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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 18, 1999


  • [01] Boats at the Presidential Palace
  • [02] Vassiliou dismisses questions about legality of his position
  • [03] Police probe mafia bribe claims
  • [04] Four held on suspicion of extortion
  • [05] Father jailed for Easter bangers
  • [06] New remand for dam murder suspect
  • [07] Tourist dies in swimming pool

  • [01] Boats at the Presidential Palace

    By Athena Karsera

    DISGRUNTLED boat and jet-ski owners yesterday demonstrated outside the Presidential Palace in protest at proposed changes in the law on fast moving sea vessels.

    Approximately 90 members of the Union for Small Businessmen and Retailers' (Povek) Watersport and Recreational Goods' Owners' section congregated outside the Palace, along with 55 cars, all towing boats, speed-boats and jet-skis.

    Povek secretary-general Melios Georgiou yesterday told the Cyprus Mailthat the union was pleased with results of the demonstration: "It was completely successful, a lot of people turned up."

    Georgiou said although President Glafcos Clerides had not been able to receive the demonstrators personally, the Union's memorandum had been presented to director of the President's office, Nicos Panayiotou.

    "He showed great understanding when listening to our problems and promised to pass all we said on to the President," Georgiou said.

    He said the Union would now wait to see what the government's next move would be, noting the watersport owners were "determined to take further measures if our opinions are ignored."

    The Union's memorandum said that plans to change the location of several beach corridors for speed boats and the closing down of others would deprive watersport professionals of the "main tool of their trade."

    The union said it had studied the proposed changes and found that most of the corridors had been moved to areas further from prospective customers and on beaches that were unsuitable for watersports.

    Boat owners want the corridors to remain as they are until December 31, 2000, and that, until then, interim studies on the best new locations should carried out with the co-operation of all interested parties.

    Earlier this month, the House Communications and Works Committee and Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou agreed that the number of safety lanes to the beach should be cut in an effort to limit noise pollution and ensure the safety of swimmers.

    The Committee expressed concern that fewer safety lanes would mean a crowding of water-sport facilities at the remaining ones.

    Deputies have suggested that the new measures not be implemented until June 1, 2001, to give those affected the opportunity to adjust, but the government insists the proposals should be enforced as soon as possible.

    Other proposed changes include making life-vests, breathing apparatus, first-aid kits, oars, fire extinguishers and water containers mandatory equipment on any boat, regardless of its size.

    Further proposals include forbidding driving a boat after consuming alcohol, for drivers to have a special licence and for boat owners to pay tariffs for their permits.

    Committee discussions on the issue began in October last year following a spate of serious accidents - one of them fatal - involving jet-skis and other vessels.

    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    [02] Vassiliou dismisses questions about legality of his position

    By Martin Hellicar

    GEORGE Vassiliou yesterday dismissed reports that the Attorney-general had questioned his position as head of Cyprus' EU accession talks team. But the government seemed uncertain on the issue.

    The United Democrats (UD) leader and deputy was responding to a ruling by Alecos Markides publicised by Sigma television and Simerininewspaper.

    According to the reports, the ruling stated Vassiliou was not a member of the government but rather a "private individual" and could thus not take executive decisions. Vassiliou did not deny this was the content of the ruling, but said it presented "no problem" for his position as EU negotiator.

    The former President said the ruling was made in February 1998 - just before his appointment as EU negotiator - and Markides had been present when the Cabinet later defined his remit as EU negotiator. The implication was that had the Attorney-general seen a problem with his appointment he would have pointed this out to ministers.

    "Without question, my co-operation with the Attorney-general on all issues has been both close and immaculate," Vassiliou said. "Basically what the ruling said was that for duties to be assigned there had to be a cabinet decision," the UD leader said.

    "There have been two cabinet decisions assigning me my specific duties."

    But government spokesman Costas Serezis appeared less that clear on the issue. "Mr Vassiliou was appointed to the position he holds today after a cabinet decision. If there is any sticking point of a constitutional nature, we (the cabinet) will again seek the advice of the Attorney-general," he told his daily press briefing.

    When pressed for further explanation, he seemed non-plussed: "I don't have details to give you, Mr Markides, as you know, is abroad... I don't know... it is a very delicate issue."

    Vassiliou's appointment as head of the accession talks team has been the subject for much debate, with his political opponents repeatedly questioning its legality.

    Diko deputy Marios Matsakis has recently challenged the constitutional legitimacy of Vassiliou's dual role as EU negotiator and UD deputy.

    Vassiliou said yesterday he expected Markides's ruling on Matsakis's challenge soon and was confident the Attorney-general would find in his favour.

    "He told me that for him there was no issue," Vassiliou said.

    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    [03] Police probe mafia bribe claims

    By Charlie Charalambous

    POLICE chief Andreas Angelides yesterday ordered a probe into allegations that his men were taking bribes from the Romanian and Ukrainian mafia to strip cabaret girls of their assets.

    According to yesterday's Politisfront-page story, Cypriot police are on the take from underworld flesh traders ripping off Moldovan, Bulgarian and Romanian lap dancers trying to leave the island after a lucrative stint on the cabaret circuit.

