|Wednesday, 29 November 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-10
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
 Denktash steps in on row over the missingBy Jean Christou
TESTIMONY exists proving that far more than 126 people on the missing list are dead, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday.
Speaking exclusively to the Cyprus Mail, Denktash said that when the issue of the missing was first being investigated, around 400 people were presumed to be dead.
"Then it came down to 200. Now it's 126," he said, referring to the number of case files the government has decided to close this week.
"We brought witnesses saying so and so, so and so, so and so were killed. Greek answer: Until the bodies are produced, they are missing persons. Is this a humanitarian approach?" Denktash asked.
"It doesn't matter how many," he added. "If they have concealed even one death in order to put one more name on the missing persons list... it is an inhuman act."
Denktash's comments come after a week of allegations following the positive identification of one of the 1,619 persons originally listed as missing. Zinon Zinonos had been buried in a multiple grave at a Nicosia cemetery 25 years ago. He was listed as missing, despite testimony from a Greek Cypriot man who saw him mortally wounded in July 1974.
He and others were never approached for information by subsequent governments, and Zinonos' family believed until last week that their son was still missing.
Denktash said yesterday he had told his people in 1963 that their relatives, missing since intercommunal clashes, were dead. "I gave them a chance to grieve. Let us do it again. Let us say jointly there are no missing persons. They are all dead. Then we shall do something about finding the remains," he said.
An agreement was reached between the two sides in July 1997 to exchange information on the missing, but discussions broke down when the Turkish Cypriot side insisted that there were people listed among the missing who had been killed by Greek Cypriots during the coup.
The government categorically denies this, a stance repeated yesterday by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides.
In unrelated statements earlier yesterday on the missing, Cassoulides urged Denktash to return to implementing the 1997 agreement.
"We are showing our honest intentions. We are clearing out the cemeteries. We are looking for more places which might contain buried people from the invasion and we are clearing out," Cassoulides said.
He said that if proof was found that more missing persons were dead, their families would be told and their cases closed.
"Then we will tell Mr Denktash, We are being sincere. All those we had buried on our side we have cleared and we have the courage to say it. From then on, we will want to know about the rest."
The government says it has information that some 1,491 people were in the hands of the Turks at the time of their disappearance, and wants the Turkish side to co-operate in locating the remains of those who are dead.
But Denktash insisted yesterday that the Greek Cypriot side must first admit that there are a number of coup victims buried in mass graves in the north.
"There are Greek Cypriot bodies buried by Greek Cypriots in common graves," he said. "Point out the dead Greek Cypriots buried in the north and then we'll talk," he said.
Denktash said that if his side agreed to exhumations without such an admission from the Greek Cypriots, then Turkish Cypriots would automatically be blamed when bodies began to appear, some of which the Turks were not responsible for.
He said that while Clerides was to be congratulated for doing something about the missing, the latest efforts had only come about after two Greek Cypriot women started digging graves in Nicosia with their bare hands, convinced their missing husbands were buried there.
"They had to move because they could see they could not conceal it any longer," he said. "Now I hope everybody will say bravo to Clerides for admitting there were mistakes. They could have said bravo to him long ago."
House President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday called for an end to the public debate on the missing that has been raging for the past week, saying it serves only the interests "of other people".
Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos, who publicly apologised at the weekend for past mistakes over the missing, also called yesterday for and end to the bickering.
"There were mistakes and gaps in the issue of the missing, but this bickering should stop so we can concentrate on how to solve the problem," he said.
"It's my view that this government has proved by the actions it has taken that it has the courage to put an end to this issue."
 Bank apologises to widow, 70, and unblocks accountBy Anthony O. Miller
TWO Hellenic Bank managers yesterday apologised to Barbara Spill, 70, a widow and the holder of a joint account the bank froze when her husband died.
"They rang up first to say they would like to come and see me, saying It's about unblocking your account," Spill told the Cyprus Mail from her home in Paphos.
