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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-06-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, June 10, 1999


  • [01] Not all remains will be identified, Haglund warns
  • [02] Police find massive arms cache in mountain village
  • [03] Kosovo progress helps Cyprus shares bounce back
  • [04] Motorway closed by scrub fire
  • [05] Larnaca shaken by morning quake
  • [06] Civil servants held on road scam allegations
  • [07] Cyprus tourism well ahead on Y2K compliance, US experts say
  • [08] Health experts unveil patients' charter plan
  • [09] Greens sceptical about plan for Akamas 'development freeze'
  • [10] Transplant patient dies in London

  • [01] Not all remains will be identified, Haglund warns

    By Jean Christou

    NOT ALL of the 1974 remains currently being removed from two Nicosia cemeteries will be identified, exhumation team leader professor William Haglund said yesterday.

    Haglund was speaking to journalists at the newly-opened Nicosia laboratory facilities of Physicians of the World, where his 20-strong team from 15 countries will be carrying out their investigations.

    He said that, in the case of Cyprus, the passage of time and the lack of ante-mortem information would have a bearing on the results of the exhumations.

    "Everybody will not be identified -- period," Haglund said.

    He said it was not always possible to get DNA from the remains, particularly if the ground environment was not conducive to any kind of preservation.

    "The question here is what has 25 years done to the bones to affect getting good DNA samples?" Haglund said.

    But despite the difficulties involved and the fact that not all the remains would be identified, he said that Cyprus had one of the best environments he had seen.

    "These exhumations have more possibility than many places I worked in around the world," Haglund said, adding that, from what the team had seen so far, it "looks like a good environment for the protective structure of bones".

    "Our preliminary assessment is that this lab offers potential to realise our hopes," he said.

    He said that if his team could not extract DNA from all the remains, they would simply have to find other ways to identify them.

    "In some cases, the ante-mortem information will solve the case," Haglund said, but admitted that this itself was a major challenge in the case of Cyprus since ante-mortem information -- "what is known about you before death" -- was often lacking.

    "Time has a lot to do with it. The longer you go, the less people you have to ask," he said.

    In a large well-lit room at the facility, seven large wooden tables stand in two rows. A one-metre casket sits at the foot of each table. On the tables themselves, the bones of seven people are laid out in anatomical form. They are all covered with a white sheet, but the outline of the human form is clear. Only the families would be given a glimpse, once the remains were identified, Haglund said.

    Nearby is a closed room, where bones from previous exhumations carried out over the years are stored.

    "These exhumations were not done by professionals, but by well-meaning people, which has left complications for us," Haglund said. "But the team sees these complications as a challenge."

    He said each set of remains would be examined by an anthropologist to determine "what bones there are, and what bones there are not".

    "Each bone has different information, which it can give us," Haglund said. "We assume the majority are male, but we know there might be a couple of females."

    He said the team would be looking at how tall the person might have been, what age range they might have been in, and for any trauma they might have suffered when they were alive.

    "They were all young and healthy for the most part," he said. "We are looking for any clue that will help us distinguish this person from another person."

    Speaking about the graves, Haglund said that even though some of them had markers, they were not taking it for granted that those people buried there were the ones named on the headstones.

    "The markers say who is at the cemetery, but not necessarily who is under the markers," he said. "We can't be sure who is under the markers."

    He refused to reveal how many bodies were being searched for, but admitted they had been buried in disarray in 1974. "Things were confused at the time. Some bodies were buried close together and some on top of each other, " Haglund said.

    He said they had not been buried in coffins or boxes, but had been badly wrapped in blankets. The team had found some associated items, such as clothing and helmets which indicated there were soldiers in the graves. "We are looking at those sorts of things. We are looking for several kinds of clues," he said. "We are looking for trauma but we all assume the people were killed in a time of conflict. We are not here to determine who killed who. We are here to identify people."

    He said the entire process would take two to three months, but he could not say whether the relatives would be informed as identities are made or only once the entire process was completed. He urged those relatives of missing persons who have not yet given a blood sample to the Institute of Neurology and Genetics for the DNA bank to do so.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [02] Police find massive arms cache in mountain village

    POLICE yesterday discovered a massive cache of arms and explosives at an abandoned house belonging to the father of a former intelligence commander, both of whom are dead.

    Following a tip-off, officers raided the house in the mountain village of Galata in the early afternoon.

    The uninhabited dwelling belonged to the late Ioannis Koukoularidis, the father of the late Charalambos Koukoularidis, a former commander at the police intelligence service KYP, and a former director of the Cyprus Sports Organisation (Koa).

