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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, September 17, 1998


  • [01] Three held after hooded killer strikes in Limassol
  • [02] I won't bow to death threats
  • [03] Naked boozing binge lands Brits in court
  • [04] Supreme Court annuls Akamas hotel relaxations
  • [05] Russia crisis puts bank plans on hold
  • [06] CyBC will cut jobs to stave off crisis
  • [07] Only cancellation will do
  • [08] Ministers call EAC Board to explain themselves
  • [09] Turkish Cypriot to star in The Road to Ithaca
  • [10] Defence book seeks lessons from the past
  • [11] A classic BMW performance
  • [12] Cash theft delays CY plane
  • [13] Tough controls for water trucks
  • [14] Ex-Diko man founds new movement

  • [01] Three held after hooded killer strikes in Limassol

    By Jean Christou

    POLICE have arrested three men in connection with a murder at a Limassol petrol station in the early hours of yesterday.

    Marios Panayides, 30, from Platres, living in Limassol, was shot six times in the chest and abdomen by a hooded man who escaped in a black sports car, police said.

    The shooting happened at 4.00am at the Petrolina petrol station at Ayios Filaxeos Street in Limassol where Panayides had gone to pick up his car after being dropped off by a friend.

    Police yesterday arrested Nicos Nicolou 28, unemployed, Yerothios Christodoulou 38, alias Ropas, and Ara Harutyunian, 29. They were all arrested at Pyrgos Tylliras in the Paphos district.

    The killing of Panayides is the latest in a spate of Limassol murders connected to underworld turf wars for control of prostitution, gambling and drugs in the town.

    Panayides was said to have been close to the notorious Aeroporos family from Kolossi, one of whom, Andros Aeroporos, 32, was shot and killed in his car in August.

    Weeks later an attempt was made on the life of another friend of Aeroporos', cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis 44, the brother of Melios Athinis, also gunned down in his car in Limassol in 1994.

    Panayides was himself said to be under police surveillance.

    He was murdered, ironically, as police were out in full force in Limassol checking vehicles. According to a police report they had carried out five vehicle checks between midnight and 2.00am, one of which was on the victim.

    Panayides had parked his car at the petrol station and gone with a friend, returning at 4am to his vehicle, where the killer was lying in wait. In all eleven empty shells were found at the scene.

    The victim was found lying in a pool of blood in the forecourt of the petrol station shortly afterwards by a salesman who alerted police.

    He was rushed to Limassol hospital and immediately operated upon but he died an hour later.

    The victim, an unemployed part-time bouncer at various Limassol night clubs, reportedly told police before he died that his attacker was well-built and had been dressed all in black.

    According to police, Panayides said his attacker escaped from the back of the petrol station and, according to a witness, got into a black sports car and sped away.


    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [02] I won't bow to death threats

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ANTI-CORRUPTION crusader Christos Pourgourides yesterday made shock revelations that he has been the target of mafia death threats because of his efforts to expose a crooked minister.

    The House Watchdog Committee chairman said he had been advised to look under his car for bombs ever since going public with allegations about corruption in the government.

    "Business people and other civilians saying they are concerned about me are either telling me to be careful or to look under my car," Pourgourides told CyBC radio yesterday.

    "I'm certain many of those telling me to look for bombs under my car are not doing it because they love me."

    Pourgourides suggested that the minister he was investigating had underworld connections and was using these contacts to persuade him to stop his campaign.

    Asked in the CyBC interview whether underworld types close to the unnamed minister were making the threats, Pourgourides replied:

    "My response is yes.

    "These people have said they have friendly ties with the said minister and I have every reason to believe them."

    Nevertheless, the Disy deputy said he was determined to name the minister and go public with hard evidence despite the threats.

    "We can't let these people cultivate a climate of fear and leave things to develop like in Columbia. We can't let this level of corruption on a small island go on."

    The spectre of underworld crime lurking in the corridors of political power was given short thrift by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday.

    "I will not add further fuel to such theatre."

    Keeping on the theatrical theme, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides described the Pourgourides claims as "theatre of the absurd".

    Pourgourides said his allegations had nothing to with theatre, but warned that "tragedy" and the "final curtain" were only days away.

    In additional claims made against the minister yesterday, the politician said he had strong evidence that property had been obtained all over the UK by illegal means.

    "All I need is verification that this minister obtained property and houses in the most expensive street in Britain," Pourgourides said.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides has said he is prepared to launch an enquiry into corruption in public life if Pourgourides provided the necessary evidence.

    But the deputy said he would only hand over his information to President Clerides and not the police first.

