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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-02-17

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 17, 1999


  • [01] Police step up Greek embassy security after Ocalan arrest
  • [02] Unions announce two-hour strike at Larnaca hotels
  • [03] New bill aims to clean up broadcasting
  • [04] Attorney-general calls for end to trial leaks
  • [05] Youth in hospital after being shot in drugs chase
  • [06] Rolandis to brief Cabinet on Philoxenia sex and corruption allegations
  • [07] Ministry seeks to lighten the load for school children
  • [08] Global hotel research deal

  • [01] Police step up Greek embassy security after Ocalan arrest

    By Charlie Charalambous

    POLICE have tightened security at the Greek embassy in Nicosia after Kurdish protesters stormed Greek embassies across Europe yesterday.

    The authorities fear that similar outbreaks of violence could spread to Nicosia, following the news that Turkey seized Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan after he had been secretly harboured by the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

    "Under the circumstances, we have tightened security around the Greek embassy in Nicosia," police spokesman Glafcos Xenos told reporters.

    Police said that the residence of Greek ambassador Kyriacos Rodousakis was also under police protection for the foreseeable future.

    Xenos would not divulge what additional security measures were being taken, but said their duration would depend on developments in the Ocalan case.

    The Cyprus government expressed its concern yesterday following reports of Ocalan's arrest.

    "As regards the arrest of the Kurdish leader, we consider this a sad incident. At the same time, we believe that such incidents should always be faced within the framework of international law and respect for human rights," said government spokesman Christos Stylianides.

    The spokesman said the government expressed solidarity with Greece at a time when its diplomatic missions were under attack.

    "Such actions do not serve any cause and we hope that they will soon end without creating further trouble."

    When Ocalan was seeking asylum in Italy last December, around a thousand Kurds demonstrated outside the French and US embassies in Nicosia. Dozens of Kurds staged a hunger strike in the capital's main square and two Kurds set themselves on fire outside the French embassy.

    There are between one and two thousand Kurds living temporarily in Cyprus, most loyal followers of Ocalan.

    Cypriots are sympathetic to the Kurdish cause, finding parallels with their own struggle against Turkish occupation.

    State radio CyBC devoted its main news bulletins to the Ocalan affair and special news programmes were quickly arranged for screening on CyBC TV.

    All the political parties condemned the capture of Ocalan by the Turkish authorities yesterday.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [02] Unions announce two-hour strike at Larnaca hotels

    By Athena Karsera

    UNIONS yesterday announced a two-hour strike at all Larnaca hotels, beginning at 10 am on Friday.

    The action is a first step in support of strikers at the town's Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels. Unions have threatened nationwide strikes if their demands are not met.

    Peo union's hotel representative, Andreas Trahanas, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that officials from his union and Sek had already begun visits to the hotels in the Larnaca district, informing them about the planned strike.

    In the meantime, pickets at the two hotels yesterday began day 18 of their strike in protest at the dismissal of 73 employees after sections of the hotels were turned over to private contractors.

    Some of those dismissed had been employed at the Golden Coast hotel, which has been closed for the winter.

    Pickets yesterday continued to inform strike-breaking colleagues and suppliers about the reasons for their action, but respected Friday court orders prohibiting them from blocking the entrance to either hotel.

    On Monday, 34 pickets and union representatives appeared before Larnaca Court accused of violating the court orders. The Court decided that the court orders would remain in effect until February 25, when the workers' appeals would be heard.

    Lordos Holdings, which owns the three hotels, took out the court orders after strikers tried to stop working staff and deliverymen from entering the hotels.

    Support for the strikers yesterday came in the form of a visit from the secretary-general of civil service union Pasydy, Glafcos Hadjipetrou. He expressed Pasydy's support for the strikers and presented them with 1,000 for their strike fund.

    At the town's beleaguered port, meanwhile, a strike by 150 dockers and stevedores entered its 16th day, despite expectations that unions would soon meet with Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas in an effort to solve the dispute.

