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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-02

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Missing boy identified after exhumations
  • [02] Rights groups accuse Nicolaides of racism
  • [03] Carl Lewis pitches in for Radiomarathon
  • [04] Insurers concerned at number of uninsured vehicles
  • [05] New fires break out in Paphos area

  • [01] Missing boy identified after exhumations

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT has struck a name off the missing list for the first time since 1974.

    Ground-breaking efforts to discover if persons missing since the invasion were buried at two Nicosia cemeteries have identified the remains of a missing 16-year-old.

    On June 1, an expert team of anthropologists, archaeologists and pathologists began exhumations of unmarked graves at cemeteries in Pallouriotissa and Lakatamia.

    The government stated it hoped the exhumation initiative would prompt the Turkish Cypriot side to honour a July 1997 agreement for exchange of information on missing persons from both sides. Following a months' long process of trying to match remains with DNA samples from relatives of the missing, the government yesterday announced the experts' first findings.

    The Foreign Ministry stated that eight of the remains dug up had been identified, but only one of these belonged to a missing person: a 16-year-old last seen in Nicosia in July 1974. The families concerned have already been notified.

    The ministry urged relatives of the missing who had not so far given blood for the Institute of Neurology's DNA bank to do so in order that further exhumed remains could be identified. Though the exact number of remains unearthed from the cemeteries has not been made known, it is believed to be dozens.

    "The person whose name is listed among the missing was a 16-year-old young man who was last seen in the vicinity of Omorphita during the first days of the invasion," a ministry statement read.

    The unnamed 16-year-old is the first person to be struck off the list of 1,619 missing persons by the government. Another missing person -- an American Cypriot -- was declared dead by a team of US investigators, who identified his body in the occupied areas.

    The names of the seven other sets of remains identified after the exhumations had been known at the time of burial in 1974, but had somehow been lost since then, the ministry statement indicated. "The identity of eight persons whose remains were exhumed during this summer's exhumations from Lakatamia cemetery and Saints Constantinos and Eleni cemetery has been established by scientific methods," the statement read.

    "Seven of the eight had been originally buried as named persons and one is listed as missing," it added.

    Four of the seven were 19-year-old National Guardsmen who died of wounds they sustained during the invasion in July 1974. The other three -- a 73-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and her infant of eight months -- died of natural causes in July 1974.

    The identifications were carried out by members of the international organisation Physicians for Human Rights -- led by Professor William Haglund -- in conjunction with scientists from the local Institute of Neurology.

    The Foreign Ministry made it clear there was little hope of identifying further exhumed remains unless relatives of the missing donated blood to the Institute's DNA bank.

    "It is imperative to have the cooperation of the relatives, which is a decisive factor in the course of the entire effort to identify the rest of the remains already exhumed," the statement read.

    The exhumation results were to be announced by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides at a lunchtime press conference. But the press meet was cancelled at the last minute, without explanation, and replaced by a press release issued later in the day.

    The missing issue is a highly sensitive one, with the Turkish side insisting all those listed missing are actually dead and the government adamant it will only take people off the list if they have scientific proof they are no longer alive.

    The ministry statement expressed condolences for the family of the 16-year-old identified and sought to assure relatives of the missing it would be "supportive in their hour of need."

    The government insists the exhumations are not part of the July 1997 agreement between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash for the exchange of information on missing persons from both sides.

    The Turkish Cypriot side lists 803 people as missing since the outbreak of intercommunal troubles in 1964.

    The Turkish side pulled out of the July 1997 agreement shortly after files on the whereabouts of the graves of 200 Turkish Cypriots and 400 Greek Cypriots were exchanged in January 1998.

    Cassoulides has said the exhumations are a humanitarian effort and that the government hopes the process will prompt the Turkish Cypriot side to proceed with the 1997 agreement.

    The government says the exhumations did not take place earlier because the required technology was not available until recently.

    In the Summer of 1998, two women whose husbands are on the missing list began digging graves at the Constantinos and Eleni cemetery with their bare hands, convinced their menfolk were buried there.

    [02] Rights groups accuse Nicolaides of racism

    By Martin Hellicar

    SUSPENDED Immigration Chief Christodoulos Nicolaides, already facing official charges of corruption, was yesterday labelled a racist by local human rights groups.

