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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, May 26, 1999


  • [01] Woman, 71, murdered in her flat
  • [02] Quake causes widespread alarm
  • [03] Cassoulides confirms EU concern at House resolution
  • [04] Central Bank concern at legality of Yugoslav asset freeze
  • [05] Bases dismiss speculation about Kosovo deployment
  • [06] Egyptian killed in domestic stabbing had been convicted on prostitution charge
  • [07] Shares end lower after seven successive records
  • [08] Green fury at government refusal to sanction PVC toy ban
  • [09] Government to clean up Amiantos mine
  • [10] Bulldozers move in on Ledra Street
  • [11] Octogenarian held for stabbing neighbour
  • [12] Fancy a flutter on Marlain? Not in Cyprus
  • [13] Hotels to strike across Cyprus tomorrow

  • [01] Woman, 71, murdered in her flat

    Charlie Charalambous

    POLICE launched a murder investigation yesterday after an elderly Belgian woman was found stabbed to death in her bathroom in Larnaca.

    The blood-stained body of 71-year-old Ethel Althea Downing was discovered at her apartment, which overlooks the seafront, by the owner of the flat.

    It is believed the elderly woman was punched in the face several times before being stabbed by an intruder.

    Police have issued an arrest warrant for a Russian man, who was a neighbour of the victim, after a trail of blood from the flat led them to his door situated on the same floor. The murder suspect has been put on the stop list.

    "He can't get very far," said one police source.

    Police believe the probable motive behind the killing was robbery.

    Downing was discovered at 10.30am yesterday, lying on the bathroom floor and with injuries to various parts of her body.

    "Police are investigating the murder of a foreign woman who has lived in Cyprus for the past 25 years," said CID chief Nathaniel Papageorgiou.

    After examining the body at the scene, state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous said the victim's injuries suggest she was not only stabbed but was also beaten about the head beforehand.

    "There are injuries to the stomach, head and neck, some of which were probably caused by a sharp instrument, and others suggest she was beaten and punched," Sophocleous told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    "I will know what happened in more detail after I carry out an autopsy," he added.

    An official autopsy will be carried out this morning.

    Sophocleous said the woman had been dead for around 48 hours before her body was discovered.

    The victim, who held dual Cypriot and Belgian nationality, had lived alone in her coastal apartment since 1993 and was involved in charity work.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [02] Quake causes widespread alarm

    CYPRUS shook yesterday evening as an earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale caused alarm island-wide.

    Local police stations were inundated with calls from worried members of the public after the quake hit at 8.15pm. The seismology centre said the epicentre was 10 kilometres south of the Paphos coast at a depth of 30 kilometres.

    It was in Paphos and Limassol - the island's most earthquake-prone areas - where the tremor was strongly felt, especially in high-rise buildings.

    Residents in Nicosia said they timed the quake as lasting for at least 40 seconds.

    Police reported no serious injuries or severe structural damage, but said cracks had appeared in the walls of some homes in Limassol and Paphos.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou went on TV to reassure viewers and urge them not to panic.

    A reading of 5.0 on the Richter is considered quite a strong quake. The average for Cyprus is around 4.5, and anything above this figure is said to cause damage.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [03] Cassoulides confirms EU concern at House resolution

    By Jean Christou

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday confirmed there had been rumblings among some EU member states over the House of Representative's resolution condemning the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia.

    Cassoulides was responding to reports yesterday that Britain, France and EU president Germany had reservations that Cyprus could fulfil the chapter on the EU's Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP).

    The reports said the reservations by the three member states could result in the chapter not being closed for Cyprus by June 22, the date of the next EU summit.

    They said the three countries were questioning Cyprus' commitment to agreed EU sanctions against Yugoslavia because of the stance of the House, which may need to be called on to change the law in order to allow some of the measures.

    "There were some behind-the-scenes approaches to the Greek representatives about closing the chapter," Cassoulides said.

    "Other countries were not a problem, but the problem was Cyprus because of the resolution of the House. This was the excuse given to the Greek representative on behalf of the Germany presidency."

    Cassoulides said, however, that the CFSP chapter has not been discussed yet, and that at this "preliminary and premature stage" the government would not be reacting publicly.

