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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-07-30

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

July 30 , 2000


  • [01] Government aims to reduce inequality
  • [02] Villager killed in car crash
  • [03] Tourists remanded after Ecstasy find
  • [04] Kemal loses race to find donor
  • [05] Drug prices ‘could be cut in half’
  • [06] Man held over ‘Egypt drugs girl’ case
  • [07] Police deny claims of racism in death of Sri Lankan
  • [08] Crashes claim three in a week

  • [01] Government aims to reduce inequality

    By Noah Haglund

    THE government has outlined further steps it intends to take to improve women’s rights in line with the 1995 ‘Beijing Platform for Action’, which created worldwide standards and suggestions for governments to reduce gender discrimination.

    The Cyprus authorities drew upon a variety of sources, including governmental departments, academic institutions, and NGOs, to create a report on gender inequality.

    Inequality in the workplace persists, the report says, putting women at a disadvantage since they make up 38.85 per cent of the island’s active workforce. Women make up 54.41 per cent of the unemployed and 55.66 per cent of those who have stayed unemployed for more than six months.

    There are also large salary differences, with an average monthly pay of £759 for men and £546 for women.

    The report shows that differences in school enrolment by level of education is not significant, although women tend to pursue fields traditionally considered suitable for them such as teaching and secretarial work, rather than technical or vocational areas.

    Some of the ways in which the government expects to achieve its goals include legal reform, increasing the role of women in public life, getting more women into the workforce, reconciling work and family responsibilities, and combatting domestic violence.

    An anti-exploitation bill is now before the Attorney-general’s office for final consideration, an amendment bill to the law on Violence in the Family is before the House of Representatives, and in the field of family law, a series of amendment laws have been enacted to improve property rights for spouses.

    The government report also acknowledges a very recent amendment of the Citizenship Law granting Cypriot women equal rights regarding the citizenship of their children.

    It says President Glafcos Clerides, along with women’s organisations and political party leaders, have pledged to meet the goal of a minimum of 30 per cent representation of women in decision-making and politics before 2005.

    Currently only three of the 56 Deputies in the House are women -- about five per cent.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    July 30 , 2000

    [02] Villager killed in car crash

    A 30-year-old man was killed in an accident yesterday at Zopigi village in the Limassol district when his car plunged from a height of four metres into the yard of a house.

    Marios Savva a resident of the village, sustained critical injuries at around 2.30am when he apparently lost control of his car and dropped into the yard. No one else was injured in the accident.

    Because of the severity of his injuries Savva was rushed to Nicosia General Hospital, where he died at 9.30am.

    Police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    July 30 , 2000

    [03] Tourists remanded after Ecstasy find

    FOUR Swedish tourists staying in Ayia Napa were yesterday remanded in custody for six days in connection with the alleged possession of 28 tablets of Ecstasy.

    Giuseppe Magon, Kevin Sabban, and Thomas Johnson, all 19, and 21-year-old Peter Ericsson, all from Stockholm, were arrested in the early hours yesterday after police searched a flat and found 20 Ecstasy tablets in a bag, the Famagusta District Court, sitting in Larnaca heard.

    Police subsequently found eight more pills under the seat of a moped.

    The men said they knew nothing about the tablets the police had allegedly found.

    The prosecution requested the men’s remand for six days because, the court was told, they were not co-operating and further investigations were needed.

    Kypros Andreou, defending, did not object to the prosecution’s demand, but stressed the need for the case to be completed as soon as possible because of his clients’ age.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    July 30 , 2000

    [04] Kemal loses race to find donor

    By Paul Majendie

    A TURKISH Cypriot boy whose leukaemia sparked a worldwide search for a suitable bone marrow donor has lost a race against time, and his heartbroken father is taking him back home from Britain to Nicosia.

    "I missed the train at the station. His chances are gone," Sua Saracoglu told Reuters yesterday after doctors said his 13-year-old son Kemal was no longer in remission and had missed his chance to have a life-saving transplant.

    The race to find donors for Kemal and for Greek Cypriot Andreas Vassiliou brought the island’s divided communities together ealier in the year as politics took a back seat in the fight to save the boys' lives.

    Tens of thousands of people on both sides gave blood in the hope of finding a match. Turkey and Greece also joined the Greek and Turkish communities in Britain and Australia in a race against time.

    Earlier this month, Sua Saracoglu jubilantly announced that a suitable donor had been found for his son.

    The donor was finally discovered in Turkey and a transplant date was set for the end of July at the London hospital where his son is being treated.

    But then the British doctors called him in for a meeting. "They were very upset. We found out that Kemal had gone out of remission. That means that the cancer cells are attacking him again," Saracoglu said.

    "We were unable to do the transplant. We are very upset. I am planning to take him back home to Nicosia for palliative treatment. The doctors say it is the appropriate decision.

