|Thursday, 22 February 2024
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-28
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
 Fate of 126 missing persons known since 1975'By Jean Christou
PLANS to give the relatives of 126 missing persons from the 1974 invasion the information contained in their files are being shelved until the results of recent exhumations are completed, Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Dr Takis Christopoulos has said.
The files were closed in 1995 and never submitted to the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP), because either the missing persons were known to be dead or they had disappeared in an area not then controlled by the Turks.
But The Sunday Mail has learned from an official source that the fate of the 126 has been known since1975. "For the 126 cases the information was in the files from the beginning," the source said. "They contained information pointing out clearly that they were dead. The question is why didn't they proceed then (with letting the relatives know)?"
Christopoulos said it wasn't until 1995 that there was any new movement on the missing persons files. "The Attorney-general decided the evidence was sufficient to warrant them not being submitted to the CMP because either they were dead or the Turks were not deemed responsible for their fate," he said.
Twenty-five years later not one of the 126 families has been informed of the fate of missing loved ones.
"Nobody has been told yet," Christopoulos told The Sunday Mail. "It's in abeyance until completion of the DNA (testing) so they can sort out who among the 126 was buried in the cemeteries" in Nicosia where exhumations were carried out this summer."
But the Relatives Committee, which the government accuses of rejecting an offer to do so in 1995 at the behest of then chairman Father Christoforos Christoforou, says that not only do they want to know the contents of files of the 126, they also want to know what is in the files of the other 1,491.
"The government has the constitutional, moral and legal obligation to inform the families of the 126 of its decision not to submit those files to the Committee for Missing Persons, and to explain why to each family," said the co-chairman of the current committee, Nicos Theodosiou.
At a gathering in Paralimni in 1995, former Education Minister Cleri Angelides was given the task of telling the relatives, but Father Christoforos advised the relatives not to accept anything other than scientific proof of death. He resigned from the committee shortly afterwards.
"They blamed the priest, (but) it wasn't the priest's decision. It was the governments decision. If the government believed that was the right thing to do they should have done it," Theodosiou said. "I have no idea how she (Angelides) planned to do it. You don't inform these people at a ceremony."
He also said that although the relatives should be informed of the contents of the files they should not just accept death as a given and they still want scientific proof.
"We've agreed the relatives want information and the chance to make up their own minds," he said. Theodosiou said he hopes the many mistakes of the past will soon be rectified, and he is calling for a complete review of all the files. "If they find room for anything extra then those statements should be taken," he said.
The Committee has also suggested that the government arrange meetings with the relatives to see the files and go though them with them. The relatives also want the publication of the entire list of the missing, along with photographs which might prompt people who may have information about them to come forward.
 Embezzlement suspects remanded for eight daysBy Anthony O. Miller
POLEMIDHIA Co-operative Bank's general cashier, Kyriacos Kyriacou, 35, and its accounts and computers chief, Petros Petrou, 29, were remanded for eight days yesterday in Limassol Court on charges of embezzling some £4.4 million from the bank.
Police told the court they arrested the men, both from Limassol, on Friday, acting on a complaint by Co-op Bank Chairman Costas Thoma after an audit disclosed various irregularities.
Thoma said the audit showed that between December 1998 and November 26 this year, the suspects -- both of whom had worked for 10 years at the bank -- allegedly pocketed £4,405,000 by making false entries in their own or other customers' accounts and by forging documents and authorising illicit payments, police said.
The case came to light when Petrou failed to show up for work between November 15 and 18 without any excuse, the court heard. It was then that the Co-op secretary and its chairman ordered an investigation.
The court also heard that on November 19, the pair sent the Co-op board a letter allegedly admitting to taking the money, and that within three days of sending the letter, they had returned £1.5 million of the missing amount.
CID Inspector Stelios Stylianou confirmed: "They returned £1.5 million... in cash and shares from the stock market. They gave a lot of shares back to the bank. They also mortgaged their houses" in order to make up part of the £1.5 million they returned.
Stylianou said the suspects had not said anything about how they allegedly amassed such a large amount of money unnoticed for so long, what they did with it, or where the balance is between the £1.5 million they returned and the £4.4 million the bank says is missing.
With Kyriacou the bank's general cashier and Petrou in charge of accounts and the computers, Stylianou told the court police believe "between them there was a deal to cover this amount".
Yesterdays remand hearing was told investigators believe the two suspects might each have pocketed as much as £1 million in cash.
"We have just started the investigation, so we cannot be sure where the money is," Stylianou told the court. "Some of it they (allegedly) put in the stock market."
He said neither man has given a statement to police: "They kept saying they want to think first and talk later."
Meanwhile, the bank's audit and the police investigation continue. According to court testimony, investigators expect to take about 70 statements.
 Zakaki Disy members quit in desalination rowTHE Zakaki Disy committee has resigned in protest at government plans to build a desalination plant in its area, provoking an angry reaction from Disy headquarters.
Disy vice-chairman Panayiotis Demetriou yesterday lashed out at members of the Limassol suburb's Disy committee, describing their protest action as "unacceptable".
"I cannot understand why this action was taken at a time when the issue is still being discussed by the party's political bureau," Demetriou said.
The Zakaki committee resigned late on Friday in anticipation of the governing party's political bureau giving the thumbs-up to state plans to build a desalination plant at Zakaki.
Zakaki residents are dead against the desalination plant, saying it will destroy their environment.
Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous insists the plant's environmental impact will be minimal and that the country cannot do without the fresh water the unit will produce.
