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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-01

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

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


November 1, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Christou report 'clears Michaelides'
  • [02] Greek farmers to petition Court of Human Rights
  • [03] Police 'used excessive force on boat people'
  • [04] Briton found hanged in Larnaca
  • [05] Bicommunal seminar opens in Brussels

  • [01] Christou report 'clears Michaelides'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE Auditor-general's findings on bribery and corruption allegations against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides have vindicated him of any serious wrongdoing, according to media leaks of the report yesterday.

    Both Alithia newspaper and CyBC claim that Auditor-general Spyros Christou's 180-page report - submitted on Friday to President Glafcos Clerides - found no evidence to suggest that Michaelides is a crooked minister.

    The month-long inquiry was launched after Disy Deputy Christos Pourgourides accused the Interior Minister of becoming a millionaire through bribery and corruption.

    The allegations included the acquisition of property and luxury flats in exchange for favours to big business, building a 600,000 Limassol mansion without a loan, and issuing work permits to cabaret artistes for cash.

    Investigators evaluated the minister's Limassol villa as being worth only 276,000 and not 600.000, according to the leaked document.

    Another allegation that Michaelides owned a UK home in Bishops Avenue, Hampstead - dubbed as 'millionaire's row' has also reportedly been dismissed.

    That Michaelides obtained offices cheaply at Limassol's fashionable Kirzis Centre was also denied by the report by arguing that in the same complex offices were sold cheaper than the amount the minister paid.

    On the most controversial issue, that Michaelides received discount luxury flats from major building contractors J&amp;P and Zachariades, the report would appear to side with the minister.

    It observes that the flats were bought at a discount price because they were not new and were at least five years old.

    Other allegations reportedly shot down by Christou include the issuing of permits for cabaret artistes and ordering the release of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation.

    The Auditor-general observed that all the proper procedures were followed and in the case of the artistes only one was approved by Michaelides from more than 300 assorted applications, the leaked document reportedly says.

    Christou is also said to have no evidence that a road-widening scheme in Limassol suddenly narrowed to by-pass a property owned by the minister's wife in Mesa Yitonia.

    According to Alithia newspaper's information, the Auditor-general found Michaelides' bank accounts to be in the red rather than showing a healthy balance.

    The newspaper has been one of Michaelides' less harsh critics.

    Responding to the leaked information yesterday, Pourgourides said that Michaelides had no alternative but to resign. He argued that Christou's findings did not dismiss the charges but in some respects upheld them.

    He added that Christou had no authority or power to get to the bottom of the allegations or to verify whether a company had received money from Michaelides in payment for the flats.

    He said that the Auditor-general had no access to information concerning the Bishops Avenue address, so therefore he could come to no conclusion about it.

    It is understood that the politician has hired a lawyer and a private detective in the UK to check his information that Michaelides owns a house in Britain's most exclusive residential area.

    On the evaluation of Michaelides' Limassol villa, Pourgourides said investigators had reached their estimate by excluding the value of the land and its contents.

    New Horizons released a party statement yesterday criticising CyBC for leaking selective parts of a supposedly classified report.

    Not only did it slam the state corporation's actions as "unethical", but also noted that Michaelides as Interior Minister was ultimately CyBC's boss.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides now has the task of studying the report to ascertain whether any criminal offence has taken place.

    Based on his ruling, Clerides could approve the appointment of an independent prosecutor, sack Michaelides or consider the matter closed.

    Markides is not expected to start examining Christou's report until he returns from Strasbourg on Thursday.

    November 1, 1998

    [02] Greek farmers to petition Court of Human Rights

    By Charlie Charalambous

    Greek Cypriot farmers will petition the European Court of Human Rights against the British Bases for what they say is its reluctance to secure their safety and access to land which is now cultivated by Turkish Cypriots.

    The move follows yesterday's abortive attempt by Dhekelia base police (SBA) to secure an area under its jurisdiction so Greek Cypriot farmers could bring in their tractors for the first time in 24-years.

    An SBA police convoy taking five Lysi farmers to their land met a hostile crowd of around 100 Turks and Turkish Cypriot carrying shovels, rocks and sticks who were blocking access to the village of Pergamos.

    The avoid any trouble the police escort detoured down a dirt track to access the area to which the Greek Cypriot farmers have title deeds.

    SBA riot police were also on hand as the protesters attacked Greek Cypriot camera crews.

    "We went to have a look to see if it safe to take the tractors back; after reaching the fields we could see dust clouds from tractors, vehicles and motorbikes who were coming after us and we decided to leave," bases spokesman Rob Need told the Sunday Mail yesterday.

    He added: "Stones were thrown at the police vehicles and appropriate action against these perpetrators will be taken."

    Even though Greek Cypriot farmers could obtain eviction orders through base courts, the British authorities say any attempt to kick Turks or Turkish Cypriots off the land would not be "successful".

    The bases view the issue as intensely volatile with feelings running high among the Turkish Cypriot community in the area.

