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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-09-21

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

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


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Tuesday, September 21, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Markides says law must be strengthened in wake of Louis affairBy Hamza HendawiTHE FINDINGS of a preliminary probe by the Attorney-general's office into the acquisition by public servants of shares in Louis Cruise Lines showed that no laws were broken, but that further inquiries were needed to clear graft allegations surrounding the company.Addressing a news conference, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said relevant laws covering the integrity of civil servants while carrying out their duty needed to be clarified and better defined, arguing that the "truth" was often concealed behind technicalities.He said he had shared some of his own thoughts on the matter with President Glafcos Clerides. These, he added, included a change in the law of the public service banning the acquisition of company shares without prior permission, as well as clearer regulations to combat corruption."The laws in Cyprus are not at the stage where we would all like them to be," said Markides. "But we have no right to enforce a law that does not exist," he said, noting that his brief did not include ruling on questions of political and social ethics.Markides, who ended the news conference abruptly after taking only a handful of questions following his opening statement, was asked by President Clerides last week to determine whether a ban on Cabinet ministers acquiring shares in public companies through private placements could be extended to civil servants.The presidential request followed revelations that former Communication Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou and the ministry's permanent secretary, Vassos Pyrgos, had obtained shares in Louis Cruise Lines through its private placement. Both men have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.The Ministry of Communication earlier this year granted Louis Tours a license to operate a charter airline. Pyrgos heads the ministry's air transport committee, which granted the permit. Another top civil servant whose name appears on the list of the private placement beneficiaries, director of the Finance Ministry's Planning Bureau Panicos Pouros, also sits on the committee.Later revelations showed that a host of top public figures, including Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and Akel deputy Takis Hadigeorgiou, were among those given shares by Louis Cruise Lines in the private placement. The revelations sparked a furore in the media and mired the company in a fresh round of allegations which, according to traders, may negatively impact on the share's price when the stock market reopens next week."At this moment, and as we speak, there has not been any wrongdoing or breaking of the law," Markides said in yesterday's news conference. "But because the conditions are such, an in-depth inquiry is needed to clear everyone, and once and for all."He said he had written to the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce on Friday and yesterday asking them to inform him of the relationship between them and Louis Cruise Lines or any other companies of the Louis Group."In my opinion, a general inquiry has to be carried out... (but) I have no reason at this moment to believe that any illegal action has been committed. However, if further information shows that a crime has been committed, a further investigation will be carried out," said Markides.Dwelling on the limitations of his office, he said: "Our basic duty is to apply the rules of the state, but social relations are not governed by laws only, there are also ethical, social and political rules."But it is not my place to say what these rules say."Among those on Louis' private placement list are the ruling Disy party, the opposition Diko party of House Speaker Spyros Kyprianou, Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Andreas Erotokritou, Dias media group, which publishes the daily Simerini, the English-language weekly newspaper Financial Mirror, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Costakis Christophorou, director of the House of Representatives, Michael Erotokritos, director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Takis Kanaris, head of the research department at the Central Bank.Louis has so far only said that it had done nothing wrong when it granted shares to public figures and political parties and insists that it expects nothing in return from those who benefited from its generosity.The Louis shares were sold at 40 cents apiece in both the Initial Public Offering, which was oversubscribed more than 50 times, and the private placement. The share soared to 3 on the day it made its market debut, but sharply fell afterwards when it was revealed that two of the company's top executives, including its managing director, dumped tens of thousands of Louis shares and warrants on the market on the first day of trade.Louis said it had known in advance and approved of the sale, but traders said their action undermined investors' confidence and caused the share's value to drop.
  • [02] Cyprus focus of intensive New York talks
  • [03] British tourist denies assaulting chef
  • [04] Greece insists air force can protect Cyprus
  • [05] Technical Chamber promises inspections of quake hit estates
  • [06] Soldiers accused of dealing drugs
  • [07] Taxi office owner held over shooting incident
  • [08] Panos Eliades seeks to bring big time boxing to Cyprus

