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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, November 18, 1998


  • [01] US reaffirms warning to its nationals
  • [02] Pay up or resign
  • [03] University suspends lecturer for harassment
  • [04] Water tenders come flooding in
  • [05] Scuffles break out during Polytechnic demo
  • [06] Tymbou 'shootout' dismissed as set-up
  • [07] Parents concern over meningitis
  • [08] Pair 'confess' to hunting death, court told
  • [09] Daily Mail ups the stakes on fact-finding MPs
  • [10] Mystery shrouds Markides decision to withdraw Aeroporos appeal
  • [11] Two held after Larnaca blast
  • [12] Concern at Swedish stance
  • [13] Georgians held over heroin use
  • [14] Cyprus look for second Euro 2000 win

  • [01] US reaffirms warning to its nationals

    WHILE America has aborted weekend bombing missions against Iraq, the US State Department still stands by its Worldwide Caution to Americans travelling or living abroad to remain vigilant against possible terror attacks.

    The caution noted that the continuing US-Iraq tensions over UN weapons inspections, the August bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and retaliatory US air strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan all fuelled concern.

    In this light, it warned that "the potential for retaliatory acts against Americans and American interests overseas continues to exist," and that "terrorists, including Usama Bin Laden," the Saudi indicted for the embassy bombings, "continue their threats against the United States and have not distinguished between military and civilian targets."

    "We take these threats seriously," the Department said, urging "Americans to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to... lessen their vulnerability."

    Such steps include keeping a low profile, varying routes and times for all required travel, especially routine trips to and from jobs, school or shopping, and treating mail from unfamiliar sources "with suspicion".

    The caution noted that security at US facilities worldwide had been stepped up, some US missions "have temporarily suspended or limited services to the public, and may have to do so in the future."

    Americans in Cyprus desiring more information can contact the US Embassy at: 02-776-400.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [02] Pay up or resign

    By Jean Christou

    NICOSIA Mayor Lellos Demetriades yesterday called on the government to live up to its financial obligations towards municipalities or resign.

    Demetriades delivered his ultimatum in the presence of President Clerides, party leaders, and ministers at the annual general meeting of the Union of Municipalities in Nicosia yesterday.

    The island's 26 municipalities have declared open warfare on the government over a lack of funding and are seeking an increase in their annual income.

    "The responsibility for the distribution of funds is the government's," Demetriades said. "The government cannot relieve itself of its responsibility because its responsibility is to govern. If it has trouble governing, then maybe it should think again."

    After Athens Mayor Demetris Avramopoulos had complained over the treatment of local government in Greece, where municipalities only receive 2.8 per cent of the state budget, Demetriades took the opportunity to point out that, in Cyprus, municipalities received only 0.4 per cent of government spending.

    The mayor has previously stated that most EU countries devote at least three per cent of their budget to local government. In Cyprus, the government's contribution was raised from 0.3 per cent to 0.4 per cent in 1996.

    Demetriades has also said municipalities were not willing to accept the government's poverty plea as an excuse.

    In his address, President Clerides said the government was aware of the serious problems faced by the municipalities, but made no promises.

    "We live in a time when the conditions of life are changing rapidly... with the result that the municipalities are called upon to take on their share of the responsibility in facing these changes," Clerides said.

    But in a direct plea to the President, Demetriades said: "Three years ago, you took the lead and realised that relations between local authorities and the government should be linked for municipalities to receive state income. Now the time has come to set the right percentage."

    Representatives of the Union of Municipalities will meet Clerides on Friday to discuss the problems.

    But Demetriades warned of open warfare if something was not done. He said yesterday's conference had been due to discuss what measures could be taken. "If the government in the end continues the negative stance it has at the moment, the municipalities with the support of the entire political spectrum, will continue and escalate the struggle we have begun," he said.

