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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-06-02

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, June 02, 1999


  • [01] Exhumations 'not connected' to agreement on the missing
  • [02] Jet-ski owners threaten action in face of new regulations
  • [03] Cypriot ships led search for vanished Israeli sub
  • [04] Eurovision place in the balance after contest fiasco
  • [05] Shares up on Hellenic takeover rumour
  • [06] Man jailed for killing daughter's mother-in-law
  • [07] Cypriot men smoke five times more than women
  • [08] Moushiouttas working on new strategy to end hotel deadlock
  • [09] Suspect extradited from Greece

  • [01] Exhumations 'not connected' to agreement on the missing

    By Jean Christou

    THE DECISION to exhume human remains at two cemeteries in Nicosia was not the result of the July 1997 agreement with the Turkish Cypriots on the missing, the government said yesterday.

    The statement was made by government spokesman Costas Serezis, in a written announcement on the exhumation process currently under way to determine if any of those buried in the two cemeteries are on the list of persons missing since 1974.

    Serezis said the exercise was not related to the July 1997 agreement made under UN auspices between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    The Turkish side pulled out of the agreement shortly after files on the whereabouts of the graves of 200 Turkish Cypriots and 400 Greek Cypriots were exchanged in January 1998.

    "The government of the Republic took the decision to proceed with the exhumation at this time because the scientific and technological progress made in the field of exhumations and examination of remains, creates sound expectations that it will be possible to establish, through scientific means, the identity of those buried," Serezis said.

    "The efforts to identify remains in the two cemeteries do not relate to the agreement of July 31 1997 on the missing and the exhumations provided by the said agreement."

    However, it is believed the Turkish side pulled out of the deal because they wanted the Greek Cypriot side first to reduce its number of 1,619 missing persons by establishing how many of them may be buried at the two Nicosia cemeteries.

    The Turkish Cypriot side lists 803 since the outbreak of intercommunal troubles in 1964.

    Serezis, although insisting there was no connection between the work and the 1997 agreement, said yesterday the government hoped the exhumation work will prompt the Turkish side to return to co-operation on the issue.

    "The government hopes that this procedure will contribute to creating the appropriate climate so that the Turkish side will take the necessary decisions to implement the humanitarian provisions of the July agreement," he said.

    "The government wishes to stress once more that the solution of the wider humanitarian issue of the missing is a high priority." Work began in earnest yesterday on the exhumation of remains at the Lakatamia cemetery, following the completion of preparatory work over the past week.

    Experts have said that first results will not be known for several weeks.

    The experts, from the non-governmental organisation 'Physicians for Human Rights', are led by Professor William Haglund.

    The team includes anthropologists, archaeologists and pathologists.

    "This will probably take us three to four weeks," he told reporters yesterday, referring to work on an initial trench test.

    "When we finish from the back part of the cemetery we will move towards the front," he said.

    Findings will be tested at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics, which has set up a DNA bank with samples from relatives of the missing.

    Last year, two women whose husbands are on the missing list began digging graves at the Lakatamia cemetery with their bare hands, convinced their menfolk were buried there.

    "The government considers the process of exhumation as a particularly painful experience for Cypriot society in general but especially for the relatives of missing and war dead," Serezis said. He added that the missing issue could only be resolved if convincing scientific proof was provided.

    He said the procedure under way at present concerned a small number of persons buried in 1974 without establishing their identity.

    Andreas Savva, a Lakatamia resident and former government official who was at the cemetery yesterday, recalled how the bodies were buried in 1974.

    He said that, in many instances, it would have been possible to establish the identity of those being buried, but no one bothered at the time.

    Savva told journalists he believed that close to 200 people could have been buried there without identification.

    "I would never have believed it," he said. "They were brought with trucks, some from the hospital some from the military."

    Savva said he personally searched many of the bodies to try and identify them, and passed on his findings to the authorities. "They didn't have to be unknown," he said.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [02] Jet-ski owners threaten action in face of new regulations

    By Anthony O. Miller

    JET-SKI rental operators threatened yesterday to mass outside the Presidential Palace tomorrow and stay there until President Glafcos Clerides comes out to hear their objections to proposed regulations they say may drive many out of business.

