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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


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Wednesday, July 7, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Elite police accused of partying with strippersBy Charlie CharalambousFOURTEEN members of the elite police mobile rapid reaction unit (MMAD) are under investigation, accused of having partied with foreign strippers at an Ayia Napa cabaret.The men were supposed to be on covert exercises in Protaras last week when they allegedly decided to break curfew and let their hair down at a local cabaret.If they had hoped to keep the night out a closely guarded secret, the service Mercedes and Opel Vectra with ‘MMAD’ on the number plates may have given the game away.As fate would have it, the officers were spotted by plainclothes colleagues from the information gathering unit who make it their job to scour the cabarets for criminal types.They not only saw the vehicles, but apparently reported back to police HQ that the MMAD men had arrived at the cabaret accompanied by "foreign women".As soon as the report was made to police command in Nicosia, the men were ordered back to their units and the training camp was disbanded.MMAD commander Yiannakis Philippou, reportedly outraged by the incident, immediately appointed an in-house investigator to begin taking statements.Philippou also wants to know if last Thursday's outing was a one- off incident."The issue is being investigated to see if the allegations are substantiated," police spokesman Stelios Neophytou told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.He dismissed reports that the police had tried to cover up the incident. "If there is a case to answer, those responsible will end up in court," Neophytou said.
  • [02] Fishermen clash with riot police
  • [03] Jet-ski owners go back to work
  • [04] House fury over dolphin import permit
  • [05] Key witness says suspect tried to kill him
  • [06] Planners hope to ease Gavrielides congestion by September
  • [07] Journalists challenge Dame Ann to prove they are wrong
  • [08] Current period critical for Cyprus, says Clay
  • [09] Egyptian cruise ship in Limassol pile up
  • [10] Iranian woman critical after escape bid ends in balcony fall
  • [11] OA strike to affect flights from Larnaca

  • [01] Elite police accused of partying with strippersBy Charlie CharalambousFOURTEEN members of the elite police mobile rapid reaction unit (MMAD) are under investigation, accused of having partied with foreign strippers at an Ayia Napa cabaret.The men were supposed to be on covert exercises in Protaras last week when they allegedly decided to break curfew and let their hair down at a local cabaret.If they had hoped to keep the night out a closely guarded secret, the service Mercedes and Opel Vectra with ‘MMAD’ on the number plates may have given the game away.As fate would have it, the officers were spotted by plainclothes colleagues from the information gathering unit who make it their job to scour the cabarets for criminal types.They not only saw the vehicles, but apparently reported back to police HQ that the MMAD men had arrived at the cabaret accompanied by "foreign women".As soon as the report was made to police command in Nicosia, the men were ordered back to their units and the training camp was disbanded.MMAD commander Yiannakis Philippou, reportedly outraged by the incident, immediately appointed an in-house investigator to begin taking statements.Philippou also wants to know if last Thursday's outing was a one- off incident."The issue is being investigated to see if the allegations are substantiated," police spokesman Stelios Neophytou told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.He dismissed reports that the police had tried to cover up the incident. "If there is a case to answer, those responsible will end up in court," Neophytou said.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [02] Fishermen clash with riot police

    By Athena Karsera

    VIOLENT clashes broke out between fishermen and riot police outside the Presidential Palace yesterday, as protesters threatened to storm the Palace when they heard the President would not be seeing them.

    Limassol fisherman Louis Kaffas was the first of three to be arrested by members of the rapid response force (MMAD) after striking a policemen while being restrained as he tried to run through the Palace gates.

    Kaffas was released about half an hour later after agreeing to leave the demonstration.

    But as tempers frayed in the sweltering heat, fellow demonstrators turned on Kaffas, swearing at him and calling him a traitor; others said that if he left they may as well all leave.

    Eventually, the president of the Fishermen's Union, Andreas Adamou, convinced the 300 or so protesters that Kaffas had done his duty and should be allowed to leave the scene.

    Two more fishermen were arrested about an hour later, one of whom was physically carried through the Palace gates by four MMAD policemen.

    They were later released under the same conditions.

    Smaller skirmishes broke out later when some fishermen tried to block the road outside the Palace, something they had done for two five-minute intervals before the first clashes erupted.

    One man claimed he had been hit by a policeman and showed television cameras bruises on his back.

