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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, November 25, 1998


  • [01] Disy deputy breaks ranks with dad
  • [02] Pourgourides refuses to testify before 'sham' probe
  • [03] Synod accepts Chrysanthos' resignation
  • [04] Britain does not expect 'breakthrough' from shuttle talks
  • [05] Brill coy on overflights
  • [06] 'Senior Mossad man resigns over Zygi arrests'
  • [07] Weather and recession deter Christmas shoppers
  • [08] Cyprus to resume imports of British beef
  • [09] Hurricane relief effort needs cash to transport donations
  • [10] Stabbing suspect asks to be sent to Athalassa

  • [01] Disy deputy breaks ranks with dad

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DISY DEPUTY Katie Clerides has broken ranks with her party and with her father by calling on Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides to resubmit his resignation and on President Glafcos Clerides to accept it second time round.

    "I think it would be better if the minister could re-tender his resignation and the president were to accept it," Katie Clerides told reporters yesterday.

    President Clerides has faced a barrage of criticism from his coalition partners as well as from opposition parties for not accepting the minister's resignation, tendered last Friday.

    Now the president is under fire from his own daughter, who has censured her father for backing the embattled minister.

    And in the ensuing uproar, Katie has urged the President to be given a second chance to put things right, calling on Michaelides to resubmit his resignation.

    "I have a different opinion from my father and it would make things easier if he had accepted the minister's resignation," said Katie in retrospect.

    She said these were her own views and that she did not consider Michaelides to be guilty.

    Katie Clerides made the shock proposal before Disy's parliamentary party meeting last evening in an attempt to silence fellow deputy Christos Pourgourides, whose list of corruption charges against Michaelides first set the ball rolling.

    After the meeting, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said it had been agreed that Pourgourides would refrain from further statements and that the House Watchdog Committee - of which Pourgourides is chairman - should suspend its own corruption probe against Michaelides while a special investigation is taking place.

    The cabinet has appointed two independent investigators to look into unlawful enrichment allegations levelled at the minister.

    Pourgourides said yesterday he would refuse to co-operate with the probe, which he feels lacks credibility.

    Pourgourides said last night he "accepted and respected" the decision by his parliamentary party, and said he would abstain from making further statements.

    Anastassiades and other top party members have made no secret of their anger at Pourgourides' anti-corruption crusade, believing it could seriously damage the Clerides administration, which it supports.

    Disy, which has a majority of ministers in the cabinet, is the only party that has not publicly condemned President Clerides for allowing Michaelides to remain in office.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [02] Pourgourides refuses to testify before 'sham' probe

    By Charlie Charalambous

    WHISTLEBLOWER Christos Pourgourides said yesterday he would snub a special investigation into allegations of corruption against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides.

    In a letter sent to the two government-appointed investigators - George Stavrianakis and Andreas Shiakas - the Disy deputy said he would not testify before them as he considered the whole procedure a sham.

    "I cannot, for reasons of conscience, participate in a procedure which has been condemned not to reach the truth under the present climate," said the Pourgourides letter, which was also released to the press.

    Michaelides' accuser sees no point in the supposedly independent probe, when President Clerides has refused to accept the minister's resignation or even suspend him from duty.

    "Statements made by the president on Sunday have indirectly sent the message that he considers Mr Michaelides innocent of any criminal responsibility, to be an upright politician and an honourable man," the letter said.

    Pourgourides, along with coalition partners United Democrats and Edek, has criticised as unconstitutional the Clerides decision to allow Michaelides to stay on as minister, but distance him from duties which are being investigated.

    "Which Cypriot, civil servant or individual will have the courage to give evidence against a minister in office?" the Pourgourides letter asked the investigators, who started their probe yesterday.

    According to legal sources, Michaelides cannot remain a minister and at the same time be restricted from carrying out his official duties.

    Apparently, there is no constitutional framework that allows for such a situation.

    It is also reported that, during last week's emergency cabinet sessions to discuss the matter, some ministers urged Clerides to accept Michaelides' resignation.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides failed to comment on these reports yesterday, but did say: "all that's important is the decision by the president."