    Thus the bases are convinced that any attempt to bring in Greek Cypriot farmers would inevitably end in bloodshed.

    Nevertheless, Need described the mission as a success because, "we achieved what we set out to do and got access to some fields," even though he admitted that the tension was too high for the farmers to try and go in with their tractors.

    At a press conference in Larnaca yesterday, lawyer for the farmers, Disy deputy Antonis Karas said it was no longer a "realistic prospect" to expect the British bases to enable Greek Cypriot farmers to cultivate their land.

    He said judging by the episode the British authorities were not "prepared to offer security".

    "The British Bases are not in a position to enforce law and order or they don't want to," said Karas. "It is time we went before the Court of Human Rights," he added.

    The land in contention covers an area of 2,500 donums. It has been cultivated by Turkish Cypriots since the 1974 Turkish invasion as the Greek Cypriot owners have been denied access.

    Greek and Turkish Cypriot farmers own land in the Pergamos area where there is no buffer zone between sovereign British territory and the Turkish occupied areas.

    November 1, 1998

    [03] Police 'used excessive force on boat people'

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE REPORT by Deputy Marios Matsakis into the physical condition of dozens of boat people who were beaten last weekend by the anti-terrorist force (MMAD), points to the use of excessive police force, according to yesterday's Phileleftheros.

    The newspaper said Matsakis found 38 of the 41 boat people he examined had sustained "serious and multiple injuries", ranging from "scratches and bruises to broken bones".

    The paper also said his report noted that there were places on the walls of the Larnaca detention facility - the old Famagusta police detention cells - which bore bloodstains after MMAD flushed the immigrants from their cells.

    It also reported that at least one of the boat people had Aids, while two others had hepatitis-B, and that MMAD officers were aware of this before they entered the cells.

    The paper, which does not identify its sources, refers to findings in Matsakis' report on the 41 boat people he examined last week at the request of Attorney General Alecos Markides.

    Matsakis, a respected forensic pathologist, has several times refused to disclose his findings to The Cyprus Mail, noting that only Markides had authority to publish them.

    Earlier this week, Matsakis gave Markides his tape-recorded findings for transcription, and at the weekend said he was annotating 279 photographs, 50 diagrams and 'specimens' taken from some of the 41 boat people he examined to fine-tune his report.

    The immigrants have accused MMAD of police brutality in quelling the riot in the Larnaca detention centre on October 23.

    The immigrants had burned their bedding in protest on learning some of them were to be deported the next day. They also refused to leave their cells even after MMAD used tear-gas.

    Videotape of the incident clearly shows officers kicking and beating the immigrants after forcing them to lie face-down in the courtyard of the Larnaca facility. Some of the boat people were treated in hospital for injuries after the incident.

    A total of 48 boat people were involved in the riot, but some have since been deported. They were among 113 people rescued in June, sick and starving, from a trawler off the Cyprus coast.

    Many of the 41 have been moved to the Central Prison in Nicosia or to other police holding facilities. Some 50 others of the original 113, including women and children, were being housed in the Pefkos Hotel in Limassol.

    Markides has appointed at least six investigators to look into the beatings which raised official concern that foreign broadcast of the footage might hurt the island's reputation abroad.

    At least one MMAD officer has said his orders allowed the use of maximum force, short of killing, to subdue the boat people.

    November 1, 1998

    [04] Briton found hanged in Larnaca

    DAVID Robinson, 50, a British national living in Larnaca, was found dead yesterday hanging from a rope tied to his back yard balcony, police said.

    An unemployed father of two by his Cypriot wife, Robinson was found at about 11.45am by a neighbour and was pronounced dead later in hospital.

    Larnaca police said they do not suspect foul play. They said they found a ladder, a length of rope and a knife at the scene.

    November 1, 1998

    [05] Bicommunal seminar opens in Brussels

    Greek and Turkish Cypriots yesterday opened a two-day seminar in Brussels to discuss what the future of the island might be, once a Cyprus solution is reached.

    The meeting comes despite an earlier ban on bi-communal contacts by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    George Vassiliou, Cyprus chief negotiator in the EU accession talks, shared welcoming duties in Brussels with German EuroMP Mechtild Rothe, and Renos Prentzas, president of the Foundation for Socio-Political Studies.

    The aim of the meeting, titled: Cyprus after a solution - a scientific workshop, was to let people from both communities on the divided island express their views on labour, public health, environmental and cultural issues.

    The gathering was organised by the foundation for Socio-political Studies and the Friedrich Eberhardt Foundation of Germany. Denktash halted all bi- communal contacts on the island earlier this year in retaliation for Britain's insistence that people from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus seeking to visit Britain, first obtain visas from the British High Commission in Nicosia. The move was an attempt to prevent mainland Turks, who have settled in the occupied north, from slipping into Britain by using documentation falsely identifying them as Turkish Cypriots, and then seeking asylum or simply staying on illegally.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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