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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-24

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

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


Thursday, September 24, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] 'A co-ordinated effort to hide evidence'
  • [02] Government dismisses latest Denktash idea
  • [03] Clerides to meet Holbrooke again in New York
  • [04] Points and a ban on mobile phones
  • [05] Cyprus targets US tourists
  • [06] More child sex cases could emerge
  • [07] Koshis says enough evidence to prosecute gangland murder suspects
  • [08] Britain to extradite suspected diamond thief
  • [09] Burglars set fire to Limassol court
  • [10] Limassol lawyers go back to work
  • [11] Expat drives into the sea
  • [12] Third man held over Limassol icon theft

  • [01] 'A co-ordinated effort to hide evidence'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DISY DEPUTY Christos Pourgourides yesterday voiced fears that Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides might be trying to destroy incriminating evidence concerning corruption allegations stacked against him.

    Pourgourides - who has submitted 14 allegations of corruption and bribery against the minister - said Michaelides' insistence that he remain in office during any investigation gave him the ideal opportunity to tamper with evidence and brief his staff.

    "The minister is in constant meetings with civil servants involved in the case, which gives me a strong suspicion that there is a co-ordinated effort to hide evidence."

    The House Watchdog Committee chairman implied that all civil servants under Michaelides' direction might not only sabotage relevant documents, but could set up obstacles when investigators begin to collect evidence.

    "A climate has now been created in which civil servants are questioning any requests for information... so I leave it to the public to come to their own conclusions," Pourgourides said.

    Disy deputy Demetris Syllouris and deputy Attorney-general Loucis Loucaides have both joined Pourgourides in calling on the minister to resign so as not to influence any enquiry.

    There was also a hint of dissent within the government ranks yesterday, when Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou implied he was not wholly behind President Clerides' backing for Michaelides.

    "I belong to a government, and when it is about issues that the president takes a position on, I either disagree and withdraw, or I keep silent," said Christodoulou on the question of whether he thought Michaelides should at least resign temporarily.

    He added: "At this stage the president has taken a stand. Beyond this, stating the obvious is understandably omitted."

    Clerides decision to order the Auditor-general to investigate corruption allegations against Michaelides has moreover caused a rift between him and deputies on the House Watchdog Committee, who demand that an independent prosecutor be appointed.

    Clerides has sent Pourgourides a letter in which he defends his decision to order Auditor-general Spyros Christou to launch a probe before taking any further measures.

    The letter states that appointing an independent investigator at this stage would "conflict with the natural course of justice".

    A probe by Christou has yet to get under way as he is still waiting for a written reply from Michaelides, answering all the allegations against him.

    "I'm not sure how far he (Christou) has the right to request a written statement from the minister, but I am certain he has no authority to request statements from those construction companies that are implicated," Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos said yesterday, explaining why the Watchdog committee disagreed with Clerides.

    The Auditor-general has the authority to go through accounts, but apparently not to question any possible witnesses.

    But Attorney-general Alecos Markides has backed Christou, saying although the Auditor-general had no executive powers, he would be able to collect evidence faster than any criminal investigator.

    "I would order the police to intervene if there were any stumbling blocks," Markides said yesterday.

    He said it would depend on the evidence collected by the Auditor-general whether he would advise the Council of Ministers to appoint an independent prosecutor or not.

    House President Spyros Kyprianou said yesterday he backed Clerides' handling of the issue and saw no reason to suspect a cover-up.

    Meanwhile, Pourgourides has also accused the minister's right-hand man, Interior Ministry director-general Thanos Michael, of unlawful enrichment, alleging he issued residence permits for cash.

    Michael has dismissed the charges as "unfounded and unacceptable", and said he would take legal action against the politician.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [02] Government dismisses latest Denktash idea

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday issued an official rejection to a proposal by the Turkish Cypriot side for the creation of a joint committee to examine property exchanges between both sides.

