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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-08-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, August 24, 2000


  • [02] A disaster waiting to happen
  • [03] Rolandis pledges tougher policing for Ayia Napa but says media claims exaggerated
  • [04] Airport authorities ponder salt lake parking eyesore
  • [05] Tourists held for shoplifting
  • [06] Mystery of decomposing body found in car deepens
  • [07] Investors wait out holidays


    Maria heads for miracle shrine

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE 19-YEAR-old Cypriot girl cleared of charges of drug smuggling in Egypt is to head for the Greek island of Tinos to rest and give thanks for her release at a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

    Maria Antoniadou’s father on Tuesday flew out to join her in Cairo, where she moved into a hotel with her mother and brother following her release from prison on Monday.

    The family now intends to visit the church of Panayia Tinou, famous for its miracles, to give thanks for her release from her ordeal.

    The Antoniadous are thought to be leaving Egypt tomorrow, as soon as plane tickets are available. It is not clear when they will return to Cyprus.

    But confusion remains over the circumstances surrounding her release and why it took Egyptian authorities almost a month to come to the conclusion that the substance she was allegedly found carrying was not marijuana.

    Maria was arrested in Port Said on July 25, after police said they had found 3.5 kilos of ‘bango’, a cheap variety of marijuana common in the Middle East, concealed in her suitcase.

    But exactly four weeks later she was released. The Egyptian authorities now say that neither did the substance weigh 3.5 kilos nor was it marijuana. Instead it was "a herb called mallow", according to her lawyer in Cyprus, Iacovos Avraamides.

    The chief investigator at the port in Port Said, Mohammed Fathi Mira, yesterday confirmed that the substance found in Maria’s possession had been sent to a laboratory in Mansoura for analysis.

    One Egyptian source said bureaucratic bottlenecks in the legal system were common. But he also cited comments from senior officials involved in the case that there had been "top level intervention to bring her out of jail".

    Avraamides did not deny such a suggestion.

    "Everything is possible. We made a lot of contacts with senior officials here, with the Attorney-general, the Minister of the Interior, the director- general of the Foreign Ministry and Pantelis Kouros, under-secretary to President Clerides," he said, adding that he was fully satisfied with the conclusion of the case.

    He highlighted the compassion aroused by the case of the young girl, arrested abroad on charges that can carry the death sentence. Execution is normally only reserved for trafficking hard drugs, but Maria could have faced up to 15 years behind bars, with the chance of a pardon after a few years, given her youth.

    Egyptian sources yesterday said they would be looking to Maria’s reception in Cyprus for a clue as to the real reason for her release. "It will be interesting to see if she walks free or she gets a police caution."

    On Tuesday, a Nicosia police officer said that "unless there is clear evidence that she was not involved in anything illegal, I imagine we will question her". But Avraamides thought a Cypriot investigation unlikely.

    "One of the treaties between Cyprus and Egypt could have allowed us to issue a warrant for her arrest, extradite her and try her in Cyprus. But that wasn’t possible. Why should the Cyprus police investigate a matter within the jurisdiction of the Egyptian authorities, after they have concluded the case?" he told the Cyprus Mail.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, August 24, 2000

    [02] A disaster waiting to happen

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE RISK of an explosion from barbecues on the beach next to the Larnaca oil refinery is so great that Larnaca District Officer Kypros Matheou yesterday pledged immediate action to halt the practice.

    Larnaca Mayor George Lycourgos admitted the problem was not new: "It’s exactly the same as last year and the year before that, but this year it’s even worse."

    "I went there myself… and saw people cooking their souvla in their car headlights," he said.

    The state and private oil facilities outside Larnaca have fenced themselves off, but they cannot keep people from lighting open fires on the beaches near their petrol, diesel or LPG (liquid petroleum gas) tanks.

    George Lambrou, general manager of the state-owned Cyprus Petroleum Refinery Ltd., and Byron Skarpari, marketing manager for Petrolina Holdings LPG products, say the beach fires are disasters waiting to happen.

    Bathers are kept away from the refinery’s LPG storage tanks by high chain- link fences topped by concertina razor wire.

    Skarpari said the fence went all the way into the sea, so souvla cookers couldn’t get right next to the tanks, but there was nothing his security guards could do to stop them lighting fires on the beach.

    "If you walk towards Larnaca on the coast… there are all these people cooking on the beach behind all these gasoline tanks and all the LPG tanks that belong to BP and Mobil and Esso," he said.

    "You cannot see this from the main road, because the tanks are between the road and the sea. From the tanks the fires are not even 10 metres away" he said.

    "What happens if by accident the fire – even just a burning piece of paper – is blown by the wind into the installation and there is an explosion?" Skarpari said.

    Lambrou concurred. The danger of an explosion is "definitely" there, especially when petroleum products are loaded from tank to truck, since flammable fumes travel.

    "The beaches should be put off limits to lighting fires to cook," Lambrou said. "The police should intervene."

    "We have already told" the authorities about the problem, Skarpari said, adding he felt the buck stopped with Mayor Lycourgos.

    Lycourgos passed the buck to the local authorities in Oroklini. "We made a lot of demarches ourselves, and we really underlined the danger," he said.

    He said District Officer Kypros Matheou was the man to see, and added the police "have a duty to supervise the beaches… and can intervene by themselves".

    But Larnaca Police Superintendent Demetris Georgiades disagreed.

    "Nobody reported to me a case of anyone making souvla next to the refineries or next to the petroleum stores.

    "It’s not the responsibility of the police to chase those who make souvla on the beach. It’s the mayor, or the mukhtar of Oroklini or Pyla," he added.

    "The police have other things to do instead of running after those making souvla on the beach."

    But he conceded there could be a danger: "This is a serious problem. Nobody reported a single case of this to me. But I will look into the matter."

