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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 25, 1999


  • [01] Police trainee remanded in arson probe
  • [02] Kyprianou boycotts defence powwow
  • [03] Police hunt man after rape report
  • [04] Shares hit new high with no pause in sight
  • [05] Turkish soldier hurt in mystery shooting
  • [06] Suspected bomber remanded
  • [07] Coroner confirms murder-suicide theory
  • [08] Borehole pollution scare ‘doesn ’t hold water’
  • [09] Local banks may come under ‘cyber’ attack
  • [10] Pilots ground Eurovision Song Contest team
  • [11] Support for tax package
  • [12] 150,000 visited the 1999 State Fair
  • [13] Chernobyl virus set to strike again
  • [14] Above average temperatures blamed for weekend fires

  • [01] Police trainee remanded in arson probe

    A MMAD trainee was remanded in custody yesterday in connection with a spate of fires set on Sunday night.

    Marcos Georgiades of Kaimakli, who was training to join the elite rapid reaction squad of the police, was arrested yesterday at around 11.30am. It is thought that he set fire to weeds and grass at around 25 points in the buffer zone.

    Investigating officer Andreas Naoum told Famagusta District Court that at several times on Sunday night, Georgiades was seen at different points in the buffer zone.

    At around 3.45am on Monday morning, his car was seen moving suspiciously at Xylotymbou, where it came to a violent halt outside a house. The homeowner saw Georgiades acting suspiciously and called the police.

    Georgiades went willingly to the police station, where he was questioned and his car searched. In the vehicle, police found three lighters and a shirt with burn marks on it.

    Naoum said the suspect had readily admitted to starting the fires and had asked to see a psychiatrist, saying he suffered from psychological problems.

    But in his testimony in court Georgiades denied setting the fires, claiming he had seen someone else set them and had chased him. Losing his way, he said he stumbled into the buffer zone and the occupied area, where the Turks started shooting at him.

    He said he had then managed to escape to the British bases, but had been chased by another Turkish policeman who pursued him to Xylotymbou.

    He was remanded for eight days.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [02] Kyprianou boycotts defence powwow

    By Martin Hellicar

    SPYROS Kyprianou stayed away, but the rest of the country's political leadership moved closer to consensus on defence spending after an extraordinary top-level meeting yesterday.

    President Clerides scheduled the conference at the request of the House defence committee, after it became clear last month that the S-300 missiles ‘experience’ was threatening to block unanimous approval of government defence spending plans for the first time ever.

    After the meeting, defence committee chairman Takis Hadjidemetriou said parties had agreed to try to iron out their differences in defence issues. But the Edek man also made it clear question marks over defence spending remained, particularly relating to the S-300 fiasco.

    "I believe experiences of the past are useful for taking decisions that could have a sounder basis in future. Therefore, the tragic experience of the S-300s will, I believe, have the effect of preventing similar eventualities," he said.

    Many opposition party deputies are apparently concerned that any attempts to buy advanced weapons systems, such as missiles and attack helicopters, would be as ill-fated as the order for S-300 missiles.

    On December 29, after months of pressure from the UN, US and EU, Clerides was forced to redirect the £200 million Russian-made ground-to-air missiles to Crete. Turkey's threats to destroy the S-300s if they arrived in Cyprus prompted fears in the West that their deployment could spark a Greco- Turkish war.

    The government is reported to be ready to buy Italian-made Aspide missiles after securing a huge 40 per cent discount on the sale price. It is understood that the 1999 defence budget also provided for the purchase of attack helicopters and missile boats.

    Seeking to placate opposition misgivings and smooth passage of the budget, Clerides called party leaders, House defence committee members, Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis and National Guard chief Demetris Demou to the Presidential Palace yesterday. On the agenda was an in-depth briefing and discussion of defence spending policy.

    Diko leader Kyprianou boycotted the conference in protest at what he sees as a government failure to fully inform parties on defence issues. The opposition leader, an outspoken Clerides critic, is also threatening to stay away from National Council meetings - complaining that he is never properly consulted on national issues, but rather called to carry out ‘post- mortems’ on Clerides blunders.

    Diko deputy Marios Matsakis, who attended the meeting as a member of the defence committee, labelled Kyprianou's boycott "irrational".

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides and United Democrats leader George Vassiliou were also absent from the powwow, being abroad.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis rejected suggestions the absentees made the meeting obsolete. If it was deemed necessary, he said, another conference could be called.

