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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-08

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

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Thursday, July 8, 1999


  • [01] Jet-ski operators revive all-out strike threat
  • [02] Fishermen call off protest
  • [03] Cabinet agrees to help potato farmers
  • [04] Britain seeks prosecution of Turkish Cypriot over London racist murder
  • [05] Cocaine stash found on Liberian ship
  • [06] Shares sharply lower for second successive session
  • [07] Akel calls for exemptions to new helmet law
  • [08] Man jailed for carrying bomb
  • [09] Car destroyed in arson attack

  • [01] Jet-ski operators revive all-out strike threat

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE THREAT of an all-out strike by water-sports operators was resurrected yesterday in their meeting with Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou.

    "It's a war," Demitris Hadjidemetriou, the new president of the Cyprus Water Sports Association, told the Cyprus Mailafter meeting with Ierodiaconou.

    "It's obvious that Mr Ierodiaconou was playing with words and still believes he has in front of him stupid people and idiots," a dejected Hadjidemetriou said.

    The meeting was called to see if a compromise could be found over disputed new regulations ordered by Ierodiaconou, which water-sports operators claim are driving them out of business.

    Melios Georgiou, General Secretary of Povek (the Union of Small Businessmen and Retailers), which is representing the water-sports operators, led the union delegation to the talks.

    The rule change at issue moves water-sports rental sites and their sea- access corridors, away from their accustomed hotel swimming areas and out to the margins of the island's swimming beaches.

    The operators say the move to the beach margins is hurting their business. They say bunching them all together far from the seafront hotels not only concentrates competition, but forces tourists to walk great distances from their hotels to rent jet-skis, motor-boats and other water-sports equipment.

    "We discussed the subject with Minister Ierodiaconou," Hadjidemetriou said. "Unfortunately, he wants us to agree with his proposal to move the boat corridors."

    "Then we do our study about where we need to have some changes, and then they will come back to us and say whether they agree with what we suggest or not," he added.

    "In the meantime, he (Ierodiaconou) asked us to move to the places they chose. That means we end up nowhere. If we agree to these moves, there's no point in making any more complaints," he said.

    Hadjidemetriou said his Association planned to poll its membership in beach towns around the island and then hold a general meeting today with Povek: "we'll decide what to do from then on."

    "But believe me, it's a war. We're going to (go on strike) indefinitely," he pledged.

    The promise of yesterday's meeting with Ierodiaconou, and another planned for tomorrow with Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis had persuaded the sea-sports operators to call off their sit-in outside the Presidential Palace on Tuesday and go back to work.

    They went on strike on Monday and staged an unruly protest outside the Palace, blocking all four lanes of the main road with some 50 jeeps towing boats and jet-skis.

    The street-blockade ended after riot police towed away a dozen or so vehicles and arrested three demonstrators.

    The protesters originally pledged to stay on strike and camp outside the Presidential Palace until the government revoked the new regulations for their trade, but accepted to back down in exchange for meetings with the two ministers.

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

    The changed have received a mixed response from the island's powerful tourism industry.

    Some hotels endorse the restrictions on water-sports near their swimming beaches. Others, whose package-tour brochures advertised convenient water- sports, oppose the changes as damaging to their business.

    Another rule change, that was simultaneously 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 operators also oppose this change on the grounds it increases the risk of accidents by forcing more tourists to try to cram water sports into fewer hours.

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [02] Fishermen call off protest

    By Athena Karsera

    PROFESSIONAL fishermen yesterday called off their demonstration outside the Presidential Palace after they were granted a meeting with the President next week.

    The fishermen began a 48-hour picket outside the Palace on Tuesday, which saw skirmishes with police and three arrests.

    The three were later released after agreeing to leave the scene of the demonstration.

    Following yesterday's meeting of the Council of Ministers, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous told the 200 or so fishermen waiting outside the Palace that they would be meeting with President Glafcos Clerides next Wednesday afternoon, "provided there were no more demonstrations."

    He said the government had already tried to do a lot to help the industry and would try to do more in the future.

    The President of the Professional Fishermen's Union, Andreas Adamou, welcomed the government's offer as a positive development, but warned that if their demands were not met to their satisfaction they would take more radical action.

    The fishermen want more government compensation for the damage dolphins and turtles do to their nets, and are calling on the government to take action to keep the sea creatures from damaging their nets.

    They also want a stop to fishing licences being handed out "indiscriminately."

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [03] Cabinet agrees to help potato farmers

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE CABINET yesterday decided to come to the aid of the island's cash- strapped potato growers.

    Prompted by the threat of protests from potato farmers outside the Presidential Palace today, Ministers decided to discuss the issue of state compensation for their losses.

    Potato growers, who rely on exports to the UK and the rest of Europe to make their money, have in recent years been suffering the effects of tough competition from cheaper Italian and Spanish exports.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous and Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis jointly announced the good news for potato growers after yesterday morning's cabinet meeting.

    The ministers said it had been decided that a ministerial committee would be set up to determine the level of damages suffered by the growers. The potato farmers would then be compensated accordingly, Themistocleous and Rolandis said.

    Following this development, growers decided to call off the protest planned for today.

    The Cyprus potato has traditionally sold well in Britain and Europe, but a disastrous 1997 crop meant local growers lost their foothold in the European market, allowing producers from other countries to take over.

    Even though subsequent harvests have been bumper, the local growers cannot produce as cheaply as their Italian and Spanish counterparts and are therefore poorly placed to win back market domination.

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [04] Britain seeks prosecution of Turkish Cypriot over London racist murder

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A MAN wanted by Scotland Yard in connection with the racist murder of black pop star Michael Menson could stand trial in the occupied areas instead of Britain.

