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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-10-17
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
October 17 1999
 ‘Pink slips’ chief remanded in bribes caseBy Anthony O. Miller
CHIEF Migration Officer Christodoulos Nicolaides was yesterday remanded in custody for eight days by Nicosia District Court on suspicion of taking bribes and abusing his authority in issuing valid visas (pink slips) to foreigners, especially cabaret artistes.
His remand came after a three-hour hearing during which Senior CID Police Officer Andreas Naoum, the case investigator, was cross-examined at length by Tassos Papadopoulos, lawyer for Nicolaides and Diko's parliamentary spokesman.
Nicolaides' remand came one day after the eight-day remand of Charalambos (Bambos) Anastassiades, 53, twin brother of Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, on suspicion, among other charges, of forging visas for cabaret artistes and other foreigners.
The arrests of the two men, with suspected accomplices -- including three policemen late on Friday -- followed Justice Ministry and police pledges to crack down on the cabaret business, seen as magnets for other vice rackets and the underworld turf war for their profits.
Naoum told the court yesterday that, at the time of his arrest, Nicolaides denied any involvement in the alleged papers-for-payment scam.
He testified that Nicolaides had provided favours to a specific person -- he did not say who -- by arranging residence and work permits for foreign cabaret artistes without the usual long delays.
Naoum told the court that police had recently received information of irregularities and bribetaking concerning entry visas for foreigners coming to Cyprus.
For instance, he said, witnesses told police that on four occasions in 1996-97, Nicolaides took bribes for rendering specific services. He also said police had information Nicolaides was involved in at least 35 cases of issuing irregular residence permits to foreigners.
Police told the court Nicolaides' case was different from Anastassiades', in that, as chief Migration Officer, Nicolaides allegedly provided authentic visas and work permits in return for bribes, whereas Anastassiades was allegedly involved in issuing forged visas and permits for money.
Bambos Anastassiades worked as a labour agent specialising in importing foreign workers, including artistes, to Cyprus.
Meanwhile Limassol Police Intelligence Bureau Sergeant Efstathiou Theodorou, and Port and Naval Police Sergeant Demetris Himona were remanded in custody for eight days by Limassol District Court in connection with the Nicolaides investigation.
The court then moved to Limassol General Hospital, where Aliens and Immigration Services Senior Police Officer Pelopidas Evgeniades was recovering from a heart attack he suffered on Friday after his arrest in the case.
Police CID Investigator Charalambous Argyrou told the Limassol court a witness linked the three officers to involvement in the illegal employment of foreigners, abuse of their authority and conspiring to fake residency and work permits.
The court heard that Theodorou was a partner in a Limassol pub which Theodorou knew employed women with no legal permits.
As for Himona, the court heard he was in charge of a police unit with a remit to check pubs and tavernas for illegal aliens.
According to one witness, Himona, who until recently served with the Limassol Crime Prevention Squad, made a deal with a third person (not identified), that he would not check certain pubs where illegal aliens worked.
After a brief hospital room session, the court released Evgeniades from custody of the police guard at his bedside. However, Limassol police said he remained a suspect.
Meanwhile, the unions Sek and Peo have called for a freeze on all new work permits until the various investigations are completed.
 EU shift on Turkey will help CyprusBy Martin Hellicar
THE GOVERNMENT appears confident that the European Union's shift towards accepting Turkey as a candidate for membership will pave the way for a Cyprus settlement.
On Friday, the 15-nation bloc's leaders, meeting in Tampere in Finland, agreed to embrace Turkey as a candidate at their December summit in Helsinki, but urged Ankara to make extra efforts to earn its place in the queue.
Britain and Germany showed the strongest support for Turkey's case, while Greece and Sweden insisted they would seek extra concessions from Turkey on human rights and territorial issues.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that the stance adopted by the EU in Finland would enable Athens to put pressure on Ankara to open the way for a Cyprus solution.
"It is evident from the statements of various European leaders after the Tampere meeting that the Cyprus problem is at the centre of the concerns of the European Union with regard to Turkey's possible candidature," Papapetrou told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
"This gives the Greek side better chances to adopt those policies which will open the road for a Cyprus settlement," he added.
Sweden and Greece made clear in Tampere that they still had reservations about Turkey's record and that it would have some convincing to do in the run-up to Helsinki.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said that Athens hoped Turkey would become a candidate. But he said Athens wanted Turkey to open real negotiations aimed at resolving the Cyprus dispute first.
Sweden said all EU countries now foresaw Turkey improving its human rights record.
Germany and Britain were the most outspoken in saying they backed Turkey outright as a formal candidate for EU membership, after the European Commission proposed earlier this week that Ankara be reinstated after being dropped in December 1997.
Meanwhile, at the mixed Larnaca district village of Pyla yesterday, representatives of the leftwing opposition party Akel met members of the Turkish Cypriot Patriotic Unity Movement.
The two parties issued a joint declaration afterwards calling for a "peaceful and viable" solution to the Cyprus problem.
The declaration expressed support for a UN-proposed bi-communal, bi-zonal, federal solution "based on the political and economic equality of the two communities".
The two parties also welcomed the thaw in Greco-Turkish relations following the exchange of mutual aid after recent disastrous earthquakes in both Turkey and Greece.
