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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, November 17, 1998


  • [01] Students protest: minister urges `fighting spirit'
  • [02] `Spies made many calls to Israeli Intelligence Unit'
  • [03] Sri Lankan may return to press `kidnap' charge
  • [04] Church may be taxed, says Christodoulou
  • [05] Girl aged 11 dies of meningitis
  • [06] Cyprus a top spot for `fact-finding' MPs
  • [07] Man shot dead near Kandou
  • [08] Russian remanded for `abducting sweetheart'
  • [09] Akel moots all-day schooling
  • [10] Man killed in car plunge
  • [11] Turkey holds war games
  • [12] EU: Greece Speaker holds out hope for Cyprus
  • [13] Cypriots want peace, says UN chief
  • [14] Ocalan `not likely to be extradited'

  • [01] Students protest: minister urges `fighting spirit'

    By Jean Christou

    SOME 5,000 Greek Cypriot students and secondary school pupils staged a noisy but peaceful protest at the Ledra Palace checkpoint yesterday against the 15th anniversary of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime in the north.

    The demonstration ended three days of protests by refugee organisations and anti-occupation groups, which included all-night vigils on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    Thousands of pupils left classes yesterday despite their actions not being officially sanctioned by the Education Ministry.

    However a statement by Education Minister Lycourgos Kappas appeared to give the ministry's support to pupils.

    "The survival of Greek Hellenism constitutes a precondition for the salvation of Cyprus and the all-powerful weapon is our education system which comprises our other defence," Kappas said in a written message to pupils.

    "Garb yourselves in justice and fighting spirit as your steady aim is the liberation of our enslaved land and the restoration of the Greek and Christian character of our island."

    At the Ledra Palace checkpoint, the students chanted slogans and sang patriotic songs but no trouble was reported. Hundreds of police blocked access to the checkpoint which was also heavily manned by anti-riot police and UN peacekeepers.

    Students chanted "Cyprus Independent Greece", "Freedom and Independence for Cyprus" and "Turks out of Cyprus". "We refuse to accept the occupation of 37 per cent of our country by the Turkish occupiers" said one student.

    But, for every one of the thousands who turned out to protest yesterday, equal numbers were on the streets of the capital apparently taking advantage of being allowed to skip classes in order to window shop. The protest ended at 1.30pm, around the same time that school closes for the day.

    Further student demonstrations are expected today to mark the student uprising against the military junta in Greece in 1974.

    On Sunday night, President Clerides, commenting on the anniversary of the `TRNC', which declared itself a state in 1983, said the main goal of Turkish policy on Cyprus is to secure international recognition of the breakaway regime.

    "The Turkish side has undermined all the efforts made so far by the international community to find a federal solution through negotiations, either in direct or in proximity talks," Clerides told an anti-occupation gathering.

    "It has been proved that our own sincerity and goodwill are not enough to solve the Cyprus problem on the basis of a federation." He urged the international community to focus its attention on Turkey if it wishes to move the Cyprus problem forward.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [02] `Spies made many calls to Israeli Intelligence Unit'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TWO Israelis suspected of spying against Cyprus were remanded in police custody for a further five days on Sunday after a Larnaca court heard fresh evidence about their activities.

    Police Inspector Andreas Naoum told the court that Udi Hargov, 37, and Ig'al Damari, 49, made a number of phone calls to Tel Aviv on Friday November 6 during their time in Zygi, before being arrested the next morning.

    He said police found two mobile phones at their apartment, one which had GSM subscription cards issued from Holland and the other from England.

    According to yesterday's Guardian newspaper, British police have been asked to assist in investigating the case. Scotland Yard has been contacted in an attempt to trace the calls made to Britain on one of the mobile phones.

    "It appears that the 10 last calls made on November 6 from one of these phones was to Israel, to a specific service called the Intelligence Institute," said Naoum.

    He added: "It also appears that after their arrival the two suspects made many calls on November 6 from one mobile phone to a specific number which belongs to the Intelligence Institute in Tel Aviv."

    The CID inspector told the court the Israelis' arrival in Cyprus coincided with major national guard activities. "During the night of Friday there were serious military movements which must remain classified," he said.

    Asked after the hearing whether he meant the phone calls were received by Mossad HQ in Tel Aviv, Naoum just smiled but did not deny this interpretation.

    In court, the CID inspector said police were trying to locate all subscribers who received calls from the two mobile phones, to trace calls made from a phone box in Zygi and to discover who made a call from London to one of the Israeli phones.

