600 people still unaccounted for, only one person (a US citizen) has been officially identified as deceased through DNA testing.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [09] Police officer suspended

    A POLICE officer has been suspended for injuring two fellow officers after firing his pistol accidentally, police reported yesterday.

    The incident occurred late Monday night at the Astromeritis police station. All three police officers were on duty at the time.

    Stefanos Hadjipolykarpou's pistol went off while it was aimed at the feet of two other officers. The injured policemen were taken to Nicosia General Hospital for treament and were later released.

    CID are investigating the incident and have confiscated the pistol and a cartridge.

    Although police said there was no evidence to suggest a crime, Hadjipolykarpou was suspended for "inappopriate behaviour."

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [10] Government in property probe

    GOVERNMENT property in the Troodos mountains is being used without proper permission and at extremely low rates, an Agricultural Ministry report said yesterday.

    Two Troodos Square establishments, whose buildings are being used for shops and a restaurant, were specifically mentioned.

    One of them, totalling 322 square metres, has been rented since 1923 for the sum of four pounds per year. Its rental contract does not stipulate when the lease expires.

    Another building, built in 1946, which includes 2 joined rooms and another separate one, has been rented for the yearly amount of one pound. This amount, apparently, has never been paid and thus the lease can be revoked at ten days' notice.

    The government report said that many unauthorized modifications have been made to several of the government buildings.

    The Attorney General, Alecos Markides, has been asked to examine the report and establish the government's position as it is the owner of the property.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [11] Russian woes unlikely to trouble Cyprus

    By Hamza Hendawi

    IT IS TOO early to gauge accurately the effects on Cyprus of Russia's de facto devaluation this week of its currency, but local economists said yesterday that the move is unlikely to have too many negative results.

    But they said one major area of concern was the possibility that Russia's increasing economic woes would force Moscow to harden further its stance on the renewal of a key double taxation treaty with Cyprus.

    Already, two rounds of negotiations to renew the treaty have failed to produce an agreement. A third round is scheduled for next month.

    "They will certainly be more reluctant now to renew the treaty any time soon," said one senior economist contacted by the Cyprus Mail. Russia has been under mounting pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors to improve its tax collection, a facts which is widely believed to be behind Moscow&#146;s apparent unwillingness to see Russian businessmen abroad get away with paying only a fraction of corporate tax collected at home.

    Under the offshore regime in Cyprus, offshore companies pay 4.25 per cent in corporate tax. That in turn means that they do not have to pay another cent to Russian authorities under the double taxation treaty.

    Senior Central Bank official Spyros Stavrinakis yesterday emphasised the vital role played by the agreement in attracting Russian businesses, saying it provided the main incentive for them to be in Cyprus.

    Cyprus has been a magnet for Russian businessmen and capital since the break-up of the Soviet Union at the start of the decade. Russian-owned companies are believed to make up a significant number of the nearly 32,000 offshore companies registered here.

    Up to $25 billion is invested in Russia through Cyprus every year, according to Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, and nearly $600 million worth of Russian-manufactured goods are made available for sale through the island.

    The number of Russians taking their holidays on the island has steadily increased in recent years, and was expected to hit the 200,000 mark this year.

    Furthermore, Russian tourists are known to top the list of foreign visitors in terms of spending.

    Marios Clerides, chief economist at Hellenic Bank, said Russian tourism might be affected by the rouble devaluation, but that would be minimal.

    "Most Russian tourists who come here are not of the type that would be hit by the loss in value of the rouble," he said.

    "They are mostly either earning their income in currencies other than the rouble or their entire savings are in hard currency," he said.

    The island's trade with Russia is limited, a fact which is likely to diminish the immediate impact here of the rouble devaluation. Official figures for the first quarter of this year show a small surplus in favour of Russia. Cyprus imported goods, including military equipment, worth 25.68 million, while its exports to Russia were worth 21.7 million, the figures show.

