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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 16, 2000


  • [01] $3.7m scam: Bishop pleads not guilty
  • [02] Ideas but no documents in Round Three
  • [03] Papandreou: Cyprus divide can be bridged
  • [04] Turkish Cypriot brothers bring their families south
  • [05] ‘Healthy decline’ on the stock market
  • [06] Record sentence for drug smuggler
  • [07] New remand for bank suspects
  • [08] Man arrested over horse death
  • [09] When in doubt, stick to the Mediterranean diet
  • [10] New postal sorting office to be built in Latsia
  • [11] Savvides hits out at ‘unacceptable’ overtime ban
  • [12] Price of fuel to go up?
  • [13] Security Council pleased at talks

  • [01] $3.7m scam: Bishop pleads not guilty

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE FORMER Bishop of Limassol, Chrysanthos, was yesterday charged before a Nicosia court with conspiring to swindle a British-based investor out of $3.7 million in a get-rich-quick scam.The cleric, who appeared in court in flowing black robes and wore his priest's hat while standing in the dock, pleaded not guilty.Chrysanthos -- the first Bishop ever to be prosecuted in Cyprus -- faces up to three years in jail if found guilty of the two charges read out before the Nicosia District Court yesterday.He is charged with conspiring with Lawrence Edward Olsen and Shirley Ann Rhodes to persuade British-based New Zealander Gerald Chambers to hand over a $3.7 million contribution to an investment scheme. According to the charge sheet, Chrysanthos and his accomplices planned to keep the money that Chambers deposited with the Nicosia branch of a Serbian offshore bank between April and June 1997.The former Bishop is also charged with trying to persuade the bank, Karic Banka, to transfer Chambers= $3.7 million to his personal Brussels bank account. Chrysanthos allegedly lied to Karic Banka officials, telling them his bank in Switzerland, Kredientbank, had issued a banker's guarantee for the $3.7 million.

    Standing before a stuffy courtroom packed with reporters and his relatives and friends, Chrysanthos answered simply "no" when asked if he admitted to the charges.

    The court set the first trial hearing for June 5 and released Chrysanthos on ,1,000 bail.

    The state prosecution had said bail was not necessary, but the court insisted the former Bishop should get no special treatment.

    One of the 12 prosecution witnesses expected to testify during Chrysanthos' trial is an officer of Britain's Metropolitan Police fraud squad.

    Chrysanthos, who resigned his post under pressure from the Holy Synod 14 months ago but retains the title of Bishop, appeared nervous during his brief court appearance. But he kept his cool as journalists swarmed round him outside the court afterwards.

    "I am innocent and the truth will shine," he said.

    "I am delighted that we will be able to hear and feel the decision of justice," he added.

    His lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, stepped in to fend off television reporters as the questions became less discreet. "Show some respect for the leaders of the Orthodox Church," the burly lawyer demanded.

    After the fraud accusations against Chrysanthos first emerged two years ago, the Synod indicted him for abusing his position and associating with "suspect persons" for personal profit. Chrysanthos abandoned his post shortly after the indictment, though he still insisted on his absolute innocence.

    The Church's indictment also accused Chrysanthos of damaging relations with the Russian Orthodox Church by allegedly misappropriating funds donated for the building of a chapel in Limassol.

    The former Limassol Bishop's name has also been linked to a number of other fraudulent investment scams abroad. Some of these other allegations are under investigation by police.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [02] Ideas but no documents in Round Three

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE U.N. will be presenting ideas but not documents to the two sides during the next round of proximity settlement talks, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Cassoulides dismissed recent reports in the local and foreign media suggesting the UN were working on a `set of ideas' for the third round of indirect talks in New York in May.

    The Turkish Daily News suggested the UN aim would be for President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to agree to a joint declaration for a framework accord for a settlement.

    "The UN are not going to present an overall plan for a Cyprus problem solution unless it is asked for by the two sides. And as far as I know Mr Denktash is against this and our side has not been asked and has not consented," the Foreign Minister said.

    Cassoulides suggested the UN would use the New York round to throw ideas at the two sides. "I believe this time the method will be for UN representatives verbally to put thoughts and ideas on the table to ascertain how close the positions of the two sides are to these ideas."

    The UN has spent the first two rounds of talks, in New York in December and Geneva this month, recording the positions of the two sides on basic aspects of a settlement.

    Cassoulides said the third round of talks, beginning on May 23, could be open-ended, stretching "until the end of July."

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou echoed the Foreign Minister, telling his daily briefing there was "nothing specific" on the table for the talks at the moment.

    Papapetrou also said Clerides would be having various contacts in the run- up to the next round of talks.