    "It is not an issue of a block to accession progress," Cassoulides said. "It is a question of how far this specific chapter will close or not during the German presidency; whether it will be for everyone, for the five (other applicants) or for no one."

    He added that Greece's position was that it should be closed for all six candidate countries.

    As far as the government's measures on the EU sanctions against Yugoslavia were concerned, Cassoulides said the government was this week awaiting the advice of the Attorney-general. "If it is agreed that on certain issues we need to send a bill to the House then we will send it," he said.

    House President Spyros Kyprianou said the House had acted entirely within its democratic authority in passing the controversial resolution, "in accordance with the spirit of the EU".

    "We don't know what the new spirit of the EU is, but we hope it will return to its old spirit," he said after a meeting with the Greek ambassador.

    A spokesman for the German embassy in Nicosia said they had heard nothing from Brussels to justify the reports.

    "The Kosovo resolution in Cyprus certainly was not favourable for discussion in Brussels and all capitals," he said.

    "If Cyprus wants to join a club such as the EU and the EU has studied and is following a policy... then you can't put yourself against this and expect the club to say you're most welcome."

    A spokesman at the British High Commission, however, said that the House resolution had nothing to do with Cyprus' EU progress.

    "We and others in the EU made clear our surprise and disappointment at the House resolution, but this has no bearing on the EU accession process," the spokesman said.

    "There has not been any discussion on this chapter yet but what counts is the position of the government not the House."

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [04] Central Bank concern at legality of Yugoslav asset freeze

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CENTRAL Bank yesterday voiced concern over whether the government could enforce its decision to freeze Yugoslav assets in support of recent EU sanctions.

    "In my opinion, it's doubtful whether the Central Bank has the legal right to freeze assets," Central Bank governor Afxentios Afxentiou told reporters yesterday.

    He said the Bank was now waiting for Attorney-general Alecos Markides to rule on whether individual Yugoslav accounts could be frozen in line with EU sanctions.

    "It is an open issue and there are some legal difficulties which the Attorney-general is examining... we have to wait and see what the government says," said Afxentiou.

    Although the governor expressed his concerns about the issue, he insisted the bank would implement any decision "straight away".

    With a hostile House of Representatives, it is unlikely the government could push through any necessary legislation to enforce the freeze, if Markides ruled a change in the law was required.

    Earlier this month, the government - in the face of a hostile public opinion - decided to back fresh EU measures against Yugoslavia, which included freezing assets and introducing a travel ban on some 300 Yugoslavs linked to the Milosevic regime.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday confirmed reports that Cyprus had on Friday barred entry to an unnamed Yugoslav minister without portfolio. Akel mouthpiece Haravghihad reported yesterday that a brother and sister working for the Nicosia offshore branch of the privately-owned Belgrade Karic Banka had been stopped at immigration in line with the EU travel ban. Bogoljub Karic, one of the owners of the Bank, is a minister without portfolio in the Serbian government.

    The latest developments come in the wake of reports that President Clinton has authorised the CIA to use computers to hack into foreign bank accounts and get hold of money from Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

    The aim is apparently to infiltrate bank computers in target countries such as Russia, Greece and Cyprus, where Milosevic or his relatives are believed to hold millions in personal accounts.

    "All I know about this issue is what I've read in the papers," Central Bank governor Afxentiou said in response to the reports.

    Cyprus has been the focus of persistent money laundering rumours concerning Yugoslav state assets being syphoned into offshore banking units on the island.

    "All I can say is that the Central Bank has no knowledge of accounts held by Milosevic or his relatives," Afxentiou said, suggesting the matter had not been vigorously investigated.

    "We had an investigation to see - this had nothing to do with Milosevic - if UN sanctions were broken on arms sales, but there were no indications of this happening."

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [05] Bases dismiss speculation about Kosovo deployment

    THE BRITISH bases yesterday described as pure speculation UK press reports that troops would be transferred from Cyprus to Kosovo.

    Yesterday's Daily Telegraphsaid that, with the end of the Cold War, Britain no longer had enough troops to fulfil its overseas commitments.

