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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-22

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

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


Tuesday, September 22, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides meet US envoy Hobrooke
  • [02] Pressure mounts for Michaelides to stand down
  • [03] New charges levelled against Michaelides
  • [04] Nicosia police probe sex abuse case
  • [05] More icons stolen as police investigate likely link
  • [06] Ukrainian artiste claims flatmates raped her
  • [07] Limassol lawyers go on strike
  • [08] Cypriots urged to look beyond their differences
  • [09] Czechs envy Cyprus economy
  • [10] Motorcyclist killed

  • [01] Clerides meet US envoy Hobrooke

    By Andrew Adamides

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides, in New York to address the UN General Assembly, last night met US Presidential Emissary on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke.

    The two discussed developments on the Cyprus problem, with Clerides again pointing to Turkish intransigence as the reason for the non-improvement of the situation.

    Special Co-ordinator on Cyprus Thomas Miller and US Ambassador to Cyprus Kenneth Brill were expected to attend the meeting. According to Cyprus News Agency sources, Holbrooke was expected to meet Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos prior to his contacts with the president.

    Earlier in the day, in statements made after a meeting with EU Commissioner Hans Van Den Broek, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who is accompanying Clerides, said Cyprus' EU accession course is progressing smoothly.

    During the meeting, the two discussed ways of handling the Cyprus problem so that it does not conflict with the island's EU prospects.

    Answering a question as to whether Van Den Broek spoke of Turkish-Cypriot participation in the accession negotiations, Cassoulides said "this is not an issue to be raised with us". He said the position of the EU on Turkish Cypriot participation is well known, and Clerides' proposals for their inclusion still stand.

    At midday, Clerides attended a lunch for the state leaders in New York for the 53rd General Assembly. The lunch was hosted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, whom Clerides will meet on Friday. They are expected to discuss a possible UN initiative on the Cyprus problem, its content and when it should begin.

    Speaking on his arrival in New York on Sunday, Clerides said that during his recent meetings with Annan on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in South Africa, they had already discussed the possibility of the initiative. He added that the NAM countries were favourably inclined towards Cyprus when it came to the question of discussing the Cyprus problem at the UN General Assembly, and that the opinion of other UN countries on this would be elicited during his time in New York. The final decision on this will be taken next Tuesday, after Clerides' return to Cyprus.

    Clerides also said that overcoming Turkish intransigence does not only depend on Ankara, but also on other factors affecting Turkey. He refrained from optimism over whether or not negotiations between the two sides would resume.

    Referring to US involvement in the Cyprus problem, Clerides said that America continues to deal with "not only with the Cyprus question but with many other serious problems." He said he did not believe a visit to Brussels by State Department Co-ordinator Miller last week had anything to do with a possible moratorium on warplanes flying over Cyprus. In his statements after the meeting with Van Den Broek, Cassoulides echoed these comments, saying he "did not know the content" of Miller's visit. The matter was, however, discussed yesterday by British High Commissioner David Madden and Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou at a meeting in Nicosia.

    Cassoulides is to attend Clerides' meetings in New York alongside the president, but he also has his own separate agenda. During their meetings with other leaders, they are expected to reiterate that Cyprus' EU accession course is irreversible and that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's recent confederation proposal is completely unacceptable.

    As well as Cassoulides, Clerides is accompanied by Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides and political party representatives.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [02] Pressure mounts for Michaelides to stand down

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ACTING Attorney-general Loucis Loucaides said yesterday that Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides should have offered his temporary resignation in view of the corruption charges that are mounting against him.

    He said it was his opinion that among the 14 counts of bribery and corruption there were grounds for a criminal investigation.

    Judging by the scale of the allegations, Loucaides was doubtful that an investigation by Auditor-general Spyros Christou would alone be sufficient.

    But he said the probe would be helpful within the framework of a subsequent police investigation.

    Disy deputy Demetris Syllouris echoed Loucaides' sentiments by calling on Michaelides to resign in view of the allegations.

    Syllouris argued that Michaelides should resign pending an investigation because he was in a position to influence any probe that covered areas of his ministry.

    Although Christou is not expected to launch his investigation until next week, the Disy deputy said he feared there could be a cover-up.

    "I will send a letter to the Auditor-general to see how far he thinks he's in a position to uncover the truth, because I'm worried about a cover-up," Syllouris said yesterday.

    The deputy said he feared the worse in the Michaelides case, after the minister implicated him in the alleged scandal.

    "If Michaelides has involved my name by lying then he could tell lies in other cases."

