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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, November 13, 1998


  • [01] Michaelides brought before his accusers
  • [02] Bishop pleads for time to answer charges
  • [03] Israeli paper says 'spies' were lookouts for top Mossad meeting
  • [04] Good news for foreign men married to Cypriot women
  • [05] Turn your attentions to Turkey, Cassoulides urges EU
  • [06] Turkey 'bewildered' over start of EU talks
  • [07] Hotelier denies 'freelance deportation' of Sri Lankan
  • [08] Hotels welcome study's findings
  • [09] Middleton moves to UK post
  • [10] Greens protest river dump
  • [11] Cabinet backs total abolition of death penalty
  • [12] Government hands over Hilton report

  • [01] Michaelides brought before his accusers

    By Charlie Charalambous

    INTERIOR Minister Dinos Michaelides came before his accusers at the House Watchdog Committee yesterday, rejecting all the corruption allegations levelled against him.

    "I'm here to defend my honour, my credibility and my history," Michaelides said during a 45-minute reading of a prepared statement before the House committee.

    He said he was determined to stay in office, and charged his accuser - watchdog committee chairman Christos Pourgourides - of trying to destroy his career.

    "If there is the slightest evidence against me, then I will leave my post and retire from politics," said Michaelides.

    "But how can you expect justice, if you get up and leave after the first shot is fired by your accuser?"

    The minister said he was happy to come before the committee so he could put the record straight and not allow Pourgourides to maintain that he was a guilty man.

    "There are political, personal and professional motives why he (Pourgourides) is making these accusations."

    Asked what possible motives Pourgourides had for trying to destroy his career, Michaelides replied:

    "In this committee, you know the cause and reason for this war."

    Michaelides also mentioned the intolerable pressure the corruption allegations had caused him and his family.

    "Being at the centre of unjustified criticism has been an unimaginable burden for myself and my family. I would not wish this on anyone, not even on my enemies."

    Countering the charges, Michaelides challenged Pourgourides to point out how he had, by his own admission, proved his guilt.

    Pourgourides claims the minister has effectively confessed to bribery, admitting he had purchased flats from development companies at half price.

    "I've listened to television and radio cassettes trying to find where I said this. Nowhere have I found what you (Pourgourides) allege."

    Pourgourides' central argument has been that Michaelides accepted free or discount flats from big business for favours rendered and therefore is politically responsible and should resign.

    "I did not confess to buying the flats at half price, I said I bought the flats at a good price, nothing more," said Michaelides.

    The minister said only he or President Clerides could judge whether he was politically responsible, suggesting it was not the job of the committee to do so.

    During the two-hour hearing, Michaelides dismissed the charges brought against him by the Disy deputy and backed up his defence with Auditor- general Spyros Christou's report.

    According to the report, the minister insisted, Christou had not been able to find any evidence that he had issued permits to cabaret girls for cash, released illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, received luxury flats for free or at knock down price, introduced planning relaxations to benefit property prices or built his villa in Limassol to the tune of £600,000.

    Michaelides said that Christou could find no evidence that he owned a house in London's exclusive Bishops Avenue in Hampstead.

    "I am not the owner of any property in this area nor do I have any other property in the UK. Such allegations are unfounded."

    However, the minister did say that his daughter purchased a flat in London worth £125,000 with a bank loan two years ago.

    And he shot down the charge that he had received cheap offices at Limassol's Kirzis centre for favours, saying the Auditor-general had said he paid a higher price than others who purchased offices in the same complex.

    Pourgourides maintained afterwards that his allegations of unlawful enrichment against Michaelides were valid and that the Cypriot people would judge who was telling the truth.

    The committee will decide whether Michaelides needs to called before it again.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [02] Bishop pleads for time to answer charges

    By Jean Christou

    EMBATTLED Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos yesterday asked the Church for two weeks' grace to respond to a list of eight charges levelled against him in connection with allegations of financial fraud.

    A team of experts on Canon law is also expected to arrive from Greece to assist the defence in its case; the ecclesiastical law that Chrysanthos is alleged to have breached is written in New Testament and Byzantine Greek.

    Three bishops appointed by the Holy Synod have drawn up the eight-point indictment, and have the authority to haul up the accused bishop before an ecclesiastical court.

    Chrysanthos met again with the Holy Synod yesterday, after which a brief announcement was made on behalf of the Church executive by Archimandrite Vassilios.

    "The Holy Synod, after meeting Bishop Chrysanthos, had an exchange of views, and after an appeal by Chrysanthos, decided to allow time for him to study the charge sheet and the issues on which it is based," Vassilios said.

    He said the time granted was 15 days, giving the Limassol bishop until November 26 to answer the eight charges.

    In a three-page indictment issued on Tuesday and leaked to the press on Wednesday, the investigating Bishops charge that Chrysanthos took advantage of his position and Church facilities and used them for his own financial gain, collaborating with disreputable people in allegedly crooked deals, financial fraud and currency speculation.

