|Wednesday, 29 November 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-27
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Cyprus defends decision to bar Serbian ministerBy Charlie Charalambous
CYPRUS yesterday defended its action to bar entry to a Serbian minister listed on the EU travel ban, despite fierce criticism from opposition parties and the local media.
Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said there was nothing "personal" about the decision to refuse entry to minister without portfolio Bogoljub Karic, who was travelling with his wife Milenka last Saturday from Budapest.
"Everything was done in accordance with the government's alignment with the EU sanctions against Yugoslavia and according to the list of banned person endorsed by members states and candidate countries," Christodoulou said yesterday.
He confirmed that Karic - who owns the Karic Banka offshore banking unit on Makarios Avenue in Nicosia - was on the list of some 360 Yugoslavs connected to the Milosevic regime.
Newspapers yesterday described the government's decision as "inexcusable" and "hostile against Serbia".
And House president Spyros Kyprianou wants the issue to be discussed in parliament.
The Interior Minister denied reports that Karic had been allowed entry into EU member states Austria and Italy, and Nato member Hungary.
"According to my information, he was not allowed entry to Austria or Hungary, but was in transit only," Christodoulou said.
The minister conceded that he had only been informed of the incident some 24 hours later, but said it made no difference.
"The duty police officer who denied entry to the minister without portfolio and his wife was acting under strict instructions. He did what he had to do."
According to local reports, immigration officers apologised to the couple for being unceremoniously sent back to Belgrade.
Nato spokesman Jamie Shea yesterday said Karic was either trying to flee Belgrade or pick up funds that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is believed to have stashed away in Cyprus.
"It does seem that Mr Karic and his wife... tried to do a runner," Shea told his news briefing in Brussels.
"What they were doing there, whether to take money out or put money in, that's something I don't know," he added.
Cyprus has long denied persistent money laundering rumours concerning Yugoslav state assets being syphoned into offshore banking units on the island.
But in the face of the Karic furore at home, the government did receive a pat on the back from Nato for its stance.
"They tried to enter Cyprus only to discover to their great distress that the EU visa ban actually works and that candidate countries such as Cyprus are applying this," the Nato spokesman said.
According to diplomatic sources, a number of the 360 Yugoslavs on the EU visa ban are based on the island.
Earlier this month, the government - despite hostile public opinion - decided to back fresh EU measures against Yugoslavia, which included freezing individual assets and introducing a travel ban on those linked to the Milosevic regime.
Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said on Tuesday he hoped the Karic incident would not spoil "friendly relations" between Cyprus and Yugoslavia.
Attorney-general Alecos Markides is expected to rule this week on whether the government will need to introduce new legislation to enforce the asset freeze.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Russian Greeks held for murder of Belgian womanBy Charlie Charalambous
TWO RUSSIAN Greeks were yesterday remanded in police custody in connection with the brutal murder of a 71-year-old Belgian woman.
Odysseas Afouxenides, 21, and Ioannides Kapasakalides, 19, both Russians holding Greek passports, were brought before a Larnaca district court, where they were remanded for eight days.
Both face possible charges of premeditated murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime.
A third Russian suspect is being sought by the police after he was named by Afouxenides and Kapasakalides.
Investigating officer Aristides Tziapouras told the court that Afouxenides rented a flat with the other suspect in the same building where the victim was found.
Police found in the suspects' flat a blood-stained towel and drops of blood on the wash basin, the court heard.
On Tuesday, Ethel Althea Downing was found dead on the bathroom floor of her Larnaca seafront apartment. She had been stabbed several times in the neck and stomach. The battered body was discovered by the Cypriot owner of the flat.
Police believe the victim was beaten in the living room before being dragged into the bathroom where she was later found, said Tziapouras.
It is believed the elderly woman was punched in the face several times before being stabbed by intruders.
The Russian Greeks were arrested after a trail of blood from the victim's flat led police to their apartment, which is situated on the same floor.
Blood samples have been taken from the suspects, the results of which will be ready in 15 days.
Downing is believed to have been murdered between May 22 and 24; the suspects left their flat on May 24, although they had paid rent until the end of the month, Tziapouras said.
Police said the probable motive behind the brutal killing was robbery.
At the hotel room to where the suspects were tracked down, police found a handbag, credit card, travellers cheques and jewellery, all belonging to the victim, the court heard.
Police have yet to find the murder weapon.
State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous said the victim suffered a "completely severed jugular vein caused by a sharp instrument, be it a knife or a pair of scissors."
Following yesterday's autopsy, Sophocleous said that the victim had suffered two fatal stab wounds to the neck, one to the hand and another to the stomach, before bleeding to death.