    The defence budget is now expected to go before the House plenum for approval within the next few weeks.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [03] Police hunt man after rape report

    POLICE have launched a manhunt following the reported rape of a British NCO's wife after she left a Limassol disco in the early hours on Sunday.

    Police said yesterday they were looking for a 35-year-old man following the vicious attack on the woman, as she was walking along the coastal road in Limassol's tourist area of Yermasoyia.

    Apparently, the victim, from Episkopi garrison, had lost her friends coming out of a disco at around 3.30am and decided to make the journey back alone. She reported to police that she was attacked by a tall man and raped at the roadside, the police yesterday.

    The incident was first reported to Episkopi British military police by the woman, and they in turn alerted Cyprus police.

    "We can confirm that Cyprus police are investigating an alleged rape of a female British dependent from Episkopi," bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    "The military police are assisting Cyprus police, and a woman officer has been assigned to the case and we are helping as much as we can. But it's not our jurisdiction."

    Brown was also unhappy that the woman's name was made public in the local press.

    The 31-year-old victim has given a detailed description of her attacker to Limassol police.

    State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous has examined her and confirmed that she suffered scratches and bruising to the body. A Bases gynaecologist has also examined the victim.

    Police described the alleged rapist as being 1.8 metres tall, of medium build, with short black hair shaved at the side, and last seen wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [04] Shares hit new high with no pause in sight

    By Hamza Hendawi

    IN WHAT HAS of late entered the realm of the expected, share prices soared yesterday to their seventh successive record close while volume registered an all-time high of £24.56 million.

    The official all-share index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange closed at 153.61, up 2.85 per cent on Friday's close and 19.16 per cent since the string of seven record-breaking sessions began on Friday May 14. Gains on the year now stand around 70 per cent.

    Yesterday's appreciation appeared to make nonsense of widespread expectations that a correction movement would set in at the start of this week to arrest, albeit briefly, the market's meteoric rise.

    "My view is that so long as the funds keep pouring in the market will continue to go up," said Panicos Kaiserlides of Benchmark Securities. "If there is to be a correction, it will be an inter-day one."

    Other traders said the consistently higher-than-usual volume appears to lend credibility to unconfirmed reports that funds from institutional investors in Greece are finding their way to the market.

    "It is either that or Cypriots are coming in with more money than we thought, including those who are borrowing to do so," said one trader.

    As usual, yesterday's rally was largely on the back of bank titles, which attracted £15.30 million of the day's trade.

    Keen interest in the titles of the Bank of Cyprus and the Popular Bank has been maintained at exceptionally high levels from January.

    A centenary package to shareholders that included bonus shares and warrants and a rights issue was announced by the Bank of Cyprus in January, starting off a rally in the stock that spilled over into other banking titles.

    Soon afterwards, the Popular Bank announced a 1=2 share split and a new rights issue which took the stock to high after high in the past four months.

    A large part of the interest also stems from the two banks' declared aim of obtaining a listing on the robust Athens Stock Exchange, where shares tend to be slightly overvalued, traders said.

    Interest in the Bank of Cyprus, which closed yesterday at £7.06 apiece, up by 26.5 cents, is also being stoked by persistent rumours that the bank was pondering a share split to match that of its smaller rival the Popular Bank.

    "It is still just a rumour, but it makes sense for BoC to do it," said Kaiserlides of Benchmark.

    Trade in the Bank of Cyprus shares and 1999-2003 warrants accounted for 58.1 per cent of yesterday's trade. A total of 1.58 million shares and 618, 000 warrants changed hands. The warrants, which made their debut in the market last Thursday and have an exercise price of £3.0, finished lower at £4.89. The Hellenic Bank, which holds its annual general meeting today, leapt by 48.50 cents yesterday, the highest one-day rise in memory, to close at £4.32.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [05] Turkish soldier hurt in mystery shooting

    MYSTERY surrounds a Green Line shooting incident in which a Turkish soldier needed hospital treatment on Sunday night.

    The National Guard reported a shooting incident near the Nicosia race track in Ayios Dhometios, after which screams were heard.

    Soldiers on the line said they saw a Turkish officer and eight troops take away someone in a military vehicle.

    "We were told by the National Guard of the incident but by the time peacekeepers arrived at the scene to see if there was a problem the soldier was taken away in an ambulance," UN spokeswoman Sarah Russell told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    Although there has been no statement from the north regarding the incident, the Turkish Cypriot press has reported a soldier receiving hospital treatment following the shooting. He is said to be in a serious condition.