    The suspect is being questioned by Turkish Cypriot 'police' -- who are being assisted by Metropolitan police detectives -- about the brutal murder of Menson, 29, in Edmonton, London two years ago.

    "British police have provided Turkish Cypriot police with some evidence to help them decide whether to prosecute," said British High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet yesterday.

    The man -- who fled London to escape justice -- is said to be of Turkish Cypriot origin and in his early 30s (his name has not been released).

    The Turkish Cypriot authorities are considering whether the suspect can be prosecuted locally because he cannot be extradited to the UK.

    "Because Britain does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a state, there is no extradition treaty," said Cazalet.

    Two detectives from the Metropolitan police arrived on the island last month to follow up the murder investigation after the suspect was tracked down to north Cyprus, where he was arrested on Monday.

    According to informed sources, the most likely option is that the suspect will be committed to trial in a Turkish Cypriot 'court' as the local authorities are understood to be keen to prosecute.

    "We expect him to appear in court in the next few days where we understand a decision will be made on whether to charge him or not," the High Commission spokesman said.

    But if the man is allowed to go free, there is very little the British authorities can do, as he cannot be handed over to stand trial in Britain.

    Menson, the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, was set on fire with lighter fuel in a north London phone box in January 1997. He died two weeks later of horrific burns.

    Two men have been charged with his murder, Greek Cypriot Charalambos Constantinou and Mauritian Mario Pereira, 25.

    A third man, Turkish Cypriot Husseyin Abdullah, has been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

    Only after a persistent campaign by the Menson family did police record the attack as racially motivated, one year after it occurred.

    The murder case has become a highly sensitive one since strong parallels have been drawn between the police's unwillingness to investigate Menson's death and their failure to convict the alleged white killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

    In the late 80s and early 90s Menson's band Double Trouble made several top ten hits in the UK charts before splitting up in 1993.

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [05] Cocaine stash found on Liberian ship

    A DRUG squad swoop on a Liberian-flagged ship docked at Limassol port yesterday uncovered a record cocaine haul of 5.2 kilos.

    The cocaine was seized after police were tipped off about a large stash of narcotics on board the Pittsburg.

    A search by police and customs officers found the drugs in the ship's storerooms.

    The Liberian-flagged vessel is owned by a German shipping company, which informed police there might be drugs on board after the Pittsburg's captain became suspicious. The cargo vessel was than diverted to Cyprus, where officers uncovered 16 packets of cocaine with a street value of 400, 000, police said.

    According to police, the final destination of the cocaine was not Cyprus.

    Investigations are continuing.

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [06] Shares sharply lower for second successive session

    SHARE prices ended sharply lower yesterday for the second successive session, shedding 1.95 per cent on a volume valued at 11.52 million. On Tuesday, shares dropped by 1.07 per cent, snapping an impressive run in which shares soared to nine consecutive record closes.

    Shares of trading companies were the biggest losers yesterday. The sector's sub-index fell by 4.34 per cent on a volume of 1.30 million with Nicos Shacolas' flagships Woolworth and CTC dipping by 4.1 cent and 9.9 cents to 1.12 and 1.97 respectively.

    The banks attracted 4.05 million but their sub-index plunged by 2.39 per cent with Hellenic Bank down by 25.8 cents to end the day at 4.94. The Bank of Cyprus was lower by 22.2 cents to close at 7.08, while the Popular Bank also finished in negative territory, slimming down by 13.8 cents to finish at 3.98.

    Of the bourse's seven sub-indices, only tourism companies were up in yesterday's trade. The volume the sector attracted, however, was anaemic at 770,156, with Salamis tours shooting up by nine cents to close at 1.26.

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [07] Akel calls for exemptions to new helmet law

    COMMUNIST party Akel yesterday tabled a bill before the House of Representatives seeking an amendment to the law on crash helmets.

    A statement from the party said a provision should be included to exempt riders of motorcycles under 50cc in urban areas from having to wear helmets.

    Helmets became compulsory from July 1 for riders of all motor cycles, but motorcyclists have been given a grace period until July 12 before the law will be enforced.

    The Akel motion states that motorbikes under 50cc do not travel fast in any case and that they are mostly driven by elderly people around town.

    These are the people most affected by having to wear helmets in the "unbearable" summer heat, and they are suffering dizziness and headaches, Akel said.

    Helmets will also prove to be a problem when secondary pupils return to school in the Autumn, because thousands of helmets will be brought into the buildings.

    Similar problems will arise at football stadiums, the party said.

    "All this will lead to people abandoning their mopeds in favour of cars, which will result in more problems in towns," the statement said.

    It does not say why none of these issues were addressed by party members at committee level before the helmet bill was passed into law.

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [08] Man jailed for carrying bomb

    THE ASSIZES court in Nicosia yesterday sentenced a Strovolos car repair man to two-and-a-half years imprisonment for illegal possession and transport of explosives.

    Kyriacos Andreou Kaimis, 28, had been arrested on Nicosia's Limassol Avenue on the afternoon of December 12 after police found a home-made explosive device in his car.

    Reports at the time suggested the bomb had been destined for a gangland hit.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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    Thursday, July 8, 1999

    [09] Car destroyed in arson attack

    POLICE believe arsonists were behind the destruction of a car in the Strovolos suburb of Nicosia in the early hours yesterday.

    A car belonging to Yiannakis Ilia, and parked outside his home on Tseriou street, burst into flames at about 3.30am, police said. The blaze was put out by the fire brigade before it caused serious damage to Ilia's home.

    Police later found evidence to suggest the fire had been started deliberately.

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