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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-30

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, August 30, 1998


  • [01] Businessman touting billion-dollar resort wanted by Interpol
  • [02] Cem to visit the north tomorrow
  • [03] Denktash accuses Clerides and Simitis of raising tension
  • [04] Club owner wounded in bomb attack
  • [05] Call for House probe into bishopric land deal
  • [06] Hotel strike looms
  • [07] University strike planned
  • [08] Snake George awarded Austrian Cross of Honour
  • [09] Water: drastic measures are required
  • [10] Louis cruises ahead

  • [01] Businessman touting billion-dollar resort wanted by Interpol

    A CYPRUS-BASED British businessman wanted by Interpol and his UK partner, who is banned from entry to the island, are involved in a suspect $4 billion scheme to develop a massive resort complex in Zanzibar.

    According to an article published in today's Observer newspaper in London, Nicosia-based businessman Tom Wells is a major shareholder in a company called East African Development which has been leased land from the Zanzibar authorities to construct a huge self-contained tourist metropolis.

    The 70 square kilometre stretch of land has been leased for the princely sum of 1 on the promise that several hotels, golf courses, an airport and a port will be built on it and provide much-needed local jobs.

    Wells, who was born in Belfast, was a director of the Isle of Man-based company along with his wife Maria, but he has resigned recently in the wake of a fraud conviction in Oman. But he confirmed he would remain the major shareholder.

    "I will not do anything to hurt the company or the project," he told the Observer.

    His partner Patrick O'Sullivan, who the Observer reports runs operations from Hampshire, was barred from entering Cyprus several years ago after being placed on the stop list.

    O'Sullivan, previously a frequent visitor to Cyprus and a house owner in Tochni village, was convicted of fraud in Britain and served a jail term.

    It was shortly after his release in 1995 that he was refused entry to Cyprus, where he had set up a business in Limassol.

    The Cyprus Mail has possession of the Interpol arrest warrant issued for Wells by the Oman authorities.

    He was convicted in absentia of issuing dud cheques and sentenced to one year in prison.

    But Wells told the Observer that he would be settling the case this weekend through his lawyers in Muscat, the Omani capital, and that it would be dropped and the warrant withdrawn.

    Wells told the paper that he has backing for the scheme and that $4 billion has been placed in a London bank account.

    Who the investors are and where the money has come from was not however made clear by the businessman.

    He insisted the money was just one bank transfer away and would arrive by last Tuesday.

    But as of yesterday he was still unaware of which bank account the money was in, the Observer said.

    Wells did reveal, however, that he had found his generous backers via the Internet but that he was satisfied they could deliver.

    "They have all the right credibilities. The money is 1,000 per cent there," he told the newspaper.

    The article suggests that the government of Zanzibar contact the World Bank's Investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

    A spokesman for the organisation said it was aware of the project and was not impressed.

    "We would not have participated. It is far too big a project for an island the size of Zanzibar, and we know of no companies involved of sufficient international reputation to begin and run it," the spokesman said.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [02] Cem to visit the north tomorrow

    TURKISH Foreign Minister Ismail Cem is to pay a previously unscheduled visit to the occupied north of Cyprus tomorrow.

    A Turkish Foreign Ministry announcement in Ankara yesterday said that during his one-day visit to the north, Cem will hold talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and other 'officials'.

    Cem's unscheduled visit will follow the talks this week in Athens between President Glafcos Clerides and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, which focused primarily on the question of deployment of the controversial S-300 missile system on the island.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [03] Denktash accuses Clerides and Simitis of raising tension

    By Jean Christou

    THURSDAY'S Cyprus-Greece joint statement on military issues could raise tension on the island, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has warned.

    Commenting to Turkish Cypriot newspapers, Denktash described the joint statement by President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis as "attempting to camouflage Cyprus and Greece's continuing dangerous adventurist stance in the region".

    He accused the Greek Cypriots and Greece of being responsible for escalating tension in Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean with their defence dogma, the Paphos air base, the S-300 missiles and "their continuing threats".