    Two months ago a soldier attempted suicide at a Turkish sentry post by shooting himself. The incident happened in the same area as Sunday's shooting.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [06] Suspected bomber remanded

    THE suspected ‘mastermind’ behind two bombing attacks in Larnaca was remanded in custody for eight days yesterday.

    Larnaca District court heard that 36-year-old Larnaca man Demetris Demetriou, known as Jimmis, was behind a bomb blast at the court in the early hours on Sunday and another at an Electricity Authority sub-station outside the Larnaca oil refinery on Friday.

    Neither explosion caused serious damage or any injury.

    Case investigator Iakovos Ioannou told the court that Jimmis had been named as instigator for the attacks by two men being held in connection with the bomb attack on the court house.

    Demetris Demetriou, 22, and Iakovos Hadjantonis, 19, both from Larnaca, were arrested on Sunday.

    Demetriou was apprehended after his motorbike was involved in an accident behind the court house at 1.45am, just 15 minutes after the home-made bomb went off. Demetriou was seriously injured in the crash and had to be remanded in hospital.

    Both Demetriou and Hadjantonis were remanded for eight days on Sunday.

    Unconfirmed reports yesterday suggested the two bomb attacks - carried out with identical devices - were part of an underworld campaign to warn police off cracking down on organised crime.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [07] Coroner confirms murder-suicide theory

    AN AUTOPSY yesterday on the Egyptian man found dead after apparently stabbing his estranged wife, confirmed that he turned the knife on himself after killing her.

    State coroner Sophoclis Sophocleous told the Cyprus Mailthat there was little to indicate any third person was involved in the killings: "He (Yasser Shukri Moussad) showed no signs of trying to defend himself from an attack."

    Sophocleous confirmed that Moussad and Eleni Antoniou, both 34, had died from kitchen knife stab wounds to their hearts and lungs.

    Antoniou had also shown signs of trying to defend herself.

    Both were found dead by Antoniou's parents on Saturday morning after their daughter's concerned colleagues at the American embassy, where she worked as a security guard, phoned them when she failed to report for work.

    They found the front door of their Strovolos apartment locked and with a safety chain which prevented them from opening it with their spare key. Antoniou's parents eventually broke the door down.

    Antoniou's father and friends of the couple have said the two had been having marital problems for some time. They had been separated for three months and Antoniou's father said that Moussad had threatened his daughter in the past.

    Antoniou had two children aged 12 and 13 from a previous marriage who live with their father.

    Police confirmed yesterday that they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [08] Borehole pollution scare ‘doesn ’t hold water’

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE NICOSIA Water Board yesterday dismissed news reports claiming that polluted ground water is entering Nicosia's water supply via borehole pumps being linked to drinking water pipes.

    The board’s Technical Manager Panayiotis Theodoulides also shot down claims in Simerininewspaper that water condensed by air-conditioning units was also, somehow, being injected into Nicosia's water supply.

    "The reporter spoke about some theoretical possibilities of water contamination of the water supply (from these two possible sources), but he presented them in such a way as if this was happening right now," Theodoulides told the Cyprus Mail."But that is not the case."

    "It is true that the restriction of supply (during rationing) increases the chances of accidental contamination of the water supply," Theodoulides conceded.

    But each water meter has a "non-return valve that prevents contamination - a check-valve (that ensures) one-way flow" of drinking water into homes and offices, he said.

    If a householder connects a borehole pump to a home water pipe between the meter and the tap, the meter's check-valve would keep the tainted groundwater from flowing back into the mains supply, he explained.

    Contamination would more readily occur where a householder attached a borehole pump in front of the water meter, between the meter and the street main. In such a case, any bacteria from underground water would have unrestricted freedom to either flow back or enter the municipal water supply, he said.

    But since attaching a borehole line in front of the water meter would only increase a person's water bill, charging them for the underground water that - however contaminated - is free, the likelihood of this as a source of contamination is reduced by the very scheming involved in the borehole hook-up.

    "That's why there is a residual of chlorine" in the water of .5 parts per million during water rationing, he said. "This is how the situation is," he said. "The water is safe."

    But he said the increased chances of contamination due to reduced flow and pressure during drought-necessitated rationing "is one more reason for the government to implement its programme (of desalination plants) to have a full supply."