    As the row over whether Michaelides should stay or go rumbles on, the minister left for Athens yesterday on official business. No date has been given for his return.

    Commenting on Pourgourides' stance, the minister said before leaving yesterday: "everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if they are mistaken."

    During his absence, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis will be acting Interior Minister.

    Michaelides has suggested that all immigration affairs be handed over to another minister until the investigation is complete.

    Stavrianakis and Shiakas are looking into allegations that Michaelides illegally issued work and residence permits to foreigners for cash.

    The other specific allegation being probed is that the 96,000 sale of an entire apartment floor building was a form of money laundering that benefited the minister.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [03] Synod accepts Chrysanthos' resignation

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE HOLY Synod yesterday accepted the resignation of disgraced Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos, who will remain a clergyman but will have to serve a two-year suspension.

    After a four-hour meeting of the Church's top decision-making body, a statement was issued read by Archimandrite Vassilios Papafotis.

    "The Holy Synod decided to accept the resignation and to impose a two-year suspension on every holy duty," the statement said.

    The announcement added that the decision had been taken in the wake of Chrysanthos' letter of resignation, submitted on Monday, and the conclusion of a Holy Synod investigative committee, which indicted the bishop on eight breaches of ecclesiastical law.

    Chrysanthos did not attend yesterday's emergency session of the Holy Synod.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos will take charge of the vacant bishopric pending the appointment of a successor to Chrysanthos.

    Papafotis, the Holy Synod's secretary, clarified to reporters that Chrysanthos would remain a clergyman, and would therefore be allowed to carry out church services after he had served his suspension.

    Chrysanthos' timely resignation avoided harsher punishment from the Church hierarchy, which had approved eight charges of greed and corruption. Those charges are now being dropped.

    However, there was dissent within the ranks of the Holy Synod, with some bishops concerned that Chrysanthos was getting off lightly.

    Bishop Pavlos of Kyrenia said the Holy Synod's decision to accept the resignation had not been unanimous, and said he for one wanted Chrysanthos to face the charges and receive the appropriate penalty.

    Under the charges, Chrysanthos faced being defrocked and have his bishop's pension withdrawn.

    Bishop Pavlos described the timing and manner in which Chrysanthos had resigned - just three days before the former Limassol bishop was to answer the charges before the Holy Synod - as an affront to the Church.

    "I personally did not accept the letter of resignation by the Metropolitan of Limassol because I consider the content and timing of the letter as an insult to the Holy Synod and the Church in general," said Bishop Pavlos, who was one of the three bishops who investigated the charges against Chrysanthos.

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos had told reporters on leaving the meeting that the decision had been unanimous.

    "I categorically state that comments made by the Bishop of Paphos about a unanimous decision do not correspond to reality," said Bishop Pavlos.

    Pavlos said later in a CyBC television interview that Chrysanthos "could have resigned five months ago", suggesting the Limassol bishop was quite happy to see the Church's reputation tarnished during that time.

    Since the Summer, the Church has seen its standing fall and its reputation blemished by a flood of multi-million fraud allegations revolving around Chrysanthos, and making headlines both at home and abroad.

    The indictment drawn up against Chrysanthos included charges that he had acted out of greed and for his own benefit, profiteering through currency speculation, taking advantage of his ecclesiastical position for illicit gain and making unauthorised use of the holy seal to guarantee huge loans.

    Chrysanthos is now said to be "collecting his thoughts at a rural retreat", most probably a monastery in the Limassol area, after his 20-year reign as Bishop of the city came to an end.

    Nevertheless, the former bishop is still under criminal investigation by the Cyprus police in connection with alleged multi-million pound scams involving investors from around the world.

    Chrysanthos could face further Church punishment if he is found guilty of criminal charges.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [04] Britain does not expect 'breakthrough' from shuttle talks

    BRITAIN believes that progress on the Cyprus issue must come through the new round of UN shuttle talks, but optimism is not high.

    No immediate breakthroughs are expected, despite the new round of shuttle talks, British and EU special envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay said yesterday.

    Speaking after an hour-long meeting with President Clerides in London, Sir David said: "I think at the moment it's a period of quiet diplomacy. I hope our talks will contribute to that."