    The Telegraphsaid the army was struggling with to raise the extra 5,000 troops needed for Kosovo ground force. "The problems are causing the army to scrutinise deployments in Cyprus, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and the Falklands to see if any of them can be reduced to free soldiers for Kosovo, " the paper said.

    But bases spokesman Rob Need said they had had no indication that what the Telegraphhad "speculated" about was either "true or false".

    "We have not heard anything at all along those lines," Need said. About 6, 000 British forces serve at Britain's two sovereign bases in Cyprus.

    At present, 5,600 British troops are stationed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and around 120 in Albania. By the end of the month, the total in Macedonia should rise to 6,200, with an additional 2,300 committed to the region, the Daily Telegraphsaid.

    <title>Egyptian killed in domestic stabbing had been convicted on prostitution charge</title>

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [06] Egyptian killed in domestic stabbing had been convicted on prostitution charge

    By Hamza Hendawi

    AN EGYPTIAN found dead last weekend after apparently murdering his estranged Cypriot wife had been convicted in absentia by a court in Alexandria on prostitution-related charges.

    Yasser Shukri Moussad and Eleni Antoniou, both 34, were found dead in their Strovolos flat on Saturday. A coroner's report later confirmed that Moussad had taken his life after stabbing Antoniou, a security guard at the US Embassy and the mother of two children from a previous marriage.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mailon condition of anonymity, Egyptians who knew Moussad painted a picture of a handsome, athletically-built man who was constantly involved in extra-marital affairs.

    They said he had befriended small-time Cypriot criminals and became so close to them that he had once left a heated argument with some of his compatriots in Nicosia and returned later with a group of them to spoil for a fight.

    The incident happened about 18 months ago at a favourite haunt of Egyptians working in Cyprus in the old part of Nicosia. The argument started when an Egyptian taunted Moussad about how he made his living.

    They said Moussad had lived on the island on-and-off for five to six years, but had no steady job when he died. He appeared to have managed on handouts from a 50-year-old woman friend who resided in a seedy Nicosia hotel and lived off her own immoral earnings, they added.

    Last year, he was the subject of a criminal investigation by the Egyptian Embassy in Nicosia after a young Egyptian woman complained that she had been forced into prostitution by Moussad, who brought her to Cyprus under false pretences.

    "He brought young and unsuspecting women from Egypt with contracts to work as waitresses or in farms, but locked them up in a certain hotel where they were forced into prostitution," said a source familiar with Moussad's case.

    The investigation led to a court case in the Egyptian port city Alexandria, where he was convicted on a "prostitution incitement" charge and sentenced in absentia to six-months in jail.

    An extradition treaty between Egypt and Cyprus came into force last November, but it is understood that Moussad's case was not deemed serious enough to warrant the long and tortuous procedure his extradition would have involved.

    "In cases like these, it is more practical to arrest him upon his return to Egypt," said one source.

    The Egyptians who knew Moussad said it was a known fact to everyone that he married Eleni so he could stay in Cyprus and that she and her father requested his deportation from the Department of Immigration soon after the couple separated three months ago.

    "They have argued constantly and never really got on," said one of Moussad's compatriots.

    Those who spoke to the Mailwere sceptical of the coroner's report that Moussad killed himself after stabbing to death his estranged partner.

    "I expect somebody sensitive and loving to do this and that is certainly not Moussad," said one.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [07] Shares end lower after seven successive records

    By Hamza Hendawi

    FINANCE Minister Takis Clerides' first visit to the Cyprus Stock Exchange yesterday seemed to jinx the island's soaring bourse.

    A spectacular run on the Cyprus market that saw shares hit seven all-time highs in as many sessions ended yesterday with a wave of profit-taking that snowballed into a wave of selling, traders said.

    The official all-share index closed down 2.42 per cent at 149.89. It was only the third close in negative territory since May 5.

    Volume was a healthy 20.11 million, with bank shares considerably off Monday's closes. The value of trading in the blue-chip bank shares stood at 12.34 million and accounted for more than 60 per cent of all transactions on the day.

    Clerides, named to the key finance portfolio in March, was visiting the market formally to inaugurate the electronic trading system which began operating on May 7 amid expectations it would result in higher-than-usual volumes.