    "The case the police are investigating is very serious and carries a heavy prison sentence," Naoum told the court. The suspects face up to ten years in jail if found guilty.

    The investigation concerns spying against the National Guard and the Cyprus Republic, not only in Zygi but other parts of the island between October 15 and November 6.

    Although the Israelis were arrested on November 7 after arriving the day before on a Cyprus Airways flight, they had previously come to Cyprus between October 15 and 22 and stayed at the Zygi apartment.

    Security sources believe the Israelis were sent to discover whether the parts of the controversial Russian S-300 missiles had arrived in Cyprus. Zygi is also the planned site of the island's first ever naval base.

    This week's Sunday Times claimed that Amiram Levine, the deputy head of Mossad, travelled secretly to Cyprus last week in an attempt to strike a deal with the government. It also said that Damari was the first high- ranking Mossad operator to be caught since 1951.

    When told about the Sunday Times article, Damari was overheard telling one of his lawyers in English on Sunday: "I wish I got paid that much".

    Between 00.45 and 01.45 on November 7 police raided the Zygi apartment after obtaining a search warrant. In Hargov's room police found a scanner, a Sony cassette recorder, a mobile phone, a laptop computer and two disks, the court heard.

    In Damari's room they found two scanners, a mobile phone. a small cassette recorder and two maps of Cyprus. In the hall, six topographical maps were also found with markings on them, the court was told.

    Cyprus security forces are now studying the maps, which are believed to locate National Guard installations of which only the top generals have knowledge.

    Both Israelis deny the equipment belongs to them, Naoum said. He also said the Israelis had answered no questions during interrogation.

    The court granted police another five days in order to take 30 more statements, over and above the 25 already taken. Defence lawyers made no objection to the remand order.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [03] Sri Lankan may return to press `kidnap' charge

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE lawyer for a Sri Lankan man who alleges his Paphos employer had him beaten up and bundled home for seeking five months of salary arrears, says he plans to bring his client back to Cyprus to file kidnapping charges against the employer.

    "The (alleged) kidnapping occurred in Paphos," lawyer Costas Efstathiou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "We shall apply to the chief of police to allow him (the "victim") to come to Cyprus" in order to press charges. He said he is filing the necessary requests today.

    The former employer, Neophytos Neophytou, has denied the allegations and insisted the man left "of his own free will". "I took him to the airport, but not by force," he said yesterday.

    Efstathiou said he would involve Attorney-general Alecos Markides in redressing his client's grievances, and "ask the government to pay" the return air fare for his client, Thilak Dushantha Wanigasuriya. "It's the least they can do," he added.

    Efstathiou said his legal filings would include allegations that immigration agents at Larnaca airport co-operated with the alleged kidnappers, instead of helping his client escape from them.

    Wanigasuriya, 37, in a November 13 letter to Efstathiou, alleged that on November 9 his boss, Neophytou, owner of Tigerrun Co. Ltd. janitorial service, ordered him into his (Neophytou's) jeep to do "some work" in Larnaca.

    Another man got into the jeep, and the three drove to a Limassol restaurant, where a fourth man boarded the vehicle. From that point, Efstathiou claimed, the trio "roughed up" Wanigasuriya before driving him to Larnaca airport.

    There, Wanigasuriya's letter said, the three men told him to "leave Cyprus within (a) few minutes to Sri Lanka in the next flight. They also told me that my lawyer has nothing to do now (with his predicament)."

    After being hustled into the airport, Wanigasuriya said he "went to the immigration office and told them about my situation and asked them to help me speak to my lawyer. They refused."

    Even after he showed proof that he had a Cyprus bank account, that his wife worked in the country and that his legal documents were in order "they still did not give me relief," Wanigasuriya said. He said he was allowed just one phone call.

    Wanigasuriya informed his wife, Indrani, 31, of his plight, and "10 minutes later they led me to the Emirates Air flight EK9460" without "a single cent" in his pocket. The next day he was back in Sri Lanka.

    Efstathiou said part of his client's problem lay in his success in getting the Labour Ministry's Paphos office to force Tigerrun to pay his client 1, 400 for five months of unpaid wages. But before the two cheques could clear the bank, Efstathiou said, Neophytou ordered payment stopped on both of them.

    Neophytou dismissed these allegations when contacted by the Cyprus Mail on November 12. He insisted Wanigasuriya left Cyprus "of his own free will."