"Other injuries suggest the woman was punched in the face before being stabbed," Sophocleous told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.
The victim, who held dual Cypriot and Belgian nationality, had lived alone in her coastal apartment since 1993 and was involved in charity work.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Kyprianou warnings about G8 scenarioBy Jean Christou
THE G8 initiative on the Cyprus problem is bypassing UN efforts and is being planned with the collaboration of the EU, House President Spyros Kyprianou claimed yesterday.
Kyprianou also said the Group of Eight (the world's seven most industrialised nations plus Russia) was also considering the deployment of a Nato force in Cyprus, according to diplomatic channels, and that the package would be ready by October.
The UN has no idea about this, the House President said.
The government has said that there is an interest in the Cyprus problem at the G8. The US is also talking about initiatives this year, while UN shuttle talks under the auspices of Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus have been going on since last October.
The EU is also active but concerns remain among some member states that the Cyprus problem could complicate the island's accession progress.
Cyprus has also come under fire in EU circles for the House of Representatives' resolution condemning the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia.
Yesterday, Kyprianou called for an unscheduled meeting with President Clerides to pass on to him the information he had learned through diplomatic sources.
Kyprianou also informed Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, before calling a news conference late in the afternoon.
"This afternoon, I informed the President on information which has been cross-checked which is related to Cyprus problem," he said. "It concerns the complete scenario."
At his meeting with Clerides yesterday, Kyprianou also discussed the House stance on Yugoslavia. Reports suggest there is a basic difference of opinion between the two men on the issue.
On Tuesday, the government confirmed rumblings among some EU member states over the House resolution.
Three countries - Britain, France and Germany - were said to have questioned Cyprus' commitment to abide by EU sanctions, because of the likely resistance of House to any legislation required to allow some of the measures.
Kyprianou has said the House acted entirely within its authority.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 BoC announces 1=2 share splitBy Hamza Hendawi
A BANK OF CYPRUS announcement of a two-for-one share split put the stock market back in positive territory yesterday and gave rise to hopes that the recent meteoric rises in share prices could be maintained.
The bank said in an announcement that its share split was part of a restructuring plan under which each share of the Bank of Cyprus (Holdings) would be replaced with two shares of Bank of Cyprus Limited.
The announcement came less than two weeks before the rival Popular Bank's own one-for-two split is scheduled to come into effect. It also triggered a scramble on the Bank of Cyprus shares, pushing the price by 25.50 cents to close at £7.02. More than 1.5 million shares changed hands at a value of £11.15, or 42.1 per cent of yesterday's entire trade.
The Bank of Cyprus 1999-2003 centenary warrants, completing their fifth day in the market, also pulled away from Tuesday's close, rising by 25 cents to close at £4.84.
"The announcement may allow the market to hold to its current levels and maybe a little higher," said Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' brokerage and investment banking subsidiary.
The all-share index rose by 1.53 per cent to close at 152.19 yesterday, a day after a drop of 2.42 per cent interrupted a streak of seven record closes in as many sessions.
Bank of Cyprus shares have doubled in price since the start of the year on the back of a centenary package to shareholders and expectations of a much- sought-after listing on the robust Athens Stock Exchange.
The decision to split the share and to increase authorised capital to £200 million from £150 million with the creation of 100 million additional shares with a nominal value of 50 cents each will be presented for approval at a shareholders' meeting during the first half of July.
The Bank of Cyprus' chief executive, Solon Triantafyllides, said in remarks published yesterday in the English-language weekly Financial Mirror that draft legislation allowing foreign companies listed outside Greece to obtain a listing on the Athens Stock Exchange had been tabled to the Greek parliament.
Triantafyllides, however, declined to speculate on the timeframe for the Bank of Cyprus' listing. "I can't know what the backlog of legislation is before the Greek Parliament. What I do know is that one more hurdle has been cleared," he told the Mirrorin an interview.
News of the Bank of Cyprus' split coincided with an announcement by Hellenic Bank's chief executive Panos Ghalanos that plans were under way to set up two insurance subsidiaries this year - Hellenic General and Hellenic Life. The two will begin operating in the first quarter of 2000.
The announcement put to rest long-running speculation that Hellenic was prowling for an insurance company to acquire and use as its vehicle into the island's increasingly competitive sector.
Ghalanos also strongly denied market rumours that Greece's Alpha Credit Bank wanted to acquire a stake in Hellenic. "There is no possibility of that," Ghalanos told a news conference prior to the bank's annual general meeting yesterday.
