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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-07-27

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Thursday, July 27, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Banks reluctant to sue over market losses
  • [02] Police hold back angry investors
  • [03] Market free-fall slows
  • [04] Appeal against acquittal of riot police chief
  • [05] Koshis defends police violence
  • [06] Two more tourists held in connection with stabbing
  • [07] Egypt holds Nicosia girl as drugs suspect
  • [08] Ecstasy trial Britons to be sentenced next week
  • [09] Government denies Geneva talks are in trouble
  • [10] Clerides sends TV bill back to the House
  • [11] Probe into charges of property speculation
  • [12] Dhali villagers block sewage trucks in ‘smelly protest’
  • [13] Red tape holding up purchase of fire-fighting aircraft
  • [14] There’s cold in them thar hills

  • [01] Banks reluctant to sue over market losses

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE BANKS appear unwilling to sue clients in order to recover money borrowed to invest in the stock market, a survey of banks yesterday indicated.

    "This is not our practice, not our policy," Yiannis Telonis, Hellenic Bank General Manager of Investments, said. "Our position is to support our customers."

    "Obviously where we have debts in the securities we have against the money loaned out, we’re going to talk to our customers, see how they can bring additional security in, and work out the problem on a friendly basis. Court cases are the last resort, and I mean the last resort," he emphasised.

    It was the same at the Bank of Cyprus.

    Phivos Stassopoulos, director of the Bank of Cyprus’s Recovery Department, said the bank has no plans to go to court to recover money lost in the stock market.

    "Due to the very conservative policy we have followed, the lending we have done for the purpose of shares was not very significant," he said. "We do not consider the problem significant, and we do not expect to take any serious measures to recover the advances concerned."

    The problem does not exist for Laiki Bank, according to Recovery Department Assistant Manager Christos Kentas. "We have not lent money to people who invested in the Cyprus Stock Exchange," he said. "Not a penny."

    But what about all those houses reportedly mortgaged for cash to play the market during its skyward climb last year?

    Hellenic Bank has no cases of homes mortgaged for stock speculation, Telonis said. "We wouldn’t have lent to anybody on the security of his house or anything like that for shares."

    Telonis admitted some customers might have been "economical with the truth¼ and borrowed £50,000 for house repair, and instead played the stock market."

    "We have barely taken two or three people to court over the last five to six years on such cases," he said.

    "You extend the repayment period, you give him a grace period of five or six months to see how he is going to sort himself out and you try to get your money back," Telonis said.

    "Because the first and foremost concern of the bank is repayment, not repossession of property. That’s the last resort, and we really don’t like taking that course."

    He said Cyprus is not like the UK "where you can repossess a house and in eight weeks sell it on the open market. Here the liquidation process would take four or five years. So it doesn’t pay to go that way."

    Stassopoulos said there will be no home repossessions by the Bank of Cyprus because "we discouraged that kind of lending".

    Laiki Bank’s Kentas was the only dark cloud on the mortgage horizon: "At this moment, we have no such cases."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [02] Police hold back angry investors

    By Athena Karsera

    ANGRY investors yesterday tried to storm the offices of brokers and Stock Exchange management when share prices dropped in mid-session.

    Forty minutes before trading ended, the index slumped by 3.3 per cent to almost 353 units, further incensing already furious investors.

    Up to 40 investors tried to get into officers of brokers and Stock Exchange management, but they were held back by police.

    Tempers were eventually appeased when CSE Chairman Nontas Metaxas agreed to meet a delegation of investors.

    CyBC reported that the Metaxas had assured them the Stock Exchange was doing all it could to put an end to the continuing downward spiral.

    One member of the delegation told CyBC: "The deputies should call off their holidays to decide (on CSE-linked laws before them) straight away, and then go on holiday again. There is a law waiting for them that says the investment companies must invest. They should abandon their holidays to save the Stock Exchange."

    House Finance Committee president and Diko deputy Markos Kyprianou yesterday said that his Committee would meet on Monday to discuss bills linked to the Stock Exchange in view of an emergency meeting of the plenum scheduled for Thursday.

    "The problem at the Stock Exchange today is not a legislative one," he said. "We will help towards a solution by improving the legal framework of the entire institution. But you cannot expect us to pass a law on a Wednesday and for the prices to go up on Thursday."

    Kyprianou said that one of the proposed bills regulating the amounts investment companies would have to invest would not necessarily provide the shot in the arm many thought it would.