    In the house, police discovered six heavy and six light machine guns along with six Kalashnikovs, 47 hand grenades, 25 flares, one pistol, a heavy artillery gun, 52 automatic weapons, 22 rifles, one revolver, 18 artillery shells, one flare gun, seven detonators and tens of thousands of bullets of different types.

    The bullets were packed in dozens of boxes stamped: "Ministry of the Interior", suggesting they were originally the property of the police force, which has since come under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry.

    The weapons find, reportedly the largest in recent years, was taken to police headquarters where it is being catalogued and examined, police spokesman Glafcos Xenos said.

    He refused to reveal further details.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [03] Kosovo progress helps Cyprus shares bounce back

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARES yesterday bounced back from Tuesday's sharp decline, rising by 2.33 per cent on reports of progress in efforts to end the war over Kosovo, traders said. Share prices plunged by 3.60 per cent on Tuesday.

    The all-share index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange stood at 148.5 at the end of trade, with volume a respectable 10.44 million at the end of trade yesterday.

    "The positive developments over Kosovo lifted up sentiment in the market," said Neofytos Neofytou of AAA United Stockbrokers.

    The Cyprus stock market has reacted on several occasions to events in Yugoslavia since Nato's military campaign began there in March. Many in Cyprus believe the war in Yugoslavia, with whom Cyprus has traditionally maintained close ties, has the dangerous potential to spill over into the rest of the Balkans and eventually engulf Cyprus.

    Yesterday's recovery was largely on the back of an impressive showing by the blue-chips of the banks, whose sub-index rose by 3.14 per cent, reversing a good part of Tuesday's 4.53 per cent setback.

    Shares of the Popular Bank, on their third post-split day, made the most impressive gains. It closed up 17.50 cents at 3.72 with nearly 650,000 stocks changing hands. The bank's warrants had an even better day, increasing in value by 25.50 cents to close at 4.76. Nearly 360,000 of the warrants were traded. Combined, the shares and the warrants accounted for 39 per cent of the day's entire trade.

    Beside the eagerly-awaited two-for-one split which took effect on Monday, interest in the titles of the bank intensified with hopeful expectations that the bank's boss, Kikis Lazarides, would make positive announcements at a news conference scheduled for today at the Popular Bank's Nicosia headquarters. Lazarides is in Athens and will be speaking to the journalists in Nicosia on a live visual link from the Greek capital.

    Expectations making the rounds in the market include the announcement of an application for the listing on the Athens Stock Exchange of the Group's Greek subsidiary, European Popular Bank, or news on its capital restructuring.

    Because it is registered as a Greek company, the European Popular Bank does not have to wait for a change in Greek laws covering the listing of foreign companies to obtain a listing on the bourse. Its rival, the Bank of Cyprus, has applied for a listing in Athens but has to wait for Greece's Parliament to amend the law on foreign companies.

    "I think there will be some good news from Mr. Lazarides tomorrow," predicted AAA United's Neofytou.

    The Bank of Cyprus, whose own shares are due for a two-for-one split later this year as part of the Group's restructuring, also finished higher yesterday at 6.51, up by 13.50 cents. The Bank's 1999-2003 warrants, which made their market debut last month, also finished in positive territory, closing 2.50 cents up at 4.31.

    Hellenic Bank, which has only recently joined the Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank in the market's fast lane, appreciated by 10 cents to close at 4.13. The small Universal Bank also finished up at 2.27.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [04] Motorway closed by scrub fire

    A FIRE caused by sparks from a petrol truck forced police to close the Nicosia-Limassol highway in both directions for over an hour yesterday.

    The midday blaze raged for three hours before it was brought under control by a huge fire-fighting presence, which included five fire engines.

    Police closed the four-lane highway near Moni, after thick clouds of billowing black smoke drifted into the path of unsuspecting motorists.

    The parallel Limassol-Nicosia old road was also closed as a precaution.

    "The fire was so close to the motorway that clouds of smoke reduced visibility to zero," said one scared motorist.

    According to fire department sources, the fire is believed to have been started by a loose petrol tanker axel, which caused sparks to fly as it scraped along the road.

    By mid-afternoon, the blaze had been contained, but not before an area of one-square-kilometre of scrub had been destroyed.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [05] Larnaca shaken by morning quake

    LARNACA was shaken out of its sleep early yesterday when an earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale shook the foundations of tall buildings.