    The President is scheduled to meet his French counterpart Jacques Chirac in Paris on March 15 and to travel to Israel in late March.

    Reports yesterday suggested Clerides would also be meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London in early April.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [03] Papandreou: Cyprus divide can be bridged

    THE PROXIMITY settlement talks may have yielded little tangible progress so far, but Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou remains optimistic that the gulf between the two sides on the island can be bridged.

    In an interview published in this week's Newsweek, Papandreou suggests the recent thaw in Greco-Turkish relations can break the ice in Cyprus.

    "If we - Greeks and Turks - show we can co-operate together, I think we can give an example of how the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots don't need this Berlin wall to divide them," Papandreou told Newsweek.

    He said a settlement would be of benefit to Turkish Cypriots: "If there's a good solution, they will be able to have local autonomy within a federation and protection of their human rights."

    The Greek Foreign Minister said a settlement was also in Turkey's best interests.

    Papandreou also suggested Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit was the right man to encourage the Turkish Cypriot side to agree to a settlement.

    "As the one who gave the orders to the Turkish army to invade the island, he has the historical legitimacy to say: `Now is the time for solutions.' Will he do that? It depends on what kind of a solution we're talking about." he said.

    Newsweek credits Papandreou as "the man largely responsible" for the recent improvement in Greco-Turkish relations.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [04] Turkish Cypriot brothers bring their families south

    EIGHT more Turkish Cypriots have crossed to the free areas, bringing to 65 the total since November.

    The eight – five adults and three children – are staying at a Paphos hotel after presenting themselves to the town's Welfare Office yesterday afternoon. They crossed on Sunday.

    The three men in the group, all brothers, are thought to have come to the free areas in search of work; their fourth bother is said to be already settled in Paphos.

    On entering the free areas, the eight went to a Nicosia police station and said they had left Morphou and come into the Republic through Zodia and Peristerona.

    The three brothers were yesterday named as Ali, Kasim and Kunishim Hassan. The other members of the group are two of the brothers' wives and their three children.

    They will be put up at the hotel until permanent housing is found for them.

    Earlier this week, several of the earlier refugees from the north told representatives from the United Democrat party that they were gypsies and not Turkish Cypriots.

    The government is treating all the `immigrants' as Turkish Cypriots, providing them with a home and each family with a £200 monthly income.

    A member of the United Democrats who visited some of the recent arrivals said they seemed to be "people who are looking to make a living. They don't have work, they don't have anywhere to stay and so they moved here..."

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [05] ‘Healthy decline’ on the stock market

    By Michael Ioannou

    PROFIT taking trimmed 1.4 per cent off the stock market yesterday in a lacklustre session on lower volumes and trades.

    Halting a climb of three successive sessions, the all-share CSE index had 9.6 points knocked off as it settled at 657.29.

    The market followed a steady decline after opening at 664.01, the intraday high.

    Traders said investors had been expected to rake in profits after strong gains in the region of 4.5 per cent on Friday and Monday.

    The decline was described as a healthy one.

    "This consolidates the gains and sets a footing for a further advance," a fund manager said.

    Stockbrokers said the general climate was positive for a further upswing, but that that would probably transpire after banks - the barometer of the market - started posting their 1999 results.

    There were widespread rumours on the bourse yesterday that Bank of Cyprus was about to get firm word from Greek monetary authorities on its application to list in Athens.

    Bank of Cyprus is said to be keen to list its stock on the Greek bourse well before parliamentary elections there in early April.

    Because of the influence Bank of Cyprus has on the local bourse benchmark, its debut and price behaviour in Athens would bring the two stock markets closer with similar patterns in performance cycles.

    In any case, the Athens stock exchange was up marginally yesterday after sliding in the previous two sessions, dogged by weak international equity markets and higher prices of crude.

    Such considerations do not appear to have affected the Cyprus bourse for the moment, though some concerns have been expressed over inflationary pressures.

    Even so, higher inflation would not necessarily mean cranking up rigid interest rates, which is the norm in most countries.

    Back to the bourse: traded value was significantly lower at £22.6 million compared to £31.2 on Monday, and on 4,675 trades. The low value suggested that profit taking was not widespread.

    Sectors ended generally mixed. Industrial and insurance shares recorded a marginal advance while the remaining five sectors headed south.

    Banking stocks inched down little over one per cent, dragged down by a 15 cent drop in Laiki, which closed on a last trade of £15.15, and an 11 cent decline in Bank of Cyprus, which closed at £10.40. Hellenic Bank was down 9 cents to £4.21, second in terms of number of shares traded.

