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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-21

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

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


Friday, August 21, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Police beat us up, say boat people
  • [02] New English School board chief quits
  • [03] Efforts to finalise funding for London school
  • [04] Policeman suspended after shooting
  • [05] Pros and cons protest outside Akamas hotel
  • [06] Two remanded after brawl
  • [07] Police swamp gangland haunts in Limassol
  • [08] Only a no-fly zone will do, says Clerides
  • [09] Air traffic delays 'no worse than normal'
  • [10] Bourse beats the August apathy
  • [11] Cyprus Airways business looking up
  • [12] Leo in LA all along
  • [13] Tourists killed in crash

  • [01] Police beat us up, say boat people

    By Charlie Charalambous and Martin Hellicar

    BOAT PEOPLE confined to a Limassol hotel yesterday accused police rapid reaction squad officers of storming their rooms and beating them up.

    In a filmed interview seen by the Cyprus Mail, Iraqi Kurd Suhaib Anwar- Salih told how black-clad police 'commandos' laid into him and other boat people holed up in the Pefkos Hotel since their dramatic rescue at sea almost two months ago.

    "Police yesterday came to every floor and beat everybody," he said.

    The 30-year-old said the unprovoked assaults took place on Wednesday morning shortly after 30 African boat people had been put into police vans to be taken to police cells in Larnaca. Police said at the time that the operation had been carried out without incident.

    "After they took people from breakfast, they told us 'everybody go up to your rooms' and when we went they came to the rooms and took everybody and beat them up," Anwar-Salih alleged.

    Only the women and children among the 63 boat people remaining at the Pefkos were spared, he said.

    The interview, filmed at the hotel yesterday, showed one man with his arm in a sling, a torn shirt and bruised shoulder and another two with black eyes.

    "Everybody is very worried because it is bad news for us, and maybe tomorrow everybody will be put in prison," the Kurd said.

    His claims were backed up by members of the Aliens Support Movement. "We tried to get two lawyers in to see them today but they wouldn't let them in. The police are letting no-one in," spokesman Doros Polycarpou said.

    Police have tightened security at the hotel following clashes with protesting African boat people outside the building last week. The boat people were staging a protest after foiling a police attempt to take a number of them away for deportation.

    Yesterday the government was accused of trying to deport the 30 African boat people, transferred to Larnaca police holding cells on Wednesday, by the back door.

    Thirty nationals from Sudan, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone were escorted from the three-star hotel, where they had been staying since their June 29 rescue from the trawler Rida Allah after it was adrift for 10 days, to cells at a former police HQ in Larnaca.

    Eleni Mavrou, of the Aliens Support Movement, yesterday criticised the legality of the move and the conditions under which the boat people are being detained.

    "Our concern has increased because all contact with them has been prohibited," she said.

    Mavrou believes their detention is illegal because they were not arrested or taken to court for a remand order.

    "Under the constitution only a court can decide to imprison them, which is exactly what has happened to them - whatever the authorities claim," Mavrou said.

    The movement accuses the government of preparing for clandestine deportations in an effort to avoid a recurrence of the violence in Limassol which accompanied first efforts to deport them last week.

    But the Immigration Service said yesterday no one would be deported until the UNHCR had finished processing applications for asylum.

    "No decision on deportations has been taken. If the immigrants are recognised as political refugees then they will be allowed to stay or taken to a third country," immigration chief Christodoulos Nicolaides said.

    He denied that the 30 Africans were being held prisoner.

    "It is not imprisonment but a kind of detention until the whole process is cleared up. Every step we've taken has been agreed with the UNHCR who are fully informed of the situation," Nicolaides said.

    He stressed that no other country faced with a similar situation would put up illegal immigrants in hotel accommodation: "No other country would put these people up in a hotel - their living conditions in Cyprus cannot compare," he said.

    After visiting the holding cells in Larnaca yesterday, Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides praised the authorities for their handling of the boat people saga.

    "The government should be congratulated for showing great sensitivity and allowing the boat people temporary asylum at the hotel and at the cells to ensure their living conditions are as comfortable as possible," he said.

    Christodoulides said the authorities had every right to arrest the boat people and take them to court to secure remand orders, but that they had chosen not to do so for humanitarian reasons.

    Since the 113 boat people were rescued from the battered Syrian fishing trawler, twenty have been repatriated and the remaining 93 are seeking asylum.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [02] New English School board chief quits

    THE newly-appointed chairman of the English School board, Daniel Hadjitofis, has resigned from his post, a source close to him said yesterday.

    The resignation comes just days after the new board decided to remove headmaster Thomas Thomas from his post.