    According to the Seismology Institute, the quake happened at 3.29am, with its epicentre between the Larnaca district villages of Ormidhia and Xylofagou.

    However, the tremor was felt as far away as Nicosia, some 60 kilometres away.

    There were no reports of any injuries or serious structural damage, police said yesterday.

    The quake was the second in recent weeks, following the much bigger tremor - - 5.0 on the Richter scale -- which rocked the whole island last month.

    Last month's earthquake had an epicentre 10 kilometres off the Paphos coast, whereas yesterday's was inland.

    Cyprus is classified as a seismically active zone, but is not among those countries considered high risk earthquake areas, such as neighbouring Turkey.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [06] Civil servants held on road scam allegations

    TWO NICOSIA civil servants were remanded in custody yesterday on suspicion of misappropriating state funds for personal gain.

    Senior Nicosia District Office technician Lefkios Christodoulou, 51, and Stavros Papanicolaou, 41, an inspector in the same office, were both remanded for eight days by the Nicosia District court.

    Police told the court the two men were involved in a scam concerning the supply of tarmac for a road network for Kokkinotrimithia outside Nicosia between October and December last year.

    Police told the court that the two men had issued a total of 41 false documents concerning quantities of tarmac supplied for the village road- building. The scam had cost the state a total of 11,600, the court heard.

    Christodoulou and Papanicolaou are suspected of conspiring to commit a crime, creating and circulating false documents, securing funds under false pretences and threatening witnesses during the police investigation of the alleged scam.

    After the arrest of the two civil servants late on Tuesday, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said a probe might be conducted to discover if there had been similar misuse of state funds in other road- building projects in the Nicosia area.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [07] Cyprus tourism well ahead on Y2K compliance, US experts say

    By Anthony O. Miller

    AIRLINERS will not fall from the skies, or ships sink at sea, when the "millennium bug" bites this coming New Year's Day, but they may not land at the same airports, or dock at the same ports that travellers expected when they took off or set sail, two US 'bug-busters' conceded yesterday.

    The millennium bug, also known as Y2K (acronym for the Year 2000), officially strikes on January 1, 2000. It can be expected to play havoc with computer systems in many countries, US high-tech consultants Mark Washburn and Greg Moore said.

    Billions of dollars have already been spent by public and private sectors in the major industrialised countries, and billions more need to be spent throughout the world to make all the computers currently operating Y2K- compliant.

    For many poor countries, this is simply too expensive. So, in some developing (and some developed) countries, elevators may stop between floors, air-traffic-control systems may misdirect planes, banks and phone companies may shut down, and missile systems may even mislaunch missiles to ring in the New Year.

    "At the heart of this is a technology problem that has business implications. It cannot be ignored," Washburn, founder of Integrated Technology Research Corp, (ITRC) said by closed-circuit TV hookup from the United States to the American Centre in Nicosia.

    Cyprus, however, appears well on its way to avoiding a millennium-bug bite, Washburn said. "We have not seen anything yet" to indicate tourist travel to Cyprus from the United States would be hurt by the Y2K bug, said Washburn, whose company is a Y2K consultant to many Fortune 500 corporations.

    But he urged Cyprus to "watch carefully... in the next month or two" to see if airline and hotel reservation systems showed any failures to register advance bookings, and if the airports' air traffic control systems developed high-tech problems.

    "We are in very good shape," especially in the critical areas of power plants, airports and airliners, telephone systems, police, fire and hospital services, and banks," Costas Agrotis, director of the Finance Ministry's Information Service said.

    "Banks (in Cyprus) have solved the problem and we are pretty sure the critical services also have," he said.

    Moore, ITRC's travel industry program director, suggested Cyprus "should definitely make it known" in tourism advertising that the island is as far along as it is in being Y2K-compliant, to get a competitive edge on other destinations that may not be.

    And the Cyprus Tourism Organisation should "keep a very, very close eye" on its data banks to see if tourism falls off from one or another country due to Y2K fears, and leap into that breach to turn things around, he added.

    Of the three Y2K problem areas that can hurt tourism -- reservations systems, air traffic control systems, and travellers' fears -- the "fear factor" -- that planes will drop from the skies or cruise liners sink -- will have the most impact on Cyprus and other tourist destinations, Moore said.

    The odd US airport might not be up to speed on January 1, the two consultants said, but most US airline and hotel reservations and air- traffic-control systems are Y2K-proof.

    But they conceded other countries' critical systems may not be Y2K-ready, especially countries like Russia, which is still reeling from economic depression and lacks the billions of spare dollars to re-tool its computer systems.