"The share capital of the bank is widely dispersed so it is impossible," he said. Ghalanos also denied the rumour in a meeting yesterday morning with brokers. "I would like to have a word with the person that is spreading these rumours," he was quoted as saying.
Hellenic's share dipped yesterday by 14.50 cents to close at £4.27 in what traders said was an expected correction after the stock's rapid appreciation in recent days.
Hellenic plans to increase its nominal share capital to £75 million this year from £35 million through a non-convertible bond and rights issue. The expansion, Ghalanos said, would help the bank's drive into overseas markets.
Hellenic opened its first branch in Greece in December and plans another four next year. A mutual funds company and a brokerage are in the pipeline.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Arab Bank unveils state-of-the-art Cyprus HQBy Hamza Hendawi
ARAB BANK yesterday unveiled its new marble-and-glass Cyprus headquarters at the heart of Nicosia, declaring that the $18-million building symbolised its commitment to Cyprus and its confidence in the island's economic future.
The state-of-the-art construction at the busy intersection of Santaroza Avenue and Themistocles Dervis Street took four years to complete. It has been in operation since mid-May and is scheduled to be formally opened by President Glafcos Clerides on June 2.
Covering a total area of 10,000 square-meters with six floors and three basements, the construction was mostly financed by profits generated and retained in Cyprus, according to Arab Bank Area Executive Toufic Dajani.
At present, it houses 95 of the bank's 270-strong Cyprus workforce but was designed to meet space requirements for the next five to 10 years.
"The brand new building we present to you here today is the result of years of laborious work to create a state-of-the-art banking establishment, appropriately reflecting the image of an internationally recognised financial institution," Dajani told a news conference.
"To Arab Bank, it (the new building) symbolises its commitment to Cyprus and its future as a regional financial and commercial centre... It symbolises the confidence a major international bank has in Cyprus and its economic future and prosperity," he said.
Arab Bank began operations in Cyprus 15 years ago and now has 20 branches and sub-branches throughout the island. Last year, it obtained a Central Bank licence to commence offshore operations.
The bank has its headquarters in Amman, Jordan, where its shares are traded as a blue-chip. Arab Bank Group's revenues stood at $615.5 million in 1998, when total customer and bank deposits reached $15.52 billion.
In Cyprus, the bank has over the years built itself a niche as a top provider of corporate banking services and Dajani yesterday said the bank would think hard and long before venturing into new products.
"We cannot enter new products and then quit later. We would rather be more conservative in our approach," he said in reply to a reporter's question.
"We are profitable and we find a good business climate here, and Cyprus' EU aspirations will further improve business," said Dajani.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Woman arrested over theft of Stylianides jewelleryNICOSIA Police said they arrested a woman yesterday in connection with the alleged theft of at least £40,000 in gold jewellery from home of former Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides during a January 1999 burglary.
The suspect, Koula Michael, 31, of Kaimakli, was being held in custody overnight, pending a court appearance today, a police spokesman said last night. She had not been charged as yet, they said.
Michael's arrest followed a search of her home yesterday, during which police said they found cosmetics and jewellery allegedly belonging to Thoulla Stylianidou, wife of the former government spokesman.
The search of Michael's home followed a search on Tuesday of the Nicos Ioannou jewellery store on Onasagorou Street in Nicosia, in which police said they found some of the allegedly stolen jewellery.
They said Michael had alleged sold the jewellery to Ioannou, but added Ioannou had not been arrested in connection with the alleged theft.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Results of exhumations expected in three monthsBy Jean Christou
THE FIRST results from the exhumation of the remains of unknown soldiers believed to be on the list of missing persons are expected within three months.
Nicos Theodosiou, chairman of the Committee for Relatives of Missing Persons, said the long-awaited exhumation experts were beginning work and that results were expected in about three months.
Theodosiou was speaking after a meeting yesterday with House President Spyros Kyprianou.
"These teams are teams which have a wide expertise in exhumation," Theodosiou said.
He said the exhumation process would have to be very slow and careful so as not to damage any evidence needed for the DNA testing which would follow the exhumation.
The procedure will be carried out at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics, which already has a DNA data bank with samples from relatives of the missing.
Theodosiou also spoke of what the relatives would have to go through when finally presented with evidence that their loved ones were dead.
"It is a procedure we all have to go through and we have to find the spiritual strength," he said.
He added they had already discussed the matter of support for the relatives once they had received the scientific evidence.
The exhumation of the bodies from two Nicosia cemeteries is the result of the Greek Cypriot side's compliance with an agreement made under UN auspices in July 1997 between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to resolve the issue of the missing. The Turkish side has since bowed out of the agreement.