    Syllouris also wondered how the director of the Water Development department could have been suspended from duty after allegations made by a "messenger boy", while Michaelides remained in offices despite serious allegations by the respected House Watchdog Committee chairman Christos Pourgourides.

    "If there is the slightest hint of a cover-up, I will open up the issues of building relaxations and changing (town planning) zones separate from Pourgourides."

    Syllouris also proposed that an independent investigator be appointed and assisted by the Inland Revenue department.

    As corruption and bribery allegations spread beyond the Interior Ministry, House president Spyros Kyprianou was forced to make a public denial that he also had illegally acquired a large amount of wealth.

    "I have never been involved in the purchase of land or investment in land or dealings with any companies concerning enrichment... I have no idea about these things," Kyprianou said yesterday.

    Michaelides believes his former Diko boss is behind the Pourgourides allegations.

    Relations have soured between the two, ever since Michaelides bucked party policy to join Clerides' re-election campaign.

    Yesterday's Alithia leaked a letter sent by Michaelides to Kyprianou, in which the minister describes the Diko president's alleged behind-the scene manoeuvring as "unacceptable, provocative and spiteful."

    The Michaelides letter also warns Kyprianou that it will be the Diko boss who will suffer in the end.

    "Usually those who attempt unjustly to harm someone end up creating problems, complications and embarrassment for themselves," the leaked letter apparently says.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [03] New charges levelled against Michaelides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FRESH corruption allegations involving a Lebanese arms dealer and secret foreign bank accounts were levelled against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides yesterday.

    The new allegations were made by Disy deputy and House Watchdog Committee chairman Christos Pourgourides during several radio interviews yesterday.

    "I have been informed by three different sources that Michaelides has flown on the Arab man's private jet to visit casinos in London," Pourgourides said on Antenna FM radio.

    He added: "the minister has been seen many times with this person at public places in Nicosia, which suggests a close relationship."

    He also claimed that the arms dealer had sold the same Russian tanks and weapons systems to neighbouring Arab countries as those purchased by the National Guard.

    Although Pourgourides refrained from making a direct link, he suggested the minister could have received commission on arms sales, or at the very least that his ties with such a person made him open to suspicion.

    "The fact is that the international arms trade is based on paying large commissions, and this is something that needs to be looked at," Pourgourides told CyBC radio.

    "The longstanding view of the government is that Caesar's wife should not only be virtuous, but be seen to be virtuous.

    "It is clear that having close ties with an arms dealer violates the second part of this adage."

    Suggestions that Michaelides was entertained by a Lebanese arms dealer allegedly representing a Russian manufacturer in the region come at a time when the Auditor-general is preparing to investigate charges of corruption and bribery against the minister.

    Apart from implicating Michaelides with shady arms deals, Pourgourides said he had received fresh allegations concerning large sums of money deposited in local and foreign bank accounts belonging to the minister.

    "I have been informed that large sums of money have been deposited in bank accounts both at home and abroad," the deputy told CyBC.

    To make matters worse, Pourgourides claimed he was in possession of even more evidence indicating that Michaelides had acquired immovable property in Nicosia, Limassol and elsewhere, over and above the luxury villas and flats contained in his original list of allegations released last Friday.

    The deputy said he was still investigating these claims and several others made by persons who have phoned him since he went public with his allegations against the minister.

    The investigation by the Auditor-general into the claims of unlawful enrichment was ordered by President Clerides, who has told his cabinet to declare their sources of income and wealth. It is expected to get under way once Michaelides has responded in writing to each of the 14 charges.

    Michaelides has categorically denied all the allegations, but has conceded that he did purchase two flats at a "good price" from major construction companies J&amp;P and the Zachariades group.

    This admission alone has been termed a "classic case of bribery" by Pourgourides.

    Among the original allegations, Pourgourides accuses the minister of accepting plush apartments as a gift in return for securing lucrative government tenders for contractors.

    Pourgourides has questioned whether it made good business sense for a company as successful as J&amp;P to sell property at a loss if it did not expect anything in return.

    The minister on Friday dismissed the claim that he had been sold a Limassol flat on the cheap by the Zachariades group, insisting he had bought it from a foreigner who wanted a quick sell because he was leaving the country.

    But during a TV interview on Sunday, Michaelides said he had purchased the flat after "negotiations" with Zachariades.

    This inconsistency was highlighted by Pourgourides yesterday as an unintentional admission of guilt by the minister.

    Pourgourides has also questioned why the minister received a 150,000 loan from the Bank of Cyprus on preferential terms to invest in a company from which he made a quick profit.