    Apparently, underworld gangs are extorting money from leaving girls packing their hard-earned dollars in their suitcases, with the threat of reprisals when they get back home.

    If the demands - to hand over at least half the booty - are ignored, the police are then allegedly bribed to stop the girls at customs.

    Police rifle through their luggage and confiscate the money on the pretext that the women are breaking currency export regulations, according to Politis.

    Allegedly, this money is then shared out between the gangs, who are given details about the cabaret girls' movement and finances by a network of informers.

    "The report does not refer to any specific evidence, but conveys indefinite information, which is being investigated following instructions by police chief Andreas Angelides," said yesterday's police statement.

    But the police were also eager to point out that any checks concerning the illegal export of foreign currency were well within the law.

    "And there is no hesitation in taking strict measures against any members (of the force) implicated in illegally exercising their duty with blackmailers and flesh traders," the police statement added.

    The police also called on the media and the public to come forward with substantiated accusations, rather than cast speculative shadows over the force.

    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    [04] Four held on suspicion of extortion

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TWO MEN were yesterday remanded in custody, bringing to four the number of suspects held in connection with an alleged night club protection racket.

    Haralambos Agathocleous, alias Lemis, 29, from Trachoni, and Kypros Sotiriou, 34, from Famagusta, were remanded for five days as suspected members of a protection racket, which tried to rake in £600,000.

    Apart from extortion and threatening violence, the two also face possible charges of transferring explosive materials and conspiring to commit a crime.

    They were arrested yesterday when they voluntarily gave themselves up at Ayia Napa police station, and were later taken to a Larnaca court.

    According to police, the suspects allegedly handed over a device to an unknown person to be placed outside the home of a witness who had information about the Kolossi night club bomb attack in Paralimni.

    Police said Agathocleous and Sotiriou had various coffeeshop meetings with the night club owners, in which various amounts of money were demanded, so "nothing would happen" to the Kolossi venue.

    The offer to ensure the night club would not be blown up came after a quantity of explosives was placed in a black bag outside the popular night club on April 30.

    The two other suspects already in police custody are Demetris Hadjiconstantis, alias Jimmy, 30, from Larnaca, and George Andreou, alias Arabis, 31, from Vrysoulles.

    Both were remanded in custody over the weekend for eight and six days respectively.

    They also face charges of carrying explosives, extortion and conspiring to commit a crime.

    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    [05] Father jailed for Easter bangers

    A FATHER of four was yesterday sentenced to two months in prison after pleading guilty to possessing 250 Easter bangers.

    Yiannakis Droushiotis, 44, from Avgorou, was jailed after admitting to possession of the stash, and to off-loading 39 of the illegal explosives during Easter.

    His wife, Dora, escaped a prison sentence when her two month sentence was suspended for three years after she pleaded guilty to similar charges before a Larnaca court.

    Judge Tefkros Economou took into consideration that she was a mother of four children and that the family would face serious hardship if both parents were in jail.

    Teenager Yiannis Yianni, 17, from Avgorou, was fined £200 for buying 19 bangers worth a fraction of the penalty imposed. He avoided a prison term because of his young age.

    Economou said the sentences were imposed to serve as a deterrent to what he called a "serious problem during Easter celebrations".

    Every year, scores of people are injured by the lethal, often home made, firecrackers.

    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    [06] New remand for dam murder suspect

    GEORGE Christodoulou Zarvantonas was yesterday re-remanded in custody in connection with the murder of father-of-three Fotis Petrakides on April 2.

    Petrakides's bullet-riddled body was pulled out of Aradippou dam in the Larnaca district on April 5.

    Case investigator Andreas Krokos told the Larnaca District Court police would not be asking for another remand for Zarvantonas as the charge sheet was almost ready.

    Twenty-two-year-old Zarvantonas, who has been held since his arrest on April 7, was remanded for another four days.

    Krokos told the court two spent Kalashnikov cartridges found at the suspected murder scene at Koshi village had been matched with a gun located down a well near Aradippou on May 4 with the suspect's help.

    During an earlier remand hearing, the court heard that Christodoulou had vowed to "sort out" his alleged victim just days before the body was found.

    The suspect is apparently refusing to make any statement to police.

    His fiancée and prospective in-laws are being held on suspicion of providing him with a false alibi.

    Unconfirmed reports suggest Petrakides, a 55-year-old former special policeman, had, at the time of his murder, been working as an undercover police informant trying to bust a ring smuggling drugs and guns from the north. An autopsy has showed he was shot five times.

    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    [07] Tourist dies in swimming pool

    A 69-YEAR-OLD British tourist died in a Paphos hotel swimming pool on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.

    Albert Hadley was pulled out of the hotel pool at about 11am after he lost consciousness in the water, police stated yesterday.

    "He was given first aid, but with no result. He was then taken by ambulance to a private clinic, where, despite doctors' efforts, it did not prove possible to revive him," the police statement read.

    Police said there were no external signs of injury on Albert's body and there was no suggestion of foul play.

    An autopsy carried out yesterday showed the tourist had died of a heart attack.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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