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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 10, 1999


  • [01] Ministers to discuss 'racist' deportation
  • [02] Markides orders probe of torture allegations
  • [03] Bones could belong to missing underworld man
  • [04] Greens welcome Turkish freeze on nuclear plan
  • [05] Dam project sent to UN to gain Turkish co-operation
  • [06] Miller arrives after Ankara talks
  • [07] Cyprus Airways plunges in Which ratings
  • [08] Spring pilgrimages planned
  • [09] UN seeks to improve MSL markings after 1,200 crossings last year
  • [10] Parents' concern at 'unstable' teachers
  • [11] All on schedule for new Nicosia hospital
  • [12] Driver, 60, crushed by own lorry

  • [01] Ministers to discuss 'racist' deportation

    By Anthony O. Miller

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Christos Stylianides has pledged to personally bring before the Council of Ministers today the case of two Senegalese computer experts who were deported last week for what they believed was the colour of their skin.

    "This is under examination," Stylianides told his daily briefing yesterday. "If such a thing happened, it is unacceptable and condemnable," he said. "I will personally table the issue at the Council of Ministers (today)."

    The story of the deportations of the two men, Agdou Khadre Diop, 25, and El Hadji Malick Sakho, 33, both black Africans from Dakar, Senegal, was carried in The Sunday Mail.

    The two men, computer professionals with System Plus, of Dakar, were invited to Cyprus for a computer conference at the Hilton Hotel, organised by Lenia Iacovides, sales manager for Gateway Partners SEMEA of Nicosia.

    Iacovides heads sales in southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Gateway Computers, a US-based computer giant. System Plus is one of her Gateway Computer distributors.

    Despite having valid passports, visas, return airline tickets, a letter of invitation to the conference from Iacovides, reservations at the Hilton Hotel, travel orders from their Dakar employer, and wallets full of cash, Immigration police at Larnaca Airport refused them entry on March 1.

    The two said Immigration officials accused them of wanting to stay illegally in Cyprus, and ordered them deported to Britain on Cyprus Airways.

    The airline protested in their defence that their papers were all in order, but to no avail.

    While the two men were flying back to Britain, Iacovides learned of the incident and protested with Immigration officials, getting the deportation order reversed.

    When the two arrived in London, the 'mistake' was acknowledged, they were issued 24-hour visas, put up in a hotel, and the next day flown back to Cyprus. This time they were allowed in.

    Iacovides said she was furious and embarrassed at the deportations, and both men said they were mortified at their treatment at Larnaca Airport. They said Immigration officials actually laughed in their faces when they insisted they had reservations at Nicosia's Hilton Hotel.

    Sakho said he thought the pair were deported "because we are black."

    "I think it was a problem of racism," Diop added. "We are black, and they asked themselves how two black men could stay in the Hilton Hotel."

    He said the Immigration police concluded: "'They can't. It is a scheme to stay here in Cyprus.' I, myself, think that's all. We are black."

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [02] Markides orders probe of torture allegations

    By Athena Karsera

    THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL has appointed a three-member committee to investigate claims of police brutality against a drug smuggling suspect, it was revealed yesterday.

    Demetris Demetriou, 22, was arrested on Saturday after being implicated by 22-year-old Paraskevi Gouva who was found with 5.4 kilos of cannabis in her bags on Friday afternoon.

    Customs officials at Larnaca Airport made the discovery shortly after Gouva arrived from Athens.

    Both Gouva and Demetriou were remanded for five days and are being held at Oroklini police station.

    But according to a letter sent by Demetriou to Attorney-general Alecos Markides, four or five men - "obviously policemen" - put a hood over his head and took him to a deserted area where they allegedly tortured him.

    According to Demetriou's letter, released to the press yesterday, the men stripped him and beat him all over his body, including on the genitals.

    They then allegedly gave him electric shocks to various parts of his body, again including to his genitals, and threatened to "rape" him with an object. The men also allegedly threatened to kill him, and fired a weapon next to his ear.

    As a result, Demetriou experienced breathing difficulties and was taken to Larnaca General Hospital for treatment before being returned to Oroklini police station.

    Akel deputy Yiannakis Thomas was told about the alleged abuse and examined Demetriou, who showed the deputy that his body was indeed full of bruises, scratches and other injuries.