    Once again, Louis Cruise Lines topped volume ranks with 1.04 million shares changing hands. Interest in the stock -- which brokers put down to "depth and excess supply" has consistently dominated the past three sessions. It closed 10 cents lower to £2.90.

    In terms of net leaders, Cytrustees International scored the highest percentage jump, climbing 25 cents to £2.30.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [06] Record sentence for drug smuggler

    AN ERGATES villager was yesterday sent to jail for eight years for importing almost three kilos of cannabis - the stiffest sentence for a drug offence ever handed out by a local court.

    The Nicosia Assizes court described 38-year-old father-of-three Charalambos Hadjimarkou as a "dangerous" and crafty drug smuggler.

    Hadjimarkou, from Ergates outside Nicosia, was sentenced for arranging for an accomplice to import of 2,836 grammes of cannabis from Greece last year.

    He was arrested after his drug "courier" decided to tell all and co-operate with police to trap him.

    In passing sentence yesterday, the three-judge bench noted that Hadjimarkou had covered his tracks so well that he would otherwise never had been caught.

    Hadjimarkou's lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, argued during the trial that his client had not worked alone and therefore should not be held solely responsible for the drug smuggling offence. Efstathiou also said cannabis was not a hard drug and pointed out to the court that his client had a wife and three children - aged seven, 14 and 19 - to support.

    The judges were not impressed.

    In their decision, they note that while others had been involved in importing the cannabis, Hadjimarkou had been the "brains and instigator" for the drug smuggling.

    The judges made extensive reference to the threat to society that drugs posed.

    "Nothing can be considered a good excuse for the promotion of drugs and the spreading of slow death and the destruction of young people," the court decision stated.

    "Crimes connected to drugs are today considered as the most serious affecting society in general," the judges said.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [07] New remand for bank suspects

    By George Psyllides

    TWO SUSPECTED bank robbers were yesterday remanded in custody for a further five days, with police again on the receiving end of criticism from the bench.

    Othonas Othonos, 20, and 19-year-old Zannetos Tsapatsaris, both from Nicosia, were arrested last Friday in connection with the robbery of the Bank of Cyprus branch at Larnaca Avenue in Aglandja.

    The judge yesterday chastised police for being late in taking witness testimonies.

    But unlike his colleague, who presided over the first remand hearing on Saturday, yesterday’s judge asserted that statements by Police Chief Andreas Angelides after the suspects’ arrest would not influence the case.

    The judge added that Angelides’ statements had been made during a news conference and could not bind the court in any way.

    Announcing the arrests on Friday night, Angelides said the two suspects had confessed to carrying out the heist, and suggested the case was more or less solved.

    This sparked prompt reaction by Judge Teresa Karakanna: during the first remand hearing on Saturday, she criticised police for the publicity given to the arrests, and warned officials to be cautious of what they said.

    The suspects' defence also reacted, expressing concern that their clients might not get a fair trial after the chief's statements.

    Defence lawyer Eleni Vrahimi on Saturday said Angelides' statement that the case had been solved was prejudicial to the case.

    Furthermore, despite a police decision last month to uphold a suggestion by Ombudsman Eliana Nicolaou to stop naming suspects until they were arraigned, detectives at last Friday’s news conference were freely handing out the youths' names to reporters.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [08] Man arrested over horse death

    POLICE yesterday arrested an Egyptian man in connection with the poisoning of a prize breeding stallion.

    According to a police report, the 29-year-old Egyptian was arrested in the early hours yesterday.

    The horse, Eaton Square, a five-year-old chestnut, was found dead in his stable by a farm hand on Saturday night.

    The grim discovery was made at 9.30pm at the Latsia stables outside Nicosia, where the horse was kept.

    Veterinary examinations showed that Eaton Square had died after being given a lung paralysing shot to the neck.

    He belonged to gynaecologist and horse-lover Dr Ioannis Mavrides and was worth approximately £40,000.

    The stallion was used for breeding due to his own excellent parentage and success at the race-track.

    Police said yesterday they were continuing their investigations.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [09] When in doubt, stick to the Mediterranean diet

    THE HEALTH Minister yesterday advised consumers to avoid genetically modified foods until the EU had taken a stance on the issue.

    Speaking at a news conference marking yesterday's start of International Food Week, Minister Frixos Savvides advised people to stick to the traditional Mediterranean diet "whenever there are these doubts and question marks."

    He continued that Cyprus would be following the EU's lead on whether to ban genetically modified foods, as the issue was not clear-cut.

    Other officials at the launch, under the auspices of the Health Ministry's Medical and Public Health Services and the National Food Information Committee, noted that the camps for and against genetic modification could be financially motivated.

