|Friday, 23 February 2024
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-09
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
 126 crossed off the missing listBy Jean Christou
ONE HUNDRED and twenty six people known to be dead have been removed from the missing list, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday, as the row rumbled on over who was to blame for failing to inform the relatives.
The official figure for missing persons now stands at 1,491. Two other people, Andreas Kasapis and Zinon Zinonos, both 16, were also taken off the list after their remains were identified through DNA testing, the spokesman said.
He admitted that the handling of the missing issue by governments and other involved parties had been haphazard when it came to informing the relatives.
"The whole issue is very serious," he said. "It is a fact that when the list was being made it was handled in a wishy-washy way," he said.
Papapetrou said the relatives of the 126 would be informed, but said there were no plans to resurrect the committee, headed by former Education Minister Cleri Angelides, assigned to carry out the task for years ago.
The authorities have had testimonies on the fate of the 126 for several years, but have only now officially taken them off the list.
An attempt to inform relatives in 1995 failed when their representative Father Christoforos Christoforou advised them not to accept any information on the death of their loved ones unless scientific proof was produced. The government at the time decided to shelve the plan because of the reaction of the relatives themselves, Papapetrou said yesterday.
Christoforou, who later resigned from the relatives' committee, insisted yesterday that he had acted correctly in advising families not to accept the information offered by the government at the time.
The priest, whose own son is on the missing list, said he was proud of how he had handled the issue.
"I intervened and said no to Mrs Angelides. I said to the families they not accept what Mrs Angelides was going to tell them if exhumations and scientific tests were not carried out. You can't accept your loved one is dead. This is what I insisted upon," Christoforou said. "The only one who stood up and handled the issue of the missing correctly is Father Christoforou."
He said he had taken it upon himself to tell a relative of one of the 126 that his loved one was dead. "He told me 'if you weren't my friend and a priest I would kick you out. Show me his grave and his remains and DNA proof and then I'll believe you'."
In a letter to Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos yesterday,
Christoforou accused the minister of using innuendo to criticise the way he had handled the missing issue and said Hasikos did not know the missing issue as well as he did.
He also challenged the minister to a televised debate on the issue.
"I have a clear conscience," he said. "I served the issue of the missing for 24 years, and I defended this issue with the power of my soul."
Referring to the former Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, the late Leandros Zachariades, Christoforou said: "Everyone knows that he wanted us to accept presumption of death. I did not, and the committee did not and the government did not accept this, and nor will I."
Current relatives' committee representative Agapios Chiratos said yesterday that the government should proceed to inform the relatives of the 126 that they were dead, even though their remains had not been located.
Chiratos also said there was a possibility that up to 23 other people on the missing list could have been buried in the free areas.
"Without knowing what's in the files, I assume the government's evidence is solid and there are witness accounts that these 126 people are dead," Chiratos said.
He insisted that no matter what mistakes might have been made by the relatives committee in the past, the responsibility still lay with respective governments.
"The government should without further delay, based on the evidence it believes it has, inform the relatives," he said.
"Whether or not they accept the information is a different matter."
 Limassol police chief resignsBy Martin Hellicar
MILTIADES Neocleous - the Limassol police chief demoted in the wake of the pink slips scandal - yesterday resigned from the force.
In a resignation letter sent to Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, Neocleous complained that the timing of his demotion gave the impression that he might be in some way involved in the visa scandal.
Neocleous insisted nothing could be further from the truth, and claimed he had been instrumental in securing arrests in connection with the case.
The former police chief's name has not been linked to the scandal.
Neocleous was relegated to the Limassol police headquarters inspectorate last week, with effect as from yesterday.
His demotion was part of a government effort to "clean up" the image of the Limassol police force, tarnished by the arrest of three of its officers in connection with alleged corrupt visa practices.
Limassol officers Efstathios Theodorou, Demetris Himonas and Pelopidas Evgeniades were arrested last month 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 abetting underworld prostitution rackets by providing pink slips for foreign cabaret artistes, some of them forged.
Other senior Limassol officers also felt the impact of last week's image polishing exercise.
Neocleous said yesterday that his decision to leave was irreversible.
In his letter to the minister, he says he was resigning for reasons of "integrity and dignity."
Neocleous has been in the police force for the past 40 years. He was appointed Limassol police chief in May last year.
Former assistant Larnaca police chief Charalambos Koulermos yesterday took over as Limassol police chief.
A number of other prominent figures are suspected of involvement in the visa fraud.
Immigration chief Christodoulos Nicolaides has 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 the twin brother of Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, Bambos.
 Stock market: the party goes onBy Hamza Hendawi
LIKE A party that never ends, the all-share index yesterday chalked its seventh consecutive record close, smashing through the 700-point barrier with a leap of 42.26 points, or 6.21 per cent.