    The Bishops also said Chrysanthos had failed to inform the Holy Synod about a series of financial deals involving millions of dollars and said the publicity generated by his activities and the resulting scandal, both here and abroad, had damaged the good name of the Church.

    Chrysanthos has repeatedly stated his innocence.

    Yesterday, he declined to make any comments, other than to say that he was grateful to the Holy Synod for giving him time to answer the charges.

    He did deny that negotiations were afoot to have the charge sheet withdrawn. "They gave me the file and the details. I couldn't answer without this," he said.

    The Bishop's lawyer, Ioannis Kyriakides, said he was in touch with experts on Church law in Greece, who would come and study the charge sheet.

    "We will present before the Holy Synod, with all due respect, unassailable evidence and trustworthy testimonies, and we will throw out all the charges down to the last one," he said.

    "Finally the innocence of this holy man will shine. This holy man did not take a single pound with bad intent from anyone. He did not make a single pound on illegal currency exchanges. No one suffered losses due to the bishop, nor was the property of the Church damaged or harmed in any way."

    Kyriakides added that those who said they were owed money by the bishop "are lying".

    Also commenting on the case yesterday, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said: "Church matters are the concern of the Holy Synod."

    However, he made clear that the government had repeatedly stated that issues concerning any sort of illegal transaction between Cyprus and foreign countries created a problem for the image of Cyprus abroad.

    Criminal investigations are also under way, with investigators examining Chrysanthos' overseas dealings.

    Late last month, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said investigations had been completed in Greece and would soon be starting in England and a possible third country.

    The bishop's dealings first came to light in the summer when Scotland Yard detectives travelled to Cyprus to question the bishop over his involvement in a UK-based fraud case.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [03] Israeli paper says 'spies' were lookouts for top Mossad meeting

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE TWO Israelis detained last weekend on suspicion of spying are Mossad agents, the Cyprus government has been told by Tel Aviv, according to Ha'aretz newspaper.

    The Israeli daily claimed yesterday that Udi Argov and Ig'al Damari were employed as electronic lookouts for a secret Mossad meeting in Zygi.

    The newspaper said the Israeli government had explained the circumstances to the Cyprus government as part of reassurances that Israel was not spying against Cyprus or for Turkey.

    Israeli officials declined to comment on the newspaper report yesterday.

    Nor was there any official comment from the Cyprus government, though there was plenty of private scepticism over the report.

    "Since when has Zygi been a conference centre for Mossad agents? And with whose permission?" a Cypriot source told Reuters.

    A Presidential Palace source in Nicosia told Ha'aretz that if the Mossad version was true then this opened up the possibility of sending the two back to Israel.

    The Palace source stressed that "this incident will certainly not affect the good relations between the two countries."

    But the Cypriot source did concede that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's brash pledge to bring the nationals home had upset the apple cart.

    If Netanyahu had not made the statement, then the Israeli spies would have been back in Tel Aviv by Wednesday, the Palace source told Ha'aretz.

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides yesterday described the Netanyahu comments as a form of "state terrorism".

    "If these are agents and we should send them back then I don't know what international rights mean," said Lyssarides.

    There was also back-tracking from the Israeli foreign ministry yesterday, with a statement that Netanyahu's comments had been "mistranslated".

    The Presidential source quoted by Ha'aretz said Cyprus had learned about the two men guarding the apparent Mossad meeting from a top Mossad official. The official was not named, but is believed to be Mossad's deputy director Amiram Levin, who is thought to have visited Cyprus earlier this week.

    The Israeli paper said the two men had been part of an intelligence operation held near Zygi last Friday and Saturday in which other agents were also involved.

    The two were reportedly assigned to eavesdrop on police and army frequencies to ensure that nobody was going to approach the secret location of the Mossad meeting.

    Reports claim that covert Mossad meetings usually take place abroad in Europe rather than at home for greater security.

    But the tables were turned on the two Israelis last Saturday, with the so- called lookouts themselves being closely watched by Cyprus plain clothes police and intelligence services.

    When the Zygi flat was raided in the early hours of Saturday, police found high-tech surveillance equipment including scanners and a lap-top computer.

    Local security sources believe the two Israelis were spying on National Guard facilities and trying to confirm whether any parts of the S-300 missiles had arrived on the island.

    Mossad officials have reportedly blamed their colleagues for preparing easily detectable fake passports for the two.

    Damari's passport apparently contained the personal details of an actual Israeli who has been traced in Israel.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [04] Good news for foreign men married to Cypriot women

    By Athena Karsera

    PARLIAMENT is poised to strike a blow for sexual equality, bringing into line the time required before foreign men and women married to Cypriots can apply for citizenship.

