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

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

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


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Saturday, August 07, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Louis chairman defends his executives
  • [02] Bases say Akrotiri fire started deliberately
  • [03] Akel lashes out at 'monstrous' Lenin documentary
  • [04] Talks under way to move parliament into Yiorkion complex
  • [05] Ant1 seeks takeover over CyBC2
  • [06] Anastassiades promises parade 'surprise'
  • [07] Solomis orders investigation into kidney drug scandal
  • [08] Yugoslav held for 'corrupting minor'
  • [09] CyTA to slash cost of international calls
  • [10] Swiss tourists fined for smoking cannabis
  • [11] Police probe Bases ‘arson’

  • [01] Louis chairman defends his executives

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE EXECUTIVE Chairman of Louis Cruise Lines came out in defence of two of his top executives yesterday, saying he was satisfied with the explanations they gave for selling a huge number of shares and warrants on the very day the stock hit the market.

    Costakis Loizou said the two -- Managing-Director Stelios Kiliaris and General Manager (Finance) Spyros Spyrides -- continued to enjoy the trust of the board and that their actions were justified.

    "The public should not be misled by rumours and seditious talk and instead should concentrate on the financial realities and prospects of every company," said Loizou in a statement.

    He was apparently responding to various negative rumours about Louis Cruise Lines, which began to make the rounds when Kiliaris and Spyrides sold tens of thousands of shares and warrants on the market on Tuesday.

    Traders blamed the plunge of the Louis share price on Wednesday and Thursday on news of the sale, seen by investors to suggest little confidence in the future of the company, one of the world's largest cruise operators.

    Kiliaris has said that he had only sold 14 per cent of his holdings in Louis and that he intended to hold on to the 400,000 he still owns. His decision to sell last Tuesday, he said, was agreed in advance with the company and was necessary to repay a loan he took to buy the stocks. He and his wife sold nearly 100,000 shares and warrants, but he dismissed suggestions that his action was responsible for the stock's unexpected skid on Wednesday and Thursday.

    No details were available on the sale by the other executive, Spyrides.

    The Louis share yesterday regained some of the ground it had lost, inching up by 17 cents to close at £2.29 with some 1.8 million shares changing hands. The Louis warrants, however, dipped 3 cents to close at £1.87 with a turnover of some 60,000.

    The all-share index closed 2.96 per cent up at 290.60, less than four points below its all-time high of 294.29 reached last month, and will remain at its current level until it reopens on August 17.

    The Cyprus Stock Exchange decided to close the market for the whole of next week to allow brokerages and listed companies time to weed through a backlog of backroom work which had accumulated due to the dramatic increase in volume in recent months.

    The market was closed on July 26 and 27 for the same purpose but the two- day break proved insufficient to tackle the problem. When the market reopened on Wednesday July 28, volume was an awesome £68.98 million and the index jumped an unprecedented 18.62 per cent.

    In yesterday's trade, the Bank of Cyprus went up by 45.5 cents to close at £12.28 on its last trading day before its two-for-one split comes into effect in about two weeks' time.

    The Popular Bank also had a good market day yesterday, going up by 18.5 cents to close at £7.18. Hellenic Bank, heading toward a four-for-one split next month, appreciated by 39.5 cents to close at £8.86.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [02] Bases say Akrotiri fire started deliberately

    By Selina Denman

    THE BRITISH Bases are treating as arson a huge brush fire which swept across RAF Akrotiri yesterday, forcing the evacuation of 100 people.

    "We believe the fire was started deliberately with matches," bases spokesman Robert Need told the Cyprus Mail.

    Sources said the authorities suspected two people were responsible for starting the fire.

    "The cause of the fire is the subject of a police inquiry," Need added.

    The fire started at around midday yesterday and spread rapidly, covering an area said to be about the size of 10 football pitches. It was contained after two hours by the combined efforts of 150 soldiers and 10 fire engines from the bases and the Cyprus fire service. RAF Akrotiri's 84th Squadron also provided Wessex helicopters to support the effort.

    There was no injury or damage to facilities, but about 100 people in married quarters were forced to evacuate their homes and flee the flames, a bases announcement said. The buildings were later declared safe as emergency services brought the fire under control.

    Corporal Alasdair Allen, an eye-witness photographer said yesterday's fire was "a grim reminder" of a devastating blaze last August, which destroyed 14 homes, including that of Major-General Ramsay, Commander of the British forces in Cyprus.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [03] Akel lashes out at 'monstrous' Lenin documentary

    By Martin Hellicar

    LEFT-WING Akel yesterday lashed out at state television channel CyBC2 for its "monstrous" decision to screen an uncomplimentary BBC documentary about Lenin.