  • [01] Markides says law must be strengthened in wake of Louis affairBy Hamza HendawiTHE FINDINGS of a preliminary probe by the Attorney-general's office into the acquisition by public servants of shares in Louis Cruise Lines showed that no laws were broken, but that further inquiries were needed to clear graft allegations surrounding the company.Addressing a news conference, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said relevant laws covering the integrity of civil servants while carrying out their duty needed to be clarified and better defined, arguing that the "truth" was often concealed behind technicalities.He said he had shared some of his own thoughts on the matter with President Glafcos Clerides. These, he added, included a change in the law of the public service banning the acquisition of company shares without prior permission, as well as clearer regulations to combat corruption."The laws in Cyprus are not at the stage where we would all like them to be," said Markides. "But we have no right to enforce a law that does not exist," he said, noting that his brief did not include ruling on questions of political and social ethics.Markides, who ended the news conference abruptly after taking only a handful of questions following his opening statement, was asked by President Clerides last week to determine whether a ban on Cabinet ministers acquiring shares in public companies through private placements could be extended to civil servants.The presidential request followed revelations that former Communication Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou and the ministry's permanent secretary, Vassos Pyrgos, had obtained shares in Louis Cruise Lines through its private placement. Both men have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.The Ministry of Communication earlier this year granted Louis Tours a license to operate a charter airline. Pyrgos heads the ministry's air transport committee, which granted the permit. Another top civil servant whose name appears on the list of the private placement beneficiaries, director of the Finance Ministry's Planning Bureau Panicos Pouros, also sits on the committee.Later revelations showed that a host of top public figures, including Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and Akel deputy Takis Hadigeorgiou, were among those given shares by Louis Cruise Lines in the private placement. The revelations sparked a furore in the media and mired the company in a fresh round of allegations which, according to traders, may negatively impact on the share's price when the stock market reopens next week."At this moment, and as we speak, there has not been any wrongdoing or breaking of the law," Markides said in yesterday's news conference. "But because the conditions are such, an in-depth inquiry is needed to clear everyone, and once and for all."He said he had written to the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce on Friday and yesterday asking them to inform him of the relationship between them and Louis Cruise Lines or any other companies of the Louis Group."In my opinion, a general inquiry has to be carried out... (but) I have no reason at this moment to believe that any illegal action has been committed. However, if further information shows that a crime has been committed, a further investigation will be carried out," said Markides.Dwelling on the limitations of his office, he said: "Our basic duty is to apply the rules of the state, but social relations are not governed by laws only, there are also ethical, social and political rules."But it is not my place to say what these rules say."Among those on Louis' private placement list are the ruling Disy party, the opposition Diko party of House Speaker Spyros Kyprianou, Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Andreas Erotokritou, Dias media group, which publishes the daily Simerini, the English-language weekly newspaper Financial Mirror, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Costakis Christophorou, director of the House of Representatives, Michael Erotokritos, director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Takis Kanaris, head of the research department at the Central Bank.Louis has so far only said that it had done nothing wrong when it granted shares to public figures and political parties and insists that it expects nothing in return from those who benefited from its generosity.The Louis shares were sold at 40 cents apiece in both the Initial Public Offering, which was oversubscribed more than 50 times, and the private placement. The share soared to 3 on the day it made its market debut, but sharply fell afterwards when it was revealed that two of the company's top executives, including its managing director, dumped tens of thousands of Louis shares and warrants on the market on the first day of trade.Louis said it had known in advance and approved of the sale, but traders said their action undermined investors' confidence and caused the share's value to drop.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [02] Cyprus focus of intensive New York talks

    By Jean Christou

    THE CYPRUS problem will be the focus of a series of top-level meetings in New York this week as the UN General Assembly convenes.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is in New York, told journalists the Cyprus issue would be a crucial part of his discussions with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

    Papandreou will also meet Un Secretary-general Kofi Annan "in anticipation of Mr Annan's invitation to the two communities in Cyprus for talks," he said. He will also meet his European counterparts and Britain's special Cyprus envoy Sir David Hannay, whom President Clerides met yesterday in New York.

    Papandreou is also slated to meet US presidential emissary for Cyprus Alfred Moses and US State Department Coordinator Thomas Weston.

    According to CyBC, diplomatic sources said the US, Britain and Greece were poised to make a concerted effort to make Turkey more acceptable as a possible EU candidate.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said Turkey's membership of the EU could smooth the way towards a Cyprus solution.

    Turkish Cypriot press yesterday described the upcoming round of talks with US officials as crucial.

    Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, the man who ordered the 1974 invasion, is due to meet US President Bill Clinton on September 28 at the White House.

    The talks are very important for Turkey-US relations, newspapers in the north quoted Turkey's Minister for Cyprus Affairs Sukru Sina Gurel as saying.

    Gurel said Turkey-US relations were not linked to the Cyprus problem.

    "The relations between Turkey and the United States form a deep strategic cooperation that far exceeds the Cyprus issue," he said. "The United States would never deny Turkey's regional importance in its eyes by raising the Cyprus problem to the forefront or by turning it into a bilateral problem."