    "Ordering a police investigation is just one type of cover-up."

    Newspapers reports have claimed that Pourgourides is being fed information against a specific cabinet member by opposition party Diko.

    Both Pourgourides and Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou have dismissed the reports as "fantasy".

    "If I want to make accusations I will do it myself, I don't need other people to do it for me," Kyprianou said.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [03] Naked boozing binge lands Brits in court

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TWO BRITISH tourists caught naked and drunk outside their hotel after a nine-hour drinking binge were yesterday fined a total of 650.

    Postal workers Julian Ellis, 28, and Craig Cochrane, 25, both from Ascot in Surrey, pleaded guilty before a Larnaca court to indecent exposure, and insulting and assaulting police officers.

    Cochrane was fined 300 and Ellis 350, as he was also charged with malicious damage.

    Both changed their previous not guilty pleas after their lawyer managed to get prosecutors to drop more serious counts of assault and resisting arrest.

    "We were drinking for nine hours solid from the time we left Gatwick, I can't remember much about what happened," Cochrane said afterwards.

    Father-of-two Ellis said he hadn't touched a drop of drink since the incident earlier this month.

    "We went skinny dipping after drinking a load of beers and a bottle of gin from the duty free.

    "It was a stupid thing to do... but never again."

    The offences took place on the morning of September 7, only several hours after the two postal workers had arrived on the island for a week-long holiday.

    Their defence lawyer Nicos Clerides told the court during mitigation that the two tourists started drinking as soon as they got on the plane.

    "The major cause of these offences is intoxication. The accused consumed a lot of alcohol on the airplane: they drank 12 beers and seven gin and tonics each.

    "When they arrived at the hotel, they continued to drink in large quantities to such an extent that they could not control their behaviour."

    Prosecutor Nicos Demetriou told the court that the two were completely naked when police arrived at the scene.

    "They were completely naked and exposed their genitals in public. When informed they were causing an offence the accused told the arresting officers to 'f**k off'."

    Despite the serious charge of assaulting a police officer, the judge ruled that a custodial sentence was not warranted in this case.

    "Their holiday has been destroyed and they face the prospect of losing their jobs; a fine is sufficient punishment under the circumstances," said Famagusta district court judge Tefkros Economou.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [04] Supreme Court annuls Akamas hotel relaxations

    By Anthony O. Miller

    A SUPREME Court judge's ruling yesterday annulled decisions by the Council of Ministers that let Thanos Hotels build its five-star-deluxe Anassa Hotel in the environmentally sensitive Akamas Peninsula.

    Thanos lawyer Kyriacos Michaelides dismissed the ruling by lone Supreme Court Judge Frixos Nicolaides, and said Thanos "will file an appeal this week" against it.

    The Technical Chamber (Etek) filed the lawsuit in April 1996 to challenge planning permit relaxations by a Council of Ministers committee that let Thanos, the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides, build the luxury hotel.

    Michaelides was forced to resign from the government after months of negative publicity in Cyprus and abroad stemming from the ministerial committee's relaxations allowing his hotel complex in an area earmarked for the Akamas National Park.

    Etek Chairman Nicos Mesaritis said the ruling "makes the decision of the (ministerial) committee... void. This means the (Thanos Hotel) building there now is illegal."

    The court ruled that the planning relaxations "are not good decisions if they satisfy private interests," Mesaritis said. Under the law, "they must satisfy public interests," and in his opinion, the relaxations favoured only Michaelides' private interests.

    "We are satisfied," Mesaritis said. "If nobody appeals, the decision is final." Asked if that would mean the multi-million-pound luxury hotel had to come down, he replied: "This is a terrible question to answer. I don't want to think about it."

    Lawyer Michaelides, who is no blood- or marriage relation to his client, dismissed the very suggestion that the posh hotel might be torn down, declaring: "This is not going to happen."

    Not only is he appealing for a final ruling by a five-judge Supreme Court panel as "an interested party," but Michaelides said he was "sure the government will appeal" the ruling as well.

    Lawyer Michaelides said that Judge Nicolaides voided the Thanos building permit because government ministry employees and town planning officials were present as experts at the ministerial committee meeting that eased the permit requirements.

    According to him, Judge Nicolaides reasoned that the presence of these non- ministers at the ministerial meeting might have influenced them to grant the permit relaxations to one of their own - Michaelides, who was then foreign minister.

    However, he contended, the government employees and town planning officials were supposed to be present at some point in that same committee meeting to give the ministers expert advice on the contentious matter.

