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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-09-22

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, September 22, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Louis buys new cruise linerLOUIS Cruise Lines is forging ahead with expansion plans with the purchase of the 1957-built liner Mermozfrom Prestige Cruises, a member of the Italian Group Costa Crociere.The purchase of the latest vessel brings the total of ships in the Louis fleet to seven, with a capacity for 5,449 passengers, making it one of the top 10 biggest cruise firms in the world.The cost of the Mermozis not known, but according to shipping newspaper Lloyds List, the ship was bought by the Costa Crociere group during the first half of the 1998-1999 financial year for $6.29 million.The Italian cruise company has operated the Mermozunder charter since 1992.The ship is currently operated by Costa Crociere for the French market under the Paquet brand and is on a round the world cruise due to end on October 23 in Marseilles.The Mermozis 162 metres long and 20 metres wide. It has 300 cabins, two swimming pools, a sauna, hairdresser, casino, theatre, library, two restaurants and several lounges.Apart from running mini-cruises to Greece, Israel, Egypt and Lebanon, Louis also leases two other cruise liners, Sapphireand Emeraldto British travel giants Thomson and the Ausoniato First Choice.
  • [02] US 'working on formula to bring Denktash to the table'
  • [03] EU environmental alignment will cost 500 million
  • [04] Paphos pensioner donates 2.5 million estate to the poor
  • [05] 'Public confidence undermined by Louis affair'
  • [06] Court clerk dozes off as murder trial wades through legalistic arguments
  • [07] Over 1,000 delegates for shipping conference

  • [01] Louis buys new cruise linerLOUIS Cruise Lines is forging ahead with expansion plans with the purchase of the 1957-built liner Mermozfrom Prestige Cruises, a member of the Italian Group Costa Crociere.The purchase of the latest vessel brings the total of ships in the Louis fleet to seven, with a capacity for 5,449 passengers, making it one of the top 10 biggest cruise firms in the world.The cost of the Mermozis not known, but according to shipping newspaper Lloyds List, the ship was bought by the Costa Crociere group during the first half of the 1998-1999 financial year for $6.29 million.The Italian cruise company has operated the Mermozunder charter since 1992.The ship is currently operated by Costa Crociere for the French market under the Paquet brand and is on a round the world cruise due to end on October 23 in Marseilles.The Mermozis 162 metres long and 20 metres wide. It has 300 cabins, two swimming pools, a sauna, hairdresser, casino, theatre, library, two restaurants and several lounges.Apart from running mini-cruises to Greece, Israel, Egypt and Lebanon, Louis also leases two other cruise liners, Sapphireand Emeraldto British travel giants Thomson and the Ausoniato First Choice.

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    Wednesday, September 22, 1999

    [02] US 'working on formula to bring Denktash to the table'

    Jean Christou

    A FORMULA is being devised by the United States to force Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash back to talks, newspapers in the north claimed yesterday.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan is expected to issue an invitation to the two sides at the end of October, but Denktash says he will not return to the table unless his breakaway regime is recognised as a separate state.

    The US and the rest of the international community are not likely to give in to his demand, but want a resumption of talks.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press a 'middle way' formula has been found which will be included in a joint statement to be made after the meeting between US President Bill Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on September 28.

    The statement is expected to include a sentence saying that both sides would contribute as much as they can towards a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    The Clinton-Ecevit meeting is said to be crucial for the Cyprus issue, and new developments are expected to follow starting with Annan's invitation.

    Turkish Cypriot press said that at the same time as Annan's call to talks, either US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or another high-ranking US official would make a statement implying that the 'Greek Cypriot administration in Cyprus is not the state of the Turks'.

    It is hoped that this formula will satisfy Denktash. The papers said that if he continued to say no to talks, he would "find himself in a very difficult position in international platforms".

    The reports add the US firmly believes that once the two sides actually get to the table the problems can be solved. "It is openly talked about in Washington that Denktash is the main reason why this is not being realised, " one paper said.

    "Because of Denktash's hard stance all calls concerning the Cyprus issue have been addressed to Turkey."

    But according to former Turkish ambassador Inal Batu, Turkey does not have a clearly defined policy on Cyprus.

    "I have not been able to understand whether it is a federation or a confederation that we want," Batu told the Turkish Cypriot daily Zaman. "It is not clear whether we want recognition of the statehood of the TRNC or what might be termed a sovereign equality".

    Batu said there was a "muddle" over what Turkey wanted to do in Cyprus. He said names were not important and that Switzerland is a confederation and the US a federation. "In other words what is important is how power will be distributed between the two sides," he said. "If there is good will and the larger side refrains from harming the benefits of the smaller side then it is not very important whether you call it a federation or a confederation".

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    Wednesday, September 22, 1999

    [03] EU environmental alignment will cost 500 million

    COMING into line with EU environment policy will cost the state 500 million over the next 27 months, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday.

    The minister said Cyprus planned to be fully compliant with EU environmental law by January 1, 2003.

    The government agreed with the EU approach to environmental issues and was committed to making sure all relevant departments had both the personnel and the legal framework with which to implement relevant EU regulations, Themistocleous stated.

