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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-04

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, November 04, 1999


  • [01] Akel denies blame for moped deaths
  • [02] Cabinet gives green light to British army deal
  • [03] Date fixed for Anastassiades trial
  • [04] Cabinet orders disgraced ambassador back to Cyprus
  • [05] Charges dropped against Athinis and his sister
  • [06] Scottish police probe Cyprus link to Lockerbie bombing
  • [07] Market holds firm despite profit-taking
  • [08] Mother of missing boy hails her 1974 hero
  • [09] Radiomarathon beats all the records

  • [01] Akel denies blame for moped deaths

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE COMMUNIST party Akel denies it is to blame for the moped-driver deaths that occurred during an Akel-sponsored, four-month suspension of the mandatory moped helmet law this summer, the party's parliamentary Spokesman Andreas Christou said yesterday.

    "It's not Akel" that introduced, pushed and passed the July 14 measure that exempted moped drivers and riders from wearing protective helmets, Christou said. "Three parties together were against the helmet-use law," he noted.

    The law finally began to be implemented on Monday.

    The moped helmet law was part of a new traffic law passed in June. It included fines for using mobile phones while driving, and for not wearing helmets on motorcycles and mopeds.

    The law's effective date was July 1, but the Police Department gave a 12- day "grace period" before enforcing it. Meanwhile, on July 14, "the majority voted for suspension" of the moped-helmet part of the law until November 1, Christou acknowledged.

    "(But) Akel doesn't have the majority in the Parliament. So it's not Akel. It's Akel, the Democratic Party (Diko) and other members of the Parliament" that voted to suspend implementation, he said. He did not identify these "other members."

    In fact, the Akel-sponsored four-month helmet law suspension was the first item on the agenda for the July 14, final Parliamentary Plenum session of the summer.

    It was railroaded through on a 22-5 vote, while all the likely opponents of the motion were missing from the plenum chamber, including all but one of the deputies of the governing Disy party.

    The sole protest against the measure in the plenum that morning was voiced by lone Disy Deputy Demetris Syllouris. But he was ignored in the 22-5 vote for the measure.

    Akel had argued that moped-riding messengers would get too hot riding around under helmets in the summer sun, and that a four-month suspension of the law would give the House of Representatives time to reconsider its impact on moped users.

    Traffic Police Chief George Voutounos openly opposed suspending the moped helmet law, warning the injury risk was clear "according to our statistics, which we sent to Parliament."

    "I strongly believe the driver of mopeds and the passenger must wear helmets," Voutounos said at the time.

    Diko Deputy Marios Matsakis, who had opposed suspending the helmet law, yesterday agreed with Voutounos' claims that the numbers were there: "We told them so. We presented figures in the House," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    And Matsakis ridiculed Akel's claim that the helmet was too heavy and too hot. "I took a modern helmet and showed them they're not heavy, they're not hot. Nothing. And even if they're a little bit uncomfortable, they're better than a split skull."

    "I predicted that there was going to be a large number of deaths," said Matsakis, who is also a medical doctor. "In fact, I underestimated the number. I said I thought it was going to be something like six."

    Akel's Christou questioned the Police Department's statistics that show that 10 moped deaths occurred during the four-month suspension. And he further questioned whether not wearing helmets had been fatal to the 10 dead riders.

    "I don't agree with you that having helmets would have saved their lives," Christou told the Cyprus Mail. And besides, he added, "it is not clear that these boys used mopeds and not motorcycles."

    However, Costas Kokkinolambos, Police Chief Inspector and Assistant Superintendent-Traffic, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that all 10 deaths indeed occurred on mopeds - three of them in built-up areas, seven elsewhere. The suspension of the law applied to built-up areas only.

    Furthermore, he said, of the 10 moped deaths "from July 14 to October 31... for seven of these, the cause of death was severe head injuries." None of the victims had worn safety helmets, he said.

    "We believe that, had they used the safety helmet, some of these persons would have been around today. We would be talking to them," Kokkinolambos said.

    Matsakis agreed, adding that he had already issued "my own apologies to the families of those who died for any responsibility, collective or individual, which I might have - although I voted and I fought for the suspension not to be passed."