    "Some time will have to pass for adjustment. There are also legal issues involved when you may be forcing an investment company to invest certain amounts of money at certain times."

    He said the House of Representatives could not set prices or stop them from falling. "What we will do is mend some gaps in the law, the benefits of which will be long-term. We have to look deeper to see where the problem is and not, as some fellow deputies have done, put the blame on the law."

    Meanwhile, chairman of the Investors’ Union, Alkis Argyrides, said yesterday that small investors should not panic and sell prematurely simply because they anticipated another fall.

    He said they should view yesterday’s meeting as a lesson to investors. "What we saw today was logic and irrationality battling each other. We saw investors who refused to sell, remaining faithful, helping the index to go up. And it went up. There were also some who sold – probably investors who were afraid the index would go down and seeing it go up slightly, decided to sell up and leave."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [03] Market free-fall slows

    By Jean Christou

    THE MARKET’S free-fall came to a halt yesterday as institutional investors stepped in to take advantage of low share prices, resulting in gains of 1.93 per cent on the all-share index which closed at 370.72 points.

    Whether or not the gain will be short-lived remains to be seen, however. Some analysts say the market is testing the 370-point support level while others believe it will find its base at 350 -- which could signal more investor disappointment before the week is out.

    The index opened around half a per cent up yesterday but slid 2.5 per cent into the red by mid-session, only to rally in the last half an hour as large investors took advantage of some very attractive share prices. Volume stood around £24.7 million.

    "What happened today is what we expected," broker Andreas Leonidou told CyBC. "But some small investors are terrified and are selling at any prices they get, unfortunately."

    Leonidou confirmed that large amounts of funds had been put into the market yesterday. "I believe there was a positive climate, especially in the last half an hour, which we hope will continue," he said.

    All sectors were up except insurance, which finished 1.52 per cent down, while other sectors saw gains of between 0.47 per cent in the tourism sector to 2.66 per cent for trading companies.

    The banking sector rose 2.47 per cent, trading on a volume of £10.51 million, making it the most active of the day.

    Bank of Cyprus (BoC) shares gained 22 cents to close at £6.77 while Laiki Bank rose two cents to end at £9.42. At one point shares in the two banks were changing hands for as low as £6.30 and £8.92 respectively.

    Multichoice again proved to be popular with institutional investors, with more than £1.3 million-worth changing hands yesterday. The share added 18 cents to close at 97 cents after a disappointing debut last week.

    Other major winners yesterday were Toxotis, which added 38 cents to close at £2.08, Europrofit which gained 23 cents to close at £2.41, and Astarti which rose 24 cents to end at £5.24.

    CLR stockbrokers, which is believed to have bought big yesterday, issued an announcement calling on other institutional investors to do the same. The company said the recent fall on the market was due to panic by small investors and some investment companies which wrongly did not deem some shares worthy of potential profit.

    CLR promised to intensify its investment in companies with good prospects and called on its counterparts to do the same by seeking more medium-term profits and avoiding the quick buck mentality, which it says damages small investors.

    According to the CSE website yesterday, reports made by the investment companies revealing the status of their ten biggest investments show that many of them hold up to 75 per cent of their funds in cash. In total, the companies are retaining some £300 million in cash while the CSE slumps. With the addition of the estimated £750 million still held in funds by dozens of companies that have proceeded with private placements before their IPOs and CSE listing, the total of potential shareholder funding now amounts to more than £1 billion.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [04] Appeal against acquittal of riot police chief

    By George Psyllides

    A HIGH-RANKING police officer cleared of using excess force in subduing a prison riot could face court again after the Attorney-general appealed the court’s decision to acquit him.

    Charalambos Mavros, now deputy commander of the drug squad, was cleared earlier this month of using excess force to suppress a Larnaca prison riot by 51 African boat people awaiting deportation.

    On October 23, 1998, Mavros led the police rapid reaction unit MMAD against a revolt by 51 illegal immigrants angry at a decision to deport five of their number.

    At the time Mavros was the deputy commander of MMAD.

    The appeal, which was lodged with the Supreme Court 10 days after the acquittal ruling, lists 21 reasons why the court’s decision should be reversed.

    The appeal, which challenges the judge’s assertion that MMAD had not exercised excess force to subdue the rioters, argues that the court wrongly did not admit as evidence two videotapes showing MMAD officers beating the immigrants.

    Television cameras caught the riot police laying in to the rioters with their batons.

    The appeal also says there was no eyewitness testimony to support the court’s finding that the immigrants reacted violently as they left the holding cells.