    An official government announcement issued after the Union of Municipalities meeting again repeated its commitment to local government funding, stating that since 1996 it had given "large sums" to the municipalities.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [03] University suspends lecturer for harassment

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A CYPRUS University lecturer found guilty of sexual harassment has been suspended from duty until the year 2000 without pay, it was announced yesterday.

    The Cyprus University Council statement confirmed media speculation that an internal investigation had found the lecturer guilty of a "type" of sexual harassment.

    "After exhaustive discussion and serious consideration about his responsibilities on this issue, the Council has decided to suspend lecturer Nicolaos Valanides for a year-and-a-half (from 1.1.1999 until 30.6.2000) and a complete deprivation of his salary during this period," the brief university statement read yesterday.

    The Council upheld the punishment agreed upon by the University Senate several weeks ago. It is the first time the Education Faculty lecturer has been publicly named.

    It is understood that student representatives on the Council and Senate had urged for a lengthier ban of up to five years.

    But a university source denied to the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the Council took a lenient approach when deciding on the punishment.

    "I think the university can be proud of itself. There was a complaint, the university had the guts to take action and we didn't try to cover it up," the source said.

    Although the lecturer was found guilty of sexual harassment, the level of harassment was not considered of a very serious type, university insiders told the Cyprus Mail.

    Female students claimed he made suggestive comments, sat close to them and made contact with his hands during one-to-one tutorials in his study.

    The university investigation was based on one complaint by a student, but others came forward to say they had also been harassed by the lecturer.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [04] Water tenders come flooding in

    By Anthony O. Miller

    AS THE government yesterday opened tenders for stop-gap 'mobile' desalination plants, the island's reservoirs remained at crisis levels, only relatively dampened by recent rains, Water Development Department (WDD) sources indicated.

    A total of 73 tenders for the mobile units were opened at the Tender Board yesterday. Of these, 31 were from 14 companies bidding to hook up a mobile desalination unit to Limassol's water system, and 42 were from 15 companies bidding to connect a Larnaca-based mobile unit to WDD pipelines serving Nicosia.

    After evaluation, contracts with the winning bidder(s) are expected to be signed by the end of December, and the two units to begin operation 22 weeks later.

    "We hope that... by June (1999) we will have the first water" from the two mobile units, WDD Acting Director Christos Marcoullis said yesterday.

    The government also opened two tenders from bidders seeking to provide the island with imported water, Marcoullis added.

    The island's reservoirs yesterday were only 5.3 per cent full, with 14.2 million cubic metres (14 billion litres) of water behind their dams. This contrasts with the 28.3 million cubic metres - nearly twice that amount - they held at this time last year, when they were still only 10.5 per cent full, the WDD said.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous has warned he expects the dams to dry up by New Year's Day if this winter's rains fail the way last winter's did.

    Rainfall inflow over the last 24 hours poured a mere 30,000 cubic metres of water into the reservoirs. This represents just 75 per cent of the 40,000 cubic metres the Dhekelia desalination plant produces - and the city of Nicosia uses - daily.

    "We don't expect much water (inflow) in November," Marcoullis said. "December will be the decisive month." Rainfall last winter was only 75 per cent of normal, and most of this failed to run into the rivers that fill the reservoirs.

    When the WDD first sought the mobile unit tenders, it said it would spend up to 330,000 to connect a Larnaca-based mobile system to its pipeline network serving Nicosia, and up to 300,000 to hook up a mobile unit to Limassol's water system.

    Whoever wins one or both bids must absorb all the costs of desalinating, or importing water, and hold costs down as close as possible to the 54 cents the WDD pays the Dhekelia desalination plant per cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water.

    They must also be able to guarantee either 15,000 cubic metres of drinking water per day over a two-year contract, or 20,000 cubic metres per day under a 10-year contract, according to the original bid specifications.

    Marcoullis said the price ranges for the bids opened yesterday were not being disclosed for the present.

    Besides seeking bids for imported water, the government has been exploring importing water from Greece - something it considered too expensive to do during the 1991 drought. Athens has agreed to provide the water to Cyprus at cost price, as aid.