    The fishermen were demonstrating against the government's refusal to grant them adequate compensation for damage caused their nets by dolphins, and in anger at the "indiscriminate" way fishing licences were being handed out. They also want more space at harbours and said the president had been aware of their demands "for at least three years."

    The demonstrators said they had had no intention of causing trouble, but were desperate for the government to take some notice of their problems.

    An emotional Kaffas, who was close to tears, told the Cyprus Mail: "Do we live in a democracy or a dictatorship? Why did the police have to hit us?"

    He said he scoured the Mediterranean to fish "to support my son."

    "We are seen as the worst people in Cyprus," chipped in Tassos Adamou, a fisherman from Zygi: "We work 20 or 22 hours a day just to make a living, while everybody else's jobs are getting better."

    The fishermen said they were not calling for the dolphins -- a protected species -- to be killed, but for the government to find ways to stop dolphins and turtles from approaching the nets.

    Nicos Stylianou from Paphos echoed his colleagues' complaints: "Fishermen have a lot of problems, especially with the dolphins. We're getting poorer and poorer. There are less fish and the dolphins find it easier just to take the ones we have caught in our nets."

    He said there had always been dolphins around the island, but that in the past there had been enough fish both to feed the dolphins and turtles, and to fill the fishermen's catch.

    Stylianou added the government had suggested the fishermen use a system of bells on their nets to keep the dolphins away, but that this had proved unsuccessful: "Dolphins are the cleverest creatures. They were afraid of the bells in the beginning but then just started to ignore them."

    Marinos Kallogirou from Limassol said a sonar system that emitted sounds "the dolphins find annoying" could provide an answer, but that the systems were only sold through the Agriculture Ministry and were very expensive.

    "We want to use small amounts of dynamite to keep the dolphins away, but because it is an illegal explosive, the police won't let us. We asked them to accompany us when we use it, but they don't want to," Stylianou said, adding that the fishermen themselves could also be hurt if they did not use the explosive properly.

    "The government could help us a lot if they wanted to," Stylianou and Kallogirou agreed.

    "The government doesn't take us seriously. That's why we came here today," Stylianou said, adding the fishermen had wanted the demonstration to be peaceful, "but the police used excessive force."

    Union vice-president Socrates Neophytou told the Cyprus Mailthe fisherman would remain outside the Palace for 48 hours; after that, groups of 20 to 25 fishermen would take turns in picketing "for as long as necessary".

    The next step would be to close off the harbours: "This will affect rich people too, so maybe they will take notice then," Stylianou said.

    Meanwhile, Famagusta deputy and president of the agriculture committee Christos Mavrokordatos told the Cyprus Mailthat the committee fully supported the fishermen's demands. He said the committee had unanimously decided that the fishermen should be helped.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [03] Jet-ski owners go back to work

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE SIT-IN by several dozen water-sports operators at the Presidential Palace ended yesterday after two ministers agreed to meet with their union representative, Demetris Hadjidemetriou, the new president of the Cyprus Water Sports Association, said.

    "We decided to take our boats and leave the Palace," Hadjidemetriou told the Cyprus Mailaround noon yesterday, saying Communications & Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou and Commerce & Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis had agreed to meet with the water-sports operators later this week.

    The decision to leave came a day after a street blockade by some 200 water- sports operators, who massed boats, jet-skis, trailers and trucks outside the Palace before camping out there overnight for what they threatened would be an open-ended bivouac.

    Their departure yesterday from the park outside the Palace walls also ended an indefinite strike of all water-sports rentals by most of the operators on the island.

    Hadjidemetriou said key to their departure were meetings between Melios Georgiou, General Secretary of Povek (the Union of Small Businessmen and Retailers representing the water-sports operators) and two officials close to President Glafcos Clerides.

    He said Georgiou had managed to talk to Presidential Secretary Nicos Panayiotou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros in the Presidential Palace yesterday.

    "Kouros promised him to contact Ierodiaconou" to arrange for a meeting between the two men "because he believed there are grounds to discuss the problem and settle it."

    Hadjidemetriou said Ierodiaconou was also at the Palace yesterday, and had agreed to talk today with Georgiou about the new regulations the water- sports operators say are driving them out of business. He also said Georgiou had been promised a meeting on Friday with Rolandis.