    "He was caught stealing from someone," Neophytou said. "I gave him a choice: either you stay and face court proceedings or you go home. He chose to go.

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

    Neophytou said yesterday that, contrary to Efstathiou's and his client's claims, "all the financial obligations have been met in full" between himself and Wanigasuriya. "Anybody can check with the bank."

    He declined to say whether the person Wanigasuriya allegedly "was caught stealing from" had filed a police report, or to identify that person.

    Spyros Koniotis, Paphos Police assistant division commander for operations, said yesterday that Larnaca immigration records show Wanigasuriya had contacted them on November 9. But he said immigration files showed Wanigasuriya's employer "broke his contract with him for some reason," and that when asked by immigration agents, Wanigasuriya "had no complaints."

    Wanigasuriya sees things differently. "I came to your country with high hopes about your ruling policies and labour laws," he wrote to Efstathiou. "Now I am thoroughly disgusted at the situation and do not know what to do."

    "It's a case about which nobody can be proud," Efstathiou said of his client's alleged abduction. "Today it's him, tomorrow it's my neighbour, the next day it's me."

    Meanwhile, Wanigasuriya's wife, Indrani, is said to be hiding. This was disclosed to the Cyprus Mail yesterday by a family friend, who is protecting Indrani and has requested anonymity.

    "She is scared" because she fears what happened to her husband will happen to her, the friend said.

    She alleged that Indrani was also cheated out of her pay by another Paphos employer, whose employ she fled after her husband's experience.

    Indrani said she reported her husband's plight to the police but, according to Efstathiou, as of yesterday there had been no police investigation.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [04] Church may be taxed, says Christodoulou

    THE government will consider taxing the Church, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting of the House Finance Committee, Christodoulou said he would meet Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides and Attorney-general Alecos Markides "soon" to discuss the matter.

    The Church has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, with allegations that Bishop Chrysanthos of Limassol has been party to financial scams involving millions of pounds fuelling public scepticism about how the Church uses its vast wealth.

    The finance minister also said the government would return to the House early next year with a package of tax hikes thrown out by deputies last May. The minister - who presented his ministry's budget for next year to the committee - said the government would wait till after the state budget for 1999 had been approved before tabling the controversial tax package again.

    Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiakonou also presented his ministry's budget for next year to the committee yesterday.

    Deputies were told the much-delayed Limassol to Paphos highway would be completed by the middle of 2000 while an additional 4km stretch of road, up to Pissouri, would be opened to traffic by the end of this year.

    Ierodiakonou also said the government planned to spend 40 million to build a 42km-long motorway from Dhekelia to Protaras, to be ready by the middle of 2000.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [05] Girl aged 11 dies of meningitis

    AN 11-year-old schoolgirl died of meningitis yesterday.

    Christalla Pouli, from Tseriou, started showing symptoms on Sunday night and was taken to Makarios Hospital, Nicosia, at 12pm yesterday.

    Sadly, her condition rapidly deteriorated and she died at around 3pm.

    The Ministry of Health has stepped in to screen all the children at Christalla's school, especially those with whom she had direct contact, for the disease.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [06] Cyprus a top spot for `fact-finding' MPs

    By Andrew Adamides

    CYPRUS appears to be one of the most popular places for British MPs to go on "fact-finding" trips, according to yesterday's Guardian newspaper.

    The Guardian report states that since Labour came to power in the UK no less than 22 MPs have between them made 35 such visits to the island, expenses-paid.

    Lobbying by the Greek Cypriots, the report goes on, is among the highest scale of such operations. The largest contingent of fact-finders are New Labour MPs holding seats in the North London area, where a large number of Cypriots reside.

    The paper reports that several of the MPs defended the trips. One, Andrew Dinsmore, Labour MP for Hendon, said his trips were not junkets. "I have 8, 000 Cypriots in my constituency and I go there to take up issues on behalf of my constituents," he is quoted as saying. "I go economy class on Cyprus Airways, admittedly stay in a good hotel in Nicosia but I can tell you I spend most of my time in meetings."

    But David Arness, MP for Southend West, admitted that "some of my constituents would probably say, `David, there is enough to worry about in Southend.'" He argued, however, that if MPs did not take on an international role, they were nothing more than "glorified social workers".