    The threat was made at a news conference by Melios Georgiou, general- secretary of Povek (the Union of Small Businessmen and Retailers), umbrella labour organisation for the Cyprus Water Sports Association, which represents the jet-ski operators.

    They are upset about a bill that would limit rental and use of jet-skis to six hours per day, and an imminent order by Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou that would consolidate jet-ski sea-access corridors on the margins of sandy swimming beaches.

    Georgiou noted that on May 17, some 90 members of his union held a demonstration outside the Presidential Palace, at which they presented their grievances to Nicos Panayiotou, the director of President Glafcos Clerides' office.

    Georgiou said that the jet-ski operators felt them that Clerides would intervene with the House of Representatives and with Ierodiaconou on their behalf, but "it seems nothing has been done." So, he said the demonstrators were coming back around noon tomorrow and staying until Clerides comes out and listens to them.

    "It's not going to be completely peaceful, just like last time," Georgiou said. "We will insist to see the president. We will not leave until we see the president, and until a solution is presented," Georgiou warned.

    His mood appeared to reflect the anger felt by many of the jet-ski operators at the government's plans to change their way of doing business.

    The changes in the corridors and the hours of operation are the government's reaction to at least three ski-jet accidents last year, which killed one British tourist and seriously injured three others.

    A British tourist also died in a jet-ski last summer in Rhodes, and this year a British woman has been remanded for trial in Dubai for the jet-ski death of a Russian tourist.

    Cyprus Water Sports Association President George Dimitriou said he had recently seen government workers - even before Ierodiaconou had signed the new order - setting buoys from the beach into the sea to mark the new corridors that Ierodiaconou's order would designate for jet-ski access to open water.

    A Public Works Department official, who declined to be identified, told The Sunday Maillast week that Ierodiaconou's order was expected to take effect this week upon publication in the Official Gazette.

    Nicos Pittocopitis, chairman of the House of Representatives Communications and Works Committee, told The Sunday Mailthe House was "ready to vote" this week on The High Speed Small Vessels Law, 1999 (Regulations), which will re-jig the rules of the road for all water craft in Cyprus, even canoes.

    Pittocopitis said the Bill would restrict summer jet-ski rental and use hours to 10am to 1pm, and 4pm to 7pm, and would ban them during the 1pm to 4pm summer siesta. (Winter operation will be from 6.30am to 6.30pm, he added.)

    Dimitriou called the corridor changes "unacceptable and the hour changes "impractical," adding: "It's not possible to make a living" with them.

    He said the House Bill, while aimed at jet-skis, bans the siesta-hours use of all motorised vessels capable of carrying more than one person. This, he noted, could include private motor boats and yachts - even the yacht owned by Clerides.

    Dimitriou said cramming several operators on the margins of swimming beaches would crowd jet ski numbers to dangerous levels at sea and also hurt competitors by forcing them to work side-by-side.

    The government's idea - that competing operators should become partners - ought was for individual owners to decide, he added.

    Besides, Dimitriou said, moving the corridors from tourist areas would hurt business, as tourists do not "want to leave the comfort of their umbrellas" to walk long distances to hire a jet-ski.

    Georgiou noted the current law allowed jet-ski access corridors to stay where they were until the end of 2000. "In the past, the passages have worked well," he said.

    "These changes should be properly studied, and the situation should not be changed in the middle of the season," he said.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [03] Cypriot ships led search for vanished Israeli sub

    THE ISRAELI navy used Cypriot vessels to locate the wreck of one of its submarines, lost in the Mediterranean with its 69-member crew more than 30 years ago.

    The wreck of the Dakarwas located on Friday in an area between Cyprus and Crete at a depth of over 3,000 metres. The discovery, by an Israeli- American team using Limassol as its base, has thrown new light on the circumstances of the Dakar's disappearance.

    "They have been looking for the submarine for quite a long time and we went out there, a very good team, and we found it," captain Duncan McKenzy, of the Flying Enterprise, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

    American McKenzy said the submarine had showed up "very well" on sonar and the other Cypriot-owned ship, the Argonaut, was then called in to deploy a "remote operation vehicle" to take pictures of the wreck.