    In Thursday's communique issued in Athens, the Greek and Greek Cypriot leaders said the missiles would be deployed as planned and that Greece would back Cyprus militarily in the event of any strike by Turkey against their deployment.

    Both leaders stressed they did not want tension which would lead to confrontation and that the missiles constitute a threat only to those who dare attack.

    Meanwhile reports in yesterday's press suggested that the missiles would arrive on the island next month and not in November as recently stated.

    Quoting from the September issue of Jane's Intelligence Review, two Greek Cypriot papers said the missiles would be shipped via Gibraltar on Russian naval vessels.

    The decision was taken by President Clerides and Russian President Boris Yeltsin on July 13, the review is quoted as saying.

    The magazine also reportedly said that 48 Cypriots had just completed three months' training in the use of the missiles in Russia.

    Clerides has offered to cancel the S-300 missiles if Turkey accepts his proposal for demilitarisation of the island, or if there is progress in the UN-sponsored talks for the reunification of the island.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [04] Club owner wounded in bomb attack

    By Elias Hazou

    ANOTHER gangland attack took place in Limassol yesterday with the attempted murder of a club owner whose brother was killed in 1995.

    Sotiris Athinis, 44-year-old owner of Le Panache nightclub, was the target of a bomb which went off outside the building just after midnight.

    His brother Melios was shot dead in his car by unidentified assailants in the town in November 1995.

    Athinis was taken to Limassol General Hospital after sustaining minor head wounds. Andreas Xenofontos, alias Kafouris, was also injured in the explosion and kept in hospital for treatment.

    Police say they have stepped up security in the area in an effort to prevent possible revenge attacks.

    Police believe a remote control device was used to detonate the bomb at the nightclub's entrance.

    Athinis told police yesterday that he had received threats against his life and that he had consequently began taking precautions.

    In an almost identical attack in Limassol ten days ago, a bomb went off outside a pub owned by Charalambos Neoptolemou, alias Lemis.

    Meanwhile a hoax warning was given yesterday at around 1am by an unidentified caller who told Ayia Napa police that a bomb would explode at the 'Poulerouge' nightclub in the town.

    The recent wave of gangland violence in Limassol follows the July 31 murder of Andros Aeroporos, who was acquitted the previous month, along with his two brothers, of the attempted murder of Larnaca club owner Antonis Fanieros, 57.

    After the murder of Aeroporos, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis appealed to the public to help police in the fight against organised crime.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [05] Call for House probe into bishopric land deal

    By Elias Hazou

    THE DISPUTE between the Mesa Yitonia church committee and Limassol bishopric yesterday reached a new head, with accusations of forgery and calls for a House of Representatives inquiry into the matter.

    The conflict is over a plot of land which was sold in April 1997 to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) by the Limassol bishopric for 1.4 million. The money from the sale was deposited at the Lombard Natwest bank on the island. According to ecclesiastical procedure, the property's transfer was co-signed by the Limassol bishopric and the Mesa Yitonia parish church committee.

    But members of the parish have said that the transaction was carried out without their consent. The former chairman of the Mesa Yitonia committee, Takis Demetriou, said that the committee was bypassed and that the bishopric alone went ahead with the sale. He also claimed that until this week the committee had not seen a single cent of the 1.4 million.

    Demetriou, a layman, was dismissed on Monday as chairman of the Mesa Yitonia committee by the bishopric after accusations of fraudulent handling of the committee's accounts in 1996, when he served as treasurer. He has been replaced by a cleric, Father Michael.

    The Limassol bishopric was quick to deny Demetriou's allegations, saying bank documents indicated the money from the sale had gone into an account entitled 'Limassol bishopric' with a footnote referring to 'Ayios Prodromos (Mesa Yitonia) church committee'. A spokesman for the bishopric also said that part of the money from the sale had recently been transferred to the committee's co-operative bank, and that this week the whole amount had been transferred.

    The EAC has also denied Demetriou's allegations, and in an announcement said that the contract for the land purchase carried the bishopric's signature, the signature of the chairman of the church committee, and the committee's seal.