    According to the Guardian, most of Arness' Cypriot constituents are Turkish Cypriots and he admits his trips are against their interests. Other MPs have visited the occupied areas, including Ipswich MP Jamie Cann and Wansdyke MP Dan Norris who, together with Ulster Unionist MP John Taylor, are to band together to create an all-party northern Cyprus group.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [07] Man shot dead near Kandou

    Murder of hunter, 25: Game wardens are arrested

    By Martin Hellicar and Andrew Adamides

    LIMASSOL police last night arrested two men suspected of killing a 25-year- old hunter, Marinos Spirou, near Kandou on Sunday.

    The two suspects, Giorgos Vassiliou, 48, and his son-in-law Lazarus Sophocleous, alias Rakkis, 27, were arrested at around 8pm. Both are game wardens and are expected to appear at Limassol District Court today.

    Spirou, from Limassol, was shot dead early on Sunday morning while out hunting in the dry bed of the Kouris river in the Limassol district. Police said the victim suffered shotgun pellet injuries to the back and hand. Spirou's body was found by his father Costas, who was out hunting with his son but was apparently not with him at the time of the incident.

    The motives for the attack were being investigated but police believe the shooting may have happened after Spirou argued with other hunters who had pointed out to him that he had entered a game reserve area.

    Witness statements suggest about seven shots were fired, and police found seven spent cartridges in the vicinity. It is believed there might have been an exchange of fire between the victim and his killer or killers. Marios Matsakis, called in by the family of the deceased, told the Cyprus Mail last night that two large diameter pellets were found in the body - one had gone through the left lung and heart causing death. The pellets had, he added, apparently been fired in separate discharges.

    Both the victim's and the father's hunting rifles were taken by police for ballistic tests. The father told reporters he had rushed down to the river bed after hearing shots, found his son dead and, at the same time, saw a red car speeding off from a nearby hill.

    Reports suggested 14 people were questioned by police yesterday, among them game wardens on duty in the area at the time of the attack.

    Also in Limassol yesterday Dimitris Polycarpou Sakkos, known as Jimmy, had a lucky escape when a bomb went off under his car, parked in the notorious Heroes square, at 3.45am.

    The vehicle had been in the parking space of the abandoned Panorama hotel at 9pm the night before.

    The bomb, which police forensic experts said was a home-made device, went off as soon as Sakkos got into his car. Police said Sakkos, 27 from Trachoni, had been saved by the fact that he had reversed out of the parking space, thus avoiding the worst of the blast.

    The car was completely destroyed in the explosion while the driver escaped unhurt. Nearby vehicles and windows of the abandoned hotel were damaged. Police said the attack was an attempted murder and was probably part of a feud between "persons of the night".

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [08] Russian remanded for `abducting sweetheart'

    A RUSSIAN Pontiac was remanded by a Paphos court yesterday on suspicion of abducting and holding captive a 17-year-old girl "because he loved her".

    Themis Aslanides, 19, and three of his four suspected accomplices were all remanded in custody for six days. Police are searching for a fifth suspect.

    Paphos District Court heard that the girl was bundled into a car while out walking in Paphos town around 5.40pm on Sunday with two of her friends, 17 and 19.

    Police said a car with five men in it pulled up next to the girls as they walked down Evagoras Pallikarides avenue. Themis, Victor Koulaxides, 17, and Georgios Aslanides, 23, all Russian Pontiacs, got out of the car and grabbed the victim, the court heard.

    The girl struggled and her friends tried to free her but her assailants managed to force her into the car and drive off, the court heard. Police believe the girl was abducted in an effort to persuade her to have sex with or marry Themis.

    Themis apparently told police he had abducted the girl because he was in love with her. Koulaxides was arrested at about 10.45pm on Sunday.

    The girl was found in a flat in Kato Paphos belonging to a relative of Themis Aslanides yesterday morning. She told police she had been locked in the flat and prevented from contacting her relatives but had not been harmed in any way, the court heard.

    Themis, Aslanides and Georgian Grigorios Eleftheriades, 24, were arrested yesterday morning. Police are still looking for Georgios Kounides, 23 from Georgia, in connection with the same investigation.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [09] Akel moots all-day schooling

    COMMUNIST Akel will propose that the Education Ministry introduce all-day schooling, the party said yesterday.

    Akel believes this would improve the quality of education, the party official responsible for education, Neoclis Synikeotis, said. She said there were educational, social and financial reasons for the proposal and that it would result in better interaction between children and teachers.