    The source gave no explanation for Hadjitofis's departure and said he had gone on holiday and could not be contacted. Newspaper reports yesterday suggested that Hadjitofis, who is director of the Fulbright institute in Cyprus, would resign because of "other obligations".

    The school board - minus Hadjitofis - and parents' association met Thomas yesterday evening to discuss a separation package.

    Thomas was ousted after staff - accusing him of treating them improperly and making unfair promotions - passed a vote of no confidence in him by 59 votes to three. The previous school board had cleared Thomas of any wrongdoing after an internal investigation.

    The board was replaced by the cabinet on July 29 after a ministerial committee probed recent events at the school, including allegations of favouritism.

    Senior master Emilios Solomou has taken over as temporary headmaster of the Island's top private school.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [03] Efforts to finalise funding for London school

    By Andrew Adamides

    AS PLANS for the first ever bilingual school catering for the Greek Cypriot community come closer to fruition in London, representatives of GALE, the Greek Association for Language Enhancement, are in Cyprus to finalise details of government funding for the project.

    Planning began in earnest last year, when a suitable building in Croydon became free, and 80 per cent of the £4 million required to fund the school has been acquired from the British Education Ministry.

    But GALE is anxious to conclude the financing phase of the project, as the building has now stood empty for a year and is costing Croydon Council £20, 000 a month.

    At present, the government provides the UK Cypriot community with 36 part- time teachers, who GALE head George Kastelanides says have to struggle to fit in Greek lessons. The founding of a school, he says, will provide a better solution to the problem of keeping British Cypriot children in touch with their roots.

    It is hoped that the school, St Cyprian's, will open in September 1999, at first offering primary education but with the possibility of a secondary department being established later.

    The school will teach the British national curriculum, but with the addition of Greek language classes, and will also focus on Greek culture and the Greek Orthodox religion. Such schools already exist in other overseas Cypriot communities around the world.

    The GALE representatives will meet House President Spyros Kyprianou on Monday, and will later meet President Glafcos Clerides, who has expressed firm support for the project.

    Kastelanides says the project "is 95 percent there", with funding has also coming from private sources. The school's running costs will be met by the British government. Additional funding from Cyprus is, he adds, more of a psychological boost than anything else, something to let the British Cypriots know they have the material backing of their homeland.

    GALE is asking that the government give them a one-off £500,000, split into instalments.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [04] Policeman suspended after shooting

    THE LIMASSOL policeman who shot a suspect in the town on Wednesday has been suspended, pending the outcome of an investigation.

    The incident happened when two traffic patrol men in Paphos Street stopped a car containing two foreigners for a routine check. One man who jumped out was pursued by the officer who fired what were described as three warning shots.

    A Syrian named as Mohammed Abdullah was hit by a bullet in the arm and chest, and is now in a serious condition in Limassol hospital after undergoing emergency surgery.

    The police officer, Panayiotis Philippou, has been suspended and has had his pistol confiscated.

    Police told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that Abdullah's residence permit had expired at the end of June, and that he was therefore considered to be an illegal immigrant at the time of the incident.

    A police spokesman would not comment on why the officer had fired his weapon, saying that the case was under investigation by Limassol CID.

    Police are still searching for the second man who ran away from the car when it was stopped.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [05] Pros and cons protest outside Akamas hotel

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GREEN party organised another protest yesterday outside their bÍte noire, the hotel built on the Akamas coast by Thanos Hotels Ltd, the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides.

    Local villagers turned out at the same time to stage a counter- demonstration in support of the controversial Anassa Hotel, which recently opened its doors to visitors.

    About sixty environmentalists gathered outside the massive complex with banners and placards condemning the cabinet-approved relaxations granted for the hotel. The relaxations enabled Thanos Hotels to build the Anassa higher than local zoning regulations allow and to encroach on to a protected beach.

    In a press release, the Green party said the hotel had been built "against the public interest, totally ignoring the irreversible environmental destruction brought with it".

    Green party leader George Perdikis vowed protests would continue until the government implements a World Bank proposal to protect the Akamas from development by turning it into a national park.

    Yesterday's counter-demonstration was staged by about 50 representatives of local communities.

    They expressed support for the hotel development, saying it did not destroy the environment and was helping to stem the exodus of young people from surrounding villages to towns by providing local jobs.

    "As communities in the area we support the operation of the complex because we believe it will provide a lifeline and prosperity for the area," the mukhtar of Peristerona village, Andreas Kaponides, said.

    The demonstrations lasted about an hour and were incident-free, police reported.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [06] Two remanded after brawl

    A DISPUTE between a group of Cypriot youths and two Russians has ended in a fight that hospitalised two people.