    The island's rigid foreign currency regulations mean that private investments by Cypriots in Russia have been limited. But those who sought to benefit from Russia's high interest rates on roubles could have been hurt, together with the few Cypriots who invested in Russian equities, which have been badly hit in recent days.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [12] Ports in 1997 "far from success"

    TOTAL CARGO haulage at the island's ports was down by 11 per cent in 1997, the Cyprus Ports Authority said in its annual financial report.

    The report which was made public yesterday, described the year as "satisfactory, but far from a success".

    It said that commercial cargo haulage passing through the two main ports of Limassol and Larnaca - which together account for around 60 per cent of total haulage - was down by 22 per cent, but that there was a 7 per cent rise in ship passenger arrivals with the port of Limassol contributing most to the increase.

    The island's ports are facing stiff competition from nearby countries, such as Israel and Turkey, with shipping companies saying that Cypriot ports charge high fees and provide slow service.

    Port union conflicts have added to the problems facing the island's vital industry, as Cyprus strives to maintain its status as a shipping centre in the eastern Mediterranean.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [13] Titanic hunt called off as Leo sinks without trace

    By Andrew Adamides &amp; Athena Karsera

    HAS Titanic heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio been visiting Cyprus over the past few days?

    Many people have thought so since a report in the Greek-language daily Machi claimed that the 24-year-old actor had been seen on the beach in Paphos with his co-star in the Oscar-winning blockbuster, British actress Kate Winslet. No pictures showing the couple together there were published.

    But hotels in the Paphos area were emphatic in their denials that DiCaprio was staying there.

    "He is not staying here. He is not on my guest list, and unless he is invisible, he is not staying at this hotel," a spokeswoman for the Annabelle said firmly.

    Meanwhile contacts within the hotel trade revealed that Simon LeBon, of British pop group Duran Duran, had been staying on the island along with his supermodel wife Yasmin and their children. They apparently left the island on Saturday.

    But then DiCaprio's trail picked up again, with reports of sightings in the Polis Chrysochous area. Several people claimed to have spotted him in the area, but further investigations revealed that all the alleged sightings were second or third hand reports.

    According to film industry sources, DiCaprio's latest film is still in pre- production, and in spite of the existence of many fan sites on the internet, none seemed to be aware of exactly where he is.

    The showbiz desk at British tabloid The Sun, also said they were unaware of Leo's whereabouts, but added that this wasn't the first rash of sightings this summer. Prior to his 'arrival' in Cyprus, there had been claims that the blond actor was on a boat in Spain.

    On Monday, Greek daily Apoyevmatini also reported that the actor was on the island, although no new facts were given. Unconfirmed rumours also suggested that he could in fact be staying under very heavy security, at a particular hotel in Paphos, and was due to depart last night, although both Larnaca and Paphos Airports said there were no private jets scheduled to leave Cyprus close to his alleged departure times.

    Machi said yesterday that it had received the information that DiCaprio was staying on the island from the manager of a hotel, although journalists there they said they could not name the actual resort itself.

    DiCaprio first came to prominence when he appeared alongside Johnny Depp in the 1993 film What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Since then, he has appeared in several box-office successes, including Titanic, Romeo and Juliet and the historical drama The Man in the Iron Mask.

    Winslet, of whom no further sightings have been reported, first came to the public eye playing a lesbian schoolgirl killer in the New Zealand film Heavenly Creatures.

    Wednesday, August 19, 1998

    [14] Teenager dies in car crash

    A TEENAGE boy was tragically killed in a car crash yesterday afternoon when his pick-up truck careered off a dirt track into an open field.

    Police said Alexis Piperis, 17, from Anthoupolis, died after his vehicle crashed in Lakatamia field in unknown circumstances.

    Demetris Kaimakliotis, 17, a passenger in the car, escaped with light injuries.

    Nicosia traffic police are investigating the cause of the accident.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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