    "It happened because there is no good organisation to co-ordinate between bone marrow donors worldwide. The Istanbul registry has not been updated since February 1999," he said.

    But how did he break the news to his son?

    "I talked to him. I cannot tell my son I am taking him home to Cyprus to die. I have told him we will have a break. But Kemal is a very intelligent boy. He knows he is out of remission but he doesn't know he has missed his chance."

    Kemal Saracoglu was diagnosed in Ankara last December and then treated in London's Royal Free Hospital, where his father kept watch by his bedside.

    Andreas Vassiliou, aged six, was diagnosed last year and has already undergone chemotherapy in the United States. "Andreas had a transplant from a placenta in late April and I am told he is doing well," Saracoglu said.

    "We wish him all the best. First of all we are human beings. Everyone is like that in the world."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    July 30 , 2000

    [05] Drug prices ‘could be cut in half’

    By Anthony O. Miller

    HIGH-PRICED drugs charges in Cyprus could be cut by up to 50 per cent if Health Minister Frixos Savvides gets a bill through the House to break the legal ‘stranglehold’ drug importers have had for years.

    He aims to introduce the law change this autumn, opening up the market to help drive down prices.

    Prices of some drugs and medicines in Cyprus are well over double those in Greece and are, in some cases, far higher than in the UK, for example. Thirty tablets of the ‘miracle’ anti-acne drug, Roaccutan cost C£50 in Cyprus, whereas they're only C£19 in Greece and C£37 in Britain.

    The anti-fat drug Xenical, popular in Cyprus since it made headline news several months ago, sells at £84 for 84 tablets here -- in Greece the price is the equivalent of £50, in the UK £57. Thirty Coversyl tablets, for high blood pressure, cost £20 in Cyprus; in Greece they are £11, and in the UK £18.

    So it's not surprising that travellers from Cyprus to Greece are stocking up on supplies, often at airport 24-hour pharmacies.

    Asked how badly ‘ripped-off’ consumers in Cyprus have been by over-the- counter prices, Savvides replied: "Oh... pick a number and double it." He confirmed that "the prices of pharmaceuticals in Greece are one-third of the prices in Cyprus".

    "Hopefully, with the opening of Parliament in October, we will be ready to submit this new legislation," said Savvides. It would open the market by breaking the lock on drug imports which some 50 members of the Cyprus Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (CAPC) have enjoyed for years. The effect of competition, he said, would be to cut check-out counter charges for all medicines "considerably".

    So how much price reduction can consumers look forward to? "The prices would be reduced by at least 50 per cent," Savvides said, but that figure is disputed by the Cyprus importers. The minister wants the bill passed by year's end so that 2001 could start with the free market competition that EU law requires.

    Why are prices in Greece that much lower? Both Savvides and CAPC President Sotos Jacovides, an owner of pharmaceutical importer M.S. Jacovides & Co. of Nicosia, agreed that Greece is not the best country to choose when comparing Cyprus with the rest of Europe.

    For Greece's large, domestic drugs industry not only has similar anti- competitive market locks to Cyprus, but it is the only European country that still subsidises production of pharmaceuticals. Savvides said these subsidies benefit industry giants such as Ciba-Geigy, Roche and others. "They are also subsidised indirectly by the big users -- EKA, the social insurance, and the (state) hospitals attached to EKA," he said.

    Asked why Cyprus does not import the 50-75 per cent cheaper Greek-made drugs, Savvides replied: "Because the multinational pharmaceuticals have their own agents here. We have to accept these agents. We are not allowed (by Cyprus law) to buy from anybody else. The market is closed."

    "We cannot go outside to the free market and say ‘we need 100 million aspirin’ (and) buy them in Germany at one quarter the price in bulk."

    Under existing legislation, which the new bill would change, the island's 425 private pharmacies and 35 government pharmacies must buy brand-name medicines from the 50 member agents of CAPC.

    Jacovides said that 460 pharmacies were a lot for a republic of only 754, 000 people, and he questioned whether they are financially viable. "Most are just surviving," he said, adding that only a small percentage of the population supports commercial pharmacies. "Most people go to government (clinics) and get their medicines absolutely free. We are talking about 60 to 80 per cent of the population."

    Savvides said that some multinationals, angry at the subsidies policy in Greece, have taken the country to the European Court. "Imagine an international pharmaceutical company produces an equivalent or similar drug (to) something that is produced in Greece with these subsidies. ... They take a loss if they sell it in Greece, so they don't sell it there," he said.

    The European Court lawsuit, Savvides said, is likely to force Greece to cease, or at least alter, its policy because it amounts to unfair competition.

    Savvides said Cyprus should compare its pharmaceuticals prices with the rest of Europe, and not Greece.

    "We are approximately at the same level (as EU states)... in certain cases we are a little bit more expensive, and in certain cases we are a little bit cheaper," he said.