    Thomas contacted Markides, calling him to investigate the matter. Markides then appointed the committee, which is made up of senior government lawyer Savvas Matsas, government lawyer Natalie Talaridou and lawyer Costas Nicolaides.

    Meanwhile, Larnaca Court yesterday remanded a third suspect in the same case.

    24-year-old Anastasis Andreas Antoniou was remanded for five days after being arrested on Monday afternoon.

    Speaking before Larnaca court yesterday, investigating officer Marios Xenofontos said that Gouva had implicated Demetriou and Antoniou in her statements to police.

    Xenofontos said that, according to Gouva's statement, Antoniou had taken her to Demetriou's flat in Athens where she was given two kilos of cannabis to bring to Cyprus with another three kilos already in her possession.

    According to Gouva's statement, the three agreed that, after she had passed through customs, the two men would meet her and pick up the drugs.

    The investigating officer continued that, on examining Antoniou's passport, police had established that he had indeed been in Athens during the time Gouva alleged they had met at Demetriou's flat.

    Police are continuing investigations, and are also pursuing a tip that Antoniou had already brought three kilos of cannabis into the country from Athens in January after a Christmas 1998 visit.

    Antoniou denies any involvement in the affair.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [03] Bones could belong to missing underworld man

    BONES found down an abandoned Limassol well could be the remains of an underworld figure who went missing ten years ago, police believe.

    The human remains were found on Monday evening during excavation work to widen a road in the Limassol village of Fasoulla.

    Pieces of a human skeleton were discovered three metres down the well.

    Further evidence, which should enable investigators to identify the body, were uncovered during examination by state pathologist Panicos Stavrianos.

    At the scene, police found a man's skull, a watch, a blanket and pieces of clothing. All the items - which were wrapped in the blanket - will undergo forensic tests.

    Although further tests are needed before the identity of the remains can be fully determined, police believe the skeleton is that of a man who went missing a decade ago.

    Reports - quoting police sources - suggest the man, who has not been named, was linked to organised crime and had served time behind bars for raping a young foreign woman.

    Soon after his release from jail he was the target of a bomb attack but escaped unharmed when the device failed to detonate.

    It was soon after this attack that the man went missing without trace. He was never found, despite weeks of police searching.

    His relatives have always claimed that he was murdered and buried somewhere.

    "We believe the skeleton could belong to one of three missing persons, but it's too early to go into specifics before further examination," Limassol CID chief Andreas Karyolemos told reporters yesterday.

    If the speculation is right, then the identity of the remains and the possible cause of death could lead to a murder inquiry.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [04] Greens welcome Turkish freeze on nuclear plan

    By Martin Hellicar

    LOCAL greens yesterday welcomed Turkey's announcement of a "freeze" on plans to build a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu Bay -less than 100km North of Cyprus - as a step in the right direction.

    But the government stated it had no official confirmation that Turkey was holding back on building the controversial plant, which - by dint of its siting in an earthquake zone - has raised the spectre of a nuclear catastrophe in the region.

    On Monday, the vice-president of the Turkish parliament, Yuluc Gurkan, said "the issue of the nuclear plant at Akkuyu has been frozen," the Athens News Agency reported. Gurkan was addressing a conference of Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary heads in Mallorca, Spain.

    Environmentalists in Cyprus have long campaigned against Turkey's plans for a 1000 MegaWatt nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, fearing that Cyprus would bear the brunt of radioactive fallout in the event of an accident. The government has expressed similar concerns.

    A recent study of the Akkuyu plant proposal by the Greek Ministry for the Aegean confirms that a plant built at Akkuyu would lie within an active earthquake zone. The study includes simulations of the pathways radioactive waste would follow in the event of an accident at an Akkuyu plant. The ministry's risk assessment analysis, drawn up in conjunction with the University of Athens, confirm greens' worst fears, showing Cyprus would be lucky to escape serious contamination.

    George Perdikis, of the Cyprus Green party, yesterday described Gurkan's statements as "positive and constructive".

    But he added: "We must not be fooled by this statement - nothing has been announced in Turkey." Turkish greens had informed their Cyprus counterparts that the Turkish government planned to resurrect the Akkuyu plant proposal after the April elections in Turkey.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the government had "not been informed" of any Turkish change of heart on the nuclear plant issue.

    Stylianides re-stated the government's opposition to an Akkuyu plant: "We do not want a plant constructed so close to Cyprus and believe increasing international reaction will be enough to stop it."