    Asked to comment on his recent visit to Turkey, Sir David said he did no wish to draw any conclusions from the visit. "It is a very rapidly moving situation in Ankara with the prospect of elections in April," he said.

    Sir David said he had talks with ministers and officials in Ankara. "I was able to cover a wide range of issues," he said, adding that ways to help the UN shuttle talks were also discussed.

    "It is a procedure to which we give our full support," he said. "We do not anticipate a great and immediate breakthrough in every issue, but we hope that steady progress can be made through it."

    And one of the best ways for Britain to help the effort, being led on the island by UN chief of mission Dame Ann Hercus, is "not to interfere too much," Sir David said.

    "She has got to conduct her conversations with discretion and I hope she will come forward gradually with some ways of making progress in reducing tensions and in laying the foundations for a lasting and just settlement in Cyprus," Sir David said.

    "I do not think we should do anything that cuts across her efforts, and we will not."

    After his London visit, President Clerides is due in Athens for talks with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday.

    It is believed the discussion will centre around the deployment of the controversial Russian S-300 missiles, although the President has consistently denied this.

    Yesterday, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said any results of the meeting would be put before the National Council.

    "Nicosia and Athens will examine the national interest of Cyprus and hellenism at large and draw conclusions," Cassoulides said after a meeting with Acting President Spyros Kyprianou.

    Cassoulides did, however, hint that the missiles would be on the Athens agenda.

    Reports have been rife that the Greek government would prefer the missiles to be deployed in Crete as Cyprus comes under increasing international pressure to cancel the high risk-deal. Turkey has threatened military action if the missiles are deployed in Cyprus.

    Yesterday, Greek government spokesman Demetris Reppas denied reports that Simitis had sent a letter to Clerides concerning the missiles. He said no such letter existed.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [05] Brill coy on overflights

    THE U.S. would not welcome any incident in or near Cyprus that could detract from efforts to solve the political problem, ambassador Kenneth Brill said yesterday.

    Brill was fielding questions from journalists about Sunday's violation of Cyprus air space by Turkish military jets on their way to Israel.

    Turkey and Israel have a military co-operation deal which has caused considerable concern in Cyprus.

    The government said on Monday it would protest Sunday's incident to Israel.

    The government has also criticised Britain and the United States for what it sees as their lack of interest for developments in the region, as witnessed by their lack of reaction Sunday airspace violation.

    Brill declined to comment directly on the weekend incident. "I have seen the reports, but I do not have any particular comments to make. There are a lot of things that happen in the world every day that I do not comment upon, " Brill said.

    However, he added: "The US does not like to see events happen on the island or near the island that take away from stability and detract from efforts to solve this political problem."

    Brill also refrained from commenting on whether the US would be willing to exert pressure on Turkey to respect international law.

    "The US is ready to do everything that needs to be done to help get a settlement," he said.

    Brill said US President Bill Clinton "has demonstrated over the years his commitment in solving a number of problems and trying to deal with all the unresolved issues on the international agenda".

    He called Clinton's diplomacy "vigorous", and said the American President "wished to leave behind in his administration a record of problems solved".

    In a letter to Greek Americans earlier this month, Clinton said he was just as committed to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem as he was to the Middle East and Kosovo conflicts.

    But in reply to comments that little has been achieved on the Cyprus problem, Brill said: "Problems can take a long time to be resolved, but the effort is there and I think ultimately we are going to get the result."

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [06] 'Senior Mossad man resigns over Zygi arrests'

    A HIGH-RANKING operations officer in Israel's Mossad has resigned following the arrest in Cyprus of two of its suspected agents, an Israeli paper reported yesterday.

    Ha'aretz said that Mossad chief Efraim Halevy has accepted the resignation of the official, identified only as "Yud", the Hebrew first letter of his name.

    According to Reuters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman had declined to comment on the report.

    The Israelis suspected of spying against Cyprus were last week charged on three counts of espionage by the Larnaca court. Their trial begins on December 8. The suspects face ten years in jail if found guilty.