"The peoples of Turkey and Greece want Cyprus to be turned into a bridge of peace and the Aegean into a lake of peace between their countries," the declaration said.
 Ankara invite still in doubtBy Janet McEvoy
GREECE said yesterday it was not a foregone conclusion that Turkey would be invited to become a formal candidate for EU membership at the year-end summit in Helsinki.
Asked in Tampere yesterday whether he had any doubts that relations with Turkey would be upgraded at the December 10-11 summit, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Reuters: "Yes I do. It's not sure at all."
"We still have six weeks ahead of us and there's still much to discuss. It very much depends on the discussions we have."
Papandreou told Reuters Greece would hold intensive talks with its EU partners on terms for promoting Turkey to a candidate in the run-up to the Helsinki summit.
"It very much depends on the discussions we have among ourselves in the Union," he said.
Papandreou said that in the run-up to the Helsinki summit Greece would be seeking agreement from its EU partners that membership by Cyprus would not be blocked, "especially for a situation for which Turkey has been responsible for the past 25 years".
Papandreou said Greece also wanted to see Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash sit down with President Glafcos Clerides to start seeking a solution to the problem before the Helsinki meeting.
 Villagers to block road in protest against foundryBy Martin Hellicar
ERGATES residents plan to block roads through their village today in protest against a foundry they claim is responsible for making their area a cancer hot-spot.
The blockade will last for 15 minutes -- one minute for every year the Marios & Eleni metal works has been in operation at the Ergates industrial site on the edge of the Nicosia district village.
A recent epidemiological study has shown that Ergates has alarmingly high incidences of lung, brain, pancreas and kidney cancers, and that one in three children in the village suffers chronic breathing problems. The study, by Dr Michalis Voniatis, links these illnesses to emissions of heavy metals from the nearby foundry.
The House of Representatives environment committee has heard that releases of toxic cadmium and lead from the foundry routinely reach six times the level permitted in the EU.
The villagers, led by an anti-foundry action committee, and the House committee are both demanding that the government close down the factory until its emissions can be controlled.
But the Labour Ministry, which is responsible for industrial pollution control, does not accept that the foundry is a pollution menace.
The ministry insists emissions from the factory are within the limits imposed by local laws. It adds that other factories in the area are also polluters.
Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas says the high cancer levels at Ergates have more to do with tyre-burning natives than the foundry.
The Health Ministry, on the other hand, accepts the findings of Voniatis' study and apparently supports calls for the metal works to be closed.
The villagers hope today's protest will finally force the government to close the Marios & Eleni foundry.
 Mugging suspect escapes from police stationPOLICE were yesterday hunting for a suspected mugger who gave his police escort the slip and escaped from Larnaca police station on Friday night.
Charalambos Eleftheriou, alias Poudjouris, 31, had been arrested in connection with an attack on a cabaret owner in Larnaca in the early hours of Friday morning.
The victim was Ioannis Michael, 46, owner of the Crystal cabaret. He was assaulted and robbed by a masked mugger outside his home on Mytilini Street. The attacker got away with £1,200 in notes, $495, 40,000 Greek Drachmas and various documents belonging to Michael.
Poudjouris, from Aradippou outside Larnaca, was arrested in connection with the attack at about 11pm on Friday and taken to Larnaca police headquarters. The suspect was questioned by CID officers and was then being taken to another office in the headquarters when he pushed over the policeman escorting him and ran out of the building.
Police gave chase but Poudjouris escaped and last night was still at large.
 Club owner suspected of assaultA LARNACA cabaret owner has been arrested on suspicion of badly beating up one of the artistes working at his establishment.
According to a police announcement, a Ukrainian dancer working at the unnamed club made a complaint to police about an attack on Friday night.
The artiste told police that club owner Georgios Georgiou, 45, entered her room and began hitting her.
Georgiou was yesterday arrested by police on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm to the dancer.
 Divorce rate up, but still lags behind EuropeTHE divorce rate in Cyprus has quadrupled over the past 18 years but is still a fraction of that in most European countries.
The 1998 Demographic Report, released this week, also shows that the population grew by 0.8 per cent last year to reach 663,000 in the government-controlled areas.
There were 852 divorces in 1998, which translates to 160 splits per 1,000 marriages. In other words, 16 per cent, roughly one-in-six, of local marriages end in separation. In 1980, this rate was only 4.2 per cent, one in 24.
In Europe, one marriage in two ends in divorce.
The Demographic Report, published by the Department of Statistics and Research, also shows that the overwhelming majority of Cypriots still choose to get married in church.
There were 7,738 marriages in 1998, and 3,647 of these took place in a church. The other 3,042 were civil marriages, but only 134 of these involved Cypriot couples.
There were 8,879 babies born last year, compared to 9,275 in 1997. The birth rate currently stands at 13.4 per 1,000 population.
"Fertility indicators in Cyprus are higher than in European and other developed countries," the report says.
Life expectancy on the island compared favourably with that of most developed countries, although infant mortality is somewhat higher.
Men can expect to live to 75, women to 80. The death rate stands at 8.2 fatalities per 1,000 people, and the infant mortality rate at 7 per 1,000 live births.
Most people in Cyprus -- 456,807 -- chose to live in towns, the other 31 per cent living in rural areas.