    The search had lasted 25 days. The Israeli navy are now considering whether to attempt raising the submarine, an operation made difficult by the depth it lies at.

    The Dakardisappeared in January 1968, two weeks after leaving Portsmouth, England, for Haifa on its maiden voyage as an Israeli vessel. The submarine, built in 1945, had been refurbished in Britain but early on the journey its captain complained of a string of mechanical problems.

    Photographic evidence from the wreck has led naval experts to suggest the submarine may have been sunk by a collision with a cargo ship.

    "The wreckage seen is distorted and crushed, as though something 'ironed' it -- struck it and did not stop above it, and continued on its way," ex- naval officer Doron Amir told Reuters.

    Military correspondent Roni Daniel said the Dakarprobably saw the cargo ship too late and could not dive in time to avoid a collision. Soon after, the Dakartook on water, plunging to the sea floor in four and a half minutes, he told Reuters.

    Among past theories on the submarine's disappearance was that it had come under attack by Soviet or Egyptian vessels after veering towards Egypt. But the discovery of the wreck between Crete and Cyprus suggests it did not leave its course to near Egypt. "The fact that the submarine was found where it was found dispels rumours and suspicions that persisted for 30 years," said Shlomo Arel, who was Israeli navy chief at the time of the sinking.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [04] Eurovision place in the balance after contest fiasco

    By Andrew Adamides

    CYPRUS fate in next year's Eurovision Song Contest is still in the balance, CyBC's Marios Skordis told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    The country is still reeling from the shock of this year's entry Thane Erotascoming in second from last in Saturday's 1999 Eurovision, which took place in Jerusalem. Thane Erotasreceived just two points overall, given by Britain. Only Spain's entry ranked lower, winning just a single point.

    The result is particularly disappointing as pre-contest polls on the internet had ranked Thane Erotas, performed by Marlain, as one of the favourites to win the contest.

    Skordis said yesterday that Marlain, who has now returned to the UK to complete her studies, was "heartbroken" by the result.

    But even though the Cyprus song came in the bottom five, the country may not be bounced from the millennium contest as the organisers decide who to exclude using a complicated system based on point scoring.

    Skordis says that, according to CyBC's calculations, Cyprus would be included in the 2000 contest, but that Eurovision organisers would not officially inform Cyprus of their decision until September.

    It is thought that Thane Erotas' downfall was largely due to the fact that it was sung in Greek, whereas the winning song was sung in English, although so-called 'political voting' may have come into it too. For the first time this year, the contest's rules were relaxed to allow contestants to enter in any language they wanted. Many, including Sweden, Austria, Iceland and the Netherlands took the English option, resulting in a win for Sweden, whose Charlotte Nilsson romped to victory with her ABBA-esque song Take Me To Your Heaven. After leading the field until midway through the voting, Iceland's Selma Bjornsdottir came in second with her bubbly All Out of Luck, while Germany's Surpriz, an immigrant Turkish group who sang their folksy song Journey to Jerusalemin several languages (Turkish, German, English and Hebrew), came third.

    This is the fourth time Sweden has won the contest: the first and best- known occasion occurred in 1974, when ABBA won with Waterloo. In the 'eighties, Sweden won twice, first when boy band The Herreys sang the infamous Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Ley, and then later in the decade when Carola performed Captured by a Love Storm.

    Cyprus was not the only country tipped for the top to flop badly on the night, with Austria and several of the Scandinavian countries also receiving fewer points than expected.

    As to what Cyprus would do about its entry next year, if it is allowed to enter, Skordis said there were several options, including commissioning a well-known composer to put together a song or commissioning several songs and allowing the public to vote for them via televoting.

    "There has to be a very serious meeting about it," he said, adding it was likely that Cyprus too would next enter with a song in English.

    On a more positive note, he said the televoting had gone well this year, with no repeat of last year's fiasco when the lines jammed and a back-up jury had to be brought in. All in all, around 15,000 calls had been logged.

    Surprisingly, Skordis added that there had been 192 votes for the Turkish entry, more than were received by Portugal. The top songs as voted for by the Cypriot public received between 250 and 800 votes each.