"It is a crazy market but everyone should enjoy the party while it lasts," enthused Neofytos Neofytou of AAA United Stockbrokers. "Everybody wants to buy shares and there is just not enough to go round."
The index hit an all-time high of 722.40 points with trade valued at £42.24 million, of which £12.38 million went to the banking blue chips. The increase in share prices was across-the-board, with all seven sectors of the market gaining ground.
"When the market is going up like this, you must expect share splits, rights issues and acquisitions," said Neofytou. "The exchange must expedite the procedure of examining applications for listings because there is certainly a desperate need for new shares," he added.
Brokers estimate that up to 30 companies will either be listed or take their place in the queue for exchange approval between now and the end of 2000. These would join the 50-plus companies already traded.
The market's appreciation since the start of the year now stands at 697.08 per cent, a fact which makes the tiny Cyprus Stock Exchange a world leader in terms of gains this year. The market's incredible rise seems consistently to disappoint those who are propagating the "whatever goes up must go down" theory. Instead, the market's forward march is believed to be keeping the party going strong, boosting consumption and fuelling the feel-good factor among its players and their dependents.
Many believed the market was on its deathbed when a backlog problem forced it to close its doors on three occasions. Its last closure, in September, lasted a whole month, shaking investor confidence and giving rise to forecasts of a massive flight of capital.
But the market responded magnificently and the all-share index has so far risen by 74.09 per cent since it reopened its doors on October 4.
"Is it a crazy market? Absolutely," said Neofytou yesterday.
The market's capitalisation, including government and corporate bonds, now stands at nearly £9 billion, nearly twice the island's GDP of £5.5 billion.
Starring in yesterday's show was the Popular Bank, thanks to rumours that it planned to reward shareholders with bonus shares or a rights issue. The bank's share, which split two-for-one in the summer, notched up £1.41 to hit an-all time high of £14.35 on trade worth £2.60 million.
The Bank of Cyprus had not such a good day in comparison, rising by just 19 cents to close at £11.16 on a volume worth £4.24 million. Hellenic Bank, fast catching up with its big brothers in the heavyweight category, was up 29.50 cents to close at £5.17. Trade in Hellenic yesterday was unusually heavy at £5.40 million.
Orphanides Supermarkets, two days after it opened its first outlet in Nicosia, was another star performer in yesterday's trade. It was up £1.06 to close at £6.45. The share is rumoured to be heading for a split and a possible rights issue, something that is creating heavy demand on the title.
Louis Cruise Lines, whose August debut was greeted with controversy and corruption allegations, yesterday continued its strong performance of late, putting on 27 cents to close at £8.09 with trade worth £2.55 million.
 Government to investigate 'orgy' of illegalityBy Martin Hellicar
THE GOVERNMENT is to investigate an opposition deputy's claims of an "orgy" of irregularities and illegalities in the distribution of Turkish Cypriot properties.
Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou alleges that only those who break the rules ever get their hands on a Turkish Cypriot property.
He said yesterday that government officials were among those acquiring Turkish Cypriot properties by improper means.
"There is an orgy of illegality; those who brake the law are being rewarded; those who try going through the legitimate channels are never helped," Yiangou claimed.
The government allows refugees to take over Turkish Cypriot homes abandoned in the government-controlled areas after the invasion. Most of these properties are then renovated as holiday homes.
Yiangou visited Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou at his office yesterday to hand him information that he says backs up his corruption claims.
"We discussed ways in which the department handling Turkish Cypriot properties could be better run," Yiangou said after his meeting with the minister.
Christodoulou said he would order an in-depth investigation of Yiangou's claims, acknowledging that there did appear to be some substance to the opposition deputy's story.
Yiangou - who has earned a reputation for making often unsubstantiated allegations against the police and other authorities - said he was hopeful that his claims were, this time, being taken seriously. He made it clear he felt it was about time the authorities, which he said he had informed of the irregularities long ago, took him seriously.
"I expect that we will now see some results concerning this issue, because I handed in my complaints as long ago as 1984," Yiangou said.
The deputy handed reporters written details of what he said were eight cases of irregular acquisition of Turkish Cypriot properties. The alleged cases concerned government officers, private individuals and a sporting club.
Christodoulou said six of these cases appeared to hold water.
"At first sight, there is the impression that there is an element of irregularity and illegality. These cases concern Turkish Cypriot properties and buildings in Larnaca and Limassol," the minister said.
He said he would order a thorough investigation of the matter.
Greek Cypriot refugees are allowed to take over Turkish Cypriot properties on the understanding that they would return them to the original owners should the Turkish Cypriots ever return to the government-controlled areas.
Part of the government's motivation for giving vacant Turkish Cypriot properties to refugees is to ensure the decaying homes are renovated and maintained.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999