    The Aliens Support Movement and the Cyprus branch of Amnesty International both alleged the disgraced head of the Immigration department was guilty of arbitrarily deporting foreign workers.

    On Monday, police charged Nicolaides with abuse of authority for personal gain. He is suspected of accepting bribes to "fix" residence and work permits ('pink slips') for foreign workers, including cabaret dancers.

    Doros Polycarpou, the chairman of the Aliens Support Movement, yesterday cited two cases of what he said was racially motivated abuse of authority by Nicolaides.

    A foreign woman working as a home help went to Nicolaides to complain of sexual abuse by her Cypriot employer, Polycarpou said. Nicolaides threw her out of his office and gave instructions that she be deported immediately, Polycarpou claimed.

    "Even though we (the movement) made the complaint to the Immigration office together, they deported her the same day," Polycarpou said. "This was done with the blessing of the Immigration chief, and without her complaint being investigated."

    Nicolaides did exactly the same thing to another foreign house maid who later made another, identical, complaint against the same employer, Polycarpou claimed. The second home help was only saved from deportation after the movement intervened, Polycarpou said.

    Polycarpou made the statements at a morning press conference to plug an anti-racism event in the Nicosia municipal gardens planned for Sunday.

    The multi-cultural event, named the rainbow festival, is also being supported by Amnesty International Cyprus and other human rights groups.

    Doros Kakoulis, of Amnesty International Cyprus, made his own complaints about Nicolaides yesterday.

    He said the suspended Immigration chief had ordered the deportation of a foreign woman who went to him to complain about the violation of her contract. Amnesty had had to intervene to prevent the deportation, Kakoulis said.

    Nicolaides was suspended from duty following the launch of a police probe into alleged corrupt pink slip practices. Three senior officers were tasked to look into information that police officers and others in positions of power were abating underworld prostitution rackets by providing pink slips for foreign cabaret artistes, some of them forged.

    The probe has already led to the charging or arrest of a number of other officials and members of the police force.

    Senior Immigration officer Nicos Vakanas -- suspended from office along with Nicolaides last month -- has been charged for alleged offenses similar to his boss's.

    Former Disy organisational secretary Andreas Tsangarides has been charged with illegal employment of foreign workers.

    Limassol police officers Efstathios Theodorou, Demetris Himonas and Pelopidas Evgeniades are being held for suspected involvement in the permits scam.

    The twin brother of Disy chief Nicos Anastassiades, Pambos Anastassiades, is being held on suspicion of providing fake pink slips for 170 a shot.

    [03] Carl Lewis pitches in for Radiomarathon

    By Athena Karsera

    TOP international athletes joined hands yesterday to give the Radiomarathon fund-raising effort a massive publicity boost.

    While American Olympic legend Carl Lewis spearheaded yesterday's efforts, the presence of high-jumper Richard Fosbury and decathlon gold medallist C.K. Yang added glamour to the event.

    Fosbury is an Olympic gold medallist and lent his name to a new high-jumping technique during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

    Speaking to a host of journalists and Radiomarathon volunteers, Lewis said what all children needed most was attention, "somebody to feed them, somebody to pat them on the back."

    He said working with young people -- something he does a lot in the United States -- was always a rewarding experience, as children saw the world in a way that adults had forgotten.

    "It's good to relive experiences through these young people," Lewis said. "Being in Cyprus, in another culture and environment, is very special."

    Lewis and Fosbury then went on to answer questions on doping and commercialism in athletics.

    Asked if money had not ruined the Olympic spirit, Lewis said people had made money from sports "from day one," and that athletes needed financial support to be able to perform at their best.

    "Why should somebody not be paid to perform, when I went to my first Olympics I was 23 and the average age of the winners was 23 or 22 years old. The next time I went, the age had gone up to 27 or 28. This drastic change was due to people still being able to compete. You can't work full-time and then go to training at 5pm."

    He said most people were able to do a job they enjoyed and that athletes should be given the same opportunity.

    But Fosbury did feel something had to be done to root out unscrupulous gains and corruption. "Sport does need to be cleaned up. The rules have to be reinforced and openings for corruption have to be closed."