    The House committee for Interior Affairs has unanimously approved a recommendation by Akel deputy Andreas Philippou to lower the number of years that foreign men must be married to Cypriot women before they can apply for Cypriot citizenship.

    Philippou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that once the amendment was passed, "there will be equality between men and women married to Cypriot citizens."

    This means that both foreign men and women married to a Cypriot will have to be wed for two years before applying for citizenship.

    As things stand, men married to Cypriot women can only apply for citizenship after five years, while foreign women are eligible after just one year.

    Philippou said his original proposal had been for the required years for men simply to be brought down to that for women - one year.

    But questions raised by the nine-member Committee wondered whether such a reduction might not encourage marriages of convenience.

    Philippou argued that the same could be asked about marriages between foreign women and Cypriot men, leading to the two-year compromise agreed upon by deputies.

    Philippou said the motion would be referred to the House of Representatives, "hopefully, next Thursday", where unanimous approval is anticipated.

    There are about 8,000 mixed marriages in Cyprus, Philippou says. Some 5,500 of these concern Cypriot men married to foreign women.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [05] Turn your attentions to Turkey, Cassoulides urges EU

    IN THE interests of fairness, those EU member states that issued a communiqué on Monday calling for a Cyprus solution prior to accession should now urge Ankara to comply with UN resolutions on Cyprus, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, Cassoulides said he had already made contact with two of the countries, France and Germany, and that he would contact the other two, Italy and the Netherlands, through diplomatic channels.

    "They now have an obligation to turn towards Turkey and invite her to conform with UN resolutions and co-operate with the UN for a Cyprus settlement if they want to keep up a balance," Cassoulides said.

    He added that the countries should also point out to Turkey that it did not have veto rights over Cyprus' EU accession.

    "This would be a fair way to handle the issue since they considered it their obligation to table the statement with their positions," the minister concluded.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [06] Turkey 'bewildered' over start of EU talks

    A TURKISH Foreign Ministry statement that Cyprus' EU accession talks are not binding on the entire island shows Ankara's "anxiety and bewilderment" over the start of the substantive accession talks, Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    The fact the talks had started showed that Turkish "blackmail cannot affect the accession course and that they should reverse their position on this issue."

    He said the government's offer to include the Turkish Cypriots in the accession process was still on the table, but added that it was "up to Ankara to free the Turkish Cypriots from its strategic interests so as to participate in the procedure."

    Speaking at the start of the substantive accession talks on Tuesday, Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel said the start of the talks "represents an historical moment when the accession train is picking up speed." He added that this would hopefully give "new impulse" to the political negotiations on the island.

    Austria currently holds the rotating six-month EU presidency.

    Meanwhile, according to Turkish press reports yesterday, the Denktash regime has issued a statement describing the start of substantive accession talks as "a new link in the chain of mistakes" committed by the EU.

    A written statement said that the "unification process with the EU, and thus with Greece," had compelled the Turkish Cypriot side to move closer to Turkey. It added that the EU had delivered yet another blow to the UN-led peace process, and that it would bear the responsibility for the permanently division of Cyprus.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [07] Hotelier denies 'freelance deportation' of Sri Lankan

    A PAPHOS hotelier has denied forcing a Sri-Lankan in his employ to abandon the island, saying the man chose to leave rather than face thieving charges.

    A lawyer representing Sri-Lankan Thilak Dushantha, 37, claims her client was earlier this week bundled onto a plane home by his boss and his two "heavies" because he demanded his pay. The lawyer has lodged a complaint with the Paphos Labour office and Labour Ministry.

    Thilak's 31-year-old wife Indrani, who is still on the island, has made a complaint to police about her husband's "abduction."

    Police could not confirm yesterday whether the complaint was being investigated.

    The alleged offender, hotelier Neophytos Neophytou, denied any wrongdoing when confronted with the allegations by the Cyprus Mail.

    "He went of his own free will. He was caught stealing from someone in the hotel and I confronted him with a choice: either you stay and face court proceedings or you go home. He chose to go," Neophytou said.

    Thilak had last month abandoned his job after not being paid for months, his lawyer said. He returned to Paphos after his employer - under pressure from the Labour office - promised to pay him. But, the lawyer claimed, the cheque for £1,400 given to Thilak bounced, and on Monday night his boss and two burly friends of his beat up Thilak before taking him to Larnaca airport and putting him on a flight home.

    "He was abducted. He called our office from the airport at 8.30pm that night and we sent our expert in these matters down to get him off the plane. But the poor man was too scared that he would be beaten up or killed if he stayed, so he left. He had nothing on him," she said.

    Neophytou laughed off this version of events.

    "His employment was legally terminated and he was happy to be going home," he said. "There were some queries from immigration about whether he had been paid but I showed them the receipts for £1,400 and everything was okay."