Clerides on Saturday issued a personal plea to Denktash to resolve the issue of missing persons once and for all.
He was speaking at the official opening of the House of the Missing, a memorial building at Kornos to the 1,619 Greek Cypriot missing. The Turkish Cypriot side claims 803 missing persons between 1963 and 1974.
Files relating to the whereabouts of 400 Greek Cypriot and 200 Turkish Cypriot missing were exchanged between the two sides at a meeting in January 1998.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Solar lobbying at the Presidential PalaceONE OF the world's foremost experts on solar energy had the chance to put the case for solar power to President Clerides, his ministers, top civil servants and deputies yesterday.
"Very interesting," was the comment from Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous following the morning briefing at the Presidential Palace by Dr Donald Aitken, vice president of the International Solar Energy Organisation.
"My ministry is very interested in the issue, not only because of its environmental importance but it is also more economical, healthy and productive in the long term," Themistocleous told journalists.
The minister noted the island's huge solar power potential and added that there was a need to move away from traditional energy sources in order to cut emissions of greenhouse gases causing global warming.
He said Dr Aitken's main proposal concerned use of solar power for electricity generation. "The government has been given enough material and will see how it can promote relevant programmes," Themistocleous said.
The government has just spent £160 million on phase one of a new £380 million oil-fuelled power station at Vasiliko. The Council of Europe (CoE) has frozen loans for the project after questions arose over whether emission levels from the new power station would meet European standards.
Themistocleous said Cyprus was already the leader of the pack when it came to hot water generation by solar power, a practice which he said saved the country six per cent of its energy costs.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Government aims to solve water problem by end of 2000By Anthony O. Miller
AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday the government's new official goal for solving the island's chronic water problem was some time before the end of 2000.
He said in about 18 months - sometime around December 2000 - all the government's desalination plant construction would be completed and the plants would be producing "120,000 cubic metres of water," allowing the lifting of the current rationing regime.
Themistocleous also said the government had scrapped its plans to operate 'mobile' desalination plants from June of this year, because the island's water needs could be met by reservoir water.
This, of course, would be in addition to water from government bore holes and the island's sole desalination plant, in Dhekelia. Cyprus gets some 80 per cent of its water from groundwater. However, the island's aquifers have long been dangerously overpumped. Some are dry and others too sea-salty.
"With the rainfall we had this winter, we will not need to use mobile desalination units," he said, adding these units might begin operating in June 2000.
On February 1, the government announced the award of the tender for building the island's second permanent desalination plant outside Larnaca.
Themistocleous' statement echoes those of officials in the Water Development Department, who have said they hope construction on the new de- salting plant can begin next month, after the environmental report is reviewed and passed.
By contract, the Israeli joint-venture building the Larnaca plant has 18 months to complete it, putting its inauguration at December 2000.
However, shortly before the tender award in January 1999, Themistocleous was saying he expected the new de-salting plant to be on-line by early 2000 - instead of his estimate yesterday of some time before end of 2000.
A contractor close to the bidding process has told the Cyprus Mailthat red-tape and actual construction make it unlikely the new plant will go on- line before the year 2001.
 Government says not enough evidence to ban PVC toysBy Martin Hellicar
THE COMMERCE Ministry's Consumer Protection Unit yesterday defended its decision not to ban PVC kid's toys, saying evidence of toxicity in the plastic toys was not strong enough to justify such action.
Greens claim there is irrefutable scientific evidence that exposure to PVC toys can be detrimental to children's health, and are incensed by what they see as government failure to act to protect youngsters.
"PVC toys have not been banned in Britain, Germany or France. How could we, as a small country, do it?" the head of the Consumer Protection Unit, George Mitides, told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.
Mitides hinted the government would have liked to have been able to ban the toys, but feared court action by importers.
"Unfortunately, you would have to be able to go to court to prove they can damage children's health," Mitides said. He said tests on PVC toys available in local shops carried out at the state laboratory had not thrown up strong evidence of toxicity.
He said the lab findings were "not clear", but did not say no evidence of toxicity had been found.
Local environmentalists, spearheaded by the Green party, have for months been campaigning for the toys 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 greens' hopes have been dashed by Mitides.
The Green party has charged the government with neglecting to protect children from the toys - which they say can affect the nervous system.
Mitides took exception to such attacks, pointing out that 11 of the 15 EU member-states had not banned PVC toys. "They say we don't care about children's health. Does that mean 11 countries in the EU don't care about children's health?" he asked.
"We looked at the issue, we were saddened, but the evidence was not strong enough," Mitides said, again hinting the government might have liked to have been able to ban the plastic toys.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Counting the cost of the quakeTHE COST of damage caused by Tuesday night's earthquake was being counted across the island yesterday.