    The government has also made it known that, if it decides to import Greek water, it would like discounts from the island's patriotic ship owners on the cost of shipping it to Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, bids on building a second, permanent desalination plant, to be sited outside Larnaca, remain stuck in the bureaucratic pipeline. They are still under study in Washington with the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), America's water and dams agency.

    The USBR has whittled the bids down to the three lowest, and is studying these, Marcoullis said, before returning them to Cyprus for selection of the winning bidder.

    The mobile desalination units are part of an emergency stop-gap plan to get the island through the coming summer, especially if the reservoirs dry up as forecast.

    Besides water from dams and the Dhekelia desalination plant, Cyprus gets 80 per cent of its water from aquifers. But this groundwater has been dangerously overpumped, experts warn, adding that its increased by the government, as the dams dry up, threatens to make the island's water crisis even worse.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [05] Scuffles break out during Polytechnic demo

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TEMPERS flared yesterday as right and left-wing students forgot their anti- American protest in Nicosia marking the crushing of the Athens Polytechnic revolt in 1973, and instead came to blows when Che Guevara made an appearance.

    An isolated brawl broke out among the 1,000 students and schoolchildren marching on the US embassy in Nicosia to condemn America for its support of the Greek military junta, when right-wing demonstrators took exception to colleagues wearing Che Guevara t-shirts.

    The trouble started when one school pupil holding a nationalist banner was attacked by another group, offended by its extremist content.

    But the fracas escalated when a number of college students were spotted wearing Che Guevara t-shirts and shouting slogans that angered some right- wing factions.

    Scuffles soon erupted in the crowd, with students trading punches, kicks, expletives and political abuse.

    Police moved in swiftly to contain the violence and distance the troublemakers from the main demonstration, which also included Kurds temporarily residing in Cyprus.

    Stewards were also deployed to calm tempers and turn the focus back on the real centre of animosity - the US embassy.

    Those who take part and organise the annual protest traditionally have left- wing sympathies.

    Once the disturbance was dealt with, the crowd went back to chanting "Americans: Murderers of peoples" and "Polytechnic - Cyprus - Never again fascism".

    Police enforced tight security during the protest to ensure that none of the students could get near the US embassy.

    The November 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising in defiance of the right-wing Greek colonels is widely seen as the beginning of the end of the military junta, which fell the following July after the coup to overthrow Archbishop Makarios sparked the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    The Polytechnic protest ended only after the junta sent in US-made tanks to crush the uprising, killing at least 20 students.

    "The tanks that the students confronted are the same tanks that have divided Cyprus," said Makis Palaouras, speaking on behalf of Greek students who took part in the Polytechnic uprising 25 years ago.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [06] Tymbou 'shootout' dismissed as set-up

    TURKISH Cypriot 'police' said yesterday they exchanged gunfire with unknown assailants at Tymbou airport in the occupied north.

    A 'police' statement said officers at the perimeter fence of airport were fired on three times in the early hours of the morning. They fired back but the attackers fled.

    According to 'police', a Greek Cypriot newspaper wrapped around four broken bottles of Greek Cypriot brandy containing petrol and a box of Greek Cypriot brand matches were found near the site of the incident.

    'Police' also found blood stains on the ground nearby, and barbed wire surrounding the airport was also cut, the statement said.

    Security sources told CyBC that they had found no evidence to suggest that an "incident" had taken place.

    The same sources suggested that the occupation authorities had concocted the story in an effort to raise tensions on the island.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [07] Parents concern over meningitis

    PARENTS in Tseri village kept their children away from school yesterday after a pupil attending the local primary school died of bacterial meningitis on Monday.

    A Health Ministry official said yesterday there was no need for parents to panic and that the situation at the school was under control.

    Eleven-year-old Chrystalla Pouli began showing symptoms of the disease on Sunday night and was taken to the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia at 12 noon on Monday. She died at around 3pm.