    The main opposition party rushed to the defence of the father of the October 1917 Russian revolution.

    "CyBC2's decision to screen at 23.30 on July 28 a British BBC documentary on the life of Lenin that was in bad taste and sycophantic was a provocation for the feelings of a significant section of the Cypriot public, " Akel stated in an announcement.

    The BBC documentary suggested Lenin suffered violent mood swings and actually castigated his own secret police for not being ruthless enough in stamping out all opposition to his revolution.

    Akel said the documentary was a pack of lies. "Among his other abberations, the deluded director and producer presented the great Lenin as a deranged womaniser, who, in moments of crisis, was subject to violent outbursts of authoritarianism," Akel complained.

    "CyBC2's blunder in screening such a monstrous documentary constitutes an insult and slur to the name of the greatest revolutionary of all time," the communist party stated.

    Objective historians recognised Lenin as one of the greatest figures of the century, Akel insisted.

    CyBC was guilty of "twisting historical truth" and should watch its step in the future, the party concluded.

    Akel general secretary Demetris Christofias last month wrote an open letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin calling on him to abandon moves to remove Lenin's mausoleum from Moscow's Red Square.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [04] Talks under way to move parliament into Yiorkion complex

    By Martin Hellicar

    DEPUTIES could be moving up in the world, swapping the dilapidated surroundings of the existing parliamentary building for the no-expenses- spared luxury of the Yiorkion Residence.

    The Cyprus Mailhas learnt that the government is in negotiations with a view to buying the recently moth-balled high-class hotel and shopping centre as a new home for parliament.

    These negotiations are, according to one source, going "extremely well." The proposed purchase price for the plush high-rise complex is reported to be around the £20 million mark.

    House president Spyros Kyprianou has his heart set on a move to the Yiorkion, a reliable source said. Kyprianou is apparently personally heading negotiations on the government side.

    The Yiorkion opened in a blaze of publicity just over a year ago but never lived up to expectations and finally closed its doors a few days ago.

    But the half a mile move across town for deputies would provide plenty of ammunition for opposition parties.

    Buying and renovating the Yiorkion would cost considerably more than the £15 million the state has budgeted for building a new House.

    Work has already begun on a new parliament building in central Nicosia, but the discovery of antiquities under the construction site has put a spanner in the works.

    The government thinking seems to be that the Yiorkion would provide a quick- fix solution to the situation.

    But Akel mouthpiece Haravghihas already made clear its position on the matter, claiming the government only wants to buy the complex in order to bail out its owners, whom the paper describes as government cronies. The Yiorkion is a totally unsuitable site for the House, Haravghiargued.

    Similar allegations were made when the state bought a privately-built block of flats to house the Education Ministry.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [05] Ant1 seeks takeover over CyBC2

    ANTENNA is seeking to take over state broadcaster CyBC's second television channel, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou confirmed yesterday.

    Christodoulou told reporters he had received a letter from Antenna president Loucis Papaphilipou announcing his desire to take over CyBC2.

    The minister said Antenna had assured him it would retain CyBC2's name and character, as well as all its international contracts, such as its broadcasting agreement with Euronews.

    The letter, which was accompanied by a feasibility study, suggested that in return for handing over the channel, the state would receive a certain income, guaranteed to be higher than what is earned at present.

    Christodoulou said the proposal was currently being "examined and studied" by ministry officials.

    This is the first time a private company has proposed to take over a state television channel in Cyprus.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [06] Anastassiades promises parade 'surprise'

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE S-300s may be history, but the public can expect a big "surprise" defence boost come the October 1 military parade, the leader of ruling Disy, Nicos Anastassiades, has promised.

    The December 31 decision to bow to international pressure not to bring the Russian-made S-300 ground-to-air missiles was the current government's darkest hour.

    It has spent a good deal of its time since then desperately rebuffing suggestions the Defence Dogma military pact with Greece was in tatters as a result. The S-300s, ordered for some £ 200 million, were meant to provide air cover for the Paphos air base, so that Greek air force jets could use it to defend the island against a possible Turkish attack.

    The missiles were eventually re-directed to Crete.

    Anastassiades was keen to assure an audience of student Disy members, whom he addressed on Thursday night, that the National Guard's arsenal was going from strength to strength. A close look at the Independence Day march past on October 1 would prove to all the "doubters" that the island had more than adequate defence cover and the dogma was alive and kicking, Anastassiades assured his audience.