Her case had been highlighted in The Sunday Mail at the weekend in a story in which she was referred to as Stephanie.
Fearful of trouble with the government over her residence status, Spill had asked The Sunday Mail to keep her identity secret in its account of how Hellenic's Kennedy Square Branch in Paphos froze some £4,000 in her joint account after she had presented her husband's death certificate to a bank teller.
Spill said "the district manager and the area manager apologised and admitted that mistakes had been made" in denying her access to her money.
At about 2pm yesterday, "they came out and they said We're very, very sorry that this has happened."
She said they invited her to the bank at around 10am today to have access to her money restored. "And they even offered to take us (Spill and her husband's cousin) out to dinner," Spill said, adding that she declined the dinner.
The Sunday Mail story had described the plight of a Stephanie Williams who could not learn from the bank why it had denied her access to her own money after her husband, Denis Spill (Edgar Wallace in the story) died after a car accident.
Her lawyer, Nicos Papakleovoulou, declared the bank's action "a fundamental mistake" since their joint external Cyprus pound checking account was in the names of Denis "and/or" Barbara Spill.
A lawyer for the bank had been unable to tell The Sunday Mail whether it was bank policy, Cyprus law, or some combination of the two that permitted or even required the bank to freeze joint accounts when one of the account holders dies.
But both the Popular Bank and the Bank of Cyprus said they had no such policy of freezing joint accounts on the death of one signatory, and that they knew of no law requiring or permitting this.
Asked how the Hellenic managers knew The Sunday Mail story referred to her -- since pains had been taken not to identify her in any way -- Spill said: "They put two and two together. They said earlier that they tied The Sunday Mail story with me because it was so similar."
"All I'm happy about is that the account is unblocked," she said, without any regret at not accepting the bank's dinner invitation. "I wouldn't have felt comfortable," she added.
 Market unperturbed by levy plansBy Hamza Hendawi
PROPOSALS for a one per cent levy on investment sales on the Cyprus Stock Exchange failed to dampen the bourse's enthusiasm yesterday, with share prices soaring to a new record close on a trading volume of £55.91 million.
Yesterday's volume was the largest since the market reopened its doors on October 4 after a one-month closure caused by a backlog problem.
The all-share index ended at 729.56, 7.16 points, or 0.99 per cent, up on Monday's close. It had hit 733.36 halfway through the 60-minute session, before it declined to 729.06 shortly before closure.
The proposals for the sales levy were adopted by the House's powerful Finance Committee on Monday evening and are now scheduled to be voted on at the Plenum on November 18.
News of the levy first surfaced last month and the market appeared to have already discounted its effects. The new tax, which would be applied irrespective of loss or profit, would net the cash-strapped government of President Glafcos Clerides £50 or £60 million a year at current transaction levels. It is expected to hit speculators hardest rather than medium and long-term investors who may sell or buy a handful of times in the course of a year. "This is not discouraging investors and it is not expected to affect transactions," Finance Committee Chairman Markos Kyprianou said yesterday.
"Since the market is making such exceptional gains it is only logical that the state and Cyprus in general get some benefits from it."
Yesterday's trade took to eight the number of consecutive record closes by the stock market and to 704.65 per cent gains made since the year began.
Traders say the market's current bull run is being fuelled by demand on shares far outstripping supply, as well as persistent rumours of a rights or a bonus share issue by the Popular Bank to mark its centenary in 2000. The Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest financial institution, rewarded shareholders with bonus shares, warrants and a rights issue to mark its own centenary this year.
The Popular Bank closed at £14.12 yesterday, down from an intra-day high of £14.40 and 22.50 cents lighter than Monday's close. Popular's 1993-99 warrants, however, ended up 48.50 cents at £24.78.
The rumour mill also touched Hellenic Bank with the much-recycled tale of the bank being the target of a takeover bid by a Greek bank. Its share closed up 19.50 cents at £5.36.
The Bank of Cyprus was up 3.50 cents at £11.20. The bank's centenary warrants also finished the day up by 16 cents to close at £9.10.