    Matsakis also mocked Akel's July claim that the helmet law would never be followed anyway.

    "Look around!" said Matsakis. "Everyone is wearing one. I've never seen so many people obeying the law before in my life. It's amazing. It really is amazing. I'm so surprised, delighted to see so many people wearing them."

    In fact, since November 1, police have been issuing on-the-spot 30 tickets to all drivers and pillion riders of mopeds and motorcycles not wearing a helmet.

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [02] Cabinet gives green light to British army deal

    By Jean Christou

    THE CABINET yesterday authorised the Foreign Ministry to put the official seal on a memorandum of understanding that allows the British army to use a National Guard firing range for its exercises instead of the sensitive Akamas peninsula.

    The memorandum, which was agreed last April but not signed, allows the bases to use the firing range at Kalo Chorio once a year between August 10 and 19, instead of the 70 days per annum they were allowed to use the Akamas.

    But according to government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, who announced the cabinet's decision to formalise the memorandum, either side will be able to terminate the agreement with three months' notice if they so wish.

    The bases held their first exercises at Kalo Chorio near Larnaca last August; they passed off without incident, according to a spokesman at the British High Commission.

    But Green Party spokesman George Perdikis said yesterday the memorandum of understanding had to be looked at both environmentally and politically.

    "Speaking as far as the environment is concerned, we can say it is good news of course. As far as politics are concerned, our way of thinking is that British manoeuvres should stop altogether and that the British should withdraw from Cyprus," Perdikis said.

    He said his party would be looking closely at the agreement to see if it infringed in any way on the independence and integrity of the Cyprus Republic by allowing British troops to use a National Guard firing range.

    For years, environmentalists had been trying to put a stop to British war games in the Akamas, which has been earmarked as a national park. Persistent protests by environmentalists and anti-bases activists forced Nicosia and London to seek an alternative to the Akamas for live-fire exercises by British forces.

    The Cyprus army had made clear its misgivings about allowing the British access to Kalo Chorio, and the agreement does not mean that Britain has given up the right to use the Akamas for exercises - a right guaranteed by the 1960 Treaty of Establishment that granted Cyprus its independence.

    Under the treaty, the British army is allowed to use appropriate territory outside the Sovereign Base Areas it retains for exercises for up to 70 days a year.

    The bases consistently claimed that use of the Akamas had been reduced to about 30 days in recent years, and sometimes even less.

    Local protestors have in recent years become increasingly daring in their protests, often entering the Akamas during live firing exercises and refusing to leave.

    The memorandum of understanding also provides that British forces cannot use the Akamas for as long as the agreement lasts. Only light artillery can be used on the Larnaca range, and British troops will not be allowed to stay overnight on the site. The National Guard will be allowed to observe the exercises.

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [03] Date fixed for Anastassiades trial

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE TWIN brother of Disy chief Nicos Anastassiades, Pambos Anastassiades, is to go on trial before the Limassol Criminal court accused of selling forged pink slips.

    The Limassol District court yesterday set the trial date for November 22 and ordered that Pambos Anastassiades remain in custody until that day.

    Anastassiades is suspected of providing fake residence and work permits for cabaret artistes for 170 a shot. He is expected to face a total of 31 charges, including forgery of official documents and illegal employment of foreigners.

    The offences were committed between January and September 1999, police say.

    His suspected accomplice, labour agent Marios Yiallouris, is to appear before the District court on November 10, when the court is expected to decide whether he will stand trial alongside Anastassiades. Yiallouris, who is currently recovering from a heart attack in a private clinic, was unable to appear before the court yesterday. His lawyer appeared in his place, but then informed the court that he had to leave because his client had not authorised him to appear in his place.

    The court released Yiallouris on bail to reappear on the 10th.

    The two suspects were arrested last month following the launch of a police probe into allegedly 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.

    Police were yesterday expected to charge another man arrested in connection with the same probe.

    Nicosia cabaret owner Andreas Pirillos is suspected of bribing suspended Immigration Chief Christodoulos Nicolaides to secure permits for dancing girls for his clubs.