    It would also help develop other areas like dance and music and be in line with other European countries.

    Synikeotis also said such a move would cancel the need for afternoon lessons and moonlighting by teachers and would help working mothers.

    "Unfortunately, the number of secondary school children going to private institutes is increasing." Synikeotis said 25 per cent of primary school children were registered with private institutes for afternoon lessons.

    Any move to change school hours in the public sector is likely to face strong opposition from teachers' unions.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [10] Man killed in car plunge

    A DRIVER died on Sunday after his car plunged down a 20- metre gorge.

    Costas Hadjivassiliou, aged 48, from Yeroskipou, was returning home with his wife Maroulla to Limassol on the Ayios Theodoros Road around 4pm when he complained he was being blinded by the sunlight.

    Maroulla said that even as he was saying this they came upon a bend and the car went off it, somersaulting into the crevice below.

    Maroulla's screams alerted locals who called for help. The couple were taken to Limassol General Hospital where Hadjivassiliou was pronounced dead. Maroulla suffered slight injuries.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [11] Turkey holds war games

    TURKISH naval exercises began yesterday just off the occupied areas, according to Turkish press reports.

    The reports said the exercises, codenamed Determination-2 '98, are being conducted in the so-called international waters off the occupied areas, and in the Eastern Mediterranean. More exercises, codenamed Toros-2 '98 are set to begin tomorrow.

    The exercises are reportedly concentrating on co-ordination between ground, naval and air forces. Units from the Turkish Navy and Air Force and occupation forces already on the island are participating.

    Determination-2 is to last eight days and Toros-2 three.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [12] EU: Greece Speaker holds out hope for Cyprus

    By Andrew Adamides

    ANY problems with Cyprus EU accession will be overcome, Greek Parliamentary Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said yesterday. He added that the EU enlargement process can only be completed with Cyprus' entry.

    His statement, made after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, echoed earlier Greek statements that Greece will block the accession of other aspirant states if Cyprus is refused entry because of its political situation. "Our assessment is that any problems will be overcome," he assured.

    In a communique issued last week, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands suggested that if the Cyprus problem was not solved prior to accession it would be impossible for the island to accede.

    Kaklamanis said Cyprus was better placed than other aspirants as regards conforming with the EU acquis communautaire. "Cyprus fulfils nearly all conditions for its accession." he concluded.

    Kaklamanis also brought a message of solidarity from Greek Premier Costas Simitis, which referred to the two countries' "common struggle and solidarity".

    Later in the day, Kaklamanis also met political and religious leaders. The Greek Speaker had been invited here by House President Spyros Kyprianou to be the main speaker at an anti-occupation demonstration on the anniversary of the illegal declaration of independence by the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Kaklamanis left the island in the evening.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [13] Cypriots want peace, says UN chief

    UNITED Nations Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus said yesterday that she thinks Cypriots want peace, and that if she did not believe this she would not be here now.

    Speaking at the Lions Club, Hercus said the UN did not take sides in the dispute and achieved its authority through impartiality. She had to be "absolutely impartial, Hercus said, adding that protocol meant that the UN treat President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in "exactly the same way".

    She said her job needed all her "professional skills". The job entailed being "a bridge, a door, a window of opportunity" and exploring ideas and options.

    Without the UN's mediation, Hercus said, there would be no headway in the disputes, which would linger on for ever. What really mattered, she added, was whether the conflict could be resolved.

    Hercus is currently conducting shuttle talks between the two sides and has spoken with Clerides and Denktash several times.

    Tuesday, November 17, 1998

    [14] Ocalan `not likely to be extradited'

    THE government expects that Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan will not be extradited to face charges in Turkey, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was arrested as he entered Italy on Thursday. Stylianides said considering "Turkey violates human rights repeatedly, we expect that the Kurdish leader will not be extradited".

    He also said Cyprus backs a political solution to the Kurdish problem.

    Left-wing party Akel has spoken out on behalf of Ocalan, urging the Europarliament Left to ask for a debate on the Kurd's arrest. In a letter to Alonso Puerta, President of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left of the European Parliament, the Akel general secretary suggested a resolution be adopted urging Italy to give Ocalan political asylum.

    Meanwhile, over 100 Kurds continued their hunger strike in Eleftheria Square, Nicosia, demanding Ocalan's release. They also joined in student demonstrations against the occupation of Northern Cyprus on the anniversary of the declaration of independence by the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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