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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-09-07

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

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


<title>Government vows to stamp out organised crime after Athinis survives anti-tank attack </title> A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font- weight: bold}

Tuesday, September 7, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government vows to stamp out organised crime after Athinis survives anti-tank attackBy Charlie CharalambousTHE GOVERNMENT vowed yesterday to cleanse the island of organised crime following Sunday's attack on a Limassol cabaret with an anti-tank missile.Gang violence has become commonplace in Limassol, but the use of a bazooka for a murder attempt is unheard of."The government repeats its determination to take all necessary measures to stamp out such crime," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said at yesterday's press briefing."These problems cannot be solved by hope and the government's decisiveness alone, but crucially involves a continued effort by the public to fight crime," he added.There have been a dozen gangland killings since 1995 -- many unsolved and mostly attributed to Limassol and Larnaca clans vying for control of lucrative drugs, gambling and prostitution rackets.Police are treating the latest attack -- on the Blue Pearl cabaret in the notorious Heroes Square -- as part of an on-going vendetta between rival underworld gangs in the town.The target of the attack was cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 44, who was getting out his car, parked in front of the Blue Pearl, when an anti-tank shell exploded at the entrance.Athinis miraculously escaped unharmed, although his police bodyguard was slightly injured.There were no serious injuries and the only damage was a few broken windows in surrounding shops and cars.There were around 30 people inside the cabaret watching the floor show at the time of the attack.Had the shell struck a few centimetres further, it would have hit the entrance and not the wall.The attack was the fourth attempt on the life of Athinis in recent years. Police said they are treating the incident as one of attempted murder.Last August, Athinis was slightly injured when a bomb exploded at his Le Panache cabaret in Limassol.In 1995, his brother Melios was gunned down in a white BMW while driving through Heroes Square, the island's best known red light district.Athinis is one of five suspects standing trial for the gangland murder of Hambis Aeroporos, who was gunned down in Limassol last December. He is currently out on bail.One policeman and a special constable are among those on trial for the murder.Heroes Square has in recent years been the scene for several gangland attacks and has been declared a no-go area by the British Bases.Sunday's explosion was caused by a 66mm shell propelled from a hand-held anti-tank launcher.The weapon and an unused shell were discovered on the roof of a deserted hotel next to the cabaret, police said.Five such weapons were stolen from the National Guard three years ago and investigators believe this is one of them.Limassol mayor Demetris Kontides said the situation in the town's red light district could not go on unchecked, and pledged to close cabarets that break the law.Justice Minister Nicos Koshis chaired a hastily arrange anti-crime meeting at Limassol police HQ yesterday afternoon and visited Heroes Square later in the evening.Koshis has gained considerable popularity for tackling the local Mafia head on, but his reputation could suffer an irreparable blow if he is seen incapable of preventing a new round of bloodletting in Limassol.
  • [02] New US envoy encouraged by meeting with Clerides
  • [03] Syllouris says Anastassiades planting stories to silence dissent
  • [04] British bases they have not been approached on Zakaki plant
  • [05] Swedish tourist jailed for burglary spree
  • [06] Three killed on the roads
  • [07] Doctors advise Christofias to delay return
  • [08] Alibi clears only suspect in Nicosia shooting