    Nicolaides has himself been charged with accepting bribes to "fix" pink slips for foreign workers.

    Also in the dock in connection with the police probe are senior immigration officer Nicos Vakanas, former Disy organisational secretary Andreas Tsangarides and Limassol police officers Efstathios Theodorou, Dimitris Himonas and Pelopidas Evgeniades.

    The clampdown on suspect immigration practices has put corruption at the top of the local political agenda. House Watchdog Committee chairman Christos Pourgourides yesterday presented President Glafcos Clerides with his list of suggestions aimed at preventing corruption in official circles.

    He said afterwards that he had had a useful exchange of ideas with the President and that Clerides would be seeking to achieve consensus with all parties on action to tackle corruption.

    Pourgourides said his suggestions, which he did not disclose, would require legal amendments if they were to be put into effect.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday repeated that the state was determined to root out corrupt individuals from positions of authority.

    Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou meanwhile called for a specific senior policeman to be barred from having any involvement in the pink slips probe. Yiangou claimed this officer, whom he did not name, was guilty of involvement in the illegal employment of foreigners.

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [04] Cabinet orders disgraced ambassador back to Cyprus

    By George Psyllides

    THE CABINET yesterday decided that Cyprus' suspended Ambassador to Egypt, Charalambos Kapsos, be transferred back to the island.

    Announcing the cabinet's decision, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Kapsos would continue to be under suspension, but would be brought back to Cyprus for reasons of national interest.

    "The bilateral relations with neighbouring Egypt dictate the immediate appointment of an ambassador to that country," Papapetrou said.

    " Mr. Kapsos' presence in Cairo, where he is acting as if he was still the ambassador, discredit Cyprus' standing in Egypt," he added.

    The cabinet took its decision consulting with the Attorney-general's office.

    The cabinet decided yesterday to appoint Dimitris Droussiotis as the Republic's new ambassador to Cairo. Droussiotis had until now been the embassy's adviser.

    Papapetrou was adamant that the case against Kapsos was not closed, and that investigations continued.

    The Foreign Ministry ordered an inquiry into the activities of the ambassador in August after allegations that Kapsos had smuggled large quantities of wine into Egypt by declaring the container as inexpensive personal effects, thus avoiding the 300 per cent import duty levied by Egyptian customs.

    Kapsos had also been accused of organising a 'Cyprus night' at his residence, charging Cairo dignitaries who attended US$60 per person.

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [05] Charges dropped against Athinis and his sister

    By Martin Hellicar

    CHARGES against two of the five accused in the Hambis Aeroporos murder trial were dropped yesterday after the Supreme Court ruled that key evidence against them was inadmissible.

    Cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43, and his 51-year-old sister Zoe Alexandrou had denied charges of conspiring to murder 36-year-old Hambis.

    The Nicosia Assizes yesterday suspended criminal proceedings against Athinis and Alexandrou on the recommendation of Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

    Former policeman Christos Symianos, 35, and former special constable Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, 33 - who are accused of pulling the trigger on Hambis - remain on trial. Waiter Prokopis Prokopiou, 35, has admitted to shooting Hambis and is to be sentenced at a later date.

    On December 16, three hooded gunmen shot down Hambis in broad daylight in the Ypsonas suburb of Limassol as he drove home after a hospital visit for treatment to injuries sustained in an earlier gangland hit.

    State prosecutor Petros Clerides said yesterday the Attorney-general had decided to suspend criminal proceedings against Athinis and his sister because the Supreme Court had thrown out potential evidence against them. The higher court upheld a defence objection to the criminal court hearing that phone numbers were stored in the memory of a mobile device abandoned by the three hit men at the murder scene.

    Clerides said this ruling made it impossible for the prosecution to prove its case against Athinis and Alexandrou.

    Clerides had told the criminal court the numbers stored in the mobile phone would prove there had been contact between Athinis, Alexandrou and the other accused in the run-up to the shooting.

    Alexandrou, who works as a cleaner at the hospital where Hambis was receiving treatment, has admitted the phone belonged to her.