    Opposition to the plant has been growing in both Turkey and Canada. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) are considered front-runners in the bidding to build the $4 billion Akkuyu plant.

    Perdikis vowed that local greens would continue to campaign against the plant.

    "If our efforts so far have achieved this freeze than we must now work even harder to have the plant cancelled altogether," he said.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [05] Dam project sent to UN to gain Turkish co-operation

    By Anthony O. Miller

    A RUSSIAN plan to dam Karkotis River water, approved by the Cyprus water authorities, has been sent to the United Nations mission in Cyprus for evaluation and help in winning the Turkish occupation regime's co-operation, sources said yesterday.

    "It's our proposal. Our specialists for many years have been working on this project. It's ready now," a Russian Embassy source said yesterday on condition of anonymity.

    The plan involves damming the Karkotis River, which has its source in the Troodos mountains, but flows into the sea in the occupied Morphou Bay.

    "The Republic (of Cyprus) has agreed to promote this project. As for Mr (Rauf) Denktash, while he has not agreed, he doesn't have objections to it, " the Embassy source said.

    "As for his approval, this is another question," the source acknowledged. But to win it, the Russians have "informed the United Nations about this project, and we hope with their help we will promote this project" with the Turkish Cypriot leader, the source said.

    No occupation regime authorities were available yesterday for comment on the proposal.

    Sarah Russell, spokeswoman for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp), said Unficyp, while aware of the project since at least late 1996, had only recently received a detailed document describing the proposal from the Russian Embassy.

    "This has been passed on to Unops (the United Nations Office for Project Services), which is carrying out an impact assessment study on the proposal. Unficyp is awaiting the results of this study."

    "We're consulting with people in the north and the south" about the project, Russell said. Since it involves north and south water systems, it will "require the consent of the authorities on both sides to proceed," she said.

    Christos Marcoullis, acting director of the Republic's Water Development Department (WDD) said the Russian proposal would cost 25 million and create a reservoir with a capacity of 22 million cubic metres of water from the Karkotis and Atsas rivers.

    While the dam would hold back Karkotis River water, it would not actually be built on it, but rather would actually be built on the Atsas River in an adjacent valley, he said.

    This is because damming the Karkotis would drown the Solea Valley, which is heavily farmed. "We are not going to kill the whole valley" to supply Nicosia with drinking water and the Solea Valley itself with irrigation water, he said.

    "So we decided to put the dam on the next river, the Atsas, near the village of Ayios Theodoros," after which the dam will be named, Marcoullis said.

    The Russian plans call for diverting the Karkotis River water through a 2.5- kilometre tunnel into the reservoir on the Atsas River that will also hold back Atsas River water, he said.

    "We have taken care... to allow (Karkotis River) water through the diversion downstream (to continue) in accordance with the water rights which existed in 1974," and supplied that northern part of Cyprus, which is under Turkish occupation, he said.

    However, as the project would affect the occupied territory north from the Buffer Zone to the sea, work will not begin on it without the Denktash regime's co-operation, he said.

    "In cases where we construct a dam upstream, we need the co-operation of those who are downstream. As Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous says: 'We want some co-operation' from Denktash's side" on the project, he said.

    Marcoullis said Cyprus would bear the total 25 million cost of the project, and in anticipation of a northern Cyprus nod, has put some money in its 1999 budget to begin work on it.

    But he added that with more winter rain runoff into the island's reservoirs than expected, and with a second desalination plant about to begin construction, "probably we can do for some time without it." The WDD is "looking at some alternative ways of satisfying" Nicosia's water needs this summer, he added.

    Marcoullis said winter rains had given the WDD "some breathing time" on siting the two 'mobile' desalination plants, slated for construction in the coastal villages of Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki. Villagers oppose the plants.

    He also said work had begun on the environmental assessment report on the island's second permanent desalination plant, to be located south of Larnaca, and was expected to be completed by the end of April. Construction on the new plant could begin "hopefully by the end of May," he added.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [06] Miller arrives after Ankara talks

    U.S. STATE Department co-ordinator on Cyprus Thomas Miller arrives on the island today after apparently failing to convince Ankara to resume talks.

    According to an official embassy press release, Miller's trip was pushed forward due to "a change of plans". The US envoy had originally been due to arrive on Thursday, the day he will now leave the island.

