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Cyprus Mail: News ARticles in English, 99-11-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] EXPATS BEWARE: If your partner dies, you may lose access to your money
  • [02] ‘Sorry for keeping you in the dark ’
  • [03] Pet lovers protest against poisoner
  • [04] Another old house bites the dust
  • [05] Manhunt for two Iranian ‘illegals’
  • [06] Graffiti attack on union building


    If your partner dies, you may lose access to your money

    By A Staff Reporter

    ATTORNEY-GENERAL Alecos Markides has pledged to investigate why the Hellenic Bank has frozen the joint account of a recently widowed British expatriate for the past six months without an explanation.

    The issue is of great concern to many expats who may one day find themselves in the same situation, and Markides has promised to come up with an answer early in the week, he told The Sunday Mail.

    Pensioner Stephanie Wallace (not her real name) and her husband Edgar opened a joint current account in Cyprus pounds with their local Hellenic Bank ten years ago, transferring cash monthly from their sterling retirement fund in the UK.

    Edgar died on May 11 this year after surgery for almost-total paralysis he sustained in a traffic accident in April, according to Stephanie's cousin-in-law, William Wallace .

    He said the bank froze the joint account containing £4,000 shortly after Stephanie presented them with her husband's death certificate.

    Since then Stephanie has not had one word of explanation, apart from a vague reference to "the authorities", she told The Sunday Mail late on Friday.

    The only thing that has saved Stephanie from destitution was that she was able to open another account in her own name -- ironically again with the Hellenic Bank -- so she could continue to deposit her own pension from the UK.

    "She was fortunate she could do that," said William Wallace. He said that most expats in Stephanie's position have their entire pensions remitted to Cyprus. But in her case she and her husband had kept the basic pension in the UK and transferred only what they needed to the joint Cyprus account.

    "So she had UK sources to fall back on. Otherwise she would have been destitute."

    Hellenic Bank lawyer Georgia Messios, who was keen to learn the identity of the complainant, refused to say whether Stephanie's treatment was bank policy, a mistake, or government legislation.

    Although Markides was not immediately able to say under which law, if any, a Cyprus bank can freeze a joint account on the death of one spouse, he suggested that we contact the government's Estate Duty Commissioner, Lela Hadjinestora.

    Like Messios, she also refused to state if such a law existed and insisted on learning Stephanie's real identity.

    But Stephanie fears that if her real name becomes known, the authorities might not renew her residence permit.

    [02] Sorry for keeping you in the dark

    By Jean Christou

    DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday apologised to the Greek Cypriot people for keeping them in the dark on the fate of missing persons for 25 years.

    Hasikos made the public apology at a ceremony to bless the remains of recently exhumed unidentified victims buried in multiple graves during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    President Clerides also attended the ceremony, at which Archbishop Chrysostomos officiated.

    "It is with a heavy heart that the Cypriot state asks from the mourning relatives a humble apology, because during the hell of fire and chaos of destruction, these unknown dead from 1974 were buried in multiple graves hastily and unfittingly," Hasikos said during the blessing.

    The recent exhumations initiated by the Clerides government have thrust the issue back into the political arena, forcing the acknowledgment that a number of names may have been needlessly listed among the 1,619 missing persons.

    Earlier this week the remains of missing 16-year-old Greek Cypriot Zinon Zinonos were positively identified through DNA testing as part of the exhumation process.

    Zinonos was said to have been arrested by Turkish forces during the first round of hostilities on July 21, 1974.

    It was only after his remains were identified that several people came forward with information that he had been wounded and died at the Nicosia General Hospital on the same day.

    The witnesses said they had never been approached for their testimonies by any government to date, a revelation that has angered the relatives of missing persons.

    Hasikos said it is the Clerides government which has found the strength to take on the "heavy responsibility" to search for the truth.

    "It is this state's debt and obligation to the dead and their living loved ones to make sure that the truth is revealed even now, 25 years later," Hasikos said.

    Paying tribute to Zinonos, the Minister added: "The whole of Cyprus has cried for this young hero. Heavy and torturous is the guilt of all of us... for what was kept hidden in these overgrown graves."

    Yesterday's ceremony took place at the special facility in Engomi set up to carry out the investigations, led by a team from the international organisation Physicians for Human Rights. Work on the remains is expected to be completed by Autumn next year.

    Zinonos is the second person from the Greek Cypriot missing list who has been identified. The remains of another 16-year-old Greek Cypriot with US citizenship were recovered from a grave in the occupied north by an American investigative team last year.

    The government says that although it has evidence to conclude that 126 people whose names are on the list are dead, it believes that the Turkish side holds the key to the whereabouts of the remaining 1,491.

    [03] Pet lovers protest against poisoner

    By Anthony O. Miller

    SANDRA Shafer is heartsick and angry. Lucky, the miniature Schnauzer dog she and her husband received as a wedding present, has been poisoned.

    Shafer says she now knows who killed Lucky, and so do her Nicosia neighbours. "Almost every house in the neighbourhood has lost a cat or a dog, and they are angry at this guy for doing it. But until now they have refused to complain," she told The Sunday Mail.

    But now they are following Lucky's doctor's orders and trying to get the man jailed. For the pets vet, Dr Zacharias Evangelou, is angry too -- at people who know who is poisoning animals but refuse to come forward and report them to police.

    Shafer said when she called the police, Officer Petros (badge No. 1910) responded but told her nothing could be done "unless we have proof".

