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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 23, 2000


  • [01] Woman jailed for carrying heroin
  • [02] Fraud claims overshadow trading
  • [03] Themistocleous: ‘I won’t resign over water’
  • [04] New movement engulfed in bitter disputes
  • [05] Shops are breaking the law by selling paracetamol
  • [06] Lycourgos in new row with government

  • [01] Woman jailed for carrying heroin

    By George Psyllides

    A WOMAN was jailed for six and a half years yesterday after she was found guilty of drug trafficking.Hadavand Kayvandokht, 57, a US passport-holder of Iranian origin but resident in Canada, was arrested last December at Larnaca Airport after a police search found four bags stuffed with 1,867 grams of heroin strapped to her body.She had been trying to leave the country for Toronto via Athens.The court was told she had been asked to carry the drugs by two Arab men. She claimed to have initially refused to co-operate, but later agreed under duress to attach the heroin to her body.Judge Arestis Aresti said the charges on which Kayvandokht had been convicted were serious, and pointed out that drug trafficking carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.He said that the penalties had to act as a deterrent, and that the case involved substantial quantities of heroin.But passing sentence, the Court said it had taken into consideration the woman's willingness to co-operate with police. Kayvandokht is understood to have warned police that carpets were being used to smuggle drugs.A 36-year-old Iranian man was arrested at Larnaca airport last month after police found heroin woven into rugs.Yesterday's conviction was the second this month on drug trafficking offences. A 38-year-old father of three was jailed last week for eight years, in the stiffest sentence ever handed down for a drugs conviction, for masterminding the import of 2,836g of cannabis from Greece last year.Meanwhile, a high-ranking delegation from Iran's drug squad arrives in Cyprus today to study ways of co-operating with their Cypriot colleagues.The Iranian embassy said yesterday the delegation would examine ways of fighting narcotics and drug trafficking, and exchange views with local drug squad officers.The embassy said Iran was "a very experienced country in combatting illegal drugs and narcotics".More than 3,000 Iranian law-enforcement officers have been killed in the fight against drugs, the statement added.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2000

    [02] Fraud claims overshadow trading

    By Michael Ioannou

    ALLEGATIONS of fraud and lingering concerns over the Bank of Cyprus's debut in Greece put shares under further selling pressure yesterday, skimming 2.08 per cent off the general index.

    Building on a weak opening, which saw the market 2.5 per cent poorer, the all-share benchmark hovered in negative territory throughout, with a very brief upsurge in the closing minutes impossible to sustain.

    The CSE all-share index retreated to a close of 604.71, losing 12.84 points as all sectors headed south.

    Losses were most prominent in the heavyweight banking sector, which lost 2.4 per cent, followed by tourism and commercial stocks, which both lost 2.3 per cent.

    Industrial shares fell 2.5 per cent and one stock in the category, Cyprus Cement, fell to a year low of 70 cents in intraday trading.

    Of 85 securities traded, 66 declined and five advanced. Only 14 advanced on a total of 3,358 trades.

    Traded value reached £18.6 million, lower than Monday by about one million.

    Yesterday was the third straight decline for the bourse, which started sinking last Friday when Bank of Cyprus disappointed punters by announcing that its debut on the Athens bourse was expected in May, instead of March as had been anticipated by the market.

    The cumulative loss of the three sessions is 6.17 per cent from last Thursday's close of 648.17 points.

    Stockbrokers said there was a sour mood on the market after disclosures that police were investigating 13 counts of fraud with regard to stock exchange transactions.

    Police have said that in some cases the allegations concern the activities of certain unnamed brokerages.

    "It is absolute nonsense," said Andreas Leonidou, a member of the Stockbrokers Union.

    "But if an investor opens up a newspaper or turns on the TV and sees all this he is bound to be influenced," he said.

    Though police have refused to go into details of the purported irregularities, there have been several reports that it relates to short selling, or selling a stock without having a security in hand.

    That was part of the reason behind a backlog in paperwork which smothered the bourse and forced its closure for three weeks last September.

    The disclosures coincided yesterday with an announcement from the bourse that it has created an investors' service to address complaints of delays in obtaining securities.

    Many brokers were dismissive of allegations of wrongdoing. "I don't think any of these things happened," said stockbroker Nicos Efrem.

    Louis Cruise Lines remained the most actively traded stock, closing at 2.65 on a turnover of 534,407 shares declining eight cents.

    Bank of Cyprus, which was second in volume ranks with 499,000 shares changing hands, dived another 25 cents to £9.44.

    Selling pressure in the banking category also affected Popular Bank, which was down 34 cents to £14.26.