    "I saw Ierodiaconou (at the Palace) and we arranged for a meeting on Wednesday at 11.30am," Georgiou told the Cyprus Mail.

    Georgiou said he had been given "no assurances" by Ierodiaconou, Kouros or Panayiotou. "The most important people who can solve the problem are Mr Rolandis and Mr Ierodiaconou," he said. "We have to meet with them and discuss the situation, and ask them to solve the problem."

    One new regulation ordered by Ierodiaconou moves water-sports rental sites away from their accustomed hotel swimming areas, and out to the margins of the island's swimming beaches.

    Another change, mandated in a new law passed by Parliament, reduces the hours of water-sports operation to 10am-1pm and 4pm-7pm. Under the old rules, they used to run from sunrise to sunset.

    The rule changes are the government's reaction to at least three jet-ski accidents last year that killed one British tourist and seriously injured three others.

    The water-sports operators had been threatening to shut down all their rentals on the island and camp outside the Presidential Palace until the government ceased enforcing the rules moving their rental sites.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [04] House fury over dolphin import permit

    THE HOUSE Environment committee yesterday threatened to put the government in the dock over the granting of licences for the import of dolphins.

    The committee has already made plain its objection to a cabinet decision allowing an Ayia Napa dolphinarium to bring in more of the marine mammals -- a move which breaches wildlife conventions to which Cyprus is signatory.

    The last dolphins imported to the island died in captivity.

    But the clash between state and House took on a whole new dimension yesterday.

    The committee heard that Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous was refusing to table before them the memorandum on the issue sent to the Council of Ministers by his ministry.

    Themistocleous cited the confidentiality of cabinet minutes as reason for refusing to hand over the memorandum, which Ministers considered before granting the import licence.

    Committee chairman Demetris Iliades said deputies had the right to see any documents relevant to a matter they were considering.

    He warned his committee would report to the plenum asking for a special investigating committee to be set up. Under a 1995 law, the investigating committee would be able to call witnesses to testify under oath.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [05] Key witness says suspect tried to kill him

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE SURVIVOR of a murderous gun attack pointed out the man he said was one of his would-be killers before a Nicosia court yesterday.

    On the morning of December 16, Charalambos Onisiforou escaped as hit-mens' bullets ripped through a car that he and his cousin Hambis Aeroporos were driving from Ypsonas to Limassol. Hambis, 36, was killed.

    Yesterday, Onisiforou, 29, was a witness for the prosecution in the ongoing trial of five persons -- including two policemen -- suspected of involvement in the murder.

    The witness told the three-bench Assizes court how, as the hooded hit-men drove up behind Hambis' car and the bullets began to fly, he jumped out and ran for the cover of a roadside garden centre. He then made for a nearby house, from the window of which he saw one of the hit-men, who had come after him, take off his hood, the court heard.

    "He looked like accused number one," Onisiforou told the Assizes court in Nicosia, gesturing towards policeman Christos Symeonides sitting in the dock. Symeonides, 35, only smiled.

    "He was shouting to someone behind him. He shouted a name but I cannot be sure what it was as my hearing is not all that good, I think it was 'Come over here Pavlos'," Onisiforou told the court.

    The other four suspects are: ex-special policeman Savvas Ioannou, 33, waiter Prokopis Prokopi, 35, cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43, and his 51- year-old sister and hospital cleaner Zoe Alexandrou. All five suspects have pleaded not guilty to charges of involvement in the killing of Hambis and the attempted murder of Onisiforou.

    Symeonides' lawyer, Christos Pourgourides, argued that the description of the hit-man Onisiforou first gave to police did not match that of his client. The lawyer said the man Onisiforou described to police was well- built and balding, unlike Symeonides.

    Onisiforou countered that when he said "well-built" he did not mean "muscle- bound" and when he said "balding" he only meant "thinning on top".

    Pourgourides said Onisiforou's family considered Symeonides a "deadly enemy" and the witness was therefore changing his description of the hit- man to match his client's.

    Onisiforou denied altering his description but not that his family considered Symeonides an enemy.

    Symeonides was a suspect for the murder of Onisiforou's cousin, Onisiforos Charalambous Foris, in October 1995.

    The Aeroporos clan's enmity for Symeonides was confirmed by the next prosecution witness, Hambis's younger brother Michalis. The witness said his family had "differences" with both Symeonides and fellow suspect Athinis.