 Clinton: Greco-Turkish rapprochement the key to stabilityBy Anthony O. Miller
AN END to Greco-Turkish enmity, which Washington will encourage, could keystone stability in the Mediterranean, spotlighting Greece and Turkey as models to the emerging Balkan democracies, US President Bill Clinton said as he prepared to visit the region this weekend.
In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech, Clinton told a Georgetown University audience in Washington that while in the region, he planned to outline to both countries' leaderships his visions for the two countries' futures in Europe.
"The one thing standing between Greece and its true potential," Clinton said, "is the tension in its relationship with Turkey... This is a problem that can be solved - eventually it will be solved - and I intend to see that the US does everything we possibly can to be of help" towards the solution.
Greece has a "vital role" in Europe," he said, adding he would be reminding Athens of this during his visit. "The world's oldest democracy is a model to the younger democracies of the Balkans - a gateway to their markets, a force for stability in the region."
As for Turkey, Clinton said: "The coming century will be shaped in good measure by the way in which Turkey itself defines its future and its role today and tomorrow. For Turkey is a country at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia."
"The future can be shaped for the better, if Turkey can become fully a part of Europe as a stable, democratic and secular Islamic nation," Clinton said.
Turkey aspires to be invited to join the European Union, and lately increasing numbers of EU member states have been openly declaring they want Turkey to join the bloc.
The coveted invitation could indeed come about, Clinton said, "if there is progress in overcoming differences with Greece, especially over Cyprus." Turkey also disputes Greek claims to sovereignty over several Aegean islets, and the maritime territorial limits each claims in the Aegean.
An EU seat awaits Ankara, Clinton continued, "if Turkey continues to strengthen respect for human rights, and if there is a real vision on the part of our European allies," regarding the predominantly Islamic state's entry into an overwhelmingly Christian Europe.
In the December 1997 EU Ministerial Summit, Turkey was refused an invitation to begin EU accession talks - while Cyprus and 10 other nations were invited to open membership talks.
Among the reasons for the denial were Turkey's poor human rights record against her own citizens; her brutal suppression of her Kurdish minority's struggle for an autonomous Kurdish homeland; the state of Turkey's economy; Greco-Turkish tensions, and Turkey's military occupation of northern Cyprus.
Proof that Nato allies Greece and Turkey can overcome old enmities was clear in how each rushed to help the other when earthquakes this summer devastated both countries, Clinton noted. He praised both peoples for their humanity in these two crises.
Clinton's state visit to the region will open on Saturday with two days in Athens, followed by stopovers in Turkey, Italy and Bulgaria.
Greece's communist party has called for mass demonstrations outside the US embassy during Clinton's stay in Greece. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has urged the country's political parties to refrain from ugly street actions during Clinton's visit, mindful that news accounts of them could tarnish Greece's image abroad.
Clinton and Simitis are expected to discuss bilateral issues, Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and the situation in the Balkans.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has given no indication of any change in his position on Cyprus. He refuses to talk with the Republic unless his rump regime gets 'state' recognition. And he has said that federation, as the form of any Cyprus solution, is dead; confederation is the most he would agree to now.
The Greek Cypriot side remains bitterly disappointed over the US failure during the UN General Assembly meeting earlier this year in New York to press Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to move Denktash to return to the Cyprus talks table.
UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan yesterday said he would await the results of consultations with top Turkish officials in Istanbul before deciding whether to send invitations out for the two sides to resume negotiations on a Cyprus solution.
The date, method and nature of any such talks remain undecided, he said, adding: "We do not exclude the possibility of indirect talks."
The Greek Cypriot side has already voiced its opposition to indirect talks after over a year of them between the two Cyprus communities, without anything tangible emerging, during the term of Dame Ann Hercus as chief of the UN Mission to Cyprus.
Annan said he considered Cyprus as serious a problem as East Timor and Kosovo, because it not only affected the more than 1 million people living on the island, but "it also has major regional dimensions."