    Miller yesterday met Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in Ankara, and urged Turkey to restart talks with Greece over the future of Cyprus.

    It was his first meeting with Cem since Turkey announced it would no longer talk with Greece about sensitive issues such as Cyprus because of Athens' backing for "Kurdish terrorism".

    Speaking after the meeting, Miller told reporters that "progress in Cyprus has always been difficult... but I believe that, despite the problems, a solution can be found that can address the concerns of both sides."

    Commenting on Miller's statements, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit insisted that Greece must renounce support for the Kurds before any dialogue could go ahead. "What do you expect us to talk about while Greece gives support to terrorism?" he asked.

    Commenting yesterday on Miller's visit, Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the government welcomed any proposal on the Cyprus problem, as long as it was within the parameters of UN Security Council resolutions.

    He said that the current status should not be viewed with either optimism or pessimism, as it was a known quantity, with Turkish intransigence out in the open and known by all.

    Referring to talks held over the past few days with EU envoy on Cyprus Detlev Graf zu Rantzau, Stylianides said they had been "very constructive" and that the EU's efforts on Cyprus were equally welcome. He added that they were especially important given that Cyprus' accession course would "at some point" act as a catalyst towards a settlement.

    Acting House President Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday Miller's visit might help prevent a "heated incident" with Turkey, with threats from Ankara reaching fever pitch in the run-up to the Turkish general elections.

    Speaking after a meeting with visiting Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, Anastassiades said it was in Turkey's own interest not to start anything, but that the timing of Miller's visit was "not coincidental" with efforts to reduce tension in the region.

    The US, he concluded, also had regional interests which would deter Turkey from any attack.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [07] Cyprus Airways plunges in Which ratings

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS Airways has come a disappointing 42nd in a survey published yesterday by influential British travel magazine Holiday Which?

    The national carrier has slipped down the world airline table of 65 companies, and was rated no better than average by the UK travel bible.

    "We carry over one and a half million people a year and I don't think our reputation should depend on how many people voted for us in this survey," CY spokesman Tassos Angelis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Top of the league came long-haul carriers Singapore Airlines, followed by Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand.

    The table was based on standards of service and comfort, drawn up by Holiday Which? after a readers' survey.

    Categories which concerned the 20,000 travellers who took part included: cleanliness, leg-room, catering, on-board entertainment, cabin crew and check-in staff.

    Cyprus Airways gained an 'Average' rating overall and was pipped by lesser known airlines such as Jersey European Airways, Croatia Airlines and Manx Airlines.

    "I don't think we are that bad and compare favourably with any European airline, but the far-east carriers are a different class," Angelis admitted.

    A similar Holiday Which? survey in 1991 ranked Cyprus Airways tenth out of 47 airlines, so does the recent slide into mediocrity indicate a worrying fall in standards?

    "We don't believe our services have deteriorated that much over the years. Our service is good, our cabin staff receive top marks and our catering has won awards," Angelis defended.

    However, the spokesman did concede that CY had fallen behind in the quality and range of its in-flight entertainment.

    CY's poor showing was balanced by the appearance of economy airline easyJet - run by Cypriot whiz-kid Stelios Haji-Ioannou in 'Highly rated' 13th place.

    The low-budget newcomer was voted favourite airline for UK domestic flights and pushed British Airways into bottom spot.

    In fact, BA - the "World's favourite airline" if its publicity is to be believed - scored only average marks in all categories to finish in 24th place, but its budget airline GO moved straight into the top ten.

    Nevertheless, barely two-fifths of customers said they would definitely recommend BA (which flies 40 million passengers a year) - to a friend.

    More encouragingly, BA redeemed itself by topping flights to Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal.

    But maybe the carrier most in need of an image change is bottom-placed Cubana Airlines, as almost half of its passengers were reluctant to recommend Cuba's state-owned airline.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [08] Spring pilgrimages planned

    PILGRIMS from both sides of the divide are expected to cross the buffer- zone for organised one-day visits within the coming weeks.

    On March 30, bus loads of muslims from the north are scheduled to visit the Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca. On April 12, 700 Greek Cypriots are to visit Apostolos Andreas monastery in occupied Karpasia for Orthodox Easter Monday.

    Humanitarian affairs officer Takis Christopoulos said applications to join the April 12 pilgrimage had to reach his office in Nicosia by next Friday.

    Christopoulos said priority would be given to elderly and ailing applicants and those with relatives living in the occupied areas.