    Parents' representative Elena Andreou yesterday expressed condolences to the little girl's family and said parents were unsure of what to do.

    She said the parents were not refusing to let their children go to school, but were just waiting for instructions from the Health and Education Ministries.

    "The officials told us that bacterial meningitis is not as easily transmitted as viral meningitis," Andreou said.

    Health officials yesterday sprayed the school building and gave antibiotics to all the children who had been in continuous contact with Chrystalla.

    "They told us that it is only by very close contact that the disease can be transmitted," Andreou said. "Our advice to parents is for each to impress on his child certain rules of personal hygiene, including not eating from a friend's sandwich or drinking from their bottles."

    Health official Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou said that in one or two days it would be possible to give the all-clear. She said the disease had a seven- day incubation period and that the child who died had not been in contact with other children since last Thursday, due to a school holiday on Friday.

    "Had she passed it on, other children would have shown some symptoms by now, " she said.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [08] Pair 'confess' to hunting death, court told

    By Martin Hellicar

    A FATHER and his son-in-law have confessed to killing hunter Marinos Spyrou near Kandou in the Limassol district on Sunday, police said yesterday.

    Georgios Vassiliou, 48, and Lazaros Sofocleous, known as Rakis, 27, both from Limassol, were brought up before Limassol District Court yesterday and remanded for eight days on suspicion of manslaughter.

    The court heard that the two were arrested late on Monday after ballistic tests on their hunting guns showed that spent cartridges found in the vicinity of the killing had been fired from their guns.

    Spyrou, 25, from Limassol, was killed by shotgun pellet injuries to the back and hand that he received while out hunting in the dry Kouris river bed early on Sunday.

    Vassiliou and Sofocleous had denied any knowledge of the incident when called in for questioning on Sunday, case investigator Andreas Karyolemos told the court. However, when they were arrested following the ballistic tests, they confessed to shooting Spyrou, the court heard.

    "The case has been solved," Limassol Police chief Miltiades Neocleous told journalists yesterday.

    "We have statements from eyewitnesses, we have scientific evidence and the two suspects have admitted their guilt."

    Miltiades clarified that only one of the two suspects, Rakis, was a game warden, but only a special game warden. Reports yesterday had suggested both men were game wardens.

    The police chief said the shooting had occurred following an argument between the victim and the two men. "There was some argument, some exchange of gunfire, with the result that we had the fatality."

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, commenting on the case, described the killing as an accident. "It was an accident, the two suspects appear to have confessed that they did it and justice will take its course," the minister said.

    Marinos' body was found by his father Costas, who was out hunting with his son but was not with him at the time of the incident. He told reporters at the time that he had rushed down to the river bed after hearing shots and found his son dead. He then saw a red pick-up truck speeding off from a nearby hill, he said.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [09] Daily Mail ups the stakes on fact-finding MPs

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE Daily Mail has come out with more reports of British MPs visiting the island on "fact-finding trips".

    On Sunday, the Guardian carried a report claiming that 22 MPs had between them made 35 expenses-paid trips to Cyprus for "fact-finding" purposes. Many of these, it claimed, were paid for by Cypriot lobbyists in the UK.

    In a report published today, the Daily Mail ups the stakes, saying that no less than 24 MPs have in fact made 42 paid visits to Cyprus since May 1 last year.

    The difference between trips to Cyprus and similar visits to other countries, the paper continues, is not just that wives and children are welcome, but that MPs tend to return again and again.

    The last Foreign Minister to come to Cyprus was Malcolm Rifkind in 1996, the paper says. It then lists the 24 MPs who have come to the island on fact-finding missions since the last British general election, May 1 1997, and who paid for them.