    Other Turkish Cypriot newspapers said Turkey could no longer carry the burden of the Cyprus problem and that several scenarios would come to the fore in New York which could set the stage for the direction the issue would take.

    A Kibriscorrespondent in New York said pressure was being put on the Turkish side by the US to come to the talks without preconditions and to discuss all issues on the table.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [03] British tourist denies assaulting chef

    A BRITISH tourist yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm against a Cypriot chef.

    Gavin Kieran Gallimore, 30, from Southgate, north London is set to face trial on November 29.

    His alleged victim, Loucas Ioannou, 28, remains in a serious but stable condition at Nicosia general hospital. He has been taken off a ventilator and is out of a coma, but doctors say he is still a long way from a full recovery.

    Doctors are still unable to determine the extent of any brain damage he might have suffered in the attack.

    A neurosurgery ward nurse yesterday told the Cyprus Mail: "He understands some things and is trying to talk. But there has definitely been some damage."

    Ioannou was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull following an attack at the Black and White disco in Ayia Napa on August 3.

    He underwent emergency surgery and was placed on a ventilator.

    Police say the assault took place after Ioannou accidentally bumped into the suspect in the packed disco.

    Gallimore, a quantity surveyor, is alleged to have punched the chef and slammed his head on the disco bar.

    The Criminal court in Larnaca decided Gallimore should remain in custody until the trial.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [04] Greece insists air force can protect Cyprus

    By George Psyllides

    THE GREEK air force is fully capable of covering Cyprus in event of war, Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has said.

    He was speaking during a visit to the Flight Training Squadron of the Greek air force, on which he was accompanied by Cypriot Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos.

    "Cyprus coverage has also been assured with the acquisition of the new F-16 fighters that have been chosen by the Greek air force," said Tsohatzopoulos.

    Many analysts had expressed concern at the Defence Ministry's choice of the F-16 fighter ahead of the F-15, which has a longer range and carries more weapon systems, suggesting the decision undermined Greece's commitment and ability to defend Cyprus.

    But while agreeing that the F-15 did have longer range, defence analyst Aristos Aristotelous yesterday told the Cyprus Mailthe uncertain future of the F-15 had to be taken into account, saying the US Government was considering ceasing its production.

    Aristotelous, who is head of the Cyprus Centre of Strategic Studies, also said the F-15's instruments were not as advanced as the F-16's, which would inevitably be a disadvantage.

    "Distance will always be a big problem, a problem which cannot be solved completely," said Aristotelous.

    The only way to address the problem would be through the reinforcement of the island's air-defence, together with the permanent stationing of Greek fighters in Paphos -- though he pointed out the Paphos air base was in no way ready to accommodate fighter planes.

    Tsohatzopoulos said on Sunday the decision to station a permanent force of Greek planes in Cyprus lay with the Cyprus government, though it would operate within the framework of the common defence policy with Greece.

    But Aristotelous had a warning for politicians prone to making exaggerated commitments:

    "Do not forget the statements of former Greek Defence Minister Yerasimos Arsenis, who said the people of Cyprus would see Greek fighter planes in the Cyprus skies very often -- we currently see them twice a year -- and Clerides' statement that he would not send Cypriots to battle without air coverage -- some time before the S-300 fiasco."

    Clerides ordered the S-300 anti-aircraft batteries to Crete last December in the face of overwhelming international pressure and Turkish threats to prevent their arrival in Cyprus. The long-range Russian-made missiles had been due for deployment around Paphos to protect the air base there.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [05] Technical Chamber promises inspections of quake hit estates

    By Athena Karsera

    THE TECHNICAL Chamber yesterday promised to visit quake-hit areas of Limassol, and report to the Interior Minster any cases of serious damage that have been overlooked.

    The pledge came after Limassol deputy Doros Theodorou said several refugee houses were in a dangerous state following the 5.8 earthquake that struck Limassol on August 11.

    Speaking to CyBC Edek's Theodorou said: "I visited the Makarios the Third and Linopetra refugee houses and tonight will visit those at Ayios Athansiou. There is no doubt that this is a serious situation."

    He said conditions at the Makarios estate were especially dire, with some houses leaning, while others had parts of their iron rod skeletons exposed, "Engineers have told people not to go onto their balconies in case they collapse."

    "The worst thing is that these people have not been convinced that serious work is being done. Some technicians have come just to see," without carrying out any work.

    He said that even these visits had been few and that some residents were so concerned they were moving into rented accommodation that they were paying for out of their own pockets.