    "It is a substantial step forward which the government welcomes," said Clerides, who also pledged the government's help to enable the bourse in dealing with what he called the requirements of modern capital markets.

    Speaking shortly after the start of the session and before prices began to dip, the minister praised the Cyprus Stock Market, saying it was moving in the right direction as part of efforts to turn Cyprus into a regional business hub.

    But his supportive remarks had no apparent effect on the market, and prices soon began to drop. The Bank of Cyprus plunged by 29.5 cents to close at 6.76, while the Popular Bank dipped by 20 cents to close at 7.38.

    Surprisingly, Hellenic Bank appreciated by 10 cents to close at 4.42 and the small Universal Bank notched up 17.50 cents to end the day at 2.35.

    "I expect the market to dip lower on Wednesday and possibly Thursday too before a rush to buy begins on Friday ahead of the three-day weekend," said Panos Panayiotou, an investment consultant with AAA United Brokerage.

    The Popular Bank shares are due to be split 1=2 on Monday June 7, and Panayiotou said he expected a rush on the stock in the week before.

    "My guess, it might open at five pounds on June 9," he said.

    Speaking to reporters, the exchange's chairman, Dinos Papadopoulos, said the average number of daily transactions in the bourse had jumped to 800 in the first five months of 1999, compared to only 300 throughout 1998. The average volume in the January-May period of this year also rose to 6.5 million from 1.4 million in 1998.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [08] Green fury at government refusal to sanction PVC toy ban

    By Martin Hellicar

    GREENS are incensed by a government decision not to impose a ban on PVC toys, claiming it was knowingly turning a blind eye to a serious health hazard.

    Local environmentalists, spearheaded by the Green party, have for months been campaigning for the toys - which they claim contain toxic substances - to be withdrawn from the market.

    Greece's recent decision to do just that for a range of soft PVC toys seemed to pave the way for Cyprus to follow suit. But the head of the Commerce Ministry's Consumer Protection Unit, George Mitides, has blown the idea out of the water.


    quoted Mitides as saying that Cyprus would not be following Greece's lead, adding that only four out of 15 EU-member states had deemed it necessary to impose such bans. Mitides said the government did not possess the necessary "technical infrastructure" to impose a selective ban similar to that enforced in Greece.

    Greens were not impressed.

    "It is distressing to know there is a toxic substance which affects the health of young children and the government is trying not to do anything about it because it hasn't got the means," Green party member Harry Karayian said yesterday.

    "It is unacceptable," he said.

    He said the effects of PVC toys on children would only become evident in later life.

    "The younger generation will be growing up with all kinds of problems in the future," Karayian said.

    Environmentalists claim laboratory tests have shown PVC toys contain toxic substances known to have an effect on the human nervous system.

    A state lab scientist told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that tests had been carried out on PVC toys on sale in Cyprus but the results had been sent to Mitides and could not be divulged.

    Mitides was unavailable for comment yesterday, but his office promised he would get back to the Cyprus Mailtoday.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [09] Government to clean up Amiantos mine

    THE government is to spend 188,500 on restoration work at the abandoned Amiantos asbestos mine near Troodos.

    A relevant deal was yesterday signed with G.P.Zachariades Ltd.

    The contract provides for the stabilisation of waste heaps at the old mine.

    "The project represents the implementation of government pronouncements for the final solution of the environmental problems created by the waste heaps in the area," a government announcement stated yesterday.

    The restoration work is meant to be completed within 15 months.

    [10] Bulldozers move in on Ledra Street

    By Martin Hellicar

    BULLDOZERS moved in to begin demolishing an old building on Nicosia's Ledra street yesterday, sparking a bitter reaction from conservationists.

    The municipality say the Stoa Stavrinides(Stavrinides arch) is not a listed building and thus does not enjoy any protection. Greens and architects believe it is a part of the capital's fast-disappearing heritage and deserves preservation. Owners of shops in the building have been given till June 15 to get out.

    The JCBs yesterday began pulling down the back half of Stoa Stavrinides, formerly the offices of the now defunct Eleftherianewspaper. The Shacolas group, owners of the new Woolworths department store opposite the Stoa, are to put a three-tier car park in its place.