    The appeal also rejected the first ruling that Mavros had tried to avert any use of violence.

    The 51 detainees, who were held at Famagusta Police Headquarters in Larnaca, had armed themselves with pieces of metal pipe, and tried to set fire to their cells.

    Mavros ordered 56 men of the rapid reaction unit into the holding area, and the use of teargas to flush them out.

    In the ensuing melee, police clashed with the inmates, injuring several of them.

    The court cleared Mavros in a 127-page decision which took three hours to read.

    Police had used reasonable force to restore order, and Mavros had been following the orders of then Larnaca Deputy Chief Dimitrakis Georgiades, who led and co-ordinated the overall operation, the court said.

    Georgiades was not summoned by the prosecution to testify during the trial.

    The ruling added that Mavros was physically far removed from the scuffles, and that a net fence had obstructed his view of events.

    Mavros’ actions as the leader of the rapid reaction unit were correct, the court concluded.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [05] Koshis defends police violence

    By George Rossides

    JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis has defended the use of force by police in arresting suspects, saying it is within the law for them to do so when necessary.

    He was talking yesterday after two incidents this week in which police were accused of using excessive force, one on Monday night in the Lara area, and the second a day later in Paphos.

    The Lara episode took place when police, acting on a tip-off, attempted to search the property of a drugs suspect who refusd to co-operate and lashed out, kicking and biting the officers in an attempt to evade arrest. He then attempted to run away but was immobilised. He later accused the officers of using excessive and unwarranted force in arresting him.

    The following night in Paphos, a policeman was injured on his left hand by a man stopped by a police patrol for an identity check. The suspect tried to flee by attacking the policemen and was restrained.

    Koshis said yesterday the Paphos incident was "unfortunate", and responding to allegations of excessive use of violence by police, said it is the duty of officers to resort to force whenever this is appropriate and necessary under the circumstances.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [06] Two more tourists held in connection with stabbing

    By Jean Christou

    POLICE arrested two more British tourists yesterday in connection with the stabbing of a fellow Briton in Ayia Napa last weekend.

    Yesterday’s arrest brings to four the number of young Britons being investigated for their alleged involvement in the stabbing of Andrew Delano Gray, 35, during a live BBC Radio 1 broadcast from Ayia Napa’s popular Nissi beach.

    A police report said the two new suspects, aged 25 and 26, who have not been named, were arrested in connection with the incident last Saturday. They will appear at Larnaca Court today for a remand hearing.

    Gray was stabbed six times during the knife attack which came after a fight between two groups of youths on the crowded beach.

    Two other Britons, Jason Jonathan Pinder, 29, and Kofi Ackah, 22, were remanded by the Larnaca Court for eight days on Monday on suspicion of being involved in the attack. Police are treating the case as attempted murder.

    Pinder and Ackah were arrested at Larnaca airport on Sunday evening as they tried to catch an early flight home.

    Police say they got lucky when it was discovered that a BBC cameraman filming the Radio 1 event had captured the 6pm incident on tape.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [07] Egypt holds Nicosia girl as drugs suspect

    A 19-year-old Greek Cypriot girl from Nicosia has been detained by the Egyptian authorities on suspicion of trying to smuggle two kilos of marijuana aboard the Louis cruise liner Princessa Victoria at Port Said.

    The girl, an employee aboard the ship, has been named as Maria Antoniadou from the Nicosia suburb of Pallouriotissa.

    Police said last night they had been informed of the arrest on Tuesday night by the Egyptian authorities.

    They said Antoniadou was stopped by plain-clothes police officers just outside the port, as she was about to board the cruise liner for its return journey to Limassol. Egyptian police claim she was carrying two kilos of marijuana.

    When the Princessa Victoria returned to Cyprus yesterday morning, police began an investigation and searched the ship in the presence of the captain. They said nothing was found in Antoniadou’s cabin.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [08] Ecstasy trial Britons to be sentenced next week

    THE TRIAL in Larnaca of three British men who have admitted possessing 99 Ecstasy tablets was yesterday adjourned until Monday.

    John Paddington and Kevin O’ Brien, both 32, and 28-year-old Craig Dykes pleaded guilty to possessing the pills after being arrested in Ayia Napa early in May.

    Police initially charged O’Brien with possession and trafficking of 2,100 tablets but dropped the charges after failing to recover any more tablets.

    Yesterday the trial continued with the prosecution case, and mitigation by the defence was postponed until Monday.