    On Friday Demetriou said the committee had no seal of its own, and that therefore this was clearly a case of forgery. Yesterday he gave a statement to police on these allegations.

    The bishopric's accountant, Savvas Theklos, said yesterday that he had personally signed the contract, having temporarily replaced Demetriou as the committee's chairman because Demetriou was opposed to the sale at the time.

    Meanwhile other questions have been raised regarding the controversial transaction. Speaking to reporters this week, the newly-appointed chairman of the church committee, Father Michael, applauded Bishop Chrysanthos for carrying out the transaction, since the land's real value had been estimated at some 500,000, while it was actually sold for 1.4 million. He suggested that the profits from the deal would go towards helping the finances of the parish.

    This prompted a flurry of speculation, with Disy MP Demetris Syllouris yesterday calling on the House to launch an inquiry into expenditure by government and semi-public organisations.

    The EAC, meanwhile, has said that the land's value had been estimated by financial experts, and that it was willing to provide documentation to the committee recently appointed by the Holy Synod to investigate Chrysanthos' alleged involvement in shady business dealings.

    The cleric has already been described as a "suspect" by Attorney-general Alecos Markides in a $3.7 million scam originating in Britain.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has said that police investigators will travel abroad to collect more evidence on other cases with which the bishop's name has been linked.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [06] Hotel strike looms

    THE POSSIBILITY of a strike in the hotel industry yesterday appeared more imminent, with the workers' unions Sek and Peo announcing that they would go ahead with industrial action following a ten-day warning period.

    This followed threats on Friday by the Pancyprian Hoteliers' Association, Pasyxe, that it would consider dismissing hotel employees if their unions did not make significant changes in their demands.

    Hotel workers are asking for a renewal of the industry's collective agreements, and have called on the hoteliers to "reverse their uncompromising tactics". They have accused Pasyxe of promoting "mediaeval methods" in employer-employee relationships.

    Barring any sort of compromise, the strike is expected to begin at the end of next week, and it could have adverse effects on the vital tourist industry - despite assurances to the contrary by Peo officials.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [07] University strike planned

    UNIVERSITY of Cyprus administrative staff have warned that they will go ahead with a one-day 'warning' strike if they are excluded from participating in the upcoming October elections to nominate the institution's deans.

    In an announcement yesterday, the staff said President Glafcos Clerides' recent promise to pass on to the House proposals modifying university regulations that would allow their participation came to nothing.

    Elections for nominations of deans are held every four years by the university's Board.

    The administrative staff have called on the government and the Board to resolve the matter quickly, warning that failure to do so might create problems at the start of the new academic year.

    The strike will be held on September 1, registration day for Cyprus University students.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [08] Snake George awarded Austrian Cross of Honour

    SNAKE George has been awarded the Cross of Honour, one of Austria's highest accolades for science and art, for his contribution towards the protection of snakes and reptiles in Cyprus.

    The 55-year-old Austrian, whose real name is Hans-Jorg Wiedl, will be presented with the award by the Austrian Ambassador to Athens at a ceremony in Nicosia in October.

    "This was a big surprise for me," said Wiedl, long nicknamed 'Snake George' by Paphos locals. "I'm very proud that the government in Austria wants to honour my work".

    Wiedl, who runs the Snake George Reptile Park near Peyia, said that his priority has always been to try to educate people about snakes.

    Wiedl rediscovered the Cyprus grass snake some years ago and he also produced the ultimate evidence to prove a long-held theory that the blunt- nosed viper - a poisonous snake - is an egg-laying rather than live-bearing creature.

    Snake George first came to Cyprus in 1973 as a soldier serving with Unficyp. After sustaining a land-mine injury during a subsequent peace keeping tour on the Golan he left the army.

    After a further ten years in the Austrian civil service, during which time he visited Cyprus regularly, he decided in 1986 to return to the island and launch his campaign to preserve the island's snakes and reptiles.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [09] Water: drastic measures are required

    By Elias Hazou

    WITH THE island now in its third year of drought, the signs are not encouraging for a solution to the water problem - and further cutbacks are inevitable unless drastic measures are taken.