 Government promises new waste management planBy Martin Hellicar
THE GOVERNMENT is promising a new, comprehensive, trash management plan for the whole island, the House Environment Committee heard yesterday.
The committee also heard of a £400 million plan to provide sewage treatment for village communities.
On the agenda for the meeting was an examination of liquid and solid waste problems in remote villages of the Chrysochou bay area, but discussion quickly turned to waste management problems on the island as a whole.
Cyprus is third in the EU league table of per capita rubbish production. The average Cypriot generates 465 kilos of trash a year. Add to this the considerable trash contribution made by tourists, and the island produces some 380,000 tonnes of solid waste a year. The committee heard from government experts that this volume was expected to reach 500,000 tonnes a year by 2007.
The head of the Agriculture Ministry's Environment Service, Nicos Georgiades, said this rubbish more often than not ended up in unsuitable, uncontrolled, dumps. He said the situation was "out of control".
"Nothing is being done, the situation is explosive," Georgiades told deputies. He said his service had pleaded with the cabinet to do something to remedy matters.
An Interior Ministry representative said the government had, three months ago, commissioned a team of foreign experts to make recommendations for the proper management of household waste. The committee heard that a plan based on these recommendations would be tabled before the cabinet for approval "in the next few days."
The plan provides for controlled, centralised, disposal sites, recycling and burning of wastes to generate energy.
Committee chairman Demetris Iliades was sceptical about whether these plans would ever reach fruition.
"Promises, promises... let's have action, not announcements, so that we are not left disappointed and you are not left exposed," Iliades told the Interior Ministry representative.
Georgiades insisted the key thing was to reduce rubbish production.
He also spoke of a programme for management of sewage waste. In order to comply with EU regulations, he said, a plan for the centralised treatment of sewage from 80 village communities had already been drawn up.
The plan is to be implemented over the next decade, and provides for spending of some £400 million by 2012.
The Environment service chief said he was not sure whether the plan covered the remote Chrysochou bay villages about which the committee was particularly concerned.
Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou said there was no sewage treatment system for either homes or hotels in the remote area.
Sewage was dumped in an open, unsealed holding tank, and allowed to seep away, Hadjidemetriou said. The liquid waste from the three hotels in the area amounts to 900 tonnes per annum.
Hadjidemetriou said the result was that local residents had to live with the bad smell from the holding tank and, worse, there was the risk of groundwater pollution.
The committee gave short shrift to the official line that the hydrogeology of the area was such that the sewage-holding bay posed no risk to groundwater.
Hadjidemetriou added that there was no rubbish collection for three of the villages in the area - Pano Pyrgos, Pygenia and Mosfili.
The head village in the area, Kato Pyrgos, had a rubbish collection service, but the smaller villages were unwilling to have the rubbish truck visit their homes too, the committee heard. Despite promises that the state would pay for the collection service, the smaller villages apparently fear accepting the plan would give Kato Pyrgos too much influence in the area.
Furthermore, Hadjidemetriou said, the dump to which Kato Pyrgos trash was taken was unsuitable and sited in a beautiful forest valley. The Edek deputy added that large swathes of forest in the area were "swamped" with trash ditched by passing villagers and visitors.
A representative of the Paphos District office complained that clean-up campaigns were useless because the trash always reappeared "within days."
He did, however, add that an anti-litter warden had now been hired to patrol the area. Hadjidemetriou welcomed this development.
The committee urged the District Office to send the Kato Pyrgos rubbish lorry to the other villages, in an effort to encourage residents to leave their trash out for collection.
Georgiades said Hadjidemetriou's account of the situation in the Chrysochou area was a mirror image of the sorry state of affairs in the island as a whole.
 Policemen deny killing Hambis AeroporosBy Martin Hellicar
TWO OFFICERS of the law charged with gunning down Hambis Aeroporos in Limassol on December 16 yesterday took the witness stand before the Nicosia Criminal court.
Policeman Christos Symianos, 35, and special constable Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, 33, insisted they were completely innocent.