    In the net gain category, Astarti Development chalked up a six per cent gain, or 30 cents, to close at £5.15, followed by Triaina Investment which climbed three per cent to £4.24. Laggers included warrants of Popular and Hellenic Banks, down by some seven per cent each.

    Meanwhile, Severis and Athienitis Financial Services said yesterday shareholders had approved its plans for a five-way share split and the issue of 6.2 million new warrants.

    SAFS said its ordinary shares would be split to a nominal value of 10 cents from its current 50 cent value.

    It said it would also issue 6.2 million 10-cent new warrants which would be given free to all shareholders registered on March 30, 2000.

    The exercise date to convert warrants to shares is November 30, 2000, and at a price of four pounds per share.

    Shareholders also approved plans to increase the nominal share capital of the company to £25 million divided into 250 million 10-cent shares from five million pounds divided into 50 million 10 cent shares.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2000

    [03] Themistocleous: ‘I won’t resign over water’

    By Anthony O. Miller

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday dismissed suggestions he might resign over the island's water crisis, which has been exacerbated by opponents of his plans to build desalination plants in Larnaca and Zakaki.

    He also cautioned not to expect a solution to the crisis to emerge from today's Cabinet meeting where the twin crises of the island's dwindling water resources and its ever-increasing cost of petroleum products were to be discussed.

    "No," Themistocleous replied when asked if he planned to resign. "I've been appointed by the president for a purpose: to solve, among other problems, the water problem."

    "And our attempts will continue to solve the water problem," he added.

    The minister called for quick action to end the water crisis, and upbraided Larnaca and Zakaki residents for their opposition to the government's siting of desalination plants in those two areas.

    "We must all realise that the... tragedy of the water problem does not leave any margin for further delay," he said, "because I don't know where we can go when we don't have enough water for the plans we've made."

    Themistocleous said he did not know if all the desalination proposals that have been put before the Cabinet would be ready for today's meeting.

    "Nobody said that the decision would be taken (today)," he said. "We said as soon as the research is complete, if they are ready, then decisions will be taken. If they are not ready, they will be taken next week," he said.

    Symeon Matsis, Agriculture Ministry Permanent Secretary, confirmed Themistocleous' "timetable" for any Cabinet action on the desalination fracas, which has seen Parliament kill the government's Zakaki site proposal, and a lawsuit try to throttle erection of the Larnaca plant, now under construction.

    He said ministers put off deciding what to do at last Friday's special meeting, because President Glafcos Clerides "requested some additional information," which Themistocleous is to provide him at today's Cabinet meeting.

    Matsis said he was "certain" Cyprus would have another desalination plant on line by the year's end, even with the numerous reviews needed on several new proposals just put to the Cabinet.

    But even if a "final decision" emerged from the Cabinet today, Matsis said, it was "very unlikely" any new plant would be operating before the summer ends.

    "We are working with timetables of late summer, September" for the next plant to go on-line, he said.

    Matsis said a recent proposal from the Electricity Authority (EAC) and another from the Paralimni Municipality "will need environmental (and other) studies."

    The EAC proposal involves siting a desalting plant near its new Vassiliko power plant. This would minimise the electrical wiring needed for it and make moot any complaints about environmental damage.

    But the EAC site would not permit desalted water to be easily or cheaply hooked to Limassol water lines, since it would mean "transporting the water back towards the West" from Vassiliko, he explained.

    This would be the virtual reverse of the flow of the island's main Southern Conveyor aqueduct, which pumps water from Kouris Dam in the south to Nicosia in the north.

    "So we don't consider it to be a feasible solution for Limassol," which is having all its state reservoir water cut off for agricultural uses this summer. "But it can be a solution for other considerations," he said.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2000

    [04] New movement engulfed in bitter disputes

    By Athena Karsera

    EDEK stalwarts entered the fray yesterday as bitter disputes continued to rock the newly formed Social Democratic Movement (SDM).

    The movement, which was only launched at the weekend, is a merger of socialist Party Edek and the tiny Renewal Movement.

    Edek's former general-secretary Marinos Sizopoulos said yesterday that Andreas Fridas, who on Monday resigned over events at the Movement's launch, had benefited from the party as well as contributing to it.

    Fridas resigned after criticising the turn the meeting took when enraged party president Vassos Lyssarides said some members of the party would benefit by removing him from his position.

    Lyssarides lashed out after two junior members of the movement insisted a date should be set for Lyssarides to step down.

    Fridas yesterday told CyBC he had been a member of Edek for over 30 years: "We gave service from 1967, dedicated our lives to this movement, without profit... I would have preferred there to have been a different kind of behaviour, both towards the members and towards the personal and wider history of the movement."