    Defence lawyer Andrew Klydes told the Cyprus Mail that after mitigation on Monday he expected his clients to be sentenced on Tuesday or Wednesday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [09] Government denies Geneva talks are in trouble

    By Jean Christou

    YESTERDAY’S Geneva talks on Cyprus focused on behind the scenes negotiations between representatives of both sides and international envoys as UN mediator Alvaro de Soto consulted his associates to decide on the next step.

    No meetings were scheduled between de Soto and the two leaders.

    Rumours that the talks had hit a snag on Tuesday were vehemently denied yesterday by government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    He said the proximity talks were continuing as scheduled, and he expected that a discussion on the views put forward by President Glafcos Clerides on UN ideas would begin today.

    The rumours began after a meeting de Soto had with Clerides at the President’s hotel in Geneva a few hours after it was announced they would not be meeting today.

    Earlier on Tuesday de Soto had a three and a half-hour meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Speaking after a meeting Clerides had with the political party leaders who accompanied him to Geneva, Papapetrou said de Soto came to inform the President he would not be holding any meetings with the two leaders yesterday.

    "He informed the President that he wants to use the day to study the views and reactions of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides to his ideas, together with his associates," Papapetrou said.

    De Soto had given the two sides some "thoughts to reflect on" when the talks were adjourned on July 12 and the two leaders were to give their response when they returned.

    "The talks are continuing as scheduled and a meeting has been set for Thursday," Papapetrou said. "The talks have not hit a snag."

    Asked if there was any reaction from de Soto to the views expressed by Clerides, Papapetrou said he expected a discussion to begin when the meetings continue.

    Responding to a question on why de Soto had a 45-minute meeting with the President instead of informing him by phone that no meetings would be held yesterday, Papapetrou cited reasons of diplomatic courtesy.

    "Of course, they used this occasion to review the situation," he said.

    Today Clerides will have a working lunch with British envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay, together with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides. Sir David met the Greek Cypriot political party leaders earlier in the day and was also expected to meet Turkish Cypriot representatives.

    US presidential envoy Alfred Moses is also due in Geneva in the coming days. State Department co-ordinator for Southern European Affairs Thomas Weston is already there.

    Speculation is rife on what the US and the British have put forward. Reports from Geneva suggest that a British initiative favours taking a more cautious and slower approach than that of the US, which is said to be rushing to make progress before the US presidential elections in November.

    At home House speaker and Acting President Spyros Kyprianou said yesterday that although he was still worried about the Geneva talks he would not like to make any predictions for fear of undermining the process.

    He said Clerides has been given a framework from the National Council within which to work.

    PUBLIC Works Department employees staged a 10-minute strike yesterday in protest at what they call a delay in the solving of their "chronic problems".

    The decision to strike was taken by the civil servants’ union Pasidy on Monday, "because of the government’s unacceptable delay and indifference at promoting the mutually agreed measures to solve the Department’s chronic organisational and staffing problems".

    The Finance Ministry condemned the action, saying it was taking place in violation of the workers’ collective agreement. The Ministry also denied there had been any indifference or delay on the government’s part.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [10] Clerides sends TV bill back to the House

    By Martin Hellicar

    DEPUTIES are to have their summer break interrupted for an extraordinary House of Representatives plenary session to reconsider a controversial bill allowing private television and radio stations to float on the stock market.

    The bill, approved during the plenum’s last scheduled summer session on July 13, has been sent back to the House by President Clerides.

    He has exercised his constitutional right to send back the bill, saying it would be impossible for the Broadcasting Authority to police its provisions.

    The bill stipulates that no individual or company will be allowed to hold more than a five per cent stake in a private broadcasting concern. "The seller of shares through the stock market cannot know whether the proposed buyer will acquire more than five per cent of the licensed company’s stock, " Clerides argued in his letter of July 21 informing parliament of his decision to send the bill back.

    Parliament has to look at the bill within 15 days of it being returned by the President.

    House President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday said the plenum would probably convene next week to reconsider the bill. Kyprianou said the House Finance Committee would meet to discuss the matter before that, probably tomorrow.

    The bill won overwhelming support in the July 13 plenum session, with only four deputies voting against. Its opponents, with Disy deputy Antonis Karas to the fore, argued that it was ludicrous to allow private television stations to enter the stock market when they only had temporary operating licences. The detractors were shouted down.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [11] Probe into charges of property speculation

    By Athena Karsera

    THE INTERIOR Minister has ordered an internal investigation into allegations that two senior civil servants bought Limassol farmland knowing it would shortly be turned into a more valuable residential zone.