    This year's contest also courted controversy amongst ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel, when its second and final rehearsal ran over into the Jewish Sabbath. Right-wing religious leaders had already threatened to disrupt the contest because Israel's right to hold the contest was won in 1998 by Dana International, a transsexual whom the hard-liners have blasted as an abomination.

    Dana won with her song Divaand returned this year to provide the intermission act: a rendering of Stevie Wonder's Freeintermingled with a traditional Jewish hymn, which also angered Jewish leaders.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [05] Shares up on Hellenic takeover rumour

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARES yesterday snapped a two-session slide to close 2.05 per cent up, thanks to continued interest in the Popular Bank's imminent 1=2 split and persistent rumours that Hellenic Bank was the possible target of a takeover from Greece, traders said.

    The official all-share index closed yesterday at 151.61 with all seven sub- indices ending the day higher except that of manufacturing, which was slightly down by 0.08 per cent. The index closed 1.07 down on Friday and the market was closed on Monday.

    Popular Bank's share split comes into effect on Monday June 7 and traders say the share will continue to appreciate until then. Yesterday, it was up 26.50 cents to end the day at 7.55 apiece. Trade in the share accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the day's volume, while dealings in its 1993-99 warrants made up another 12.6 per cent. The warrants notched up 22.50 cents to close at 5.04.

    Hellenic Bank, a share that discovered a faster lifestyle only recently after a long spell in the shadow of larger banks, was up yesterday 27 cents to close at 4.27 on the back of what traders said were rumours that the bank was the target of a takeover by Greece's Alpha Credit Bank, Eurobank or the giant Latsis Group.

    Last Wednesday, Hellenic's executive chairman, Panos Ghalanos, strongly dismissed rumours that a Greek bank was poised to take a stake in the Cyprus-based group. "There is no possibility of that," he told a news conference.

    "I would like to have a word with the person that is spreading these rumours," Ghalanos threatened during a meeting with brokers earlier last Wednesday.

    The rumours, however, received a boost over the weekend with Athens media reports speaking of a Greek takeover of the bank.

    "It is more than just a rumour now," said one trader, who read the Greek newspaper articles.

    The excitement over Popular and Hellenic banks, however, did not dampen interest in Bank of Cyprus shares, which ended a meagre 5 cents up to close at 6.77. Trade in the share made up 29.2 per cent of the day's entire volume.

    Bank of Cyprus shares are also heading for a 1=2 split later this year as part of the group's restructuring plans.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [06] Man jailed for killing daughter's mother-in-law

    A LIMASSOL man was yesterday sentenced to eight years imprisonment after pleading guilty to killing his daughter's mother-in-law in October last year.

    Victoras Menelaou, 42, had stormed round to his in-laws' home after hearing that his daughter, Marina, had been beaten up by her husband, Marinos Loizou. Menelaou used a hunting rifle to shoot dead Marina's mother-in-law, Maroulla, and injure her husband and her father-in-law, Andreas. Marinos and Andreas lost an eye each in the attack.

    The incident took place in the Ayios Athanasios suburb of Limassol on October 10.

    Menelaou, an Ayios Athanasios resident, was handed an eight-year sentence for the manslaughter of Maroulla, and two four-year sentences for causing actual bodily harm to Marinos and Andreas. The sentences will run concurrently.

    One of the three Assizes court judges, Eleftheria Koladzi, had passed a 12- year sentence for manslaughter and two six-year sentences for actual bodily harm. She was outvoted by the two other judges.

    The judges described the killing as a "crime of passion" and said the attack had not been premeditated.

    In passing sentence, the Limassol court also took into account as a mitigating factor the fact that Menelaou was a well-respected employee of Ayios Athanasios municipality and member of the local community. He had also admitted to the attack immediately and had no previous criminal record, the judges noted.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [07] Cypriot men smoke five times more than women

    A 'WORLD No-Tobacco Day' survey, released yesterday by the Health Ministry, showed that, while nearly one-quarter of the Cypriot population smokes, nicotine addiction is five-times more prevalent among Cypriot men than among Cypriot women.