The two suspects used identical arguments in an effort to dismiss DNA evidence linking them to the gangland hit.
Symianos testified that a surgical mask recovered at the murder scene - which DNA fingerprinting showed he had worn - was of a type routinely worn by officers at crime scenes. The implication was that he had worn the mask on a previous occasion and had left his DNA on it then.
Kinezos said a hood found at the murder scene - which DNA tests again showed was his - was a piece of head gear routinely worn by special constables during exercises. His argument, again, was that he had worn the mask on a previous occasion.
Kinezos testified that he had already given a detailed account of his movements at the time of the murder to police.
Symianos said a police officer who had testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial had lied.
Officer Frangescos Frangou told the court that Symianos and another man - whom he did not recognise - had appeared on his doorstep shortly after the killing and asked to be driven to the Castle hotel.
The three-judge bench decided there was a case for the two to answer and set the next trial hearing for November 16.
Waiter Prokopis Prokopiou, 35, has admitted to being one of the three hooded hit men who killed 36-year-old Hambis. When making his dramatic courtroom confession earlier this year, Prokopiou said Symianos and Kinezos were innocent. But the court has decided not to take Prokopiou's word for it.
Charges against the other two accused in the high-profile murder trial were dropped last week after the Supreme Court ruled key evidence against them was inadmissible.
Cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43, and his 51-year-old sister Zoe Alexandrou, a hospital cleaner, had denied charges of conspiring to murder Hambis.
Hambis Aeroporos was gunned down in broad daylight as he drove into Limassol from the town's new hospital in the Ypsonas area. His murder is believed to be part of a gangland turf war for control of the cabaret circuit - often seen as a front for prostitution and gambling rackets.
The murder trial was moved to Nicosia for fear of gangland reprisals against the suspects. Armed police are out in force for every hearing.
 Residents petition for foundry to be movedBy Martin Hellicar
PEOPLE living near the Nemitsas foundry in Limassol have collected 1,123 signatures on a petition calling for the metal works to be moved.
Last month, 47 children from the Zakaki primary school near the foundry were treated in hospital for breathing problems after a suspected gas leak from the factory.
The management insists the foundry is safe, but residents claim their health has suffered from years of exposure to its emissions.
Yesterday, a local residents' action group sent its anti-foundry petition to the House Environment Committee and the Ministers of Labour, Agriculture, Health and Education.
The petitioners are demanding "drastic and immediate measures for the protection of our health."
The residents' action group is asking the government to halt operations at the foundry immediately and for an independent study into the possible health effects of factory emissions.
In the long-term, the residents want the foundry moved away from their area.
The only other foundry on the island, outside Ergates village in the Nicosia district, has also been the target of a campaign to close it down by local residents.
An epidemiological study has linked the high levels of cancer and breathing complaints in Ergates to heavy metal emissions from the Marios & Andreas foundry.
 Man hurt in Limassol bomb attackA 30-YEAR-OLD man was injured yesterday after a bomb exploded on the doorstep of his home in Limassol.
Savvas Georgiou, alias Blacky, unemployed from Limassol, was injured when a bomb exploded in the entrance of his house on Rodhos Street in the Ayios Ioannis suburb.
Georgiou had just arrived home at around 5am and was in the kitchen when the bomb went off.
He escaped serious injury, but suffered a ruptured left eardrum.
Police sealed the area while forensic teams and members of the bomb squad collected evidence from the scene.
Bomb squad chief Antonis Shiakallis said after examining the area that the bomb had been a low intensity homemade device in metal casing.
Police, who have launched a manhunt for the arrest of the perpetrators, suspect the blast was motivated by revenge.
Reports say Georgiou has blamed unnamed 'foreigners' for the attack and has admitted to having disputes with them over drugs for the past three years.
Georgiou had been the target of several attacks since 1996.
On March 8 1996, his car was burned and, four months later, there was an arson attack against his house. In May this year, a bomb exploded at the window of his house.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999