Demetriou said he had been surprised by the Zakaki committee's collective resignation. He added that every effort would be made to sort out the situation.
 Turkish jets violate airspaceTURKISH Air Force F-16s could be seen from Nicosia yesterday as they attacked mock targets near occupied Kythrea during the main phase of the Turkish army's Taurus 99' exercise.
Turkish fighter jets could also be seen flying over the Morphou area.
A total of 18 Turkish warplanes violated Cyprus airspace on two occasions yesterday, a Defence Ministry spokesman told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA). He said fourteen F-16s and four F-4 Phantoms violated Cyprus airspace between 9.20am and 1pm.
Turkey's annual war games are taking place in international waters between Cyprus and Turkey and in the occupied areas.
 Foreign worker dies in highway smashKOPHINOU police are investigating the road death of an Indian national, Parkar Irfan Hasan, 29, who appears to have lost control of his car on the Nicosia-Limassol highway and hit the centre guard rail.
Hasan, a labourer at the Vassiliko power plant construction site, was alone in his vehicle at the time of the crash -- around 11pm on Friday.
Police said there were no signs of physical injury on his body at the time he was pronounced dead at the scene, and an autopsy has been ordered for today to determine the exact cause of death. They have not ruled out that the victim may have suffered a heart attack.
Hasan apparently lived alone in Limassol and had no other family in Cyprus.
 Pauline heading for pastures greener?BRITISH Labour MEP Pauline Green, long an advocate of a just and viable Cyprus solution, has announced she will be leaving the European Parliament at the end of the year.
In a letter informing British Prime Minister Tony Blair of her decision, Green said she has been appointed chief executive of the Co-Operative Union, and so will resign as a Labour MEP, effective on December 31.
"It is with great sadness not yet to have seen the day on which the division of Cyprus, imposed by the Turkish invasion in 1974, is finally ended," she said.
"The cause of Cyprus is close to" her, said Green, who was known for her work towards a Cyprus solution during five years as leader of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament.
She also expressed regrets that she will not be able to finish work on the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.
Despite no longer holding an EU Parliamentary brief for Cyprus, Green said she would "continue to support a just and lasting solution to one of the unresolved injustices in the world".
 Hasikos in hot water over phantom deal on defenceBy Martin Hellicar
DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos has got himself into hot water by claiming a military co-operation deal with Israel was in the offing.
The Sunday Mail has learnt that the Minister's statements had brought an angry, and speedy, reaction from Israel.
The Israeli government knows of no such deal, and the Israelis were concerned that the statements Hasikos made after Thursday's House defence committee meeting might put out Israel's bona fide defence pact partner -- Turkey.
Hasikos had said Cyprus and Israel were involved in a "mutual effort" to set up a military co-
operation deal. He spoke of a "defensive and political agreement". He said nothing had been put on paper yet, but an Israeli delegation was expected to visit Nicosia soon for further talks on the issue.
The Minister's statements were given wide coverage. The Israeli embassy in Nicosia was immediately instructed by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to demand a retraction.
On Friday night, Hasikos "amended" his Thursday statements, toning them down considerably.
He spoke not of a "military co-operation deal," but of efforts the National Guard was making to purchase military hardware from Israel. The National Guard has already bought patrol boats from Israeli firms.
Hasikos also said there were no immediate plans for him to visit Israel or for his Israeli counterpart to visit Nicosia.
All this was in stark contrast to the statements the Minister made on Thursday. Speaking after briefing the defence committee behind closed doors, Hasikos said the fact that Turkey already had a military pact with Israel did not preclude Cyprus from seeking military co-operation with the Jewish state.
"In the context of wider co-operation with other countries, and especially neighbouring ones, why should Cyprus not go ahead with such defensive and political agreements with Israel?" Hasikos commented.
The existence of such negotiations between Cyprus and Israel has been rumoured for a while, but this was the first official confirmation that any form of military agreement between the two countries might be on the cards.
The Minister's Friday night comments were interpreted by the local press yesterday as a sign that Israel was annoyed that Hasikos had spilled the beans on an impending deal.
But The Sunday Mail is reliably informed that the Israelis were irritated because the Minister's statements on Thursday had no basis in fact.
 Coffeeshop owner arrested after bomb attackA HOME-MADE device exploded in an exhaust repair shop in the Mesa Yitonia suburb of Limassol early yesterday morning.
The 59-year-old owner of a local coffeeshop was later arrested in connection with the 2.15am blast, which caused no injuries but damaged workshop walls and shattered windows both in the workshop and in a neighbouring house.
Police brought bombing suspect Philippos Michael up before the Limassol District Court at midday yesterday. The court heard that the owner of the exhaust repair shop, Theodoulos Avgoustis Charalambous, from Yerasa outside Limassol, had told police Michael had threatened him.
Michael, who told the court he had nothing to do with the bomb attack, was remanded in police custody for four days.
 Kestrels to be released back into the wildFOUR kestrels will be released from the old Municipal Garden Zoo in Larnaca this morning after being treated for injuries sustained during the island's last hunting season.
The four birds, a protected species, will be returned to the skies in the woodland area behind the salt lake near Larnaca Airport.
For years now, Larnaca Municipality has maintained a small bird-rescue centre at the Municipal Gardens in what was once a real zoo. But its cages were too small and too hot for many of the animals kept in them, and many of them died.
So the zoo was instead turned into a rescue centre to rehabilitate sick and injured birds.
It is not known if the birds are aware the current hunting season is still on.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999