    Repeat visitors include David Amess, MP for Southend West (three visits), House Speaker Betty Boothroyd (three visits to the Coral Beach Hotel, at the owners' invitation; visits included paragliding), Eric Clarke, MP for Midlothian (two visits), Valerie Davey, MP for Bristol West (two visits), Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon (two visits), Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet (two visits), Nicholas Hawkings, MP for Surrey Heath (two visits, one with family), Jimmy Hood, MP for Clydesdale (two visits), Andrew Love, MP for Edmonton (two visits), Joan Ryan MP for Enfield (two visits), Stephen Twigg, MP for Enfield Southgate (two visits) and Rudi Vis, MP for Finchley and Golders Green (three visits). Also clocking up three visits was scandal-hit MP for Mansfield, Alan Meale, against whom several Cyprus-connected 'favours for friends' allegations have been made.

    Describing the Cyprus lobbying campaign as one of the best-organised and best-funded in the country, the Daily Mail also details which of the trips was paid for by which lobbying organisation. Those cited include the influential Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, led by millionaire Haris Sophoclides, and the various Morphou organisations, including the Morphou Council and the Friends of Morphou.

    Three MPs, David Atkinson from Bournemouth East, Dan Norris of Wansdyke and Roger Stott of Wigan are down as having visited the occupied areas on expenses-paid trips.

    The Guardian's report quoted Dismore as saying that his trips were not junkets, as he had 8,000 Cypriots in my constituency: "I go there (to Cyprus) to take up issues on behalf of my constituents. 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."

    Another MP told the Daily Mail that Cyprus was a "beautiful island" but "when you're there in meeting after meeting, it is not quite as much fun as people think."

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [10] Mystery shrouds Markides decision to withdraw Aeroporos appeal

    THE REASONS for the Attorney-general's decision to withdrawn his appeal against the acquittal of three Aeroporos brothers charged with attempted murder remained a mystery yesterday.

    Alecos Markides lodged the appeal at the Supreme Court in June this year after the House rushed through a legal amendment giving him the power to do so. Markides was disputing a June 6 Assizes court decision to acquit Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, of conspiring to murder Larnaca club owner Antonis Fanieros, 57, on May 29 last year. Fanieros narrowly survived a drive-by machine gun attack outside his gambling club in Larnaca.

    A few weeks after his acquittal, Andros Aeroporos was himself gunned down outside a Limassol cabaret in a suspected gangland hit.

    The appeal against the brothers' acquittal was withdrawn on Monday, but inquiries as to the reason for this got no response from the Attorney- general's office yesterday.

    The lawyer who defended the Aeroporos brothers during their year-long trial, Efstathios Efstathiou, said yesterday that someone lodging an appeal at the Supreme Court had every right to withdraw that appeal without offering any explanation.

    The attacks on Fanieros and Andros Aeroporos were seen as part of an on- going feud between Limassol and Larnaca gangs vying for control of lucrative gambling, prostitution and drugs rings.

    Neither case has been solved.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [11] Two held after Larnaca blast

    TWO MEN were arrested yesterday following a car bomb attack earlier in the morning outside a residence in Tsiakkilero, Larnaca.

    A Mercedes owned by UK Cypriot Antonis Demetriou, 36, was destroyed after a bomb went off under the vehicle's front left tyre at around 1.35am yesterday. Only the vehicle was damaged and no one was injured.

    Police later arrested Xenophon Kinegirou, 29, a health inspector from Oras, and Charalambos Moskovias, 32, a builder from Aradippou, in connection with the case.

    Police believe they could be involved in an intimidation campaign against father-of-three Demetriou, who is involved in legal proceedings with his wife.

    "We are questioning everybody who has a direct link with the victim's environment," Larnaca police chief Savvas Lardis said yesterday.

    The victim told police that he had received threatening phone calls leading up to the explosion, and that he believed the bomb attack was a warning.

    "Despite the couple living together, they do have differences between them, " Lardis said.

    The two suspects are understood to have both given alibis for their whereabouts at the time of the blast.

    Forensic expert Antonis Shiakallis said the device contained high explosives.

    "It was enough to cause the damage that it did," he said.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [12] Concern at Swedish stance

    POLITICIANS yesterday expressed concern at reports that Sweden had joined four other EU member states demanding that a Cyprus solution come before the island's EU accession.