    Udi Hargov, 37 and Ig'al Damari 49 were arrested on November 7. Police found sophisticated surveillance equipment in the apartment they were renting in Zygi.

    Their presence in Cyprus coincided with major National Guard activities in the area.

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

    Zygi is the planned site for the island's first ever naval base.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [07] Weather and recession deter Christmas shoppers

    By Andrew Adamides

    WITH exactly a month left to go before Christmas, all's not well with Cyprus' shopkeepers.

    While in yesteryear the festive season would be in full swing by now, as affluent Cypriots went on buying sprees in the runup to the big day, Christmas 1998 looks to be a lot leaner, in spite of the tinsel music blaring from the shops.

    Melios Georgiou of shopkeepers' union POVEK said yesterday that shopkeepers were praying for an upturn next month, as so far business had been bad.

    "It's much worse than last year and we hope it will get better," he said.

    Usually, Christmas shoppers started their seasonal rampage around November 10, he went on, but in 1998 the decorations may all be out on the streets, but the shoppers just aren't.

    Georgiou blamed the downturn on "the weather and the recession", saying people just didn't have the money they used to, and wouldn't turn out in the unseasonably hot weather, both because it doesn't feel like Christmas and because clothes in the shops are all winter garments.

    Shopkeepers are now pinning their hopes on Cypriots' reputation as last- minute shoppers and the start of December next week, which they hope will kick-start the buying.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [08] Cyprus to resume imports of British beef

    CYPRUS will resume importing British beef, probably in February, following the EU decision this week to lift its worldwide export ban on beef from Britain, experts from the Agriculture Ministry's Veterinary Services Department said yesterday.

    "We look forward to lifting this ban," said Dr Pavlos Economides, Director of the Department of Veterinary Services.

    "We will follow the EU regulations," Dr George Pitzolis, the department's chief veterinary officer, said, adding he also expected British beef to again be in Cyprus markets in February.

    "We'll wait until we get the new (EU) directives, and when we have them, we shall follow them," Pitzolis said.

    Asked why wait until February, Economides replied: "People do not rely on science," the way they once did. "You tell them you are going to have beef from the UK, and they will be shocked. They are sensitive, and we have to take notice of what the consumer says," and this will require their re- education.

    EU farm ministers on Monday cleared British beef for export again. Under the EU scheme, the beef must meet strict criteria: it must be deboned, and come from cattle aged six to 30 months and born after August 1, 1996.

    In March 1996, the European Union banned all exports of British beef after Britain's government admitted a link between eating beef infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad-cow disease") and a new form of the human brain disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD).

    Thirty people have already died from nvCJD, and no-one knows how many more victims there will be, given the long incubation period. Some say Britain is a time-bomb for an eventual epidemic of nvCJD.

    More than 270,000 tonnes of British beef and veal were sold abroad in 1995, with Cyprus among the buyers. Since the EU ban was imposed, Ireland has shipped the vast bulk of all the beef Cyprus has imported, from 11 countries, government figures show.

    Between January 1, 1997, and September 30, 1998, Ireland shipped 2,553 tons of beef to Cyprus. Italy was a distant second, exporting a mere 301 tons to the island, and New Zealand was third, with 148 tons.

    The remainder of the 11 countries shipping beef to Cyprus during the period were: France (97 tons), Holland (65 tons), Greece (17 tons), Belgium (7 tons), Germany (0.5 tons), the United States (0.4 tons), and Denmark (0.1 ton).

    Thirteen tons of British beef brought into Cyprus during the period in question went to the British Sovereign Bases, or to other British diplomatic personnel, Economides said.

    Pitzolis said Cyprus has not bought any beef from northern Ireland, despite the lifting some five months ago of the EU ban on exporting northern Irish beef.

    This was not due to any fears that the beef was BSE-laced, he said, but rather owed to the fact that Cypriot importers already had contracts for beef from other sources that they signed during the EU ban.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [09] Hurricane relief effort needs cash to transport donations

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE CYPRUS Central American Relief Effort (CARE) has received an overwhelming response in donated clothing, but desperately needs medicine and food, and thousands of dollars in cash to ship the mountain of goods that Cypriots have given to storm-torn Honduras, Carrie Hutton, the woman who started it all, said yesterday.

