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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 05, 1999


  • [01] Public has no faith in the police
  • [02] Ex-union leader offers to mediate in hotel strike
  • [03] Moon walker to send Popular Bank into the next millennium
  • [04] Government confirms Kurdish women on stop-list
  • [05] Will Miller call leaders to talks?
  • [06] Cyprus protests new flight violations
  • [07] State telephonists go on strike
  • [08] Club owner's car torched
  • [09] New arrest over Ypsonas bank raid
  • [10] Young mother killed in head-on crash
  • [11] Dame Ann urges women to broaden outlook
  • [12] Highway extension proceeds apace

  • [01] Public has no faith in the police

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE POLICE came under fire yesterday after an opinion poll suggested the public saw it as a corrupt force tainted with the blood of organised crime.

    A poll conducted by Amer for Politis newspaper suggested that almost 90 per cent of the population believed corruption was rife in the police.

    And over 70 per cent are convinced that the police are very much linked to organised crime.

    "We have a few cases of corruption in the police and it's something we are trying to prevent, but we think the public do not believe the police is corrupt as a whole," acting police chief Andreas Christofides told the Cyprus Mail in defence of his men and women.

    Christofides was adamant that the newspaper poll was off the mark when it came to organised crime.

    "Only a very limited number of police officers may behave in a way which does not honour the police force," said Christofides.

    Two police officers are on trial in Limassol accused of involvement in the murder of underworld figure Hambis Aeroporos, who was gunned down by masked attackers last December.

    But the bad news for the police didn't stop with the unflattering poll.

    Former deputy police chief and standing Akel deputy Costas Papacostas yesterday charged the police with fixing serious crime statistics.

    Police are always proud to hold up their 75 per cent crime clean-up rate, but Papacostas said this glossed over the real figures for serious crimes.

    He said that if one looked at the police's detection rate for organised crime, the figure "was nearer zero" than the total 75 per cent cited for all crimes.

    "The method we follow in compiling statistics is the same method used by Interpol and every other police force in the world," said Christofides.

    Over the past three years, there have been at least a dozen suspected gangland killings in an on-going turf war to control drugs and prostitution on the island. During the recent bloodletting, most murders have remained unsolved.

    During the height of the underworld killings in 1995, the murder detection rate was officially recorded at 30 per cent.

    The House Ad Hoc Committee on Crime has also questioned the validity of police crime figures. It has heard allegations, behind closed doors, that members of the force are in the pockets of influential gangland families. Furthermore, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has told the committee that some public figures are mixed up in organised crime by either protecting known villains or getting directly involved.

    According to yesterday's Politis poll, 88.4 per cent of Cypriots believe the police force is corrupt.

    Asked whether they thought the police were involved in organised crime, 72.9 per cent of those polled believed police were "heavily involved" and 21,3 per cent said police were involved to a "certain degree".

    Thus an amazing 94 per cent of Cypriots believe the very people who are given the task of fighting crime are also the cause of it.

    The poll questioned 767 people over the age of 18.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [02] Ex-union leader offers to mediate in hotel strike

    By Athena Karsera

    FORMER Peo union leader Avraam Antoniou yesterday said he would seek to mediate in the continuing strike saga at two Larnaca hotels.

    Akel deputy Antoniou, who retired from his position as Peo general- secretary lat month, made the comment at a House Labour Committee yesterday.

    Workers at the hotels have for over a month been striking for the reinstatement of 73 colleagues dismissed when management brought in outside contractors as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

    Lordos Holdings, the company which owns the striking Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the company "resented" Antoniou's suggestion he might now step in as a mediator.

    "His union was one of the ones that stated the whole thing," a senior company spokesman said. "We can't understand how somebody can discard their old hat" and take on the role of mediator.

    "Maybe the chairman of the (Lordos) company should also start mediation efforts," he added.

    The spokesman said there was already one negotiator working on the problem, Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas, and that bringing another on board would only make a complicated issue even more difficult.