    While Etek Manager Dinos Chrysostomou said Etek could not be "happy" at the ruling's impact on the hotel, he said the organisation, which represents 5, 500 working engineers in Cyprus, was pleased that the court acknowledged Etek's right to file such lawsuits.

    Thanos lawyer Michaelides roundly condemned this notion, declaring, "Etek has no right to file recourse and annul building permits," and suggesting the kind of chaos that might result if Etek could challenge the permits of any buildings it chose to.

    The five-star Anassa, whose daily rates range from 90 for a room to 1,100 for the presidential suite, generated considerable opposition among environmental groups, as well as local support in the immediate area.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [05] Russia crisis puts bank plans on hold

    By Hamza Hendawi

    RUSSIA'S financial crisis has forced three financial institutions led by the Cyprus Development Bank to put on hold plans to set up a joint bank in the Russian Black Sea region of Krasnodar, banking sources said yesterday.

    News of the delay come at a time when Russia's troubled economy and the plunge of its currency, the rouble, may be starting to take their on toll on Cyprus, where some 5,000 of the 34,000 offshore companies registered are Russian.

    The island is also expecting a record 200,000 Russian tourists to visit this year, a target which could now be in some doubt due to Moscow's financial woes.

    The Cyprus Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Russia's Inkombank submitted an application to the Central Bank of Russia last April to establish the Investment Bank of Kuban with a paid-up capital of $10 million.

    The Nicosia-based Cyprus Development Bank was to contribute half the capital, while the two other banks were to provide $2.5 million each.

    The banking sources, speaking to the Cyprus Mail on condition of anonymity, said the Russian Central Bank, as part of its policy to support the rouble, had requested that they convert the $10 million to roubles. The three banks had no objection to complying with the request at the time, but this has now changed.

    "The processing of their application had gone as far as the last-step point whereby the three partners had to pay the $10 million," said one banking source familiar with the project.

    "But there is no way that they are going to see their money exchanged for roubles now. So, they decided to put everything on hold for the time being, but they have no intention of withdrawing the application," said the source, quoting officials from the three banks involved.

    The proposed Investment Bank of Kuban is needed to channel and facilitate investments for the Russian region of Krasnodar, something in which the state-owned Cyprus Development Bank is playing a major part.

    The bank has been involved in charting development in Krasnodar for about four years and is actively promoting the area to investors and manufacturers from Cyprus and elsewhere in Europe.

    The sources, however, said the rouble's crisis might have a silver lining and play a role in attracting manufacturers to invest in Krasnodar, exploiting the diminished value of local raw materials and labour.

    News that plans for the joint bank were on hold coincided with the emergence yesterday of mixed signals from Russia on its month-old economic crisis.

    President Boris Yeltsin spoke of things getting back to normal, but ordinary Russians continued to demonstrate a lack of faith in the economy by dumping roubles for dollars.

    The rouble lost some 30 per cent of its value yesterday alone, as banks ended several days of squeezing up official rates. That left it at 14-16 per dollar on the street, less than half what it was a month ago.

    Already the month-old crisis in Russia has led to a freeze in high-level negotiations to renew a double taxation avoidance treaty, which is vital to the island's offshore sector. The two sides last held talks on the treaty at ministerial level in July. That round was inconclusive and a second round which had been scheduled for this month is now in doubt due to the crisis; it is not expected to resume before a new government takes office in Moscow and the dust of the past four weeks of upheaval finally settles.

    Accounts held at Russian banks, meanwhile, have been frozen since shortly after the crisis began, leaving the activity of the five Russian offshore banking units operating on the island, which include the large Inkombank, vastly diminished.

    The impact of the Russian crisis on the flow of tourists from Russia has yet to be gauged. Officials at the Cyprus Tourism Organisation said at the outset of the crisis that the predicament of the rouble was not likely to affect the number of Russians holidaying on the island, since they were mostly wealthy with incomes and savings in foreign currencies.

    However, in view of the fact that the crisis has worsened over the last four weeks, this may no longer be the case, although no figures are yet available on whether Russian bookings have been cancelled.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [06] CyBC will cut jobs to stave off crisis

    THE CyBC administrative council announced yesterday that jobs are to be slashed in a bid to get the beleaguered corporation back into the black.

    A press release said the measures had been approved during a meeting on Monday, and were recommended by a special committee appointed to study the issue.

    The committee decided on the proposal after studying various scenarios suggested by international experts to cut costs across the board.

    The new measures are part of a five-year plan to turn CyBC from a white elephant into a moneymaker, and call for a massive 269 organisational positions to be dropped, taking the number of employees down from 447 to 218.