    "Once again, bulldozers are allowed the final say within the traditional and 'protected' environment of old Nicosia," the Ecological Movement said in a statement yesterday.

    They claimed the developers had rushed to send the bulldozers in, with the full blessing of Mayor Lellos Demetriades, as soon as they caught wind of the fact that opposition to their plans was growing among Nicosia residents.

    "The designation of listed buildings applies only to small owners in poor neighbourhoods," the Ecological Movement stated, implying big businessmen could get away with murder.

    Chief city engineer Dinos Constantinou has stated the Shacolas Group is fully within its rights to tear down the building and build a car-park as official permission had been given.

    An official at the Nicosia Master Plan office has said the Municipality had to rehabilitate as well as restore the old-town and had to decide on what action would be more beneficial for the town. "It will be a public car-park, something that the area needs," she told the Mail.

    The Ecological Movement said the arcade was the last in a long list of Nicosia's traditional buildings to be pulled down to make way for modern developments.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [11] Octogenarian held for stabbing neighbour

    A NEIGHBOURHOOD feud in Larnaca got out of hand yesterday when a 79-year- old was attacked with a knife by the octogenarian next door.

    Xenis Zacharia suffered stab wounds to the neck and stomach as he was passing by the home of Christakis Constantinou.

    Zacharia was rushed to Larnaca general hospital where he underwent surgery. His condition is described as "out of danger".

    His neighbour, Constantinou, was taken into custody, where the police arranged for him to be examined by a psychiatrist.

    Larnaca CID are treating the incident as a case of attempted murder.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999

    [12] Fancy a flutter on Marlain? Not in Cyprus

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE ODDS on Cyprus' Eurovision entry Thane Erotashave been slashed by UK bookies Ladbrokes after keen early betting on the song. It is now neck-and- neck in sixth place with Ireland's entry at 12-1, after coming in at 20-1.

    The current favourites are Britain's Spice Girls-esque Precious with their song Say It Again, currently in the UK charts at number 6.

    Next up is Sweden's Charlotte Nilsson at 6-1 with her song Take Me To Your Heaven. She too opened with greater odds of 7-1,only to have a rash of bets close them.

    Malta and the Netherlands are both on 7-1, while odds on the Icelandic entry, clearly modelled after the country's most successful singer Bjork and her many hits, is at 8-1. Then come Cyprus and Ireland.

    But while British punters may be cleaning up after Saturday's contest, their Cypriot counterparts will not: a representative of a local betting chain told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that gambling laws prevented bets from being taken on events like the Eurovision song contest.

    Competition has been particularly fierce this year as, for the first time ever, many of the songs are in English. Thane Erotas, performed by Marlain, is to be sung in Greek however.

    The contest is traditionally held in the home country of the previous year's winner. This year it will take place in Jerusalem, as the 1998 contest was won by Israeli trans-sexual Dana International with her song Diva.

    Wednesday, May 26, 1999


    [13] Hotels to strike across Cyprus tomorrow

    By Athena Karsera

    WORKERS unions said yesterday the stage was set for sympathy strikes at hotels across the island tomorrow, and warned of future action by their members at the airports and ports.

    Peo and Sek first announced they would stage the six-hour nationwide strike more than two weeks ago.

    Speaking on CyBC radio yesterday, Sek's Andreas Poullis said the strike would take place at all the island's hotels between 6am and 12 noon.

    He said that general meetings with staff at the hotels had been completed yesterday, with the majority of hotel employees agreeing to co-operate in the strike.

    Sek's representative on hotels, Nicos Epistethiou has said that the next step will be for the unions to consider a nationwide strike across the tourism industry, which would see airport and port workers joining in strike action.

    Also speaking to CyBC yesterday, Peo hotel representative Andreas Trahanas said that the unions were aware an islandwide hotel strike could affect the island's economy, but said "strikes must be called when they are necessary."

    The action comes nearly four months into the continuing strikes at Larnaca's Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels.

    Strikes at the two hotels were called in protest at the dismissals of 53 employees when sections were turned over to outside contractors.

    Lordos Holdings, which owns the hotels, says the dismissals were necessary to combat chronic losses at the two hotels.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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