    Food Week 2000 will last until February 21 and includes a public discussion on "Food and Diet in 2000" at the Popular Bank's Cultural Centre at the corner of Makarios III Avenue and Bouboulina Street, Nicosia at 7pm tonight.

    [10] New postal sorting office to be built in Latsia

    A CENTRAL postal sorting office is to be built in Latsia to speed up the post delivery process.

    A senior Communications and Works official yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that contracts for the sorting office's construction had been signed on Monday and that the project would cost £1,463,000.

    He said the building, to be situated in the Latsia suburb of Nicosia, would house an automatic sorting system, which should be up and running by the start of next year.

    Speaking after the contract was signed on Monday, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said, "Following a new method of carrying out public works, we asked for tenders where interested parties submitted a possible site and their own plans for carrying out the project."

    He claimed that if more traditional methods had been used, the process would have taken five years, while construction is now scheduled for completion by October 31 this year.

    The contract for the sorting office's construction was awarded to Harilaos Apostolides Ltd. Construction Company.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [11] Savvides hits out at ‘unacceptable’ overtime ban

    By Athena Karsera

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday condemned the government doctors' for their indefinite overtime ban.

    Savvides said he believed the ban was "unacceptable, out of place and out of time."

    The Health Minister also said the Government Doctors' Union (Pasiky) had not informed him about its decision to take the action.

    Savvides accused Pasiky president Dr Stavros Stavrou of failing to follow union practice: "The mind cannot comprehend the need for the overtime ban at this specific time."

    He said he might have understood the doctors if they had taken action before measures had been drawn up to deal with their overtime grievances, but that their action made no sense now that a plan was in the pipeline.

    He said the action was clearly not aimed at applying pressure for something to be done, as the issue was already almost resolved.

    Savvides has put forward a proposal for an on-call system to be introduced at state hospitals, with doctors sleeping at hospital halls of residence and being paid per procedure performed during irregular hours.

    The overtime ban was called because a final proposal on the system failed to materialise by Monday’s deadline.

    The Union and Health Ministry have agreed on the principles, but a scale of fees is still before the Finance Ministry.

    Savvides said yesterday he had already sent a letter to the Finance Ministry endorsing funding for the on-call system.

    The striking doctors on Monday gave assurances their overtime ban would not endanger any patient's life.

    Stavrou said doctors would waive their walkout for "life or death" emergency cases.

    Patients involved in cases that are serious but not life threatening will be sent to private specialists at state expense.

    Savvides said yesterday that while the exact cost of the emergency action had not yet been calculated, it would not be much different to the cost of normal overtime.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [12] Price of fuel to go up?

    FUEL prices could rise as much as 15 per cent, if speculation ahead of today=s cabinet meeting proves correct.

    Commerce and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis discussed fuel prices with officials yesterday and finalised a proposal to be tabled in cabinet, which is today expected to decide whether to raise prices. He said the government has no surplus to tap into to avoid a fuel price hike.

    The unions fiercely oppose any petrol price rise, saying it would trigger a chain of consumer goods price increases and hurt the less well-off.

    TV news bulletins last night speculated that fuel prices may rise from between eight and 15 per cent. Rolandis said any increase would be allocated in the fairest possible way.

    Yesterday the ruling Disy party proposed that prices be subsidised by the government for the next three months. If after that time the international price of oil is still high, then the government should consider increases.

    Akel also wants fuel to be subsidised, and is accusing the government of bad economic management. The head of the Cyprus EU accession talks team, and leader of the United Democrats, George Vassiliou, said fuel prices should be liberalised in line with the rest of Europe.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2000

    [13] Security Council pleased at talks

    U.N. SECURITY Council members yesterday commended the continuing commitment of Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to talks on ending the division of the island, and said they were pleased the latest round was held "in a positive atmosphere and without preconditions".

    A statement issued after a briefing by Secretary-general Kofi Annan's special adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, also "encouraged all concerned to continue their efforts towards a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question", Reuters news agency reported from New York.

    Council president Arnoldo Listre of Argentina, who read the statement to reporters, said: "This is a matter which the Security Council continues to follow with the closest interest. The council has stated repeatedly that the status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable."

    "Council members commended the continuing commitment shown by the parties to the talks process and welcomed the fact that the talks had been conducted in a positive atmosphere and without preconditions," the statement said.

    The latest round of proximity talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was held in Geneva from January 31 to February 8.

    It was a continuation of indirect talks held in New York last December with the stated purpose of preparing the ground for negotiation of a comprehensive Cyprus settlement.

    The Sceurity Council statement said members looked forward to the resumption of the talks in New York on May 23, "and expressed the hope that progress can soon be made on substantive issues".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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