    On performance-enhancing drugs, Lewis said that the amount of athletes taking steroids usually reflected the amount of people taking drugs in society as a whole.

    He said he had never been offered steroids, but admitted that some coaches did supply their charges with the drugs. Some athletes persuaded their coaches to let them use drugs, but "most people want a clean sport," added.

    "If a drug dealer knows who to approach, they will approach them. People who take drugs do not usually want to be around people who don't."

    "We have to create an environment where people know they cannot get away with things like this," Lewis said, warning that already "people can't believe the records any more."

    Lewis said his career had now gone off in three directions, setting up a clothing company, being a restaurateur and trying his hand at acting.

    His clothing company, MSTL by Carl Lewis, has branches all over the world, including in Greece.

    He owns a restaurant in Huston, Texas and said he recently bought a house in Los Angeles to bring him closer to Hollywood.

    He will tonight be giving a lecture entitled 'The Life and Times of Carl Lewis.'

    It begins at 6pm at Nicosia's International Conference Centre.

    [04] Insurers concerned at number of uninsured vehicles

    INSURERS are concerned about a recent rise in the number of uninsured drivers involved in traffic accidents.

    An announcement by the Motor Insurers' Fund (MIF) released yesterday said they had had to pay out 997,706 to the victims of uninsured drivers last year, double the amount paid out in 1997. Figures for 1999 were not yet available, but the fund expects them to be high.

    Insurers are concerned that police only appear to be checking for insurance once an accident had taken place.

    The MIF said checks should be carried out every time someone was stopped for speeding and that the main offenders seemed to be foreign workers who also drove vehicles that were in poor condition.

    Another problem group, according to the fund, were under-age moped drivers carrying passengers.

    The MIF called on the Police Chief to take "all necessary measures to spot and bring to justice uninsured drivers, in order to put an end to the recent rise in accidents involving uninsured drivers, with a serious financial cost to the Fund and the economy of the country in general."

    Meanwhile, the MIF also announced yesterday that the Cyprus International Insurance Bureau had signed an agreement with the 23 European offices of the International Insurance Bureau in a move that should put an end to some of the time-consuming procedures of moving a vehicle from one member country to another.

    According to the announcement, the agreement was signed in September this year but was not expected be implemented before March or April 2000.

    Signed in the framework of Cyprus' EU Accession process, the agreement allows vehicles from member countries to travel across borders without customs authorities carrying out thorough checks on the car's insurance status. "Customs will be satisfied if the car has number plates from one of the agreement's member countries."

    This would allow Cypriot drivers to be covered by their insurance companies when driving in member countries without needing to obtain a "Green Card".

    The agreement requires insurance companies to extend their cover to include the other 23 member countries, "in some of which compensation is much higher."

    The statement said the delay in the agreement's implementation in Cyprus was to allow for necessary changes in the Insurance of Motor Vehicles Law.

    Further changes will involve changing the appearance of Cyprus number plates and getting the final green light from the EU itself.

    [05] New fires break out in Paphos area

    FIRES yesterday continued to rage in the Paphos area, with three new blazes bringing to 30 the total number over the last

    Paphos police told the Cyprus Mail that three fires had broken out yesterday in the villages of Cholou, Panayia and Kathikas.

    Yesterday's fires were small and were quickly extinguished by the fire brigade, but they followed on the heels of seven fires on Monday and 20 small blazes on Sunday.

    Extensive damage was caused to crops and farming equipment in one of the Monday fires.

    Police said they were still investigating the possibility that the fires had been set maliciously as it was unusual for so many fires to break out at this time of year.

    They said the largest of the Monday fires had burned over an area of 10 square kilometres and had raged for more than 10 hours.

    The fire broke out at approximately 9.30am on a dry river bed near Yiolou.

    Strong winds fanned the flames burning up vineyards, olive and almond trees and destroying farming equipment.

    The fire brigade, police, game wardens and residents of the area battled the fire until it was finally brought under control at approximately 7.30pm. A police helicopter was also used.

    On Sunday separate fires broke out in Stroumbi, Drynia, Pelathousa, Kathikas, Cholou and Axylou.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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