    Jacovides said the CAPC is in favour of liberalisation of the market. But he warned it would let drugs of dubious quality in from Asia and other places, where standards of production, storage and packaging are not what they are in the West.

    And he strenuously disagreed with Savvides' claim that the proposed new law would usher in price cuts of "at least 50 per cent" of what people now pay for prescriptions.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    July 30 , 2000

    [06] Man held over ‘Egypt drugs girl’ case

    POLICE said yesterday they have detained a 21-year-old Nicosia man thought to be connected with the case of a 19-year-old woman arrested in Egypt last week for allegedly possessing 3.5 kilos of drugs.

    The man was up in court yesterday but the judge adjourned the hearing after his defence lawyer claimed his client had been abused by police while in custody.

    Before proceedings were interrupted, the court heard the man was in Egypt at the same time as Maria Antoniadou from the Nicosia suburb of Pallouriotissa, who is currently being held for the alleged possession of 3.5 kilos of marijuana.

    Antoniadou was detained by Egyptian authorities at Port Said while she was about to board the Louis cruise liner Princessa Victoria, where she worked.

    The investigating officer yesterday told the court the man had met Antoniadou at Port Said, something the suspect denies.

    Police say they have eyewitness testimony confirming the suspect met Antoniadou, and that he passed the drugs on to her stuffed in a pouffe.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    July 30 , 2000

    [07] Police deny claims of racism in death of Sri Lankan

    By George Psyllides

    THE IMMIGRATION Service has denied claims by the Immigrant Support Action Group (ISAG) that the death of a 35-year-old Sri Lankan man was the result of racist and inhuman treatment by department officers.

    Mahalil Silva arrived at Larnaca airport on July 6 from Dubai where he used to work.

    According to police, "Silva, who had a return ticket and $1,400 in cash, claimed he had come to Cyprus for holiday".

    Immigration officials denied him entry because he could not tell them where he was going to stay, the police statement said.

    "It is unusual to get tourists from Sri Lanka," said immigration department chief Kypros Aristidou. "But this was not the reason he was denied entry."

    "The reason was that he could not tell us where he was going to stay, and who was expecting him; he said only that he had come as a tourist."

    A flight was found for July 8 for Silva to return home, but he said it was inconvenient for him to travel on that particular flight, police said. Another flight was found for July 13, and Silva agreed to leave.

    He was staying in the departure lounge of Larnaca airport, in one of two purpose-built rooms.

    The rooms hold 17 people, and are equipped with beds, showers and toilets. Silva was free to move around the area and make phone calls.

    The rooms were inspected and approved by the European Union three months ago, Aristidou added.

    On July 11 Silva suffered a stroke and was rushed to Larnaca hospital. He was later transferred to Nicosia hospital because of the severity of his condition.

    On the same day Silva returned to Larnaca where Dr Panayiotis Dimitriou diagnosed a brain haemorrhage and decided to keep him in hospital for at least 10 days.

    Silva died in hospital on July 17 at 10pm.

    Pathologist Sofoclis Sofocleous, who carried out the autopsy, said the cause of death was internal brain bleeding. He could not say whether the bleeding was a result of the conditions in which Silva had been detained.

    Doros Polycarpou of ISAG claims the man was complaining of ill health as soon as he arrived: "If he complained about his health, why wasn’t he taken to hospital?"

    He also questioned the conditions under which Silva was held, and disputed Aristidou’s claims that the man was free to move around.

    Polycarpou charged police with not reporting the incident as soon as it happened.

    But a police spokesman said the man’s death had been reported on July 18.

    Aristidou was clearly annoyed with what he termed unfounded claims by ISAG.

    "We are not racists; it is wrong to accuse the department of racism," he said. "A friend of the deceased told ISAG about the incident. They never asked us."

    "But without wanting to offend anyone, I think they take every opportunity to go public, create a mess and expose us worldwide," added Aristidou.

    "If they were really interested about human rights they should have contacted us, and not take information from other aliens who could possibly be wanted by police themselves."

    Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides has recommended that an independent investigator be appointed to look into the case.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    July 30 , 2000

    [08] Crashes claim three in a week

    THREE people died on the roads and 25 were seriously injured during the week between July 16 to 23, police said yesterday. Fifty-five other people were lightly injured.

    In the same period, police recorded 4,347 traffic violations, while 673 cases were heard in court.

    Fines amounted to £48,655 with 31 people losing their licence or the right to get one.

    Police booked 1,677 drivers for speeding and 414 for not wearing their seat belts.

    A further 294 drivers were caught using their mobile phones while driving, and 159 motorcycle and moped riders were booked for failing to wear a crash helmet.

    Ten drivers were reported for excessive exhaust emissions, and 29 out of the 537 breathalysed were booked for driving under the influence of alcohol.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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