    Defence lawyer George Georgiou argued that information stored in the phone was protected by privacy laws and was therefore inadmissible as evidence. He also said the prosecution had failed to show that the phone had been used systematically or was in proper working order at the crucial time.

    The Criminal court upheld Georgiou's objection. The prosecution then appealed to the Supreme Court to have this ruling overturned, but was knocked back.

    Clerides said yesterday that Athinis and Alexandrou could be charged again if the law and constitution were amended to make such phone evidence admissible. He said relevant bills were currently pending before the House of Representatives.

    On leaving the court, Athinis said he had been vindicated. "The truth shone through," the cabaret owner said, insisting he had had nothing to do with the killing.

    "We thank God and the Cyprus justice system," Alexandrou said.

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

    The bloody feud shows no sign of letting up. In early September, Athinis, while 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.

    The Hambis murder trial, which has been on-going for four months now, continues.

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

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [06] Scottish police probe Cyprus link to Lockerbie bombing

    By Martin Hellicar

    SCOTTISH police believe there could a Cyprus link to the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing.

    A team of Scottish officers arrived on the island on Saturday to probe the activities of a Libyan businessman as part of inquiries into the Lockerbie disaster.

    The Scots, who are being helped by Cyprus police, are trying to uncover the relationship the unnamed man had with the two Libyans who are due to stand trial in Holland next year for the bombing.

    The two suspects stand accused of blowing up PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie in southern Scotland in December 1988, killing 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground.

    Cyprus police have already secured a court injunction lifting secrecy laws on a bank account the Libyan businessman had at a branch of a foreign bank in Nicosia, Reuters quoted local security sources as saying.

    The man is no longer on the island and authorities could not immediately say what sort of business he was involved in.

    "All I can say is that he used various names while he was in Cyprus," a security source stated.

    Police were also hoping to get records of telephone calls the Libyan made when he visited Cyprus "years ago", the source said.

    The Cyprus Mail learnt yesterday that the businessman used to own an offshore company in Cyprus in 1992.

    The Scottish investigators had asked local authorities to keep a media blackout on their presence.

    They are due to leave the island today, a police source said yesterday.

    The trial of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima is due to start next February in Holland. The two are to be tried there under Scottish law as part of a complex deal agreed with Libya.

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [07] Market holds firm despite profit-taking

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE prices continued to advance yesterday in the face of profit-taking in the banks and industrials, with the all-share index closing marginally up at a new record of 655.02.

    The day's trade - 6,386 transactions in all - was worth a respectable 42.30 million, the largest since the market reopened on October 4 after a month-long closure. Most trade was conducted in the first half of the 60- minute session, with shares worth 36.24 million changing hands halfway through.

    Three of the market's four banking shares, however, appear to have succumbed to the pressures of profit-taking. Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank and Universal Bank ended the day lower, while Popular Bank was barely in positive territory with a five-cent gain. The sector's biggest loser was the Bank of Cyprus, shedding 52 cents and closing at 11.03, while Hellenic was down by 18 cents at 4.55. Universal Bank, by far the smallest of the four, was 20 cents down at 9.40. Popular Bank closed at 13.05.

    Volume was relatively thin in the usually heavily traded banks. The sector, whose sub-index dipped by 2.71 per cent, attracted 7.71 million worth of trade, while the "other companies" sector - set alight by Louis Cruise Lines (LCL) - generated ?9.63 million in trade, of which LCL accounted for more than half.

    LCL has become all the rage in the Cyprus market since the company last Friday announced the acquisition of a majority stake in the Greek-based Royal Olympic Cruise Lines. The share closed at 7.90 yesterday, 40 cents up on Tuesday's close.

    Industrials were the only sector down beside the banks in yesterday's trade. The sector's index was down by 2.26 per cent, largely as a result of the Limassol-based Vassiliko Cement shedding 58 cents to close at 4.32.

    The only other industrial to close down yesterday was the printers Cassoulides & Sons, down by a single cent to close at 6.90.

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [08] Mother of missing boy hails her 1974 hero

    By Jean Christou

    THE MOTHER of the first missing Greek Cypriot to be identified as part of the exhumation process was yesterday coming to terms with the realisation that her son was dead, after 25 years hoping that he might still be alive.