    Such cross-divide pilgrimages have become regular events in recent years.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [09] UN seeks to improve MSL markings after 1,200 crossings last year

    OVER 1,200 Greek Cypriot boats crossed the UN maritime security line (MSL) off the Famagusta coast last year, prompting Unficyp to improve its marking of the dividing line.

    Unficyp announced yesterday that MSL markings had been improved "because of the dramatic increase of crossings from the South of the maritime security line in the Dherynia area."

    Greek Cypriot fishermen have often in the past been apprehended by Turkish forces after crossing the marine extension of the Green Line. Upon return to the government-controlled areas, the fisherman have often complained that the MSL was not well enough marked.

    "The maritime security line is marked with a danger marker on the coastline, which is aligned with 'Danger, Stay Clear' flags on the cliff top," yesterday's Unficyp statement read.

    "Captains of vessels should ensure they are familiar with the exact location of the security line to avoid crossing it by mistake," Unficyp warned. "Captains can easily establish their location by aligning with the two markers on the coast," Unficyp stated.

    The MSL extends 3 km out to sea.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [10] Parents' concern at 'unstable' teachers

    DEPUTIES yesterday decided to close to the public an Education Committee meeting on "problematic teachers", while statements issued afterwards suggested that parents' concern on the issue had not been allayed by the meeting.

    Discussion of the issue had been put forward by Diko deputy Marios Matsakis, one of the few deputies wanting to keep the meeting open to the press.

    Before Committee president Sophoclis Hadjiyannis called the Committee to vote on whether the meeting should be closed, Matsakis said: "We are not going to crucify educators," jokingly adding, "there are also problematic lawyers, doctors, journalists and deputies."

    The majority of the Education Committee, however, felt it would be unwise to keep the Committee open in case specific names or schools were raised during the discussion.

    After the meeting, the president of the Federation of High School Parents, Elias Demetriou, said his organisation was still concerned over the issue.

    "Unfortunately we are leaving more concerned than we were before, because the number (of mentally unstable teachers) reported in the press, which some said had been exaggerated, was confirmed today. We are especially upset because we cannot see how such a widespread problem can be solved soon."

    Demetriou confirmed press reports that 172 "psychologically unsuitable" teachers were currently teaching in state high schools.

    He said a solution to the problem would have to come by way of "a political decision by the Education Ministry".

    But Secondary School Teachers' Union (Oelmek) representative, Andreas Hadjiyannis, cast doubt on the figure, saying that, of the 172 cited, only 17 cases were of a serious nature.

    Committee president Sophoclis Hadjiyiannis, meanwhile, said such teachers should be given incentives to leave their posts, "for their own well-being as well as that of the children."

    He did not elaborate.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [11] All on schedule for new Nicosia hospital

    WORK on the new Nicosia general hospital is proceeding apace and will be completed on schedule, in July 2002, Health Minister Christos Solomis said yesterday.

    Solomis was speaking after a ministerial conference on the hospital chaired by President Clerides.

    "The President expressed his satisfaction, because truly, as far as possible, we are on schedule for completing the project," Solomis said.

    The new hospital, going up at Athalassa outside the capital, is set to cost a total of between 70 and 75 million to build and equip.

    In Limassol meanwhile, the local sewage board announced that contracts had been signed for construction of part one of the second phase of the Limassol-Amathounda sewage system.

    The 3.3 million contract to supply 44 km of piping to connect a further 3, 000 homes to the town's sewage system was won by Harilaos Apostolides and Co. Work is to begin on March 22 and should be completed in two years time.

    The whole of the second phase of the sewage system will cost 15 million and be completed by 2001, the sewage board announced.

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    [12] Driver, 60, crushed by own lorry

    A sixty-year-old truck driver died yesterday evening when his vehicle collided with an on-coming van which had reversed into the road near the Paphos village of Argaka.

    Theocharis Kyprianou, from Kato Pyrgo, died when he was thrown from his vehicle due to the force of the collision. He was crushed underneath his own lorry, said police.

    They said the accident occurred at around 6.30pm when Kyprianou overtook a car on the Polis Chrysochous-Ayia Marina road and hit the vehicle driven by Michail Christodoulou, 60, who was reversing on to the road from a field at the time.

    Christodoulou, from Peristerona, escaped with only light injuries but Kyprianou died instantly when his vehicle toppled over.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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