    Fridas accused some party members of surrounding the president and undermining him in any way they could: "They have managed to murder the history and the vision (of the party) and created a cycle of profiteering."

    Fridas said he believed Lyssarides had been "trapped and misled" into making his passionate and scathing speech.

    But Sizopoulos immediately hit back, saying Fridas was rewriting history, and that while he had made contributions to the party, he had also been rewarded for his efforts.

    "I believe that if we all followed his example and if we all opened our mouths to speak... he would be one of those who would probably be the most embarrassed."

    Sizopoulos said Fridas had given a lot to Edek, "but he is also one of the ones that benefited from Edek. Because there are many who gave without profiting, and he knows this.

    "Andreas Fridas was one of the most trusted members (of Edek) and one of the highest paid," he added.

    Deputy Doros Theodorou, meanwhile, avoided commenting on the problems caused after the meeting, saying he did not want to get into deep waters.

    He insisted the party would overcome its initial difficulties. "We are all people with a history, we are all faithful to a philosophy and some ideals, " and these would keep the movement together, he said.

    Former Defence Minister and SDM co-ordinator Yiannakis Omirou called on members to work together and "stop playing out of tune."

    Omirou said he was certain Lyssarides would do something to overcome the crisis. "We are obliged at this critical stage to keep our historical leader at the helm as a symbol of our struggle and our unity," Omirou said.

    Long-standing party member Andreas Seismanis resigned on Monday in protest at the call for Lyssarides' resignation.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2000

    [05] Shops are breaking the law by selling paracetamol

    By Athena Karsera

    MANY supermarkets and kiosks are unknowingly breaking the law by selling paracetamol, a substance that should only be sold at pharmacies.

    Senior Pharmaceutical Services official Giorgos Antoniou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the drug could be fatal if used in excessive amounts, "So it’s better for someone to go to a pharmacy where the chemist knows which other medicines the person is taking. If the customer buys paracetamol regularly, the pharmacist will te ll him to take less and warn him about problems he might have with his kidneys."

    Antoniou said only pharmacies were allowed to sell paracetamol-based products, though they could be bought over the counter without a prescription.

    He said the Health Ministry had in the past taken a supermarket owner to court for selling Panadol, which contains paracetamol, but that while the law was on the Ministry's side, it had lost the case on a technicality.

    Several products, mostly used to help combat colds and flu, contain paracetamol. These include flavoured powdered drinks to soothe colds and a painkiller like Panadol.

    A warning on Panadol packages warns against taking "with other products containing paracetamol," and cautions against users exceeding the recommended doses.

    But the manger of a large supermarket that sells the product told the Cyprus Mail that he had not been aware that the chain was breaking the law, "We will certainly look into it," he said.

    And a Nicosia kiosk owner said, "I thought it was illegal to sell aspirin without a prescription. I had no idea about paracetamol. We sell what people need"

    Wednesday, February 23, 2000

    [06] Lycourgos in new row with government

    By Martin Hellicar

    LARNACA municipality is holding cranes at the town's port hostage until it sees evidence that state plans to revive the port are being implemented.

    The government wants to move the cranes from the ailing Larnaca cargo port to its busier Limassol cousin.

    But Larnaca mayor George Lycourgos yesterday put his foot down: "We want to see concrete action for our port, otherwise, the cranes will not go."

    The government has promised to convert the port from a cargo to a passenger terminal.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday suggested the mayor's position was illogical.

    He claimed the cranes had not been used for years and would only rust if they stayed at Larnaca port.

    "It will take one, two or three years to implement plans to make it a passenger port. Do we keep the cranes there for all this time?" Neophytou asked. "If this is the idea, then let’s destroy them now, for if they remain unused for another three years they will be useless in any case."

    The Minister insisted the state would deliver on its promises to rejuvenate Larnaca port, which has been steadily losing custom over recent years.

    "We have proved that our promises are being implemented," Neophytou said.

    The Ministry recently announced it was seeking strategic investors to buy into the port.

    Neophytou also expressed confidence the town would "come round" on the cranes issue.

    "I believe our friends from Larnaca are people with understanding who can be communicated with, they know that the government has come through on everything it has promised."

    But Lycourgos did not see it quite like that.

    He said all the government was offering was hollow promises.

    "What the government must do is not move the cranes but bring custom, find custom and encourage companies to come to our port," the mayor said.

    "Nothing has been done. We have a promise that if strategic investors are not found, the government will invest in the port itself... but we are still at the ‘will do’ stage, and nothing has been implemented."

    The Larnaca port has suffered because of competition from cheaper, more efficient ports in the region.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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