    An initial meeting last Friday spurred Moushiouttas to seek talks with shipping agencies on how to lower costs at the harbour. This issue had been the main point of contention during Moushiouttas' talks with the unions.

    After the Friday meeting, the minister told reporters that the unions wanted alternative work for staff set to lose their jobs once the port was turned into a leisure harbour. He added that they also wanted compensation for any redundancies to be outlined by April 15.

    The workers have been striking and blocking the harbour entrance with loading machinery in protest at their lack of work and the port's uncertain future.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [03] New bill aims to clean up broadcasting

    By Martin Hellicar

    A RADICAL new broadcasting bill bans dead bodies in television news footage but could also spell the end for popular children's cartoons, like Tom &amp; Jerry.

    The bill, to be considered at tomorrow's session of the House plenum, bars television stations from showing close-up shots of dead bodies or seriously injured persons - a practice that is currently commonplace. But it also contains a provision stipulating that cartoon shown on television "cannot contain scenes of violence." Animated classics like Tom &amp; Jerry and Roadrunner are liberally sprinkled with scenes of violence.

    The bill imposes strict guidelines for crime and accident reporting on television news broadcasts, but also tightens up controls on sex and violence in entertainment programmes.

    News report footage of injured or seriously distressed persons would be outlawed and television and radio channels would be barred from reporting the names of fatalities before their families had been informed.

    "Verbal warnings must precede the screening of news footage containing scenes unsuitable for the young," the bill states.

    It calls for "sensitive" handling of reports concerning violence against children, women or the elderly.

    The bill sets out strict guidelines for protection of privacy. Reporters are banned from being "aggressive, pressing, misleading or insulting" in their questioning of persons at the scene of a news event.

    The use of hidden cameras or recorders and the recording of telephone conversations is barred, while secret filming or recording is also outlawed - except for "reasons of public interest."

    On a more general note, the bill states news broadcasts should be "accurate, objective, unbiased and as far as possible complete." Inaccuracies in news reports must be corrected as soon as possible in subsequent reports, the bill states.

    Concerning entertainment programmes, the bill stipulates that viewers and listeners must always be adequately informed of the contents of a programme they are about to see or hear.

    Portrayals of sexual acts involving minors, acts of sado-masochism or sexual "abnormalities of any sort" would also be banned.

    "Channels cannot show (sexual) activities that might offend the sensitivities of the majority of the viewing public," the bill states.

    If the bill were passed, television programmes would have to carry a visible notation on the bottom left hand corner of the screen, signifying the programme's classification.

    Notations would be K for programmes suitable for a general audience, 12, 15 and 18 for those suitable for persons of those ages or above only and X for programmes with "strong" sexual content. Only subscription channels would be allowed to screen X programmes.

    Such on-screen notations would also be mandatory for programme trailers, while repeats would have to carry an E notation on screen.

    The bill also contains guidelines on the language content of TV and radio broadcasts. Words and phrases that might "offend the sensitivities of religious, racial, political or other social groups" or disabled persons are banned.

    Fictitious portrayals of crime on television should not "show crime methods that could be mimicked." Acts of terrorism or violence must not be glorified, the bill states.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [04] Attorney-general calls for end to trial leaks

    By Martin Hellicar

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday added his voice to calls for a curb on leaks of police information to the press.

    On Monday, police chief Andreas Angelides ordered a probe into how the testimony of the chief prosecution witness in the Hambis Aeroporos murder case came to be reported on ANT1 television news last week. The murder trial begins tomorrow.

    Markides said yesterday that the problem of leaks was "dramatic".

    Leaks of what should be classified police information were an "everyday occurrence," Markides stated in an interview with CyBC radio.

    Such leaks meant courts were being "ignored" and criminal cases decided by "trial by media," the Attorney-general said.

    This is not the first time Markides has accused the police of divulging information to the press.

    Police said the aim of the leak investigation was to find out if responsibility lay with a member of the force, but added that the relevant information had also been passed to other officials, who could have leaked it.