    Police say that at around 10pm on Wednesday a group of Russian teenagers arrived at an amusement park at Yermasoyia, Limassol, and three Cypriot teenagers tried to get the attention of two Russian girls with them.

    An argument broke out, and at one point one of the Russians allegedly pulled out a penknife.

    Two of the Cypriots were injured. A 16-year-old received a deep cut in his stomach and was later operated on at Limassol General Hospital. His condition was described yesterday as serious but stable. Another Cypriot youth suffered a broken nose.

    A police patrol later arrested two Russians after the Cypriot youths gave a description to the officers.

    Two Russians appeared in a Limassol court yesterday and were remanded in custody for five days.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [07] Police swamp gangland haunts in Limassol

    By Charlie Charalambous

    REINFORCEMENTS from Nicosia have been sent to help Limassol police in an effort to stem the outbreak of gang-related crime.

    Since this week's bomb attack on Limassol pub owner Charalambos Neoptolemou - who is believed to be the third victim of an underworld feud in as many weeks - the police are taking no chances.

    Neoptolemou, 29, is recovering in hospital after a remote-controlled device exploded outside his pub at around midnight on Monday.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has visited the victim in hospital and held an emergency meeting at Limassol police HQ - the second such meeting since Andros Aeroporos was shot dead outside the Show Palace cabaret last month - to consider tighter security measures.

    Aeroporos and his two brothers were acquitted in June of carrying out a gangland machine-gun attack on Larnaca club owner Antonis Fanieros. Fanieros survived the attack, and his son Loucas also escaped unscathed in a gun attack in Larnaca last week.

    After Wednesday's meeting some 20 extra policeman from Nicosia's rapid deployment units were deployed in Limassol yesterday.

    Koshis is understood to have given strict instructions for the police to be especially vigilant when patrolling the town's red light district, and to keep a close eye on those suspected of being involved in gang-related crime.

    Press reports yesterday said Neoptolemou has given police the names of those he suspects planted the bomb at his pub.

    There is also tight security at Limassol hospital, as Neoptolemou fears he could be the target of another hit.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [08] Only a no-fly zone will do, says Clerides

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides returned from his two-week Aegean cruise in uncompromising mood yesterday. He said the government would not postpone deployment of the S-300 missiles and would not accept any US proposal for an overflights moratorium - only a no-fly zone would do.

    "We have made no plans for a postponement. For the time being, the National Council decision on the arrival of the Russian missiles stands," Clerides told journalists after disembarking from his yacht, the Kate, in Larnaca marina yesterday morning.

    The National Council decided earlier this year to postpone delivery of the S-300s until October.

    Earlier this week, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said deployment of the ground-to-air missiles could be put back if talks with the Turkish side restarted.

    Turkey has threatened to strike the missiles if they are deployed, and both the United States and the European Union have made clear their opposition to the deal.

    Talks on the Cyprus problem between the two sides have been stalled since last summer. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has set recognition of the breakaway 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' as a pre-condition for his return to the negotiation table.

    Clerides also commented yesterday on US-led efforts to secure postponement of S-300 deal by getting the two sides to agree to a ban on military overflights - an idea first put forward by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    US envoy to Cyprus Thomas Miller had little luck trying to sell this idea to Ankara during contacts there on Wednesday.

    "What Pangalos proposed was not a moratorium but a guaranteed no-fly zone," Clerides said. "This appears not to have been accepted so they (the US) returned to the idea of a moratorium. It is the common position of both sides that a moratorium is not acceptable."

    The government has indicated it would consider postponing deployment of the missiles if Nato enforced a no-fly zone.

    But Turkey has rejected any form of bargaining on the S-300 issue.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [09] Air traffic delays 'no worse than normal'

    By Andrew Adamides

    DISRUPTION to flights to and from Cyprus because of Euro Control in Brussels is no worse than normal, the Civil Aviation department said yesterday.

    Recent reports in the local press had claimed that Euro Control, which must give clearance for any flight passing over Europe to take off, had been causing delays in flights to and from the island.

    But Cyprus Airways spokesman Tassos Angelis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the island's problems had been no worse than those of any other country, and that ATC (Air Traffic Control) delays were just a part of everyday airline life.

    He added that when it comes to ATC delays, Cyprus Airways is also affected because it cannot fly over Turkey, and must therefore use other air corridors.

    The whole thing is "a matter of co-ordination", he said.

    Iacovos Papadopoulos, head of the Civil Aviation department, also said that the delays were no worse than those experienced by any other country, and that they were also no worse than those experienced at the same time last year. Delays always increase in the summer because there are more flights to and from the island.