    The survey of 1,976 Cypriots, taken in November and December of 1997, aimed at learning how severely Cypriots 15 and older are addicted to tobacco, why they started smoking and why they continued.

    The study found 75 per cent of Cypriot smokers picked up the habit before age 19; the younger they started, the heavier they smoked, and the harder it was to stop. Average starting age was 18.

    It also found the smoking habits of a person's immediate social environment -- peers -- were crucial in deciding whether a person became a smoker.

    Cypriots responding to the poll said they continued to smoke mainly because they enjoyed it, or it gave them psychological support, relaxation or an outlet from stress.

    According to the study, 23 per cent of Cypriots are smokers, down slightly from 24.2 per cent in 1989.

    Only 7.6 per cent of Cypriot women smoke now, according to the survey, while 38.5 per cent of Cypriot males are smokers. The percentages for women were up from 7.2 per cent in 1989, while they were down from 42.5 per cent for men in the same year.

    Of the respondents, 12.2 per cent said they were ex-smokers, while 62.2 per cent said they never smoked, and 2.1 per cent said they were casual rather than regular smokers.

    Among ex-smokers, two-thirds said they quit to avoid harming their health, while 20 per cent said they quit because of a health problem caused by smoking.

    World Health Organisation data, released around the WHO's "World No-Tobacco Day" (officially May 31), indicate that one of every two long-term smokers "will ultimately be killed by tobacco."

    "The truth is," warned the WHO, "that 4 million people die yearly from tobacco-related diseases - one death every eight seconds." This means, if the trend is not altered, that "500 million people alive today will be killed by tobacco."

    If that trend continues, the WHO estimates the toll will rise to 10 million deaths per year by the year 2030 -- or one death every three seconds - caused by smoking tobacco.

    Not only is active tobacco use deadly, said the WHO, but so is so-called passive smoking: inhaling smoke exhaled by smokers. "Other people's tobacco smoke... is harmful to non-smokers because it causes lung cancer and other diseases, and aggravates allergies and asthma," the WHO said.

    WHO figures indicate at least 33 per cent of the world's adults smoke -- a figure representing 1.1 billion people, nearly China's total population of 1.2 billion people.

    Despite the addictive properties of nicotine, and the harmful effects of tobacco (which contains nicotine), the WHO does not call for governments to ban tobacco or tobacco products.

    Instead, it urges banning all tobacco adverts and all tobacco sales to children. It further urges health warnings on all tobacco products and the protection of non-smokers from passive smoking through smoke-free workplaces and public places.

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [08] Moushiouttas working on new strategy to end hotel deadlock

    LABOUR Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said yesterday he would soon be proposing an alternative approach to solving the ongoing dispute at Larnaca's Lordos hotels.

    Speaking on CyBC radio, Moushiouttas did not say what the new approach would entail, but said he hoped it would bring new developments "within the next two to three days."

    The minister also said he had not yet informed unions Sek and Peo or the two hotels' controlling company, Lordos Holdings, about his new suggestion. He said that until the new position was adopted, the official government stance would remain a solution through binding arbitration.

    Unions have so far refused to take part in binding arbitration unless the 53 dismissed workers at the centre of the dispute are rehired -- something which Lordos Holdings is not prepared to accept.

    The employees were dismissed from the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay hotels when sections of the hotels were turned over to outside contractors in an effort to lower costs.

    The dismissals prompted strike action which has now entered into its forth month. Sympathy strikes have also been called, the most recent affecting the vast majority of the island's hotels for six hours last Thursday, and the island's ports and airports for two hours on Monday.

    Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday he was concerned the crisis would cause the island's "traditional customers, which we fought to get, to turn to other markets in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and even the occupied areas."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

    Wednesday, June 02, 1999

    [09] Suspect extradited from Greece

    A TAXI driver suspected of abandoning the country to avoid facing burglary charges was yesterday flown in from Greece under police guard.

    Loizos Constantinou, 43 from Strovolos in Nicosia, is expected to appear before Nicosia District court today. He left the country last year and was arrested by Greek police over the weekend and held at Athens' Koridalos prison pending extradition to Cyprus.

    He is suspected of involvement in the theft of 19,500 worth of air conditioners from Nicosia warehouse.

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