    Angelides ordered the investigation after ANT1 television, during a main evening news bulletin last week, revealed what it said was the content of testimony given to police by 35-year-old Prokopis Prokopi. The Limassol waiter is expected to be the chief police witness in the trial of four suspects, including two police officers, arrested in connection with the gangland shooting of 35-year-old Hambis Aeroporos on December 16 last year.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [05] Youth in hospital after being shot in drugs chase

    A 19-YEAR-OLD man was shot yesterday during a high-speed police chase along the Larnaca coast in pursuit of drug dealers.

    Kyriacos Kyriacou, from Leivadhia, was slightly injured when police fired warning shots at a car in which he was a passenger.

    The incident happened at around 11.45am, after the drug squad were tipped off about a handover of drugs near the CTO beach in Dhekelia.

    Police said that Kyriacou was spotted in the vicinity with another man, 23- year-old Loizos Iracleous; they were both being approached by a third person.

    When police tried to intercept the deal, the two got away in their car, which sped away from the scene almost hitting a drug squad officer in their escape.

    A chase then ensued, with police firing shots at the car's tyres in an effort to get the driver to stop, while those inside were allegedly trying to dispose of the drugs.

    It is thought Kyriacou was hit by a bullet which ricocheted from one of the wheels and went through a window.

    At one point, the getaway vehicle came to a halt near the beach and the two suspects made a run for it. Police gave chase and caught up with them.

    "From shots which were fired, Kyriacou was lightly injured and taken to Larnaca General hospital where he was kept in for treatment," a police statement said yesterday.

    According to police, around 20 grammes of what is believed to be cannabis were found in the car and in the possession of the two suspects.

    They will appear before a Larnaca court today for a remand order.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [06] Rolandis to brief Cabinet on Philoxenia sex and corruption allegations

    By Anthony O. Miller

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis today is briefing the Council of Ministers on the latest crisis at the money-losing Philoxenia Hotel prior to an expected probe into allegations of financial and sexual improprieties at the government-owned establishment.

    The allegations, published yesterday in Phileleftheros, include claims that weddings were held, free, for relatives of hotel staffers, and that mukhtars and others have used the hotel's rooms for trysts with mistresses or girlfriends, also free.

    Another charge claims the number of people - 10 - on the hotel's board of directors, formally known as the "Service Committee," grew as large as it is due to political party nepotism.

    Rolandis confirmed yesterday that these charges, and more, had been brought to him - some in writing - by several individuals, and concerned both the Philoxenia and the adjacent Cyprus International Conference Centre in Nicosia.

    "This is what they tell us, and people say they are ready to come and give evidence," Rolandis said. "There were whispers around, but now we are getting some facts. Before I get them, I am unable to say how I shall act," he said, adding he was "at the very outset of investigating the case."

    "There is a letter written to me... and some other allegations made... by some other people who came to see me," Rolandis said. "The case has to go before the Council of Ministers," the minister said, adding he would formally brief the cabinet today on the allegations that had their way to the press.

    Neither Rolandis nor Phileleftheros identified those alleging the wrongdoing, or those against whom the allegations were made.

    Phileleftheros listed a series of alleged abuses it said had shoved the hotel into the red:

    - Wasting 200,000 on renovation drawings during the presidency of George Vassiliou. The plans were not used, because the House of Representatives refused to spend 7 million to raise the hotel to 5-star status.

    - Tripling of the cost of a later renovation, from an original estimate of 300,000 to a final bill of 900,000.

    - A 50 per cent cost-overrun of still another round of renovations, which was approved at 1 million by the Service Committee, but which eventually soared to 1.5 million.

    - Expenditure of 60,000 on more architectural drawings, on which the architect claims another 30,000 is still owed.

    The Council of Ministers has decided to close the Philoxenia Hotel - at the urging of its current board of directors - if, by March 31, the tender process fails to find a company willing to renovate and operate it, Rolandis has said.

    The hotel, which has gone to seed from neglect, needs 2 million in renovation even to begin to compete for guests in Nicosia's sparsely populated, but over-bedded, hotel market.