    As for air-conditioning water entering Nicosia's water supply, Theodoulides said the only way that could happen would be for someone to deliberately inject air-conditioner run-off into the city's water system before the water meter's check-valve.

    He conceded that introducing air-conditioner run-off into the city's water supply might "theoretically" increase the risk of Legionnaire's Disease, a sometimes fatal ailment associated with water used to cool huge air- conditioning systems in hotels or office buildings. But he dismissed the suggestion as remote and "theoretical" at best.

    Theodoulides said it would also be very unlikely for polluted ground water, by itself, to seep through leaking underground water pipe connections into the city's water supply.

    He said he was unaware of any reports of anyone having connected a borehole to a domestic water supply in such a way as to contaminate the drinking water supply of Nicosia, as suggested in the Simerinistory.

    Besides, he added, municipal water meter readers are instructed to look out for, when they make their six times yearly rounds, any strange connections on either side of the water meter, ensuring against illegal borehole hook- ups.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [09] Local banks may come under ‘cyber’ attack

    By Anthony O. Miller

    U.S. PRESIDENT Bill Clinton, unwilling to use ground troops in Yugoslavia, has authorised the CIA to hack into foreign banks' computer systems and steal or otherwise tamper with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's bank accounts, Newsweekreported this week.

    Cyprus, Greece and Russia are among the countries where the CIA believes Milosevic has salted away millions of dollars in personal accounts.

    The White House declined to comment on the reports, which have raised some eyebrows in Congress and in intelligence and diplomatic circles, the news magazine said.

    A major concern is the prospect that a CIA ‘cyber-war’ against Milosevic could backfire on the American banking system. Not only would it let the genie out of the bottle and open US banks to computer attacks, but it would also hurt US banks by damaging confidence in the world's international banking system. It would also violate the national sovereignty of friendly countries.

    "I can believe that someone in the CIA believes that they have the ability to do this, and I can believe that they might have persuaded the White House to let them have a go," an unidentified Nato diplomat told Newsweek.

    "But I can't believe it will really happen. The American banking system would be the one most likely to panic if the overall security of banking systems around the world was compromised like this," the Nato source said.

    While theoretically possible, hacking into a foreign bank would require intelligence agents to visit the bank, set up new accounts and then monitor the bank's computer activity to see how it operates, looking all the while for security weaknesses.

    Hackers at the US National Security Agency (NSA), the super-secret, computer-

    driven code-breaking shop, would then have to use that data to try to crack the bank's sophisticated encryption and ‘firewall’ computer software to gain access to the accounts.

    Once inside, NSA hackers could indeed steal Milosevic's cash, move it to dummy accounts or slowly drain it away, Newsweeknoted.

    "If they pull it off, it will be great," one US cyberwar expert said, adding: "If they screw it up, they are going to be in a world of trouble." Newsweekdid not identify its source.

    Clinton's presidential ‘finding’ authorising the covert action quickly provoked congressional criticism of its wisdom and legality, as well as its timing.

    Before being leaked, the ‘finding’ was secret, and was to have been kept from America's Nato allies, the magazine said.

    Capitol Hill critics wondered why, as progress appeared to be dawning on a Yugoslav peace settlement, Clinton would authorise an operation that, besides blowing back on US banks and spy agencies, could prolong the war and alienate Nato allies.

    But Congress can do little more than criticise the Clinton covert cyberwar plan, since it has no legal authority to stop it. Clinton needs no congressional funding to pull it off; he can use presidential emergency funds to pay for it.

    In this light, the plan's leak to Newsweekmay have been done by those in Congress or the intelligence community in an attempt to embarrass the White House into quietly killing it and pretending it never existed.

    [10] Pilots ground Eurovision Song Contest team

    THE CYPRUS Eurovision Song Contest team suffered a minor hiccup in their efforts to get to Jerusalem on Sunday night when their flight was delayed after both the original pilot and his stand-by replacement reported they were too sick to fly.

    The team, including singer Marlain and her backing vocalists, was scheduled to fly out on a Cyprus Airways flight at 10.30pm. However, pilot Chris Christodoulou, president of breakaway pilots' union Pasipy, complained of vomiting and said he was unable to fly.

    At this point, the airline turned to fellow pilot Andreas Constantinides, former president of Pasipy, who said he was suffering from sunstroke and couldn't fly either.

    As a result, the flight was postponed, finally leaving at 5.30am yesterday morning.

    The Eurovision crew weren't on it, however. They had already left for Tel Aviv at 12.45am - on an El Al flight.