    Before the fatal December attack, Hambis survived another machine-gun attack in Limassol in June 1995.

    His younger brother, Andros, 32, was gunned down outside Limassol's Show Palace cabaret in July 1998.

    Just eight weeks earlier, Aeroporos brothers Hambis, Andros and Panicos, 26, had been acquitted of the May 1997 attempted murder of Larnaca gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros.

    The attacks are thought to be part of an ongoing turf war between rival underworld gangs vying for control of the cabaret circuit, a front for gambling, prostitution and drugs rackets.

    Onisiforou and Michalis Aeroporos have both survived bomb attacks.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [06] Planners hope to ease Gavrielides congestion by September

    MOTORISTS tired of rush-hour delays at the Gavrielides intersection in Nicosia can take heart: by mid-September, the two decaying buildings jutting into Grivas Dighenis Avenue will be demolished, expanding that street from three lanes to four.

    The buildings in question are the Tsiappas Building and the Athena Secondary School, on the southwest corner of the major intersection, City Engineer Costas Constantinou said yesterday.

    "I'm hoping to start in the last week of July and to complete the work by August 20, when people are away on the holidays, so there will not be so much traffic," Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail.

    "The last week in August, the Public Works Department will do the extra (westbound) lane," on Grivas Dhigenis Avenue, he said. "I'm hoping to complete everything by mid-September, when people return (from holiday)."

    The demolition will mean there will be "an extra lane on Grivas Dighenis Avenue, so that when you are coming from Santa Rosa Avenue, you will have two lanes to go to on Dighenis, instead of the one today, which creates a lot of traffic problems and congestion," Constantinou said.

    "It took over 10 years" of increasing traffic congestion at the busy intersection and court battles finally to acquire the Tsiappas Building, Constantinou said.

    The problem arose when the city, in acquiring the Tsiappas Building, took a bit more square footage to complete the widening of Grivas Dighenis Street than was needed, he said.

    The Attorney-general balked, saying the city could not take over more of the building's land than it needed to widen Grivas Dighenis Avenue, he said.

    So the city finally swapped 700 square metres of the land it acquired when it bought the Athena Secondary School for £350,000 in return for the entire Tsiappas Building's 900 square metres of land, Constantinou said, adding: "Everybody's happy."

    Constantinou conceded there were several other streets in Nicosia where buildings or trees blocked one lane of heavily used roads. One such site is on Nikis Avenue, not far from the Gavrielides intersection.

    "We have a problem there with the owner," he said. "We went to court," to win the right to demolish the building. "It's taken about 10 years in the courts."

    But the city finally won, he said. "The house will be demolished," to free up the blocked lane of Nikis Avenue. "It will be completed, I'm hoping, by the end of this year," he added.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [07] Journalists challenge Dame Ann to prove they are wrong

    By Jean Christou

    THE UNION of Journalists yesterday challenged Unficyp Chief of Mission Dame Ann Hercus to prove her claim that she was not behind the omission of the missing persons issue from UN resolutions on Cyprus passed last week.

    In a written statement, the Union condemned Dame Ann for her recent attack on the media in the pages of Politis.

    The union statement quoted Dame Ann as saying the local press was rife with rumour and fantastic stories on the work of Unficyp -- the like of which was "not seen in north Cyprus and other places in the world".

    She also said that 90 per cent of the Greek Cypriot media refused to address inaccuracies.

    Dame Ann was angered last week by reports that she had been behind the omission of the missing persons issue in the new UN resolutions.

    On June 29, the Security Council passed two resolutions on Cyprus, one relating to the extension of Unficyp's six-monthly mandate and the second on Secretary-general Kofi Annan's mission of good offices on the island.

    She was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain how the omission came about and later said that Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides had "totally accepted" her assurances that the media reports concerning the issue were wrong.

    However, both Cassoulides and the government spokesman cast doubts on her explanation, saying that members of the Security Council had confirmed Dame Ann's intervention in the issue.

    Dame Ann categorically denied the allegations made against her, blaming media reports for getting it wrong.

    On Saturday, Alithianewspaper also cast aspersions on Dame Ann, reporting that the government allegedly had documents which proved who was behind the omission.

    The Union of Journalists' statement yesterday challenged Dame Ann to provide proof that she had not been behind the omission.