    Rolandis said the Council asked him, "with a time limit of March," to seek tenders "for a BOT - build, operate and transfer - arrangement," similar to that in force at the Dhekelia desalination plant.

    If a renovator/operator can be found to run the hotel for 10 to 15 years, "the hotel will come back to us after... and we can repeat the same exercise, with either the same people or another company," Rolandis said.

    "If we cannot find any interested party, the operation of the hotel will cease, and we shall seek to find some other use for the premises," he said. "Some government services might move into it, like one of the ministries," since the government is now leasing building space for some of its ministries.

    To find the BOT renovator/operator who can keep the hotel open, the House will have to repeal previous legislation, which barred either the Council of Ministers or the House of Representatives from selling shares in the hotel to the public.

    According to one government source, who declined to be identified, the two unions, Peo and Sek, are working with the House to attempt to change the situation and keep the hotel open. It does, after all, employ members of both unions.

    In a separate issue, Rolandis said he was currently in talks with the mayors of several coastal cities where the government plans to allow private interests to build some of the six, perhaps seven, marinas he envisions for the island.

    Rolandis said he hoped these plans "go according to schedule," which would involve ground-breaking for most, or all, of the marinas in June, and extensive work accomplished before the millennium dawns. "This is my target, " he said.

    He has estimated there are some 1,400 marinas ringing the Mediterranean, offering thousands of berths to well-heeled yacht owners. Cyprus has just two marinas - one private, one public. Each has a 300-boat capacity.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [07] Ministry seeks to lighten the load for school children

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FOLLOWING the controversy over whether girls should wear trousers, the Education Ministry is now on a mission to lighten the schoolbags of unnecessary books.

    Some 60,000 youngsters of elementary school age are being warned by the government that carrying too many books can damage their health.

    The Education Ministry has issued a special directive on school bags and circulated notices to all head teachers to inform parents and teachers of the dangers.

    "Head teachers should again inform parents and children that inside school bags only books and exercise books for that day should be carried and not other books," read yesterday's Education Ministry announcement.

    Worried about eight-year-olds carrying a heavy load to school, the Education Ministry has told all school heads to enforce strict inspections for any offending books.

    "Headmasters will oversee systematic application of this policy so nobody suffers from carrying unnecessary books," the ministry announcement said.

    The vice president of the Pancyprian Association of Elementary School Parents, Dinos Ellinas, said that international studies had proved that children suffered spinal injuries from carrying overladen school bags.

    "There hasn't been an injury in Cyprus yet, but one understands what problems can be caused when a young child carries a ten kilo bag," Ellinas told the Cyprus Mail.

    He also pointed out that preventing children from bringing extra books to school would stop teachers switching from the given lesson of the day.

    Wednesday, February 17, 1999

    [08] Global hotel research deal

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (PC) and Smith Travel Research (STR) have signed an agreement to form an alliance for hotel industry research in Cyprus and all over the world.

    The alliance between the global accountancy giants and the US research company will provide a comprehensive database of hotel industry information, expected to be the largest of its kind in the world.

    "The organisations will co-operate to collect and report hotel industry operating data - including hotel occupancy and average daily room rates - in Cyprus and at least 20 additional countries outside North America," PC stated in an announcement yesterday.

    STR will collect, collate and disseminate monthly performance data for hotels, while PC will provide the infrastructure for recruiting participating hotels. PC Cyprus is to provide local contact, training and publishing.

    "PricewaterhouseCoopers is responding to the globalisation of the hotel industry. With our distinguished alliance partner, Smith Travel research, we shall provide statistical information and research to the hotel industry in Cyprus which has been missing for years," Tassos Televantides, of PC Cyprus said.

    Cyprus Hotel Association president Avgerinos Nikitas welcomed the initiative. "The existence of such information systems locally and internationally which will facilitate the comparability of a hotel unit to a group of similar hotel units in Cyprus and abroad will help the efforts of the Cyprus hotelier to penetrate into new markets and to strengthen the competitiveness of his unit," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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