    Michaelides is also accused of having illegally obtained property worth millions abroad, of allowing building relaxations for financial gain, issuing hundreds of residence permits in exchange for kickbacks and not declaring the true value of his property to avoid payment of duties and property transfer tax.

    Michaelides says the allegations are motivated by Pourgourides' own personal and political interests.

    Following death threats against Pourgourides, it is reported that he has been granted a permit to carry a gun for his own protection.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [04] Nicosia police probe sex abuse case

    By Athena Karsera

    NICOSIA police are investigating allegations of sexual abuse against a 16- year-old boy.

    According to the Police Press Department's Glafcos Xenos, the allegations, made by the boy's mother, involve a Nicosia doctor supplying the boy with medicines "usually used for women's sexual function".

    Xenos said the mother had also implicated an unnamed discotheque frequented by the boy.

    The mother repeated these accusations on state television yesterday, adding that her son had been "led astray by homosexuals and transvestites" at the discotheque.

    Commenting on the case, the President of the Nicosia Doctors' Association, Andreas Demetriou, admitted yesterday that a similar case had been brought to his attention by the unnamed doctor involved.

    The doctor, who is thought to be a woman, asked Demetriou for advice on what to do after the youth apparently threatened to commit suicide if he was not provided with the medicine.

    Demetriou advised the doctor to go to the police, which according to Demetriou the doctor did on Friday September 18.

    The private doctor had, however, given the under-age patient oestrogen on Monday September 14.

    Demetriou said the boy had already begun to develop breasts before the medicine was given by the doctor. This indicates he had been taking hormones from at least three to four months before. Demetriou confirmed that the boy had been treated by the doctor in question since last April and had also seen other doctors, who had allegedly not provided him with the hormones.

    Demetriou believes that the boy must have obtained the medication from elsewhere.

    A second case of alleged sexual abuse, this time involving a 20-month-old girl in Larnaca, was yesterday categorised as closed by police after, according to Xenos, "a medical examination of the child... determined that there is no sign or even suspicion that there was sexual abuse."

    State medical examiner Panicos Stavrianos, referring to an injury on the baby, yesterday stated: "It could definitely have been caused by violence," but "it is not necessarily sexual abuse". The little girl's parents went to police after returning from a trip overseas on Saturday. The little girl had been staying with her grandmother while her parents were away.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [05] More icons stolen as police investigate likely link

    By Jean Christou

    POLICE are investigating a probable link between two separate major icon thefts in the space of five days.

    In the second incident, discovered only on Sunday night, 15 icons were taken from a church in an uninhabited Paphos village.

    Initially it was believed that nine icons had been taken, but closer examination revealed those nine of the 15 had been replaced with worthless replicas, police said.

    Only last Thursday, a staggering 18 priceless icons were stolen from a church in Peristerona in the Nicosia district.

    Police spokesman Glafcos Xenos told the Cyprus Mail they were investigating "every possibility", including a link between the two thefts.

    Xenos said all the island's port and airports had been put on alert to prevent any possibility of the icons leaving the country. He added that measures had also been taken to prevent them being smuggled abroad through the occupied areas.

    "Obviously churches need more security," Xenos said.

    The latest theft, from the church of Ayios Fotiou in the uninhabited Paphos district village of the same name, occurred some time between September 11 and September 20, according to police.

    The thieves entered the church using a key hidden outside on a window near the church's main door.

    Father Papademetris Leonidas, the priest of Statos village, who looks after the church of Ayiou Fotiou, visits the building only every ten days to light candles.

    He told police that he discovered the icons were missing only on Sunday night on his routine visit.

    A Church spokesman who visited the village said the icons were from the last century and were of "significant value".

    The icons stolen form Peristerona on Thursday were described as "priceless".

    Among those stolen were depictions of Saints Barnabas and Hilarion dating from 1816 and others dating from 1849.

    In both incidents, the church's collection boxes were broken into and unspecified but small amounts of cash taken.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [06] Ukrainian artiste claims flatmates raped her

    A UKRAINIAN cabaret artiste told police yesterday that her three Georgian flatmates had raped her on Sunday evening.

    The woman arrived on the island last Thursday to work at a cabaret, when she moved into the Paphos apartment shared by the three suspects.

    She reported to police that in three separate incidents occurring between 4.30pm and 9.30pm on Sunday, all forced her to have sexual intercourse at the flat.

    The victim was examined by State Medical Examiner Panicos Stavrianos, who said that although he had found no signs of violence, rape could not be ruled out.

    One of the three suspects has been arrested. Police are still searching for the other two.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [07] Limassol lawyers go on strike

    LIMASSOL lawyers went on an strike yesterday in protest against procedural changes in civil cases.