    Speaking after a morning meeting of the government Environment Council, Themistocleous said Cyprus had already submitted its positions on EU environment policy to the 15-member block.

    The government is asking for "special arrangements" vis--vis three areas of EU environmental policy.

    These areas concern "technical adjustments" to EU directives, the special arrangements for stricter protection of the environment and areas where the island cannot comply immediately with EU environment policy.

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    Wednesday, September 22, 1999

    [04] Paphos pensioner donates 2.5 million estate to the poor

    IN AN unprecedented gesture of philanthropy, Christodoulos Petrides, 85, from Paphos, donated his whole estate amounting to 2.5 million to the poor and orphaned children of Paphos.

    Petrides, who lost his own children at birth and went through hardship as a child, nevertheless managed through hard work to become a millionaire.

    "I lost my two children, and that's why I'm donating my whole fortune to poor and orphan children," he said.

    The money will be used to set up a fund, which will help orphans and poor families, and also grant scholarships.

    "Such actions prove the humanity and altruism of our people," said Averof Neophytou, Minister of Communications, who is currently on a tour of the Paphos area.

    Contracts for the construction of what will be known as the Petridion Foundation were signed yesterday in the presence of Neophytou, Bishop of Paphos Chrysostomos, and Michalakis Leptos, the building contractor.

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    Wednesday, September 22, 1999

    [05] 'Public confidence undermined by Louis affair'

    By Hamza Hendawi

    IN WHAT appeared to be a slight but significant hardening of his stand, Attorney-general Alecos Markides yesterday said that public confidence in the government had been undermined over revelations that politicians and civil service stalwarts had acquired shares in Louis Cruise Lines through private placement.

    Although sticking to his argument that no law had been broken, Markides spoke for the first time yesterday of the "violation of principles." In a letter to President Glafcos Clerides, he reiterated his call for certain laws to be changed to provide better provisions against corruption and the risk of public servants being biased while carrying out their duty.

    Markides' remarks appeared more forceful than his opening statement in a news conference held at his office on Monday afternoon, when he repeatedly stated that his job's terms of reference did not permit him to rule on political and social ethics.

    "It is clear that the public's trust in the government has been shaken (by the Louis affair). This is important and it is based on this that I said what I said," said Markides, who plans a probe into whether public figures acted inappropriately in handling matters related to companies in which they own shares.

    "No illegal action was detected, but principles had been violated," he said. "There is a network of rules that are not part of the law. Not every part of a government is run by laws, but there are ethics, political and social. All this depends on what public opinion finds acceptable or unacceptable..."

    President Clerides asked Markides last week to determine whether a ban on Cabinet ministers acquiring shares in public companies through private placements could be extended to civil servants.

    His request followed revelations that former Communication Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou and the ministry's permanent secretary, Vassos Pyrgos, 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 licence 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 several top public figures, including Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and Akel deputy Takis Hadjigeorgiou, were among those given shares by Louis Cruise Lines in the private placement. The revelations sparked an outcry in the media and mired the Louis name in a fresh round of corruption allegations.

    Also 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.

    All those who chose to defend their names in public insisted that they had not broken any laws, while Louis stated that it did not expect any preferential treatment from those who benefited from its generosity.

    But Akel spokesman Nicos Katsourides yesterday called on government servants found to have obtained Louis shares in the private placement to step down or give their profits away, a course of action already followed by Akel deputy Hadjigeorgiou.

    Katsourides said Akel, the island's largest opposition bloc, did not excuse Hadjigeorgiou for obtaining shares in the private placement, but added that the matter was more serious for those who occupied government positions.

    Louis Cruise Lines' eagerly-awaited debut on the Cyprus Stock Exchange was embroiled in controversy from day one. Two top executives of the company, including its managing-director, dumped tens of thousands of shares and warrants on the day of the titles' debut. Their action angered many investors when the value of the share began to drop amid perceptions that their sale suggested little confidence in the company's future. The share has since languished in below-expectations territory.

    In a separate development, the House's powerful Finance Committee met yesterday for nearly three hours to discuss ways of protecting small investors and to look at the future of the stock market, which reopens on Monday after a three-week break to allow brokerages to clear a backlog of administrative backroom work.

    Representatives from the Cyprus Stock Exchange told the committee some brokerages would not have cleared their backlog of delayed transactions when the market reopened.

    Akel deputy Kikis Kazamias suggested the taxation of capital gain, saying that petrol station owners and lottery collectors had amassed millions through trading in stocks while ordinary workers paid their tax before receiving their wages.

    Diko's Tassos Papadopoulos looked ahead to the imminent end of what he called the "brokers' monopoly", with their number set to rise dramatically after qualifying exams scheduled later this month.

    He said he would present proposals for changes in the law governing the Stock Exchange during the House's first plenum in order to eliminate problems afflicting the bourse. He did not elaborate.

    HELLENIC Bank, the island's third largest financial institution, yesterday announced an increase of 53.7 per cent in pre-tax profits for the first six months of the year.

    It said profit in the January 1-June 30 period amounted to 8 million, compared to 5.2 million in the corresponding period of 1998.