    He added Moushiouttas had told the company yesterday that the unions had once again invited them to the negotiation table.

    The Lordos spokesman said that, on Moushiouttas' advice, the company was willing to attempt the meeting, although it were not optimistic about the outcome.

    Meanwhile, unions yesterday announced they would further escalate their industrial action if Labour Ministry negotiations failed to bear fruit.

    Sek hotel representative Nicos Epistethiou said there would be a gradual escalation in the measures taken, depending on the outcome of the outcome of the talks.

    "What we are waiting for is the talks begun by Moushiouttas to end. It seems that he has made a lot of effort to approach the management side and we hope these efforts are successful."

    Epistethiou added that the union had sent a letter to Moushiouttas requesting that he appoint an inspector to check whether terms of employment at the hotels are in accordance with the law.

    The next step, Epistethiou said, was to get wider support both on a European level and from all around the world: "I don't rule out that the next step will be demonstrations with the goal of putting pressure on the employer."

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [03] Moon walker to send Popular Bank into the next millennium

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE FIRST man to step on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, will be landing in Cyprus as part of the Popular Bank's millennium celebrations.

    Popular Bank yesterday launched its "Year of Light" millennium extravaganza, which incorporates all fields of the arts such as music, theatre and the spoken word.

    Bank chairman Kikis Lazarides announced that Neil Armstrong would be among distinguished guests who would hold a series of lectures to mark the start of a new century.

    The range of high-profile events will continue into 2001 to incorporate the bank's 100th birthday.

    "We want to celebrate the year 2000 by bringing people to Cyprus who have made history," Lazarides told a news conference yesterday.

    "Neil Armstrong is a lively and popular speaker and his experiences aren't exactly commonplace," Lazarides said.

    Although the world's most famous astronaut has agreed to come to Cyprus, a date has yet to be set, as is the subject matter of his lecture.

    Also on the Popular Bank's guest list are last Soviet president and creator of perestroika and glasnost Michail Gorbachev and former German foreign minister Hans Dietrich Genscher, seen together with Helmut Kohl as one of the architects of reunification.

    A date has not been scheduled for Gorbachev's arrival, but Genscher will give a lecture on March 30 at the Hilton entitled "The role of Europe in a Changing World."

    Asked what it cost the bank to attract the big names in world affairs, Lazarides would only say: "it's within our financial limits."

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [04] Government confirms Kurdish women on stop-list

    THE GOVERNMENT confirmed yesterday that it had stop-listed three Kurdish women who accompanied separatist guerilla leader Abdullah Ocalan in his last days of freedom.

    "The decision was taken bearing in mind national interests and for reasons of their own safety," Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

    The news that Ocalan aides Dylan Semse Kilic, 39, Nucan Derya, 23, and Milsa Deniz, 19, had been put on the stop list was broken by ANT1 television on Wednesday night.

    Stylianides said the reasons behind the decision could not be revealed, but added: "The government believes that the national interest is served better with precautionary moves rather than acting after the event."

    The spokesman said none of the three Kurdish women had a Cypriot passport.

    Cyprus was embroiled in the Ocalan affair when Turkey claimed the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) leader had a forged Cypriot passport on him - bearing the name of local journalist and Kurdish sympathiser Lazaros Mavros - at the time of his abduction in Kenya last month. The government has denied issuing a passport to Ocalan.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides has made it clear the government does not want to give Ankara grounds for claiming Cyprus' support for the PKK is an indication of hostility towards Turkey.

    In the wake of Ocalan's arrest, Turkey charged Cyprus with harbouring PKK training camps - a claim vigorously denied by Nicosia.

    The three Ocalan aides are not believed to have shown any interest in coming to Cyprus. The three women were brought to Athens from Kenya last Thursday and have since attacked the Greek government, claiming it handed Ocalan to the Turks.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [05] Will Miller call leaders to talks?

    By Martin Hellicar

    GOVERNMENT spokesman Christos Stylianides and Foreign Minister Yinnakis Cassoulides would appear to have differing views on US envoy Thomas Miller's remit when he arrives next week.