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [08] Hotels welcome study's findings

    By Jean Christou

    HOTELIERS yesterday said a study on five-star hotels proved that tourist accommodation in the sector lived up to its claims.

    "It's reassuring that the perceptions of the clients who stayed at the five- star hotels were almost identical to their expectations," said Hoteliers' Association Director General Zacharias Ioannides.

    Ioannides said the study, a first-ever on five-star hotels, was very useful.

    "It's very fulfilling that we meet the expectations on the standards offered by our hotels," he said.

    The report was compiled by the local College of Tourism and Hotel Management and the Ben Gurion University in Israel and was published on Tuesday

    Around 450 guests were polled last July in 11 of the island's 17 five-star establishments.

    The report concludes that the appearance of the hotels meets all expectations, but said there was room for improvement in the area of service.

    "There is always room for improvement," said Aris Mouzoulides Assistant General manager at Stek, the 26-member Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises, which comprises three, four and five star hotels. Six of the hotels polled are members of Stek.

    "There was quite a good job done by the college, but to be honest there are not a lot of conclusions that can be drawn," Mouzoulides said.

    He said the report had reached the conclusion that the hotels were of a high standard, but that there was little other information to be drawn from it.

    "But we are happy to see this kind of effort being done by private colleges, " Mouzoulides said.

    John Wood, chairman of the Hotel Managers Association and manager at Limassol's Le Meridien, called for more such studies to be done. "The College of Tourism is to be congratulated for such a study," he said. "It's the first time we have received concrete information."

    However, all three representatives of the hotel industry pointed out that the study had been carried during a limited period during the peak holiday season and may not have represented as wide a range of guests or reached as many conclusions as a more long-term effort might have done.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [09] Middleton moves to UK post

    THE GENERAL Manager of the Institute of Neurology and Genetics has accepted a post in England.

    The Institute yesterday announced that Dr Lefcos Middleton would be taking up employment with a multinational pharmaceutical company.

    Operating from the company's London desk, Dr Middleton will be responsible for a large network of programmes linking European and American genetic illness research centres.

    In a statement issued yesterday, the Institute called Dr Middleton "the main element in the establishment of the Institution, which was his vision."

    Calling his new position an honour to the Institute, the statement also gave assurances of Dr Middleton's continuing support to the Institute and to his thousands of patients.

    Straddling the Green Line, the Institute of Neurology and Genetics operates as a bicommunal body. Greek and Turkish Cypriot doctors working at the clinic treat patients from both communities.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [10] Greens protest river dump

    THE ECOLOGICAL Movement yesterday decried the sorry state of the dry Pedhieos river bed, calling on the government and local authorities to do something to remedy the situation.

    "The Pedhieos has become a rubbish tip," the greens stated in a press release.

    Large quantities of builder's rubble, earth and other trash are routinely dumped along the river bed in Nicosia, Strovolos and Lakatamia, the environmentalists said. The waste material piles up along the river and is then bulldozed by the municipality to form banks, the movement claimed.

    "We thus have serious indications that the embankment of the river with waste materials is carried out with the tacit approval of the municipalities."

    The dumping has to be stopped and the river banks preserved as parks, as provided for in the Nicosia master plan, the greens stated.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [11] Cabinet backs total abolition of death penalty

    THE CABINET has approved a bill completely abolishing the death penalty in Cyprus, it was announced yesterday.

    Ministers also decided that the law on incest should be tightened up by making sex between related men illegal.

    The latter amendment is likely to see the re-emergence of the homosexuality debate when the bill goes before the House. Under pressure from the Council of Europe, deputies earlier this year decriminalised gay sex after years of stalling on approval of a relevant bill.

    In another proposed amendment to the incest law, ministers also agreed that convictions for incest where the victim was under-age or mentally handicapped should carry a life sentence.

    The death penalty can, as the law stands, still be imposed for high treason and piracy. If approved by the House, the abolition of the death penalty would bring Cyprus into line with the 6th Protocol of the European Convention on protection of human rights.

    The last time the death penalty was used in Cyprus was in 1963, when a man was hanged for murder.

    During its meeting earlier this week, the cabinet also decided to approve a legal amendment raising the age of criminal liability from seven to ten, it was announced yesterday.

    Friday, November 13, 1998

    [12] Government hands over Hilton report

    THE OWNERS of the Nicosia Hilton, the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC), were yesterday presented with the findings of a government probe into alleged abuse of public funds at the luxury hotel.

    The CTDC board met with President Clerides and Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday morning.

    "On Friday of next week we will return to the Presidential Palace to take final decisions," Rolandis said after the meeting.

    He said the board were being given a week to study the confidential report. According to press reports, the probe has confirmed an overspending of £9 million on recent renovations and improper tendering procedures involving other companies chaired by former CTDC chairman Andreas Kaisis.

    The government owns 81 per cent of the Hilton through ownership of CTDC shares.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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