    The lawyers are unhappy at changes in the way that civil suits are decided on by the Limassol Court, specifically that from the start of the legal year, September 10, only two judges preside over civil cases as opposed to the previous nine.

    This means that lawyers are having to wait for long periods between each court appearance on any particular case.

    And the President of the Limassol Lawyer's Association, George Charalambides, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that Limassol Courts faced a whole series of problems with premises, staff and parking place.

    The decision to strike was taken after a Limassol Lawyers Association emergency general assembly on Friday. A second day of action is scheduled for tomorrow.

    Charalambides said yesterday he hoped for a meeting with the Supreme Court today.

    The Supreme Court yesterday condemned the strike in a written statement. It admitted that the change had caused problems, but claimed these had been expected and were being dealt with. The statement adds that the reason for the change in procedure was to avoid delays in civil and criminal suits and that they had informed the Limassol Lawyers Association of this on the July 7.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [08] Cypriots urged to look beyond their differences

    By Jean Christou

    IRISH Defence Minister Michael Smith yesterday urged Cypriots on both sides of the divide to look for common factors and not differences.

    Speaking after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Yiannakis Omirou yesterday, Smith said: "To step beyond the norm, to look for a piece of ground or history that nobody has trodden on before, that takes a lot of courage."

    "Instead of emphasising the differences, we would like to emphasise the strengths and... things that we have in common."

    However, the Irish minister made clear that it was not possible to make direct comparisons between the situations in Northern Ireland and in Cyprus.

    "Not everything that has happened in Ireland could be replicated here," Smith said.

    He stressed the need for creating new structures so that people could build new relationships for the future "rather than spending an enormous amount of time and money on division and armaments".

    "There is no greater prize than peace and there is no greater price to be paid sometimes and it has to be paid in compromise and in co-operation to make that happen," Smith said.

    He added that Ireland had gained immeasurably from the involvement of the international community in helping both sides to reach the stage they were at now.

    "We can't make direct comparisons between countries, but if there were any elements which are part of that agreement that would be helpful to the resolution of the conflict in this part of the world, then our experiences would be gladly available to your government and to the international community."

    Smith is in Cyprus on a short visit to mark the 40th anniversary of Ireland's participation in worldwide peacekeeping.

    The Irish contingent of Unficyp is made up of 24 soldiers and 14 civilian police.

    Cypriot Defence Minister Omirou also had a meeting with British High Commissioner David Madden yesterday at which the issue of a no-fly zone over Cyprus was raised.

    After the meeting, Omirou repeated the government's stance on the issue saying such a zone should be part of a wider framework of demilitarisation and should be safeguarded with guarantees.

    "Everything was examined, based on our well-known positions," Omirou said, in response to questions.

    "Our position is that there should be a mechanism to guarantee the no-fly zone and that it should be part of a wider framework of demilitarisation."

    British Defence Secretary George Robertson said last week that he had put forward a proposal during talks in Ankara and Athens for a moratorium on military flights over Cyprus.

    The government is willing to consider such a plan as long as international guarantees are in place, but Turkey has been stalling on giving an answer.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [09] Czechs envy Cyprus economy

    THE CZECH Republic envies "the healthy state of the Cyprus economy," according to Michael Zantovsky, head of a seven-member Czech delegation visiting Cyprus to discuss the two countries' EU accession courses.

    Speaking after the committee was received yesterday by Acting President Spyros Kyprianou, Zantovsky acknowledged that although he wished his country's economy was equally buoyant, he was aware that Cyprus had problems the Czech Republic did not.

    Expressing support for a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem based on UN resolutions, Zantovsky said: "In the past we had our own experience with such matters... and we do feel solidarity."

    For his part, Kyprianou expressed satisfaction with the Czech statements of support and said "We will try to our best to see that the close co- operation between the two countries becomes even closer."

    The delegation also met Acting Foreign Minister Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    During their four-day visit, the Czechs will also meet Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou and Chief EU Negotiator George Vassiliou.

    Tuesday, September 22, 1998

    [10] Motorcyclist killed

    A NICOSIA man died on Sunday after being knocked off his motorbike.

    Panayiotis Kyriakou, 35, was knocked down on the Kotsiatis to Tseri road by a car driven by 31-year-old Eleni Tsianou-Maltezou.

    The woman and her three children, who were also in the car, were slightly injured. Kyriakou, who was not wearing a crash helmet, died instantly.

    Police are investigating the cause of the crash.

    Anyone who may have information relating to it should contact either the Nicosia Traffic Police or their local police station.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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