    Stylianides said yesterday that Miller would not be calling the two sides to talks when he arrives next week.

    But on Wednesday, Cassoulides told the House foreign affairs committee that Miller would be bringing an invitation for direct talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides this Summer.

    Stylianides's line was: "US State Department Coordinator Thomas Miller will be here to exchange views and move on to sound things out. He is not bringing any invitation to any meetings."

    Cassoulides told deputies Miller's aim would be to bring the two sides to face-to-face talks with no preconditions.

    Stylianides also said the government did not see grounds for "optimism" about progress towards a settlement during Miller's visit or generally.

    He said the Ocalan affair had given Turkey a "new excuse" to be intransigent. Following Turkey's capture of the Kurdish separatist leader, Ankara accused Cyprus of harbouring Kurdish rebels.

    Stylianides said the government had not been officially informed of a reported German initiative on Cyprus. He added, however, that the government would welcome any German or EU initiatives.

    Germany's Cyprus envoy, Detlev Graf zu Rantzau, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, is due for a five-day visit starting on Sunday.

    The spokesman also said that the National Council would be meeting on March 11 to discuss the possibility of a recourse to the UN Security Council.

    Party leaders had agreed on the recourse action in principle, but some "new factors" called for a re-examination of the issue, Stylianides said. he declined to say what the "new factors" were.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [06] Cyprus protests new flight violations

    CYPRUS has strongly protested to the United Nations over new violations of its air space by Turkish military planes.

    In a letter sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Cyprus' permanent Representative to the UN, Sotos Zackheos, said that, on February 25, the Nicosia Flight Information Region had been illegally entered by two Turkish RF-4 military aircraft.

    "I wish strongly to protest these new provocative acts by Turkey, which constitute a further reminder of that country's offensive disregard of international law," the letter said.

    It also pointed out that these new violations had taken place since the approval of Security Council resolutions 1217 and 1218, which call for the respect of Cyprus' sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    "My government expects that the Turkish side will show compliance with the provisions of these resolutions," Zackheos said, concluding that such actions were counter-productive to the current UN initiative on Cyprus.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [07] State telephonists go on strike

    GOVERNMENT telephonists yesterday went on a 24-hour strike, warning there would be more to come unless their demands are met.

    Yesterday morning, the telephonists congregated outside the Presidential Palace and handed in a petition outlining their demands. In addition to more money, the telephonists want assurances that they won't be replaced by automation, and the reopening of telephony centres at two government buildings.

    Marios Couloumas, General Secretary of the telephonists' section of public service union Pasydy, said that the telephonists were tired of waiting for their demands to be met, and that they'd been given too many empty promises too many times.

    If the telephonists' demands were not met in two weeks, he added, there would be an indefinite all-out strike. Couloumas noted that the telephonists were not against automation, but that they felt a human telephonist gave a more personal touch.

    In an official press release, the Finance Ministry yesterday described the telephonists' demands as "not in line" with the expectations of other civil servants on the same level. If the salaries are upgraded as the union demands, the ministry said, those already on the scales to which the telephonists aspire would also expect to be upgraded, and it would end up costing the government a fortune.

    At present, the highest salary a telephonist can make is 880 a month, while on the scales the telephonists are demanding, this will rise to 1, 036 a month.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [08] Club owner's car torched

    A PAJERO belonging to a gambling club owner was seriously damaged in a suspected arson attack in Larnaca in the early hours, police reported yesterday.

    The jeep, owned by Xenophontas Nicolaou from Pervolia village outside Larnaca, was parked behind the club on Areos street in Larnaca when the fire broke out at about 1.15am.

    Police said they later had found evidence to suggest the blaze had been started deliberately.

    Arson attacks on cars have become commonplace in Cyprus and are usually attributed by police to "business differences".

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [09] New arrest over Ypsonas bank raid

    POLICE made one more arrest yesterday in connection with the armed bank robbery in Ypsonas last week, while another suspect was released.