    The Athens News Agency is quoted as reporting that Sweden had joined forces with France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands on the precondition to Cyprus' membership.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday called the Swedish stance "unacceptable".

    "I'm sure, however, that with Greek support and by sticking to our position we will overcome those problems," he said.

    But Akel leader Demetris Christofias warned the problem would not go away.

    "I believe this problem did, does and will exist and the issue for us is not to try and hide it or colour it another way," he said.

    "The issue is for us to sit down and look the truth in the eyes and for the National Council to discuss this issue and decide a specific strategy so we can deal with it."

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou described the comments as a negative development. 'There can be no doubt about it," he said. "I just hope it was a misunderstanding."

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides reacted more strongly: "I personally will not hesitate to visit Sweden to discuss this issue, given that we have a socialist government there."

    There was no reaction from the government, which made it clear last week that it did not believe the joint statement by the four EU members would prevent Cyprus' accession to the bloc.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [13] Georgians held over heroin use

    FOUR Georgian Geeks were yesterday remanded in custody by the Paphos District Court on suspicion of heroin possession.

    The court heard that Herakles Perivanides, 27, Thomas Hoursoulides, 37, Aristides Andreades, 22, and Yiouri Damodsef, 23, were arrested in Paphos at 11.30 on Monday night.

    Drug squad officers stopped the car the four where in because they considered it "suspect", the court heard. The car and passengers were searched. Police found three used syringes, a small quantity of white powder wrapped in paper (believed to be heroin), and a piece of an aluminium can on which was a residue of burnt material believed to have been heroin in the possession of Perivanides, the court heard. A small quantity of white powder wrapped in foil, believed to be heroin, was also found on Hoursoulides, the court heard.

    Following his arrest, Perivanides admitted to police to having taken heroin earlier that day before going to Limassol to get more of the hard drug from a Sri Lankan, whom he did not name, the court heard. The suspect apparently said he never managed to find his supplier.

    The four were remanded for eight days.

    Wednesday, November 18, 1998

    [14] Cyprus look for second Euro 2000 win

    By George Christou

    SAN MARINO, Cyprus' opponents tonight in a Euro 2000 qualifier must have the worst international record in the continent.

    Euro 2000 is in their fifth international competition, but their record makes Cyprus look like a major footballing force by comparison.

    They have lost 37 of their 38 games, conceding 166 goals and scoring a paltry six. The only point they have taken was from a goalless home draw against Turkey in a qualifier for the 1994 World Cup.

    Apart from that, they will go down in history as the only side to have suffered a home defeat by the Faroe Islands.

    On a more positive note, San Marino will also be remembered for taking the lead against Graham Taylor's England in a World Cup qualifier. They had led for half an hour before collapsing and losing the game 7-1.

    In Euro 2000 they have lost both their Group 6 games - 5-0 to Israel and 4- 1 to Austria.

    Cyprus did not fare much better against Austria, going down 3-0 in a shambolic performance in Larnaca. Disorganised and undisciplined, Cyprus were humiliated by the Austrians who could have won by a much wider margin.

    In mitigation, Cyprus could claim they had played half the game with 10 men, but this could not excuse the complete collapse of the defence. After euphoria of the 3-2 victory over Spain the Austria defeat proved a sobering experience for the national side.

    Cyprus will be missing several first choice players through injury and suspension (Ioannou, Costa, Ioakim, Pounas, Christodoulou and Aristocleous), but any result other than victory would still be regarded as a failure.

    National team coach Panicos Georgiou has said that his players, who want to make up for the Austria debacle, have the perfect opportunity to return to their winning ways against San Marino.

    "I am confident that we will achieve our objective," said Georgiou on his departure from Cyprus. He did however add a word of caution.

    "Everyone thinks this will be an easy game. On paper we are the favourites, but games are always won on the ground. That is why we should approach the game seriously and do our talking on the pitch."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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