    Managerial positions are also to be reduced, from 18 to just ten.

    Although the council did not say when or how the job cuts would be made, the announcement claimed the cuts would save CyBC a whopping 1 million a year.

    Several schemes have been proposed to improve CyBC's performance, including the dropping of one of the corporation's two TV channels and one radio channel.

    CyBC's projected deficit for 1998 was between one and two million pounds when its 17.5 million 1998 budget was approved earlier this year. The deficit in 1997 was 3.3 million, and 4.4 million the year before.

    The gradual fall in the deficit has been due to an increase the CyBC levy and a rise in lottery ticket sales.

    At the time of the budget's approval, Auditor-general Spyros Christou warned that if the corporation did not take drastic action to halt its decline, it would sink without trace.

    Delays in reorganising working practices, fewer employees retiring than were provided for and soaring salaries in the face of declining programme budgets were all contributing factors to the situation, Christou said.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [07] Only cancellation will do

    POSTPONING the delivery of the S-300 missiles will not bring about a solution, but will worsen the current situation, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Necati Utkan said yesterday.

    Speaking at a press briefing in Ankara, Utkan said the only action from the Cyprus government which would be "meaningful" to the Turks would be the complete scrapping of the deal.

    And, he added, the defence dogma between Cyprus and Greece should be ditched.

    "This military pact between Greece and Greek Cypriots... should be cancelled for an actual decrease in tension," Utkan said.

    Referring to American attempts to cancel the missile order in return for a moratorium on overflights by both Greek and Turkish warplanes, the spokesman said this was something to be discussed by the two communities on the island.

    The S-300s and the flight moratorium were also on the agenda at a meeting between British Defence Minister George Robertson and his Greek counterpart Akis Tzohatsopoulos yesterday, following on from Robertson's contacts on Tuesday with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

    Robertson urged the acceptance of the ban on military flights, and reiterated the need for a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution. He also said he would meet with President Glafcos Clerides in October to discuss the whole situation.

    Meanwhile in Nicosia, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said the delegation accompanying President Glafcos Clerides to New York this Friday would be "considered as equal".

    The party leaders who were going with the president would, he said, be taking part in any meetings "where their presence would be considered helpful."

    Clerides is travelling to New York to address the UN General Assembly next week. He will also meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and others.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [08] Ministers call EAC Board to explain themselves

    MEMBERS of the Electricity Authority Board (EAC) have been given until the end of the month to state their positions on the controversial land deal they clinched with the Limassol Bishopric.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis was yesterday expected to ask the cabinet to dismiss the EAC board for negligence for failing to carry out the proper procedure in relation to land evaluations.

    The Minister claims this led to the EAC being overcharged by hundreds of thousands of pounds in the 1.4 million deal, which has since been scrapped.

    The Church has agreed to return the cash, but the EAC board insists it acted correctly.

    Yesterday, the cabinet failed to reach an agreement on the fate of the board but letters have been sent to each member asking them to state their positions by September 30.

    Speaking before the cabinet meeting Rolandis said: "I have clarified my position. Of course the Council of Ministers will have to decide on the matter."

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [09] Turkish Cypriot to star in The Road to Ithaca

    By Andrew Adamides

    A 20-YEAR-OLD Turkish Cypriot girl is set to star alongside Greek Cypriot and foreign actors in the film The Road to Ithaca, which starts shooting here next month.

    London-based newcomer Berna Raif was cast in the lead role of Jasmine Orek just three days ago by Cypriot producer/director Costas Demetriou.

    In the film, which is set before, during and after the Turkish invasion, teenager Jasmine falls in love with a Greek Cypriot boy, only to find the affair brutally cut short by the hostilities, which bring about events that change Jasmine and her friends' lives for ever in ways of which they could never have dreamed.

    Told partly in flashback, the plot also encompasses the parallel romance of Jasmine's Greek -Cypriot friend Eleni (Frances Ruffelle) with a sophisticated older man who claims to be a Greek, but is actually a Turkish spy. The story is based on real events.

    Among the international cast members are Ruffelle, who appeared in Mike Leigh's 1996 hit Secrets and Lies, and former soap vixen Kate O'Mara.

    The Road to Ithaca is Demetriou's seventh film as producer/director. His earlier works include the award-winning, internationally-released Niko (1978), while his onscreen appearances include parts in the second James Bond film From Russia With Love in 1963, and The Magus (1966) alongside Anthony Quinn and Michael Caine.

    Demetriou co-wrote the script for The Road to Ithaca with Jonathan Rumbold and local filmmaking duo Adonis Florides and Thoedoros Nicolaides.