    "The Dogma is a fact that no one can dispute," the right-wing party leader said. "The Dogma is a political decision that is every day transformed into practical implementation and it should in no way be linked to whether this or that defensive system is here or in Crete or anywhere else," he said.

    He did not disclose what the surprise armaments on show in eight weeks time would be.

    Reports on Thursday suggested the National Guard was to receive six TOR-M1 short-range missile systems from Greece as part-exchange for the long-range S-300s deployed in Crete.

    House president Spyros Kyprianou yesterday returned from a visit to Crete to see the S-300s at their adopted homes. He said he was well-satisfied with what he had seen.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [07] Solomis orders investigation into kidney drug scandal

    By Anthony O. Miller

    HEALTH Minister Christos Solomis yesterday said he had ordered an investigation of two Ministry pharmacies in connection with the disappearance of a large quantity of the life-enhancing kidney drug, erythropoetine, from Nicosia General Hospital.

    Solomis said he had given Senior Medical Officer Dr Andreas Demosthenous the task of uncovering possible negligence by two officers of two of the ministry's pharmacies.

    In announcing Demosthenous' appointment, Solomis released the findings of a ministry internal investigation into the affair by Dr Costas Mallis, chief of medical services at the Public Health Service.

    A separate police criminal probe has been begun into allegations the missing medicine -- which is not available in private clinics -- was siphoned from government stocks and sold for use in doping horses at Nicosia Racetrack.

    Solomis said the two pharmacy officers should have alerted the Ministry of Health in writing of the drastic drop in erythropoetine stocks long before the stocks ran out in June.

    According to Mallis' findings, Solomis said, the shortage could have been avoided if the order for new supplies of the drug had requested 25 per cent more of it than was ordered in 1998.

    "The murder has been done. The body is there. We are looking for the culprit," Solomis said, noting he was acting on evidence uncovered by government ombudsman Eliana Nicolaou, and on certain other evidence. He was not more specific.

    He said the two officers, whose names would probably be made public today, would be informed in writing about the matter, but would not suspended from work until the investigation was over.

    He also said that if the ongoing police probe into the matter showed other ministry officers were involved, or if criminal offences were uncovered, he would act accordingly.

    He was quick to add that all officers of his ministry were innocent until proven otherwise.

    Solomis earlier pegged the value of the missing 26 per cent of the ministry's supply of erythropoetine -- some 4,131,000 units of the drug -- at £22,000. But he noted that, if it had been sold on the black market, as alleged, it had a much higher value.

    Solomis finessed the question when asked if the two officers had tried to tamper with patient files -- as reported in the media. He merely said the police investigation would be thorough.

    The 26 per cent drop in erythropoetine stocks was originally confirmed by a joint ministry-police probe. It involved checking files of the 127 patients taking the drug at Nicosia General Hospital between November 1998 through May 1999.

    Erythropoetine is used to improve kidney patients' quality of life and is usually administered after they undergo kidney dialysis.

    Solomis said that, even if Nicosia General doctors had failed to update patients' files after prescribing the drug, this could not account for so large a deficit as the 4,131,000 international units of the medicine that went missing.

    He also said that if this amount had not disappeared, supplies of the drug would have lasted for at least two and a half months beyond June, when it ran out.

    In her report, Ombudswoman Nicolaou -- who took up the matter at the request of the New Horizons Party -- said the Health Ministry had been slow to secure fresh supplies of the missing drug, even though it was aware of the urgent need.

    She also noted the double urgency of replacing the missing medicine, since only the government can distribute it; it is not legally available in the private sector.

    New Horizons, which has called for Solomis' resignation over the scandal, yesterday accused him of mishandling the matter, and demanded a full criminal investigation into it.

    Besides the race-horse-doping angle, police are also probing whether the tender process for more of the drug done legally.

    Tenders went out in February, with March 19 as the closing date, but the contract was only signed on June 15, after the medicine had already run out.

    The delay is said to have been caused by a court appeal by one supplier against the award of the tender to a second company, on grounds the appellant's bid was lower than the bid of the company that eventually won the tender.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [08] Yugoslav held for 'corrupting minor'

    A 28-YEAR-OLD Yugoslav was yesterday remanded in custody on suspicion of corrupting a minor in Limassol.

    Limassol District court heard that the suspect had had sex with a 14-year- old girl on a number of occasions between January and July this year. The court also heard that police were investigating complaints that the man had, at some point during the same seven-month period, abducted the minor from her parents' home.

    The court remanded the suspect in police custody for six days.