    In a written statement issued from New York, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said there was no provision in existing Security Council resolutions referring to an exchange of properties as proposed by the Turkish side.

    "The Turkish side has always tried to achieve recognition of the illegal secessionist entity in the occupied areas and of the ethnic cleansing brought about by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus," the statement said.

    On Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash suggested the creation of an independent autonomous commission to identify formulae and criteria for property exchanges between the two sides.

    But the government said yesterday that the proposal was ruled out by UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, which call for the return of 200, 000 refugees to their homes, and also by the recent European Court of Human Rights judgement in the case of Titina Loizidou.

    The European Court of Human Rights this year awarded Kyrenia refugee Loizidou compensation for being unable to access her property in the north. Another 40 such cases are pending.

    Fearing a waves of claims by Greek Cypriot refugees, Turkey rejected the court's ruling arguing that the case should be brought against the Denktash administration.

    "Yet again Mr Denktash is outside the spirit out international law, the Security Council resolutions and the decisions of international institutions, such as the European Court of Human Rights," Stylianides said from New York where he is accompanying President Clerides for the General Assembly of the United Nations.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [03] Clerides to meet Holbrooke again in New York

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides will this morning meet again with US envoy Richard Holbrooke, Government spokesman Christos Stylianides announced yesterday.

    Stylianides was speaking in New York, where Clerides is to address the UN General Assembly tomorrow. The spokesman also said Clerides had briefed him and members of the National Council who had accompanied the president to the UN on his meetings so far, and that they had "exchanged views" on the possibility of a recourse on the Cyprus problem to the UN General Assembly.

    Clerides' meetings so far have included talks with Holbrooke and a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Stylianides also gave the government's reaction to comments by Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel, who reiterated that any solution should be of a bi-communal, bi- zonal form. In a speech and memorandum given on Tuesday, the Austrian official also referred to the demilitarisation of the island and withdrawal of all non-Cypriot forces. Austria currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

    Stylianides said the government was satisfied with this position, and drew special attention to Schussel's mention of demilitarisation, a pet theme of the Clerides government. Meanwhile, President Clerides yesterday hosted a lunch for representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which was also attended by UN Under-secretary for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast.

    Discussions at the lunch were expected to focus on latest developments on the Cyprus problem, particularly in view of the recent proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a confederal solution on the island.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [04] Points and a ban on mobile phones

    By Andrew Adamides

    IN A further attempt to cut the number of road deaths in Cyprus, the police hopes to launch an ambitious scheme to revamp the penal system for driving offences, bringing in a "points" system similar to those employed abroad.

    The system, which has yet to be approved by the Council of Ministers, provides for stiff penalties - six points for breaking the speed limit, or driving while over the alcohol limit, and 10 for leaving the scene of an accident.

    When the number of points on a drivers' licence reaches 12, the license will be suspended for six months or a year. Points would remain on the licence for five years.

    New-style driving licences will be equipped to carry the points, and old ones will be fitted with a special extension to record them.

    As part of the same package, controls may also be brought in to prevent owners from fitting their cars with outsize spoilers and ram-bars, popular on four-wheel-drives. In addition, the use of mobile phones while driving is expected to be prohibited, as will carrying any passenger under the age of 12 on a motorbike.

    The points would be handed out on the spot by the officer, and all police cars would be provided with the necessary equipment to record and issue the points, similar to that used by the police in England. This would include a special device linked to a central database, able to record the points both at police headquarters and on the driver's licence.

    The Traffic Police's Savvas Lardis said yesterday that the cost of installing such a system had yet to be calculated.

    If a driver objects to receiving the points, the offence can be taken before a court instead.

    Certain groups of professional drivers have asked for modifications to the package, including removal of the points from a licence after just three years.

    Lardis said there could still be modifications to the bill, adding however that police were loathe to make exceptions for professional drivers as all citizens are supposed to be treated equally before the law.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [05] Cyprus targets US tourists

    CYPRUS is hopeful that it can quadrupling tourism from the United States over the next five years, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis, who is on a visit the US, said 30,000 Americans currently come to Cyprus every year, but the goal was to welcome 150,000.