    Funding for the film, which is to be in English, comes from the European film foundation Eurimages, as well as private sources in Greece and Bulgaria. Shooting begins on October 19 and will take place on location all over the free areas of Cyprus, with additional scenes filmed in London.

    The Road to Ithaca is provisionally scheduled for release in April next year.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [10] Defence book seeks lessons from the past

    A NEW book on Cyprus defence issues went on sale yesterday.

    Entitled Current strategic factors in the Cyprus Problem - the strategic and military value of Cyprus, the book is the work of defence expert Aristos Aristotelous.

    The book sets out to analyse current strategic factors, as well as studying the historic ties between Cyprus and Hellenism.

    Aristotelous believes that by studying past military situations on the island, we will be better able to understand the current situation, and in particular the defence pact that Cyprus has with Greece.

    A study of the past will also help the two governments to be better prepared to avoid mistakes in the future.

    The book is available from the Cyprus Centre for Military Studies.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [11] A classic BMW performance

    By Rosie Ogden

    THE arrival of the new BMW 3 Series in Cyprus was celebrated at the Skali amphitheatre in Aglandja on Tuesday night in what can only be described as one of the most original - if somewhat twee - car launches the island has ever seen.

    Local agents Char. Pilakoutas Ltd brought the Vienna Imperial Concert Soloists Orchestra especially for the event, along with soprano Monika Mosser, tenor Martin Fischer and baritone Kyros Patsalides.

    The orchestra dressed in period costume, while the singers changed from modern dress to period costume and finally black tie.

    The music was faultless, and the repertoire featured the work of Mozart in the first half and of the Strauss dynasty in the second - almost without exception the better-known pieces. The BMW made its entrance onto the stage part way through the first half of the concert, and thereafter became the focal point for many of the songs; this is undoubtedly the first time that Mozart has been sung - in a concert setting - from inside a car! On one occasion, Patsalides even sat in the vehicle and used the car's horn as an additional instrument - did I detect a look or two exchanged between members of the orchestra, who seemed to find the whole exercise something of a joke?

    Never mind, the music was lovely. And the new car looked good too.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [12] Cash theft delays CY plane

    A CYPRUS Airways (CA) plane from Stanstead in the UK was delayed for one hour on Tuesday night after a stewardess's cash float was stolen.

    A CY spokesman said there had been a "stretcher case" before takeoff, during which several people entered the aircraft.

    "Afterwards a girl noticed her bag was missing and the matter was reported to police," the spokesman said.

    He said the bag, which contained cash to be used for the sale of inflight duty-free goods, had 500 Cyprus pounds and 170 sterling inside.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [13] Tough controls for water trucks

    Athena Karsera

    PUBLIC health officials have sought to reassure the public on the quality of water supplied by water trucks, with concern growing that cowboy operators might be taking advantage of growing demand.

    As the drought begins to bite, water trucks have become a familiar sight, with many hotels relying on these supplies to provide water for their customers during cuts.

    But the Chief Health Inspector of the Ministry of Health's Medical and Public Health Service, Andreas Charalambous, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that up to 54 licensed trucks were operating in Nicosia, Larnaca and the free Famagusta area.

    The law, he said, stipulates that anyone wanting to sell and transport water must obtain a licence to do so. This license can be obtained either from the Water Board in Nicosia, or from local district offices in other towns.

    Before a licence is issued, the water source and truck is fully examined, according to the government's sanitary services. Licensees are then required to visit the sanitary services every three weeks and checks on the truck and its load are repeated.

    Charalambous added that licences must be displayed on the truck's windscreen, enabling customers to be sure of the quality of the water.

    Additional Health Ministry spot checks are made once or twice a week, usually when the water is being delivered. Samples are sent to government laboratories to be tested for their microbiological content. Because of the low number of trucks, these checks often lead to the same truck being checked twice a month.

    Charalambous described this method as "satisfactory" to control water quality.

    Anyone buying water from these trucks should simply ensure that their supplier is licensed.

    Thursday, September 17, 1998

    [14] Ex-Diko man founds new movement

    A NEW political movement was born yesterday, aiming at the renewal of Cyprus' political life with the safeguarding of equality among the people, the enforcement of the law and citizens' active social participation.

    Announcing the formation of the Movement for the Renewal of the Centre, former Democratic Party (Diko) member Kypros Chrysostomides said "we want a society of justice and equality with full respect for its citizens".

    Chrysostomides stressed the movement was not planning to become a political party. Members plan to meet representatives form socialist party Edek today, and will continue to have meetings with Diko, Chrysostomides said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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