  • [01] Government vows to stamp out organised crime after Athinis survives anti-tank attackBy Charlie CharalambousTHE GOVERNMENT vowed yesterday to cleanse the island of organised crime following Sunday's attack on a Limassol cabaret with an anti-tank missile.Gang violence has become commonplace in Limassol, but the use of a bazooka for a murder attempt is unheard of."The government repeats its determination to take all necessary measures to stamp out such crime," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said at yesterday's press briefing."These problems cannot be solved by hope and the government's decisiveness alone, but crucially involves a continued effort by the public to fight crime," he added.There have been a dozen gangland killings since 1995 -- many unsolved and mostly attributed to Limassol and Larnaca clans vying for control of lucrative drugs, gambling and prostitution rackets.Police are treating the latest attack -- on the Blue Pearl cabaret in the notorious Heroes Square -- as part of an on-going vendetta between rival underworld gangs in the town.The target of the attack was cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 44, who was getting out his car, parked in front of the Blue Pearl, when an anti-tank shell exploded at the entrance.Athinis miraculously escaped unharmed, although his police bodyguard was slightly injured.There were no serious injuries and the only damage was a few broken windows in surrounding shops and cars.There were around 30 people inside the cabaret watching the floor show at the time of the attack.Had the shell struck a few centimetres further, it would have hit the entrance and not the wall.The attack was the fourth attempt on the life of Athinis in recent years. Police said they are treating the incident as one of attempted murder.Last August, Athinis was slightly injured when a bomb exploded at his Le Panache cabaret in Limassol.In 1995, his brother Melios was gunned down in a white BMW while driving through Heroes Square, the island's best known red light district.Athinis is one of five suspects standing trial for the gangland murder of Hambis Aeroporos, who was gunned down in Limassol last December. He is currently out on bail.One policeman and a special constable are among those on trial for the murder.Heroes Square has in recent years been the scene for several gangland attacks and has been declared a no-go area by the British Bases.Sunday's explosion was caused by a 66mm shell propelled from a hand-held anti-tank launcher.The weapon and an unused shell were discovered on the roof of a deserted hotel next to the cabaret, police said.Five such weapons were stolen from the National Guard three years ago and investigators believe this is one of them.Limassol mayor Demetris Kontides said the situation in the town's red light district could not go on unchecked, and pledged to close cabarets that break the law.Justice Minister Nicos Koshis chaired a hastily arrange anti-crime meeting at Limassol police HQ yesterday afternoon and visited Heroes Square later in the evening.Koshis has gained considerable popularity for tackling the local Mafia head on, but his reputation could suffer an irreparable blow if he is seen incapable of preventing a new round of bloodletting in Limassol.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [02] New US envoy encouraged by meeting with Clerides

    By Jean Christou

    U.S. STATE Department Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston met President Clerides yesterday as Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was on his way to New York for contacts on the Cyprus issue.

    Weston, speaking after his meeting with Clerides, said he had been "encouraged" about the nature of the discussions he had with the President.

    "Perhaps on my side, in particular, encouraged that we both expressed our willingness to do what we can to move ahead on this issue," Weston said. "I am at the start of a lot of talks on all of these issues, not at the finish of them."

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Clerides' talks with Weston had been substantial and that US support was evident from the meeting.

    "We repeated that we reject and consider unacceptable the conditions and prerequisites put forward by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in order to come to negotiations," Papapetrou said.

    Denktash wants recognition of his breakaway regime as well as talks based on a confederation before he will agree to return to the table.

    On his departure for Turkey on Sunday before heading to the USA, Denktash said: "The Cyprus issue will be solved by the agreement of the two owners in the issues of how they will arrange their properties and how they will cooperate, not by external plans."

    In New York, Denktash will have contacts on the Cyprus issue and will put forward the Turkish side's policy.

    "What we expect from US president Bill Clinton is to put forward what he said a few years ago. He said that there were two owners on Cyprus," Denktash said.

    "The side to put pressure has to give something to the side it will put pressure on. The US is not the side which protects and secures us. The US has been treating us unjustly for 36 years by accepting the Greek Cypriots as a government. First they have to give up this injustice in order for us to trust them."

    Clinton said in his recent report to Congress that the US still supported the notion of a bicommunal, bizonal federation.

    Last week, he appointed former US ambassador to Romania Alfred Moses as his special emissary for Cyprus to replace Richard Holbrooke, who has taken up duties as the US ambassador to the UN.

    The post was established to ensure policy-level coordination of efforts related to Cyprus and to underscore the Clinton commitment to resolving the Cyprus dispute.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan is soon expected to invite the two sides back to talks slated to take place in New York in October.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [03] Syllouris says Anastassiades planting stories to silence dissent

    DISY rebel Demetris Syllouris has accused his party boss of fabricating scare stories in order to silence dissent over the recent reshuffle.