    Technical Chamber president Nicos Mesaritis later responded by promising extensive visits would be carried out by his officials within the next 24 hours.

    "If some houses are really leaning then it would be illogical for people to live in them not only in calm times but especially when there is the danger of another earthquake. The same goes for buildings with serious damage."

    He said the Chamber had a moral duty to examine the buildings and that, provided Theodorou's statements were confirmed, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou would be fully briefed.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [06] Soldiers accused of dealing drugs

    THREE National Guardsmen were remanded in custody by the Larnaca district court yesterday, suspected of possessing and supplying cannabis to civilians from their camp gate.

    Kyriacos Antoniou and Lefteris Loizidou from Livadhia, and Efrem Stavrou from Larnaca, were remanded for eight days. They had been confined to barracks since Friday.

    The investigating officer told the court the suspects had turned their army camp -- which lies right opposite the court -- into a drug-dealing centre. The three soldiers face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, and possession and supplying of drugs.

    The court heard that an array of young people had stopped at the camp gate to buy drugs. The latest incident allegedly took place on Friday, leading to the intervention of police, who had mounted a surveillance team in co- operation with the military authorities.

    A young man had stopped at the gate, handed something in and got something back, police said. He was followed by drug squad officers who searched his car. They allegedly found two grams of cannabis and said the civilian told them he had obtained the drugs from the three suspects and nearly always bought from Antoniou.

    Police continued their surveillance on Friday afternoon and observed Antoniou and Loizidou leaving the camp in a car, allegedly to buy drugs. When they returned, officers pounced and the court heard that Antoniou tried to run, throwing several packages to the ground.

    Four packages were found, containing a total of 15 grammes of cannabis, police said.

    They said Antoniou had admitted going to Aradippou with Loizidou to buy the drugs. Police said Stavrou denied any involvement, but the fact he was on duty at the gate at the time put him under suspicion, they said.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [07] Taxi office owner held over shooting incident

    THE HEAD of a taxi office has been arrested in connection with the attempted murder of an employee.

    Andreas Makris, 65, was remanded in custody for eight days on Sunday, accused of shooting 34-year-old Sophoclis Sophocleous following an argument. The suspect had been arrested on Saturday night.

    Requesting the remand, the police investigating officer told Larnaca district court the incident had taken place at approximately 8.55pm on Saturday outside Makris' Larnaca taxi office.

    Sophocleous told police he and Makris had been arguing about the maintenance of a taxi and that he was refusing to remove rubbish from the car's front seat.

    He claims Makris then began swearing at him and said, "Now you'll see what I'll do to you," grabbing a stick and threatening to hit him.

    Another driver managed to grab the stick, but the two men continued fighting with their bare hands, falling to the ground. Sophocleous claims he then helped Makris up and that the older man went into the office. The court heard the victim told police that Makris reappeared shortly afterwards, allegedly clutching a shotgun and shouting "I'm going to kill you now."

    Makris then shot Sophocleous twice in the leg with pellets from a distance of three to four metres, police said.

    Sophocleous managed to walk to a police station where he told officers he had been shot.

    The investigating officer told the court that a search had found pellets at Makris' home, but not the gun.

    Sophocleous was examined by a doctor and had the pellets removed. Police said yesterday he was out of danger.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 1999

    [08] Panos Eliades seeks to bring big time boxing to Cyprus

    STAR BOXING promoter Panos Eliades wants to help his native Cyprus come to the bid time of world professional boxing.

    Eliades, promoter to Britain's World Heavyweight contender Lennox Lewis, plans to put together a programme that would bring some of the biggest stars in boxing to Cyprus.

    The programme would see promotions all over the island at the rate of one a month, the events being televised nationally and internationally.

    His company Panix Promotions is one of the biggest companies in the world, and is currently involved in the November Las Vegas rematch of the drawn heavyweight unification fight between Lewis and Evander Holyfield.

    Eliades, who is currently in Cyprus, has been watching the progress of professional boxing in Cyprus through Cypriot promoter Mike Michael, and was impressed with the quality and professional standards that he sets.

    "I have worked with all the big name promoters, Don King, Bob Arum, Main Event, Cedric Kushner, and have promoted some of the greatest fights in America and Great Britain in the last 10 years," Eliades said in a press release. "It has been my ambition to promote in my father's birthplace and make Cypriots world champions; this is why I have seen the progress of Mike Michael's promotions. Now Cyprus is ready for World Class Professional Boxing."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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