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    Wednesday, September 22, 1999

    [06] Court clerk dozes off as murder trial wades through legalistic arguments

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE COURT clerk didn't even manage to stay awake. It was a "slow" day at the Hambis Aeroporos murder hearing yesterday, as the three-judge bench heard further arguments in the high-profile case's fourth side trial.

    State prosecutor Petros Clerides cited a wealth of case histories in an effort to convince the Nicosia criminal court that numbers stored in a mobile phone were admissible evidence. The device was found in a car abandoned at the scene of the December 16 Limassol killing by the three hit- men.

    Clerides's reply to a defence objection to the phone evidence was both lengthy and highly legalistic -- and it was all a bit much for the court clerk. He repeatedly dozed off in his chair in front of the bench during the prosecutor's argument.

    Clerides wants witness Angelos Tengeris -- a mobile phone expert -- to turn on the device and read out from its memory the numbers of the phones used to contact the device in the hours before the gangland hit. Clerides is trying to prove there was communication between some of the five accused in the hours before the murder.

    George Georgiou, for the defence, argues that the information stored in the phone is protected by privacy laws. He also says the prosecution have failed to show that the phone had been used systematically or was in proper working order at the crucial time.

    Anything Tengeris read from the screen of the mobile phone would be hearsay, and thus unacceptable as evidence, the defence lawyer adds.

    Georgiou is defending hospital cleaner Zoe Alexandrou, who, along with her brother -- Limassol cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43 -- is charged with conspiring to kill Hambis. Alexandrou, 51, has admitted the phone found at the scene of the crime is hers, but both she and her brother deny the conspiracy charges.

    Clerides' counter-argument yesterday was that privacy laws did not apply to situations where any form of confidential communication was "abandoned" to public view. From the moment the phone was left in the car at the murder scene it was no longer covered by privacy laws, he put it to the judges.

    "Is it logical for a person who leaves a mobile phone at the scene of a crime to expect that the contents of its memory will not be read out in court?" Clerides proposed.

    He reminded the court that he had produced expert witnesses to state that both the phone and the phone system had been in good working order last December.

    Clerides said information stored in the phone's memory bank was not, by law, defined as hearsay evidence if reproduced before a court.

    The defence has thrice previously challenged the admissibility of prosecution evidence, forcing a "trial-within-a-trial" each time. The court overruled the defence objections every time, but the delays to trial progress had a part to play in the surprise confession of one of the accused hit-men, waiter Prokopis Prokopiou, 35.

    A few weeks into the trial, Prokopiou stood up to tell the court that he was tired of the long-drawn out procedure, and wanted to admit that he had pulled the trigger on 36-year-old Hambis. He also said the two policemen on trial alongside him were innocent.

    Policeman Christos Symianos, 35, and special constable Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, 33, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Aeroporos. Prokopiou, who suffers from chronic kidney failure, is to be sentenced at a later date.

    The trial, which has been on-going for three months now, continues.

    Three hooded hit-men gunned Hambis down in broad daylight as he drove home from the Limassol hospital where he was receiving routine treatment for wounds suffered during an earlier suspected gangland hit, in June 1995.

    Hambis's murder is thought to be part of an ongoing turf war between rival underworld gangs vying for control of the cabaret circuit -- a suspected front for gambling, prostitution and drugs rackets.

    The bloody feud shows no sign of letting up. Twelve days ago, trial suspect Athinis, who is free on bail, was lucky to survive an anti-tank missile attack outside his Limassol cabaret. Four men are being held in connection with the attack.

    Hambis' 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 Hambis murder trial was moved to Nicosia for fear of reprisals against the suspects. Armed police are out in force for every hearing.

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    Wednesday, September 22, 1999

    [07] Over 1,000 delegates for shipping conference

    OVER 1,000 participants from 35 countries will attend this year's Maritime Cyprus Conference, which will be held from October 3 to 6.

    At a press conference to announce the conference yesterday, Communications and Works Ministry Permanent Secretary Vassos Pyrgos said Cyprus now ranked sixth on the world's list of shipping fleets, with 2,667 vessels and a gross tonnage of 26.5 million.

    The theme of this year's conference, which is organised by the government, the Central Bank and the Cyprus Shipping Council is 'Shipping at the Dawn of a New Century'.

    The list of main speakers includes William O Neil, Secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and George Vassiliou, Cyprus' chief negotiator for EU accession.

    The conference will focus on the latest developments in the shipping industry in the EU and other topics of interest to the international maritime community.

    Pyrgos said that over the past few years Cyprus had worked hard to upgrade its image and the quality of its fleet.

    The island's open registry has frequently come under fire for its open registry.

    "A lot has been done in the prevention of sea pollution and the improvement of working conditions on Cyprus' ships, which creates hopes for a higher standard of safety," Pyrgos said.

    He said harmonisation of the island's shipping industry with EU laws created new needs in terms of ship quality and safety. He added these were expected to be fulfilled by the year 2000.

    Pyrgos said there had been 120 accidents involving Cypriot-flagged ships in 1998, which resulted in the death of 28 seafarers and the loss of five ships.

    So far this year, there are been 53 accidents, which resulted in the death of nine people and the loss of three ships.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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