Paphos, only 10 kilometres away from the epicentre of the quake, which measured 5.0 on the Richter scale, was the worst-hit area.
According to reports from the town, two people were slightly injured in the quake, which struck at 8.15pm on Tuesday. The tremor was felt all over the island.
One of the two people injured was a Dutch tourist who was hit by a ceiling tile at Paphos airport. The second injury also occurred at Paphos airport, when an employee was leaving the building.
Yesterday, government officials and technicians were out estimating the damage. Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said there had been 21 reported cases of damage to property in Limassol and three in Paphos. Most of the damage involved cracks in buildings.
It was reported that residents of Paphos panicked when the quake struck and that many of them stayed outdoors for hours, fearful of returning to their homes.
In February 1995, a Paphos couple died during an earthquake when the roof of their home collapsed.
Christodoulou praised the quick response of the revamped civil defence teams who were in place within minutes of the quake striking.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Larnaca underworld swoop draws a blankA POLICE and rapid reaction squad (MMAD) dawn swoop on the homes of suspected underworld figures in Larnaca drew a complete blank yesterday.
The aim of the searches - carried out between 4 and 8.30am - was to uncover hidden stashes of guns and explosives, but nothing matching that description was found.
The raids came the day after Justice Minister Nicos Koshis expressed concerns that underworld figures were smuggling weaponry into the country. He also said a spate of recent bomb attacks in Larnaca were the underworld's way of trying to "assert" their presence in the coastal town.
Three suspects are being held in custody in connection with recent bomb attacks on an Electricity Authority sub-station and the District court in Larnaca. No one was injured in either attack.
Thursday, May 27, 1999</o:p>
 Paralysis threat as hotels strike todaySTAFF at hotels across the island go on strike today in a six-hours sympathy action.
The strikes could paralyse the tourist industry between 6am and 12 noon, while hoteliers have attempted to limit the damage by trying to schedule non-union workers on duty during the strike.
But Peo's Yiannakis Phillipou yesterday told CyBC that bringing in strike- breakers was like "throwing oil onto the fire."
Peo and Sek unions announced they would stage the nationwide strike more than two weeks ago, also warning of future action by their members at the airports and ports.
General meetings with hotel staff were completed on Tuesday, with the majority of workers agreeing to co-operate in the strike.
The action comes nearly four months into the continuing strike 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 overturn chronic losses at the two establishments.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Nigerian man missing for 10 daysPOLICE were yesterday still searching for a 27-year-old Nigerian man who disappeared from his Limassol hotel 10 days ago.
A "missing person" announcement concerning Nioku Leonard Uchenna was released by police last Friday. It said Uchenna had not been seen since he left the Limassol hotel he was staying in at 10am on May 16.
The police press office said no leads to Uchenna's whereabouts had been found since the announcement.
The Nigerian is described as 1.60 metres tall, thin, with short black hair. Anyone who can provide any clues to the missing man's whereabouts is asked to contact police.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
 Boy's brain tumour death will only be investigated if parents ask for itBy Athena Karsera
AN INVESTIGATION into the death of a 10-year-old after doctors failed to diagnose a brain tumour will only be carried out if the child's parents request it, the Health Ministry said yesterday.
Charalambos Poullas from Stroumbi in the Paphos district died at Nicosia general hospital's neurosurgery ward on Monday; his parents believe that doctors are partly responsible for their son's death.
Speaking on a local chat show on Tuesday night, Poullas' parents said they had trusted doctors with their son's life and that they would have taken their son anywhere in the world for treatment if the doctors had told them it was necessary.
A Health Ministry official yesterday said the boy's parents would have to ask for an investigation into the way the doctors handled the situation in order for one to be carried out by the Ministry. "We already told them that, " the official told the Cyprus Mail.
Poullas was taken to Paphos general hospital at the beginning of last week showing signs of increased cranial pressure, a symptom of brain tumours, encephalitis and meningitis, Dr Andreas Dietis, director of the ward, told reporters on Tuesday.
Dr Dietis continued that because the hospital had just treated two brothers for meningitis they suspected this was also the case for Poullas. Because of the critical nature of the boy's condition, he was later sent to Nicosia's Makarios hospital.
Dr Michalis Angastiniotis, director of the paediatric ward at the Makarios, said that, by the time the little boy had arrived, he had very little time left to live.
When Poullas began to experience breathing problems, he was rushed to the general hospital, but was already clinically dead on arrival.
Dr Dietis said that Poullas had died from a brain tumour before developing further symptoms for doctors to recognise.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999