    Papadopoulos added, however, that there had recently been some "rearrangements" with a view to minimising future delays. So far this summer, the worst delays attributed to air traffic control had been around three-quarters of an hour, he said.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [10] Bourse beats the August apathy

    By Hamza Hendawi

    A TOUCH Of August may have finally come to the Cyprus Stock Exchange. The eighth month has consistently been the quietest by far in the local bourse, with many brokers and investors out of town on holiday, while interest in the market by the unfortunate few left to cope with Nicosia's suffocating heat is at a low ebb.

    But this picture of traditional August apathy could not be farther from the truth this year, with volumes so far uncharacteristically high and the index, surprisingly, making gains.

    Of the 13 trading August days up till today, volume topped the £1 million mark five times, reached more than £800,000 on six days, and recorded a modest £712,116 in the August 7 session.

    But yesterday's volume was a reminder that this is still a holiday period. It stood at a mere £501,087. However luckily for those who make a living playing the market, it was way above the kind of lows witnessed in August 1997.

    Volume this month last year at times plunged to as low as £200,000.

    Like volumes, the official all-share Cyprus Stock Exchange index has not been disappointing either. The index has clawed its way up by a decent 2.21 per cent since the start of the month, closing up yesterday at 86.65, or 0.13 per cent up on Wednesday.

    As ever, the blue-chip bank stocks have led the unusual August rally and dominated volume throughout the 13 trading sessions so far this month.

    Shares in the Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest financial institution whose shares are the most traded, gained more than any other bank stock in the August rally. They closed yesterday at £3.69 apiece, an increase of 18 cents since the beginning of the month.

    Its closest rival, the Cyprus Popular Bank, closed at £3.80 yesterday, or 10 cents higher than the last day of trade in July. Hellenic Bank shares have also risen by 10 cents so far this month, closing yesterday at £2.68 apiece.

    Even the small Universal Savings Bank did well in August, adding on 11 cents since the beginning of the month to close yesterday at £1.95.

    The bank was the subject of a takeover rumour early in the week which saw its share rise by a staggering 14 cents on Monday. According to the so-far unconfirmed rumour, Eurobank, a member of Greece's giant Lanitis conglomerate and one of the largest private banks in that country, planned to buy Universal.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [11] Cyprus Airways business looking up

    CYPRUS Airways has enjoyed a bumper year so far, with a nine per cent increase in passenger traffic, the airline said yesterday.

    Nearly 80,000 more people flew CY between January and July compared with the same period last year.

    The national carrier and its charter wing Eurocypria had 920,000 passengers in the first seven months of 1998, up from 844,000 last year.

    The figures translated into a 4.7 per cent increase for Cyprus Airways and 28.5 per cent for Eurocypria.

    The biggest growth was on the route to Holland at 34.8 per cent, followed by Germany (19.6 per cent), Greece (15.5 per cent) and Britain (7.1 per cent).

    The largest group of Cyprus Airways and Eurocypria customers remains Great Britain, with a total of 250,000 passengers since the beginning of the year.

    The airline also reported a 21 per cent rise in 'Apollo' Business Class traffic.

    Cyprus Airways lost three million pounds last year.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [12] Leo in LA all along

    THE recent rash of Leonardo DiCaprio sightings in Cyprus can now definitely be put down to mass hallucination, as it has been confirmed that the actor was actually in Los Angeles when he was supposed to be sunning himself on Paphos beaches last week, writes Andrew Adamides.

    According to local media and 'eyewitness' reports, DiCaprio was staying either in Polis Chrysochou or at a luxury hotel in the Paphos region.

    One press report claimed he was with Titanic co-star Kate Winslet, who then evidently disappeared without trace, while all those who reported 'sightings' turned out to be offering only second or third-hand news.

    A recent article about the actor in The Times newspaper, however, places DiCaprio, 24, in Los Angeles with his 23-year-old supermodel girlfriend Kirsten Zang. DiCaprio is set to appear in the next film by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle.

    Rumours say DiCaprio and Zang may be set to wed in the near future, although whether they will be honeymooning in Cyprus is not yet known.

    Friday, August 21, 1998

    [13] Tourists killed in crash

    TWO tourists were killed yesterday when their motorbike collided head-on with a pick-up truck on the Larnaca to Ayia Napa road.

    Police said the couple, whose names had not been released last night, apparently lost control of the bike and veered on to the wrong side of the road. The accident took place at around 8.30pm within the British base of Dhekelia near Ormidhia.

    The driver of the truck, 49-year-old Andreas Landos, and his wife and children - also in the vehicle - were treated in hospital for minor injuries, police said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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