    George Panayiotis Chrysostomos, 41, an ironmonger from Erimi, was detained yesterday. He is the father of one of the other suspects, 19 year-old Panicos Chrysostomos, also known as 'Pikla'.

    Herodotos Christos Petasis, 34, was set free when police found no incriminating evidence against him. He had originally been remanded for five days and then for another eight on Wednesday.

    Police sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday said that a new witness account had placed George Chrysostomos as the driver of the get-away vehicle. He was yesterday remanded for eight days by Limassol District Court.

    Police had at first thought Petasis was the driver of the car.

    Also arrested in connection with the February 25 robbery are Pantelis Ioannou, and Stelios Costas Christou, both 26.

    Two masked men raided the Bank of Cyprus branch, fleeing the scene on a red Yamaha motor-bike. They were then seen in a Fiat Mirafiori.

    Police found the bike abandoned but are still searching for the stolen cash - 19,400 - and the guns and helmets used during the raid.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [10] Young mother killed in head-on crash

    A 25-YEAR-OLD mother-of-two was killed in a head-on collision in Emba outside Paphos yesterday afternoon.

    Police said Aphrodite Steliou, an Emba resident, was killed instantly when her car veered into oncoming traffic on the Ellinas avenue and smashed into a double-cabin truck at about 3.15pm.

    Steliou apparently lost control of her vehicle, police said.

    The driver and passenger of the double-cabin were unhurt.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [11] Dame Ann urges women to broaden outlook

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP is organising a bicommunal gathering of Greek and Turkish Cypriot women at the Ledra Palace Hotel tomorrow to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8.

    Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus said Women's Day was an opportunity for women to think beyond their own community and get a global perspective.

    Dame Ann is the only woman ever to head a UN peacekeeping mission in which the military are involved.

    "I think it does us good from time to time and maybe one day a year, not just to think of ourselves in our own town, our own village, our own environment, but to have the global perspective," Dame Ann told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

    Saturday's event will take place between 2.00pm and 7.00pm and will include a workshop on 'Women and the Media'.

    Dame Ann said the workshop would be a practical and key part of the event.

    "One of the international views that is continually expressed is how do women find the skills and confidence to work with the media in a way they are comfortable with," she said.

    Dame Ann is well-known for her tenacity in keeping the local press at arm's length and has imposed a total media blackout on the ongoing shuttle talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.

    She said the workshop would be useful for women, whether they were working with community organisations, in public or private enterprises, whether they were rising at management levels or if they were working in the political arena.

    Dame Ann said that, over the years, more and more women had come to work at Unficyp.

    "We now have 145 women working for Unficyp - that's just under 10 per cent of all personnel," Dame Ann said.

    In addition to working as clerks, doctors, nurses and other professionals, some of Unficyp's top officials are women including the spokesperson, the civil and the political affairs officer.

    "Each one of these women is working for Unficyp not because she is a woman but because she is the best person the organisation has found to do whatever job she is doing," Dame Ann said. "And that is one of the things we will be doing on Saturday."

    On Saturday, peacekeeping women will demonstrate some of the skills they learn on military training, as well as passing on information on women's healthcare issues and providing First Aid demonstrations.

    Representatives from a number of embassies will run information booths and two art exhibitions will also be held along with a concert.

    Friday, March 05, 1999

    [12] Highway extension proceeds apace

    WORK on the new Dhekelia to Famagusta road is continuing apace and will be completed on schedule, President Clerides pronounced after a site visit yesterday.

    The 42 km road is due for completion in the year 2000 at a cost of 40 million.

    "The aim of my visit was to see if there were inexcusable delays. I am happy to say that I have established there are no inexcusable delays, in fact no delays of any sort as work is being completed as planned," Clerides said during his visit.

    Work on the new road began in October 1996. It will extend from the Pyla junction East of Larnaca to Protaras.

    The 12.5 km stretch from Pyla to Ormidia is already under construction and tenders for the rest of the road are to be sought within the next few weeks.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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