    He said the government and the CTO was initially aiming at the retirement age group.

    "These are the people with the time and money to travel," Rolandis said.

    And he added that the government also eventually hoped to expand to other age groups in the States.

    However, three key facts would first have to be addressed, the Minister said: the expansion of routes and facilities between the US and Cyprus, the cost of the package and giving Americans a better knowledge of Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, tourism figures released yesterday for July this year show a 12.5 per cent increase in holidaymakers, from 275,535 last year to 309,983.

    Of these, 44.3 per cent were men and 55.7 were women, the average age being 34.6 years. EU residents made up 71.2 per cent of visitors, with British tourists in the lead at 44.6 per cent, followed by Russians with 10.6 per cent, Germany with 6.2 per cent, Sweden with 5.2 per cent, Switzerland with 4 per cent and Greece with just 3.3 per cent.

    The vast majority, 88.9 per cent, intended to stay in hotels. Tourists stayed an average of 11.5 nights on the island.

    Also arriving in Cyprus in July were 50,614 Cypriots returning from abroad, up from 49,301 in 1997.

    Of these, 43.7 per cent had visited Greece, 14.3 per cent the UK, 5.4 per cent Israel, 5.3 per cent Lebanon and 3.9 per cent Russia. Holidays were the reason that 64.8 per cent had travelled abroad, with business travellers accounting for 17.1 per cent and students for 13.7 per cent.

    The average age of those returning to the island was 35.7, and most, 40 per cent, were between 25 and 44, while 25.8 per cent were in the 45-64 age group and 24.4 per cent aged between 15 and 24.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [06] More child sex cases could emerge

    By Athena Karsera

    JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis yesterday raised the possibility of more cases emerging as police carry out investigations into the case of a 16- year-old boy supplied with the female hormone oestrogen.

    His remarks will fuel concerns about the possible existence of a suspected sex ring targeting young boys in Nicosia.

    Suspicions have been fed by claims from the boy's mother that her son had been led astray by a group of homosexuals and transvestites frequenting a particular Nicosia discotheque.

    Koshis yesterday confirmed that inquiries had been carried out on the case since June. And the minister added that, although for now "this case does not have the extent attributed to it by the television channels," more cases may be revealed as investigations proceed.

    Koshis noted that, as minors were involved, other services such as the Welfare Office would be taking part in investigations.

    The minister was speaking at Larnaca airport before leaving for a Brussels conference on international crime, organised by the current Austrian presidency of the European Union.

    The boy was apparently supplied with oestrogen by a Nicosia private doctor, who went to the police after the boy threatened to commit suicide if he was not provided with the hormones.

    The chairman of the Nicosia Doctors' Association, Andreas Demetriou, said earlier this week that the boy had already begun to grow breasts, indicating that he had been getting the medication for at least three to four months before the doctor treated him.

    Police are continuing their investigations.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [07] Koshis says enough evidence to prosecute gangland murder suspects

    JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis said yesterday the police now had sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspects in the Marios Panayides murder case.

    Speaking form Larnaca airport before leaving for Brussels, Koshis said: "The evidence we have is enough for us to present the guilty parties in court."

    Marios Panayides, 30, was shot dead by a masked gunman just after 4am in Limassol on September 16.

    Three men have been remanded in custody in connection with the case. Nicos Nicolaou, 28, Yerothios Christodoulou, 38, alias Ropas, and Ara Harutyunian, 29, were arrested at Kato Pyrgos in the Paphos district hours after the murder.

    Ropas had allegedly been watching Panayides, a reported associate of the notorious Aeroporos family from Kolossi, and had threatened to kill him.

    Panayides had been under police surveillance on the night of the killing.