    Syllouris has requested a party conference to discuss the whole issue in the open and put the record straight once and for all.

    He accused Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades of planting stories in the press about his alleged desire to create a breakaway party.

    "Stories about me going to Athens to find financial backing for a new party are totally false," Syllouris said yesterday.

    The deputy said Anastassiades was trying to manufacture a crisis within Disy to "frighten" members from questioning his judgement.

    Since last month's reshuffle, Syllouris and Disy colleague Prodromos Prodromou have been vocal critics of the perceived shift of balance in favour of George Vassiliou's United Democrat, who now have three cabinet posts.

    "Power has been handed over to Vassiliou," an unrepentant Syllouris insisted yesterday.

    Anastassiades has been swift in his retribution, expelling Prodromou from Disy's political office and giving short shrift to Syllouris.

    Needless to say, members of Disy's senior leadership have grown tired of the constant snipes in their direction.

    "He (Syllouris) should stop throwing stones at Disy, he is only harming himself with this behaviour," said Eleni Vrachimi, a member of Disy's political office.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [04] British bases they have not been approached on Zakaki plant

    THE BRITISH Bases said yesterday they had not yet been approached by the government for the building of a desalination plant at Zakaki on Sovereign Bases land.

    In an official announcement, Sovereign Bases Area (SBA) Administration official Gavin Barlow, speaking on behalf of the Bases' chief officer, said SBA authorities "have as yet received no formal proposals from (the government)."

    But Barlow added: "The Bases normally support public utility projects, like the new motorways... where these do not conflict with military requirements."

    He said the Bases were not opposed to the construction of the desalination plant "in principal" but had "always made it clear that we expect the Republic to address the concerns of local people before seeking our agreement to construction."

    Zakaki residents on Saturday presented a petition to the SBA authorities at nearby RAF Akrotiri and blocked the Limassol harbour roundabout road in protest at the government's decision to build a desalination unit in their area.

    The Bases said they had not wished to become involved in the issue and had repeatedly asked the government to reconsider constructing the unit on SBA land near Lady's Mile beach.

    Limassol police said 150 peaceful demonstrators congregated outside the SBA administration offices from 10 to 10.40am and then blocked the roundabout road from approximately 11 to 11.05am.

    Bases civilian administrator Andreas Angelides told the demonstrators on Saturday that "we contacted the government twice in writing before the decision was made, expressing our concerns on the development and requesting a meeting to express these worries further. We were, however, ignored both times and have still received no response."

    The Zakaki residents handed Angelides a petition calling on the Bases not to agree with the government's decision to use the Zakaki site.

    On August 25, the government decided to proceed with plans for the mobile desalination plant, despite the objections of the local residents.

    The cabinet decided existing plans would be amended and measures taken to ensure there was no noise pollution from the plant in an effort to appease the residents.

    The government sees desalination as the solution to the island's chronic water problem. But the Zakaki residents are concerned about the effects the plant might have on the environment and tourism in the area.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [05] Swedish tourist jailed for burglary spree

    A SWEDISH tourist will spend the next six months behind bars in Cyprus after pleading guilty to a string burglaries in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa.

    A Famagusta District court yesterday imposed the prison sentence on 26-year- old Mats Anders Ioakim from Stockholm after he pleaded guilty to 10 burglaries and thefts from restaurants and hotel apartments in the resort.

    The Swede arrived on the island as a tourist on May 28 but soon started his three-month thieving spree in which he stole over 2,000 in cash and personal items.

    Following a tip-off, police raided the man's Ayia Napa flat, finding a stash of money and stolen goods which the tourist later admitted to having robbed.

    Police said the accused had offered to give back the stolen goods and compensate his victims.

    However, district judge Leonidas Kalogirou said there was a need to impose a "deterrent sentence" as such offences undermined law and order and created feelings of "insecurity" among the public.

    But the judge did take into account the accused's co-operation with police as a mitigating circumstance before passing sentence.