    Water needs have been partly satisfied by the desalination plant at Dhekelia, and the government plans to go ahead with constructing a second plant. This was originally scheduled to come on line last February, but delays have set its start date back to the middle of the year 2000.

    The government has also put forward tenders for two 'mobile' desalination plants, which would jointly produce some 30,000 cubic metres per day.

    Another solution is to use groundwater reserves, but environmental experts have warned that over-taxing these resources could have long-term adverse effects on the environment. They argue that it will take a long time to replenish these underground reserves, which have been slowly accumulating for the past hundred years. Sinking bore-holes is seen by everyone, including the government, as a last-ditch effort to keep the taps running.

    This week the Limassol Water Board announced plans for a large-scale groundwater programme to meet about half of the town's needs.

    The search for solutions to the island's water problems has turned into a race against time.

    According to Gerry Caramondanis, Managing Director of Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd, the plan for two mobile desalination plants is not "techno-economically" feasible, because there is no infrastructure on the island to support such plants which would require huge amounts of electricity to operate efficiently.

    The mobile plants, Caramondanis argues, will actually be identical in principle to the desalination plant in Dhekelia but on a smaller scale, and it will take six months before they begin operating.

    The Dhekelia plant opened in April 1997, initially producing a nominal 20, 000 cubic metres per day, which was later extended to 40,000. It uses the Reverse Osmosis Process to remove solids from the raw seawater in order to produce potable water in accordance with EU standards.

    The process consists of four phases: seawater intake, pre-treatment, removal of solids (reverse osmosis) and adding of minerals. It produces some 13 million cubic metres of drinking water a year.

    "These so-called proposed mobile plants would actually be stationary because of the sheer water input," Caramondanis added.

    So how bad are things? "If it doesn't rain this winter, then the situation becomes desperate," said Caramondanis. The desalination plant at Dhekelia has partly satisfied the needs of Larnaca, Nicosia and Famagusta by providing around 12,000 cubic metres a day to each city. But he added that Nicosia's water needs in the winter alone are estimated at around 20,000 cubic metres, an amount which doubles in summer.

    According to the Water development Department, the island's 101 reservoirs are currently at around 10 per cent of capacity, holding some 27 million cubic metres of water. The government has said that these reserves will last until the end of the year, but only if further cuts are enforced.

    Caramondanis maintained that the official figures given for the water in the island's dams is highly misleading. These figures, he claims, include the dams at Asprokremmos and Evretou (Paphos), which are not connected to the southern conveyor that feeds potable water to Limassol, Nicosia, Famagusta and Larnaca.

    "If you deduct Asprokremmos and Evretou, you are left with the six to seven million cubic metres in the Kourris dam in Limassol. On top of that, the water left in the Kourris dam is highly unclean and has to be continually treated with oxygenation to ensure it is potable," he said.

    The large quantities in the Asprokremmos and Evretou dams are used only for irrigation, and there is no treatment plant yet in Paphos to transform this into potable water. The two dams currently hold about 20 million cubic metres which, for all practical purposes, are dead weight.

    Could this much-needed supply be pumped to the Kourris dam? "It would take almost two years to complete such construction," said Caramondanis.

    Cyprus has traditionally had to cope with water shortages, but clearly drastic measures are now necessary to provide at least some relief to its water-hungry residents.

    Sunday, August 30, 1998

    [10] Louis cruises ahead

    CRUISE giants Louis control nearly one fifth of the cruising market in the Mediterranean, according to an American Travel magazine.

    Cruise Industry News Quarterly which researched the European cruise market showed Louis with 17.5 per cent.

    In joint second place were the Italian firm Costa and the Greek company Royal Olympic with 11 per cent each.

    It is estimated that in 1998 1.2 million people will cruise the Mediterranean travelling on 96 ships, eight of which are owned by Louis.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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