    "So now I have a witness who is going to the police," said Shafer, "because her cat died the week before Lucky."

    While Shafer's younger son was walking Lucky on October 27, "he got distracted, and the dog started walking towards the Acropole Cinema," Shafer said.

    "In a matter of seconds, this man threw something at the dog that he took a bite of, and immediately he got sick," she said. "His neighbour across from his house saw it and came and told us."

    "This cannot continue happening. This was a house dog. It had a family. My children are heartbroken. And it could lead to a bigger accident: if you leave poison outside, a child can get it. It can kill a human being," she said.

    Dr Evangelou confirmed that Lucky was poisoned by Lanate, the brand name of an organophosphate pesticide readily available all over Cyprus.

    Not doing anything about it "is the doctor's big complaint" said Evangelou's assistant, Zoe Koullapi, reading a statement the vet prepared for The Sunday Mail.

    "We have to make people understand that it is wrong. People have to come forward and complain about it," Evangelou said. "People can be jailed for 6-12 months, or be fined £500-£1,000 for this crime."

    Koullapi said her boss "wants people to be put away or fined for this. But we can't do anything unless people complain. And we have to have proof of it."

    To dramatise the need to report pet-poisoners, Shafer rented a Dalmatian suit and protested with other animal lovers yesterday in the field near the Acropole, where Lucky was poisoned.

    "This dog meant a lot to us," she said. "It was a wedding present."

    Apart from staging her protest, Shafer said she has "no idea what to do" to prompt people to report pet-poisoners. "Can somebody help me here?" she pleaded.

    [04] Another old house bites the dust

    By Athena Karsera

    NICOSIA'S bustling Makarios Avenue is being legally robbed of what experts consider to be an architectural treasure and, at the very least, a beautiful house.

    Located next to one of the capital's popular cafes and dwarfed by trendy shopping centres and stores, the house was yesterday a spectre of its once majestic self.

    Its owners, currently living in the United States, decided to take advantage of the Avenue's popularity and demolish the house to use its land. Makarios Avenue store-holders have been known to sell their shops' goodwill for up to £1 million.

    In what seemed to be fate's last card, it was revealed on Friday that the Electricity Authority (EAC) had only turned off the electricity that afternoon.

    An EAC representative said the house's owners had told them of its imminent demolition on October 27, but that the EAC technical department had only dispatched a worker that afternoon.

    "I should have been told at least a day before the demolition began," the worker told reporters outside the house on Friday. "I only found out about it half an hour ago."

    The demolition men had actually begun work on Wednesday, unknowingly putting their lives in danger.

    The house, built in 1920, was never listed as being protected and so could legally be demolished once permission had been obtained from Nicosia Municipality.

    A Nicosia architect, who preferred not to be named, told The Sunday Mail the house was a victim of its location: "If it had been built in old Nicosia, it would have been listed."

    The architect said that it was an open secret that the criteria for listing a building outside old Nicosia were far more strict than for those inside the walls.

    Speaking for the Architectural Heritage Association, George Kantzilaris said that he had witnessed a moving sight while demonstrating outside the house: "One of the demolition men turned to his boss and said he couldn't carry on destroying such a beautiful building. He then put down his tools and walked away."

    The demolition has also been attacked by the Green Party, whose president, George Perdikis, asked: "What kind of education are we giving our children when we demolish whatever is old and beautiful in this town?"

    The environmentalists said that if their efforts had been successful, the house could have been the perfect location for cultural educational exhibition space.

    "We waited outside the building until 4am on Wednesday trying to stop the demolition, and as soon as we left the bulldozers came," Perdikis said yesterday.

    A Town Planning Department official told The Sunday Mail the house could not have been worth saving in terms of cultural heritage or a demolition permit would not have been issued.

    Perdikis said yesterday that while the Greens may not have been successful in saving this house, their efforts to protect other such buildings would continue.

    He told The Sunday Mail that their attention had now turned to a building a little further up Makarios Avenue, the building previously housing the Consul of Finland.

    Perdikis said that the two-storey house, between the Popular Bank and the Mitsis building, had also been marked for demolition.

    He said the Greens would make every effort to prevent yet another beautiful building from being destroyed.

    [05] Manhunt for two Iranian illegals

    THE POLICE yesterday launched a manhunt for two Iranian men who broke out of police detention cells in Paralimni in the early hours.

    The two men had been arrested on Tuesday for living and working in Cyprus without a permit, and were being held in the cells until their deportation.

    Police said yesterday that they only realised 28-year-old Hassan Jalal Raljbar and Aghakhan Moradi Khojro, 37, had escaped when they made their routine morning checks on the cells at approximately 7.50am.

    "They were still there at the 4am check and so they must have escaped during that time," an officer told The Sunday Mail.

    Police said that the two men apparently used a pipe from their shower to force the lock on the cell door and then break through the station's tiled roof.

    The weather was stormy in the area at the time of the breakout.

    [06] Graffiti attack on union building

    VANDALS on Friday night painted right-wing slogans on the Peo building in Larnaca, the union complained yesterday.

    An announcement by the left-wing workers union said "irresponsible people decorated the walls with Eoka B, Grivas Lives and other incomprehensible characters".

    Peo said that the writing, in blue paint, had been the third hostile action of its kind against the union's building recently. "We hope this was a spontaneous gesture that will not have any repercussions," it said.

    Peo said it condemned the vandalism and added that despite dirtying the walls, it had also been an attempt "to reopen old wounds".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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