    Ioakim showed no sign of emotion when the prison term was delivered, before being handcuffed and led away in a police vehicle.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [06] Three killed on the roads

    THREE people were killed and several other injured on the roads in separate accidents in the 24-hour period between Sunday and yesterday morning.

    The latest death happened early yesterday on the main Nicosia to Troodos road near Astromeritis. Sotiroulla Savva, from Nikitari, was killed while crossing the road. She was hit by a car driven by Dinos Charalambous, 63. Savva was taken to Nicosia hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

    On Sunday, Costas Nicolaou, 34 from Anthopoulis, was killed when the car he was driving plunged into a two-metre ditch. Police say the circumstances under which his car went off the road are still unknown. They have asked the person who stopped to call for help at the scene on the main Ayios Trimithias to Anthopoulis road to contact them.

    Also on Sunday a Bulgarian worker Pietr Georgkiev, 32, died shortly after falling from the moped he was driving, again under unknown circumstances. The accident happened on the Dherynia to Sotira road.

    Police said that from an initial examination at the scene, it appeared Georgkiev had hit his head on two rocks when he fell. A post mortem will be carried out today.

    In a separate accident Cypriot singer Michalis Hadjiyiannis, 22, and his sister Melina 24, a teacher, were lightly injured in an accident near Rizoelia.

    In the same accident journalist Nicos Nicolaou, 26, and TV producer Alexia Markidou, 22, were also injured.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [07] Doctors advise Christofias to delay return

    AKEL announced yesterday that its General secretary Demetris Christofias would be returning to Cyprus later than expected following a kidney transplant operation in London.

    "We were contacted by Christofias today and he told us that his doctor had requested he stay in London for a few more days," a party statement said.

    Christofias will now be returning to Cyprus on September 17. He had originally been due back this Thursday, September 9.

    Christofias underwent the transplant at St. Mary's clinic early last month amid controversy as to why he did not have the operation carried out in Cyprus.

    The head of the Paraskevaidion Transplant Centre Dr George Kyriakides has said the operation cold have been carried out just as well at his clinic.

    But Christofias' personal physician Dr Michaelis Minas argued the party leader's trip to London had been approved by the Medical Council taking into account his medical history.

    Christofias and his sister Despina, who provided her kidney for transplant, have been recovering at a friend's house in London and are being treated at the clinic as out-patients.

    Christofias was also accompanied by his wife Elsi, cardiologist Minas and kidney expert Dr Alkis Pierides.

    Both doctors travelled at their own expense.

    Christofias, 52, in March underwent open heart surgery in preparation for the transplant, again at St. Mary's hospital.

    The transplant became necessary after Christofias suffered kidney damage during treatment for bronchial pneumonia last Christmas.

    A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999

    [08] Alibi clears only suspect in Nicosia shooting

    POLICE yesterday released without charge a man suspected of involvement in attempted murder after his alibi was verified. Kyriacos Georgiou, 21 from Xylotymbou, had on Saturday been remanded in custody for five days in connection with the attempted murder outside a Nicosia nightclub of Savvas Savva, aged 20. The investigating officer had told the court police had several testimonies linking Georgiou to the shooting and that his alibi could not be confirmed.

    The alibi was verified yesterday and Georgiou was released.

    Nicosia hospital yesterday said Savva remained in a "very critical" condition and on a respirator.

    Savva, from Strovolos, was repeatedly shot at by a masked assailant. Police said the gunman seemed to have been waiting for his victim in what they described as a well-planned hit.

    The shooting happened at 4.30am on Friday as Savva was leaving the Concerto disco with his cousin Andros Emiliou and friend Christos Tziakouris.

    Emiliou and Tziakouris escaped unharmed, but now say they fear for their lives. Emiliou told police that the masked gunman had tried to shoot him first.

    Police yesterday continued to question a number of people in connection with the shooting. They believe it could have been related to a recent fracas at the club involving the three men.

    Earlier this year, Tziakouris admitted to accompanying Giorgios Christodoulou on the night he murdered former special constable Fotis Petrakides before dumping his body in Aradippou dam.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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