    Eleni Zinonos, whose son 16-year old Zinon was named as the first Greek Cypriot whose remains were identified, yesterday visited the facility where the results of the exhumations are being investigated.

    After leaving the facility with one of her other sons, Eleni told reporters how she felt when she saw her son's remains.

    "I saw my son as he was the last time I saw him in his military clothes. That's how I saw him. I didn't see his bones or his skeleton. I just saw his shadow," she said.

    "I feel proud. His homeland is welcome. He was both a family head and a patriot."

    Zinon Zinonas was last seen on the morning of July 21, 1974, in the Nicosia suburb of Omorphita the day after the Turkish invasion began.

    The boy of 16, who was not in the army, returned home in military fatigues. Zinon was the eldest of four children, and his father had died when he was eight. On that day, he kissed his mother and his brothers and sisters and set off carrying a gun. He told his mother not to worry and to take care of the other children. No further trace of Zinon was found until his remains were dug out of a Nicosia cemetery this year, along with hundreds of other.

    He is the only one so far identified as having been on the list of 1,619 people believed missing since 1974, although the remains of eight other people were identified.

    The remains of an American Cypriot, Andreas Kasapis, also 16, is the only other missing person so far positively identified as dead. An American investigative team identified his remains in the occupied areas last year and his name has been removed from the missing list, which will now officially registers 1,617.

    According to exhumation team leader Professor William Haglund, more names are likely to be gradually removed from the list of missing persons as investigations progress.

    "It is more than likely that we will find more names listed as missing, because there is an excess of remains compared to those names known to be buried there," said Haglund, who heads a team of forensic experts from the organisation Physicians for Human Rights.

    Haglund said the results announced on Tuesday were only the initial identifications, and that more will be made public by February.

    When asked if he could say how Zinonos had died, Haglund said that the cause of death of the young man could not be determined.

    "If the soft tissue was affected, then we cannot determine the cause of death," he said.

    It was also revealed yesterday that DNA from a ninth body had been isolated by the experts, but that the identity of the victim would have to remain unknown for the time being because there were no DNA samples from any relatives to match it with.

    More than 200 marked graves have been exhumed. About 90 contained remains that had already been removed in previous exhumations.

    Haglund urged relatives of missing persons who have not yet donated DNA to come forward and give blood samples.

    Nicos Theodosiou, joint chairman of the committee for the relatives of missing persons, said yesterday the exhumation effort was finally bearing fruit.

    "We have the first results of a Greek Cypriot missing person," said Theodosiou, who added that Zinonos had been a classmate of his and a personal friend.

    "His mother, who was among he most active in events of committee, hoped her son would one day knock on her door alive. It is the classic instance of a family that hoped and believed their loved one was alive without any information that might allow them to think he was dead, and yet this person was lost in the free areas for 25 years," Theodosiou said.

    He said he hoped the process would yield more cases by February, and expected a third group of results by the autumn.

    Yesterday, the Council of Ministers approved 440,000 for the continuation of the work of the DNA bank at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

    Thursday, November 04, 1999

    [09] Radiomarathon beats all the records

    THE ANNUAL Radiomarathon charity event that ended on Tuesday night beat all the records for funds raised during its 10-year history, the event's organisers announced yesterday.

    The two-day event for children with special needs, organised by the CyBC and the Cyprus Popular Bank, this year raised 1,300,000.

    Fifty-four booths were set up across the country, while eight mobile collection centres raised contributions from remote communities.

    Funds were also raised from auctions of various items offered for this purpose.

    Among the items was a collection of rare photographs and personal dedications belonging to President Glafcos Clerides, which was sold for 10, 000, while his book My Deposition, inscriber with a personal dedication, brought in 2,100.

    A pair of running shoes belonging to nine-times Olympic champion Carl Lewis, who spearheaded this year's charity drive in person, was sold for 2,150.

    Lewis was the guest star of this year's Radiomarathon. He visited schools and met children with special needs, who gave him a warm welcome.

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