    The 1996 incident was made public when Limassol Municipality adviser Michael Kalogeropoulos told the Cabinet about the issue in two letters sent in February this year and earlier this month.

    According to the letter Kalogeropoulos sent to the Cabinet on July 18, a copy of whcih was seen by the Cyprus Mail yesterday, "a senior Town Planning official, a senior Limassol Water Board official, a former senior member of the government and parties and other well-known people, after obtaining pieces of land in the area between Ayios Athanassios and Fassoulla beyond the rubbish dump¼ turned them into residential zones and had water and electricity provided to the land."

    Kalogeropoulos said yesterday that he felt the incident had to be made public because, "these people are being paid by the taxpayer to carry out a certain job and instead they take advantage of their positions to do this type of thing, undermining both the government and the taxpayer."

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said that he had ordered a preliminary investigation when the charges were made and, deciding that a deeper investigation was required, appointed his Ministry’s director- general Kyriakos Triantafyllides to undertake one. He said that the investigation would involve only the two officials under the auspices of his ministry.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [12] Dhali villagers block sewage trucks in ‘smelly protest’

    By Martin Hellicar

    SEWAGE TRUCKS heading to dump their loads at the Vathia Gonia treatment plant yesterday morning found their way blocked by protestors from nearby Dhali village.

    The Nicosia district villagers are threatening to block the road indefinitely unless the government listens to their calls for improvement works.

    The 50 or so villagers who turned out yesterday were demanding that the road used by the smelly trucks be re-routed to avoid the Dhali industrial estate. The protestors, led by Dhali Mayor Nicos Nicolaou, also want the government to stomp up the cash for what they say are long-promised development projects for their fast-growing village.

    Nicolaou said yesterday’s peaceful demonstration, which lasted only half an hour, was just a warning. "If we see that things are not moving towards a solution¼ we will, within a month, go ahead and take more drastic measures, closing the road off indefinitely," he said.

    Every day, about 110 sewage trucks loaded with industrial and domestic waste from the Nicosia and Larnaca areas use the road through the Dhali industrial estate on their way to the Vathia Gonia works.

    Nicolaou said spillages from the trucks posed a health risk to people working at factories on the estate.

    "We want the construction of some parallel road, which would cost about £344,000," Nicolaou said, noting that such expenditure would be minuscule compared with the £12 million spent on the Vathia Gonia plant.

    The Mayor also accused the government of not showing the "political will" to complete long-overdue village improvement projects. Dhali wants a new primary school, a lyceum, another village water tank to serve a refugee estate, and a local archaeological museum.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [13] Red tape holding up purchase of fire-fighting aircraft

    By Martin Hellicar

    SLUGGISH state machinery means urgently needed fire-fighting helicopters cannot be acquired for another year at least, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou admitted yesterday.

    A special committee set up in the wake of last month’s devastating forest fires in the southeastern Troodos foothills has concluded that buying two or three fire-fighting helicopters was the best way to prevent a repeat of the disaster.

    "However, the time needed for the state to acquire two or three helicopters is enormous," Christodoulou conceded after yesterday’s second meeting of the committee, which he chairs.

    "We cannot talk of less than one or two years, unless we manage to follow special procedures."

    He said this was because "state procedures are somewhat time-consuming, there has to be a relevant provision in budgets, and we have to follow tender procedures".

    The fires between June 13 and 16, described as the worst in 100 years, burnt about 50 square kilometres of scrub and trees and threatened several villages in the area.

    The total amount of damage caused by the fires is estimated at £600,000, Christodoulou said yesterday.

    Martin Hellicar

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 27, 2000

    [14] There’s cold in them thar hills

    AS TEMPERATURES crawled up to 42 degrees in Nicosia, yesterday, those holidaying in the mountains were relieved to be out of the heat, writes Jennie Matthew.

    The maximum temperature in Troodos was 25.4 degrees yesterday, and at £1.50 a night for two and £1 each for extra guests, many campers were setting up tents in what was quickly becoming a mini village in the forest.

    Phivos Georgiades, from Paphos, is retired and has been coming to the campsite for the past five years. He walks in the forest and in the afternoon, idles his time away with his neighbours.

    "I like the people, we get on no problem. We’ve become like a little village. If you like the forest, you spend your time very pleasantly," he said.

    Giorgos and Eleni Poullas, married for 60 years, have come every year since 1990. "For two months, I love this life -- to be close to nature and to remember the old ways," Eleni said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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