    Volunteers last weekend packed over 3.5 tons of goods for shipment in the Latsia warehouses of Orbit Moving and Storage Ltd, outside Nicosia, Hutton said. Orbit is donating the space, boxes, tape and packing expertise.

    More volunteers are needed this Saturday at about 9am at Orbit's Latsia warehouses to finish packing another 3.5 tons of donations, all of which Mega Express has been hauling - free of charge - from Red Cross collection centres around Cyprus.

    "Please, please, please," begged Hutton, "can we have medicine, food and money - mostly money," so Cyprus CARE can pay the shipping bills. The relief effort has more than enough clothing, almost too much, considering the huge cost - $25,000 - of shipping it to Honduras.

    Cyprus CARE would gladly accept free passage aboard a Cyprus-owned freighter for the ten 40-foot containers full of brand new clothing - 390, 000 articles in all - that were donated by an anonymous Cypriot for the survivors of Hurricane Mitch.

    Hutton said Cyprus CARE would also willingly accept free airplane cargo space with Cyprus Airways or any other carrier to fly some of the medicine and food she has collected, so it arrives in Honduras when she does, this Sunday.

    British Airways is giving her a free extra 200-kilogram allowance for overweight baggage, so she can take urgently needed medicine and food to Honduras with her.

    Cyprus CARE has collected about 2,000 in its Cyprus-pound account at Hellenic Bank, and a little less in its US-dollar account with the Bank of Cyprus, Hutton said. Local lawyer Stelios Triantafylides helped Hutton set up the two accounts.

    Contributions in Cyprus pounds should be made payable to: "Rotary Club of Nicosia Aspelia C.A.R.E." They should be deposited in Hellenic Bank account #121-10-079821-00.

    US dollar contributions should be made payable jointly to: "Carrie Hutton and Alvaro Bonilla." They should be deposited with the Bank of Cyprus in account #0130-41-06-021419.

    Despite being a bit "cotton-headed" and sore from her pre-flight inoculations, Hutton ceaselessly worked the phones yesterday from her kitchen, answering Ashburton work calls (she forwarded her office phone to her home) between mobile-phone calls to arrange for more donations, packing and shipment.

    Hutton spark-plugged the Cyprus-Honduran relief effort after being shocked by TV footage of the near-total devastation of Honduras by Hurricane Mitch, and learning the Cyprus was not doing anything officially to help relieve the suffering there.

    Hutton's quest is not only to help the survivors of the century's worst storm, but also to try to find the woman who cared for her and her then- husband, their maid, Alba Umanzon, during their two years of living there.

    Hutton, marketing manager at Ashburton Cyprus Ltd in Nicosia, managed to do her full-time job and organise CARE, which - with a lot of help from friends and strangers - has collected upwards of $400,000 in goods and cash donations in a mere two weeks.

    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    [10] Stabbing suspect asks to be sent to Athalassa

    A MAN accused of stabbing a teenage girl in a phone box row was yesterday remanded for eight days.

    Gavriel Gavriel, 36, was remanded in custody by Larnaca District Court, accused of causing grievous bodily harm to 15-year-old Nicoletta Georgiou.

    Georgiou was stabbed outside a phone booth in Larnaca's John F. Kennedy Square on Saturday. She was taken to hospital, while her assailant escaped on a motorbike. Gavriel was arrested 15 minutes later with blood on his shirt cuff and a knife in his possession.

    The court heard that, just prior to the incident, Gavriel had been seen drinking at a coffee shop. He had had the knife in his possession at the time and had shown it to other customers.

    A government psychologist also testified that Gavriel, from Vryssoules, was a paranoid psychotic who had refused to accept treatment after his arrest.

    The judge granted the eight-day remand order, but when he heard the decision, the suspect began demanding to be taken instead to Athalassa Mental Hospital.

    The judge denied his request, and Gavriel will be held in normal police custody.

    Police have already taken seven statements from witnesses, and say they intend to take between 25 and 30 more.

    Georgiou sustained a one-inch wound to her right side, but there were no internal injuries. She was still in hospital yesterday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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