    Limassol police were yesterday also searching for a 30-year-old Limassol man suspected of raping a cabaret artiste on Tuesday afternoon.

    According to a complaint made to police by the foreign artiste, she bumped into the man, whom she knew by sight as a regular at her cabaret, in the town's notorious Heroes square. He asked her back to his flat for coffee and she accepted. But once there, the man attacked and raped her, she told police.

    A medical examination showed the artiste had bruising on her face, police said.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [09] CyTA to slash cost of international calls

    THE PRICE of telephone calls to the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and Greece will fall from August 11, CyTA announced yesterday.

    In a statement, the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority said prices would fall by up to 59 per cent for the US, up to 31 per cent to the UK and Germany, eight per cent to Russia and up to five per cent for Greece.

    CyTA said that the reductions applied for calls made from mobile, fixed and public telephones, and at both peak and off-peak times.

    Fixed line calls to the US, which currently cost £0,975 per minute at peak time and £0,709 off-peak, will cost £0,40 and £0,30 per minute respectively after August 11.

    Calls made to the US from mobile phones will fall to £0,46 and £0,36 compared to the current £1,034 and £0,751 per minute.

    Reduced rates will not apply to calls made via operator services or through Russia's private telephone networks, the CyTA statement noted.

    The lower rates come as a nod to anticipated competition in CyTA's preparation for EU deregulation.

    The semi-government organisation currently has a monopoly on the island's telecommunications market.

    [10] Swiss tourists fined for smoking cannabis

    TWO SWISS banking clerks were yesterday fined £500 each for the possession and use of five grams of cannabis.

    Keller Paielire and Dieter Raffael Steiger, both 19 and from Zurich, pleaded guilty to the charges at Larnaca district court.

    Paielire and Steiger were arrested earlier this week when police found the drugs in a ventilator in their Ayia Napa apartment. Two used marijuana cigarette stubs were also found in an ashtray and confiscated as evidence.

    Paielire and Steiger arrived on the island on July 31 and return to Switzerland today. Police searched their apartment after a tip-off that the two used drugs.

    Speaking in his clients' defence, lawyer Michael Pelekanos yesterday told the court that the two's holidays had been ruined and noted that they may also face consequences when they returned home once their parents and employers had been informed about the incident.

    Pelekanos said even though drug use in Switzerland was not a criminal offence and did not have stigma attached to it, his clients understood they should not have used drugs in Cyprus.

    He said that Paielire and Steiger were not addicts and had no involvement with drug dealing.

    Passing sentence, Judge Tefkros Economou said he had taken into account the fact that the two were under 25 and that any sentence passed on younger people should motivate reform as opposed to punishment.

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    Saturday, August 07, 1999

    [11] Police probe Bases ‘arson’

    Selina Denman

    THE British Bases are treating as arson a huge brush fire which swept across RAF Akrotiri yesterday, forcing the evacuation of 100 people. "We believe the fire was started deliberately with matches," Bases spokesman Robert Need told the Cyprus Mail.

    Sources said the authorities suspected two people were responsible for starting the blaze. "The cause of the fire is the subject of a police inquiry," Need added. The fire was described as a "grim reminder" of the devastating blaze which destroyed 14 homes at Episkopi last year. That fire broke out on August 11.

    Yesterday’s fire started at around midday and spread rapidly, covering an area said to be about the size of 10 football pitches. It was contained after two hours by the combined efforts of 150 soldiers and 10 fire engines from the bases and the Cyprus fire service. RAF Akrotiri's 84th Squadron also provided Wessex helicopters to support the effort.

    There was no injury or damage to facilities, but about 100 people in married quarters were forced to evacuate their homes and flee the flames, a Bases announcement said. The buildings were later declared safe as emergency services brought the fire under control.

    Corporal Alasdair Allen, an eye-witness photographer said yesterday's fire was "a grim reminder" of the blaze last August which destroyed 14 homes, including that of Major-General Angus Ramsey, Commander of the British Forces in Cyprus. The Episkopi bases were partly devastated by flames from approximately 2.30pm on Monday, August 11, 1998. It caused £2 million damage. Among the gutted homes was Air House, the residence of Major- General Ramsey. At the time Ramsey told the Cyprus Mail, "I have lost everything I own. The house is a write-off."Three kilometres of land were left a charred wasteland as flames spread rapidly, blown by 28-knot winds from the sea. There were no serious casualties reported in the 1998 blaze -- of the 600 soldiers, airmen and firemen who fought the flames, four British soldiers were slightly injured. Three suffered from smoke inhalation, and the fourth was affected by heat stress.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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