    The contest is to be held next Saturday, and preparations for it began in Jerusalem yesterday. Marlain, who has been voted one of the favourites to win, will sing the song Thane Erotas. Last year's Israeli winner Dana International, who won with her song Diva, scandalised hard-line religious groups in her home country because she is a transsexual and used to be a man.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [11] Support for tax package

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday received support for its hard-hitting tax raising policy as part of the island's EU harmonisation process from the Movement for European Renewal.

    Alexis Galanos, the party’s leader and sole deputy in the House of Representatives, met President Glafcos Clerides as the latter attempts to find cross the board consensus for an austere tax package to raise government income and liberalise the financial sector.

    VAT is currently 8 per cent, with the government proposing its gradual rise to meet the EU level of 15 per cent.

    Galanos said that he agreed with the government's planned liberalisation of interest rates and with the freeing of foreign exchange controls.

    Meanwhile, Finance Minister Takis Clerides yesterday met Akel secretary- general Demetris Christofias and said he would present the government's final financial proposal to the parties within the week.

    Christofias said he had highlighted suggestions for a satisfactory rise in pensions and the minimum wage.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [12] 150,000 visited the 1999 State Fair

    THE 1999 International State Fair attracted the same number of visitors as last year's - even though it ran for a day less.

    Takis Kallis, head of the State Fairs Commission, said yesterday that 150, 000 people had attended the fair, which closed on Sunday night. Both the exhibitors and the organisers were happy, and Cypriot companies were pleased with the number of inquiries they had received about the possible export of their products.

    Kallis also said that a questionnaire handed out to people attending the fair had indicated that the majority were very satisfied with the event. He added that the early staging of the fair - it is usually held later in the month, but this year was brought forward to avoid clashing with the Kataklysmos holiday next Monday - had worked out well because of the good weather.

    He said it was so successful that exhibitors had asked that next year's fair, scheduled for May 26-June 4, be brought forward by ten days. The Fairs Commission is examining the proposal.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999


    [13] Chernobyl virus set to strike again

    COMPUTER owners should be on their guard tomorrow as the deadly Chernobyl Virus is expected to reappear.

    The virus, so-called because it attacks every year on April 26, the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, wipes data irretrievably from the hard-disk. The official version, also known as the space-filler virus, only strikes in April, but other versions can hit on the 26th of any month - and UK experts fear that it will be a particularly harsh strike this month.

    When the ‘official’ virus struck last month, some 50,000 computers in the UK were crippled, but damage in Cyprus was minimal.

    Several cases were reported, but the worst hit was Radio Napa which was sent offline for three days by the virus, although as the station itself is not computerised, broadcasting was unaffected.

    Computer specialists have said that computers with new anti-virus programs will be able to destroy the virus before it attacks data.

    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    [14] Above average temperatures blamed for weekend fires

    By Athena Karsera

    THE SWELTERING heat of the past few days, blamed for a spate of fires at the weekend, should begin to recede today.

    A total of 26 blazes was recorded, with higher than average temperatures blamed for the outbreaks by the authorities in most cases.

    Police say a Paphos blaze on Saturday night and early Sunday destroyed more than three square kilometres of wheatfields and olive groves, as well as threatening outlying houses at Marathounda.

    Residents of the area fought the fire side by side with the fire brigade and game service wardens as strong winds fanned the flames and the fire spread as far as Episkopi village.

    A second blaze, which also started at around 9 pm on Saturday in Tremithousa, destroyed one square kilometre of mostly uncultivated land. Police said yesterday they were investigating whether this fire was set deliberately.

    Later on Saturday night, it took more than three and a half hours to extinguish a blaze near Arakapas village.

    There were also smaller scale fires in the Paphos district at Akapnou and Alassa.

    Three large fires broke out Larnaca, all in the Kalo Chorio area. Police reports said the fires may have been caused by National Guard exercises. Five square kilometres, mostly uncultivated land, was burnt.

    In the Nicosia district there were nine significant fires, the worst in a house in the suburb of Lakatamia.

    It happened when the owner of the house lit a bonfire to burn weeds and rubbish. Flames then spread to the house which police said contained stocks of aerosol sprays.

    Meanwhile, the Weather Service yesterday said temperatures have been approximately 7 degrees Celsius higher than usual over the past few days.

    Normal temperatures of 30 degrees inland, 28 on the coast and 24 degrees in the mountains are expected to return today.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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