    The union said Dame Ann had the right -- like any other person -- to declare her views, but said it did not agree with the way she generalised, using "unrestrained, indiscriminate and inexcusable accusations."

    "She attacked the press because they gave accurate reports on the issue," the statement said. "We call on her, since she insists, to prove her allegations beyond doubt."

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [08] Current period critical for Cyprus, says Clay

    THE CURRENT period is critical for the Cyprus problem, British High Commissioner Edward Clay said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with House President Spyros Kyprianou, Clay said the recent G8 statements calling for Cyprus talks to resume with no preconditions were good for both sides on the island.

    Britain, Clay added, would like to see the initiative survive.

    He said he had explained to Kyprianou why Britain was attached to the G8 initiative, "why we want it to succeed, accepting on the one hand that Cypriots want to think very carefully about how to approach their joint future, and at the same time (seeking) to avoid the sort of controversies that might mean another initiative is spoiled before it gets started."

    Clay said that the main reason for his visit to Kyprianou had been for the Diko leader to brief him on his party's opinion on where the Cyprus problem should go from here.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday quoted Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as saying he did not expect a direct invitation from the UN Secretary General to take part in Cyprus negotiations.

    Speaking in the eastern Black Sea region, Denktash told reporters that even if invited he would not go.

    "We wrote to him (UN Secretary General Kofi Annan) that this is not the time to issue such an invitation," said Denktash.

    He also claimed the world was beginning to understand why the Turkish side wanted a confederal solution and added that anyone who expected Turkey to make any concessions would be disappointed.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [09] Egyptian cruise ship in Limassol pile up

    A PANAMANIAN-flagged cruise ship involved in a collision at Limassol port on Monday night sailed into the sunset without assessing the damages, it emerged yesterday.

    A three-ship collision caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage, injured a sailor and disabled a crane belonging to the Ports Authority, authorities said.

    The Egyptian-owned Al Salam, which is flying under the Panamanian open registry, a flag of convenience (FoC), was carrying 734 passengers on a Mediterranean cruise. It had stopped over in Limassol on a day trip.

    A Ports Authority spokesman said that under circumstances which were still unknown, the Al Salamhit the cargo ship Rio1, which in turn hit another cargo ship, the Bianca.

    A sailor aboard the Rio1was slightly injured by the impact.

    The Al Salam's funnel then hit the Ports Authority's crane causing serious damage, and the cruise ship sailed off without notifying the authorities or assessing its own damage. "It was heading for another port in the Mediterranean before going back to Egypt," a spokesman at the port said. "It will be back in Cyprus next week."

    [10] Iranian woman critical after escape bid ends in balcony fall

    A YOUNG Iranian woman is critically ill in hospital after falling from a second floor balcony, apparently while trying to escape from immigration police.

    Elaheh Habibzal Aliakbar, 22, sustained serious head injuries in the fall from the Limassol apartment building, when she tried to climb out on realising that police were knocking on her door.

    Her husband, Hassan Abdollah Araanfar, 32, had already been arrested on suspicion of burglary. He was remanded by the Limassol court yesterday for three days.

    According to police sources, Aliakbar spotted her husband in the police car downstairs and attempted to escape, but fell some seven metres to the ground.

    She was rushed to Limassol hospital by ambulance and put in intensive care.

    Police also arrested five other foreign nationals in the apartment, all of whom were believed to be in Cyprus illegally.

    They also found £3,000 worth of new electrical goods said to have been stolen from a local shop.

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    Wednesday, July 7, 1999

    [11] OA strike to affect flights from Larnaca

    TWO OLYMPIC Airways flights out of Larnaca Airport will be affected by today's second 24-hour strike by staff of Greece's state carrier.

    The airline announced yesterday that only one of its three scheduled flights to Athens will take place because of today's strike, effective from one minute past midnight on Tuesday.

    Only OA 330 will leaving Larnaca this morning.

    Because of the strike, Olympic Airways announced it was cancelling 50 out of 79 domestic and international flights today.

    The peak holiday season disruptions -- the first being last Thursday -- are the result of staff protests against a British Airways subsidiary, Speedwing, taking over the airline's management.

    Greece's state-owned carrier has not had a profit for 20 years, and the Greek government has warned that the deal with Speedwing is the last chance to turn things around.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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