    The Y2K problem arose years ago, when computers' memories were smaller than they are today. Programmers and micro-chip makers decided to save scarce memory space by entering the year by the last two digits - 66, or 74, or 81 - instead of the full date: 1966, 1974, 1981.

    So, when 1999 becomes 2000, computer systems will read it as 00, instead of 2000, and thus will not know whether it is the year 1000 or 1700 or 2000.

    This could be disastrous for computers -- such as those that operate airliners and oil tankers, elevators, military radars and nuclear missile- launching systems -- that are time-sensitive but still being run on old- model computers, whose microchips have not been replaced by new, Y2K- compliant chips.

    The two US consultants offered several websites -- notably -- where people can get daily postings on problems and suggested solutions.

    As well, they suggested E-mailing them at, for a DIY "White Paper" on Y2K problem solving techniques.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [08] Health experts unveil patients' charter plan

    By Athena Karsera

    EFFORTS to upgrade patient rights were unveiled yesterday in the form of a charter which, its creators hope, will soon be endorsed by the government.

    The four-part charter was drawn up by a team of healthcare, human rights and sociology experts. It addresses the issues of keeping patients informed of their condition, their consent to medical techniques, protection of their private lives, and the quality of care they are given.

    Speaking to reporters yesterday, the leader of the team that worked on the charter, Demetrakis Stylianides, said the charter could only be implemented with mutual understanding among patients and healthcare professionals.

    He similar charters had been passed into law in several European countries in recent years, citing the cases of Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and adding that Sweden was currently investigating a similar plan, while other countries had codes on patient rights.

    Stylianides noted that, at its current stage, the Cyprus charter still had to be further discussed with medical and patient associations, as well as with the government.

    The charter lays out the patient's basic right to life, to be respected, to have physical and mental security and to have his or her private life respected.

    It also outlines patients right to have their values, morals, cultural, religious and philosophical beliefs respected, to have their health respected, and that their personal rights be put above the interests of science and public life.

    Thursday, June 10, 1999

    [09] Greens sceptical about plan for Akamas 'development freeze'

    By Martin Hellicar

    ENVIRONMENTALISTS yesterday responded with deep scepticism to a government plan to impose a temporary ban on tourism development in the Akamas.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said on Tuesday the aim of the ban would be to halt any further building in the remote peninsula to allow a relevant ministerial committee time to arrive at a final decision on its status.

    The government has spent the last ten years pondering what form an Akamas National Park will take, and greens are tired of hearing what they call empty promises of action.

    "We are not cynical by nature, but we have begun to think in this way when it comes to the Akamas," the chairman of Friends of the Earth (FoE) Cyprus, Loukia Pavlidou, told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    She said there were "hidden motives" behind the plan to declare the Ayios Georgios Peyias, Asprokremnos and Neo Chorio areas -- currently zoned for tourism development -- white, or no-development, zones for 18 months. Pavlidou suggested the government aim was to win time to find a "get-out clause" to avoid implementing Akamas National Park plans.

    A ministerial committee has been tasked with finding a park formula which will address the concerns of local residents, who support tourism development.

    But Pavlidou claimed the real stumbling block to park plans were the interests of big Akamas land-owners, who would like to build more hotels in the pristine area.

    "In Cyprus we are governed by big interests, not by the state," she said.

    "It is time for a final decision on the Akamas. The government must face up to its responsibilities," the FoE head said.

    The ministerial committee is to meet to discuss the Agriculture Ministry's white zones proposal on June 18.

    FoE's scepticism about the proposal was echoed by other green groups yesterday.

    The Ecological movement said it doubted the cabinet would ever rubber-stamp the white zones. Even if it did, the group said in a press release, this would be no guarantee that developments would not go ahead regardless.

    The family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides has already built a massive hotel complex on the Asprokremnos coast, West of Latchi, after securing planning relaxations from the cabinet. Planning permission has recently been granted for a second 5-star hotel on the same stretch of coast.

    [10] Transplant patient dies in London

    A WOMAN who received a liver from 17-year-old accident victim Yiannis Leonida has died of a heart attack, it was reported yesterday.

    Xenia Pilava, who lived in London, suffered complications after the transplant on Monday.

    The other five organ recipients -- who received a heart, kidneys and corneas from Yiannis -- were reported to be doing well yesterday.

    Yiannis was involved in an accident with his moped last Friday, when he crashed into the back of a car that stopped in front of him without warning. He died in hospital two days later.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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