    The murder is thought to be the latest in a spate of murders in Limassol between gangs vying over control of the town's lucrative prostitution, gambling and drug rackets.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [08] Britain to extradite suspected diamond thief

    A BRITISH national suspected of carrying out one of the biggest diamond thefts in the island's history will be extradited to Cyprus, police said yesterday.

    Scotland Yard has informed the Cyprus authorities that procedures to extradite Robert John Talbot, 22, are almost complete.

    Talbot is wanted in connection with three burglaries committed in February this year at shops in Paphos. The value of stolen goods is said stand at over 150,000.

    The biggest haul involved 16 diamonds stolen when a jewellery shop display window was smashed in the tourist area of Paphos. The diamonds were worth 60,000.

    Other valuables stolen in the spate of break-ins included designer watches, clothes and handbags.

    The offences took place over a period when Talbot was on holiday in Cyprus with his pregnant girlfriend.

    They stayed at the luxury Alexander the Great hotel, police said.

    Despite finding finger prints at the scene of the crime, and a 10,000 reward declared by one shop owner for information leading to arrests, the police investigation had hit a dead end.

    It was only during a recent visit to Scotland Yard by CID chief Nathaniel Papageorgiou that the investigation got a lucky break.

    During his visit, Papageorgiou discovered that British detectives had arrested Talbot in connection with a series of robberies.

    On the off chance, finger prints found in Cyprus were sent to London to see if they matched those of Talbot - which they did.

    According to local police, arrangements are now under way for Talbot to be transferred to Cyprus under the escort of two London detectives.

    Talbot faces a maximum jail term of seven years if he is convicted of burglary and theft.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [09] Burglars set fire to Limassol court

    ARSONISTS on Tuesday night attempted a pyrotechnic break-in on Limassol Court's evidence room, police revealed yesterday.

    The intruders broke in to the north side of the Court House some time between 7pm on Tuesday and 7.20am yesterday. Drenching the stairs to the evidence room with a flammable liquid, they then laid a trail of toilet paper along the floor and set it alight in an apparent attempt to burn down the door.

    But the attempt was foiled as their makeshift fuse burned out before the fire reached the door.

    Limassol police said they believed the perpetrators intended to steal evidence from the store room.

    Investigations are continuing.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [10] Limassol lawyers go back to work

    LIMASSOL courts will return to business as usual today after the Limassol Lawyers' Association yesterday voted to stop strike action.

    Association president George Charalambides said that the decision was due to the "Supreme Court's willingness to discuss our problems, and also to the willingness that exists and the discussion that already exists with the president of the Limassol District Court."

    Charalambides added that there would be another general assembly "in about 15 days". He also noted that a large minority of the lawyers had been against stopping strike action, but were outvoted.

    Limassol lawyers went on strike on Monday in protest at procedural changes in civil cases since the beginning of the legal year, September 10. The changes mean only two judges now preside over civil cases in the city, as opposed to the previous nine. The lawyers say this will lead to delays between court appearances on individual cases.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [11] Expat drives into the sea

    A 65-YEAR-OLD British resident of the island lost control of his car in Paphos on Tuesday night, drove it off a 35-metre-high cliff into the sea - and survived.

    John Albert White, who lives in Coral Bay, Paphos, lost control of the car under unknown circumstances near the Sea Caves. It went off the road and plunged into the sea at around 10.30pm.

    White was freed by bystanders and was taken to Paphos General Hospital, where he was yesterday said to be seriously injured, but out of danger.

    The car was written off.

    Paphos police are investigating the exact cause of the crash.

    Thursday, September 24, 1998

    [12] Third man held over Limassol icon theft

    A THIRD man was yesterday remanded for seven days in connection with the theft of icons from Limassol churches.

    Constantinos Othonos Hadjiklianthous, 22, appeared before a Limassol Court yesterday.

    His arrest came a day after the remand of two other men involved in the same case.

    Antonis Iosif Parpour, 75, and Giorgos Petrou Kaplanis, 20, were arrested on Tuesday after police found 32 icons in Parpour's home after a tip-off.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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