    District Officer Matheou also pledged action: "I’m going to act as the overall co-ordinator of the work of government in the District and see that everybody does his job.

    "I’m going to look into the matter today, and see that the beach is patrolled."

    "There is a new scheme for 24-hour patrolling by special constables, paid for by the oil companies, but controlled by the police," he added.

    "This is what I’m going to use. They’re not there yet, but I am going to talk to the Superintendent of Police and all those involved in order to start an immediate campaign to stop the fires," Matheou said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    <title>Rolandis pledges tougher policing for Ayia Napa but says media claims exaggerated</title>

    Thursday, August 24, 2000

    [03] Rolandis pledges tougher policing for Ayia Napa but says media claims exaggerated

    By Jennie Matthew

    TOURISM Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday pledged improvements in policing in Ayia Napa in the wake of his Tuesday night tour of the resort –hailed by some as Europe’s ‘clubbing Mecca’ and decried by others as a ‘den of debauchery’.

    The minister conceded that tour reps organised "some activities which result in illegalities", without the knowledge of the companies they work for – a practice he said had to end. Tour reps have been accused of organising public sex contests in Ayia Napa – a claim which sparked the whole debate about the resort’s reputation.

    On Tuesday night, Rolandis held a meeting with mayor Barbara Pericleous, members of the council, the police commander and representatives from the hoteliers association, before touring the resort’s square and streets, where most of the nightlife hotspots are to be found.

    The municipality presented the minister with a set of proposals for combating the rowdier elements of the resort, after the spate of negative publicity generated serious fears it could damage the island’s reputation as a quality tourist haven.

    Rolandis is expecting a report from his ministry and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation in the next day or two. He will then discuss the matter with Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, emphasising that the top priority is to pursue a policy of zero tolerance on drugs.

    According to Ayia Napa Police, loud music, unauthorised opening hours and litter make up the greatest number of offences in the resort: indecency and drugs are much less common – though they invariably make the headlines.

    And according to police, 90 per cent of Ayia Napa’s crime is in fact committed by locals, not tourists, though hoteliers put the ratio nearer 70:30.

    Given that last year the total number of tourists swelled the town’s population by 99.6 per cent, the police figures support Rolandis’ position that tourism is cleaner than the media have made it out to be.

    "The very, very big majority of people are simply enjoying themselves," Rolandis affirmed yesterday.

    Tuesday’s meeting heard a recommendation for more police to be put on patrol between the months of June and September, with the longer-term plan of creating a tourist police force.

    Rolandis said police were fully co-operative, and appreciated the need to find the right balance between firm law enforcement and the realisation that a police state was incompatible with tourism.

    He added licences for tour rep night tours may need to be introduced, with an exact definition of what did and did not constitute "entertainment" written into law.

    A return to the earlier opening hours was also discussed, alongside longer- term proposals to guard against the resort sliding into seedy notoriety, with efforts to boost the town’s cultural scene by founding a museum and musical groups.

    The Minister, who spent his holidays in Geneva and Protaras, seemed taken aback by the resort’s buoyancy, despite his pleasure at the large numbers of people enjoying themselves.

    "I must say I was struck by the numbers of people, I would say there are more people there than on Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square, and I wasn’t there late. I was there at about 11.15pm and I understand that it’s a 24 or 48 hour party," he joked.

    He said he had been greeted by many tourists, who shook his hand, telling him Cyprus was the best country they had been to.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, August 24, 2000

    [04] Airport authorities ponder salt lake parking eyesore

    By George Psyllides

    CYPRIOT holidaymakers are dumping their cars on the salt lake outside Larnaca airport in an apparent effort to save on parking costs as they fly off on their summer break.

    Tourists’ first impression of Cyprus as they leave the airport are of hundreds of cars abandoned on the salt lake on the perimeter of the terminal.

    Airport Director Andreas Soshilos yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the area was outside airport authority jurisdiction, and he could therefore do nothing about it.

    "The fact that the cars are parked there does not obstruct the airport’s smooth operation," he added.

    But there was a problem with returning passengers dumping their trolleys in the middle of the field, forcing civil aviation personnel on frequent rounds to collect them, Soshilos said.

    Civil Aviation Director Iacovos Papadopoulos confirmed that the area was outside airport jurisdiction. But he added that measures were planned to make it difficult for drivers to dump their cars and go.

    "The situation bothers us as Civil Aviation," Papadopoulos said.

    Larnaca Municipal traffic wardens director Nicos Nicolaou said he understood the need for people to park somewhere, but said the current situation was unacceptable.

    Nicolaou said people probably parked there because there was no space in the airport parking lot.

    The municipality has decided to find a way to block access to the area, which is public, Nicolaou said.

    Options under consideration are thought to include widening the road leading off the airport roundabout, building pavements, and putting bollards to prevent cars clambering into the field.

    Androulla Hadjivarnava at the Larnaca Municipality said a suggestion had been tabled, but the municipal council had not yet discussed the issue.

    "It will be looked into some time in September," Hadjivarnava said.

    Panayiota Kolokasidou of the Ministry of Communications and Works said they encouraged people to park in the special parking area provided at the airport.

    The parking lot has a capacity for 432 cars and costs drivers £5 plus VAT a day. The car park does not have separate areas for long-term parking.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, August 24, 2000

    [05] Tourists held for shoplifting

    EIGHT English tourists were yesterday remanded in custody for two days suspected of shoplifting from a leather shop in Ayia Napa.

    The Famagusta district court sitting in Larnaca heard that on Tuesday afternoon four men visited the Borselino leather shop and allegedly stole various items worth a total of £406.

    When an employee noticed them, the four fled the shop and jumped onto scooters driven by four friends waiting outside.

    An eyewitness managed to get the licence plate of one of the scooters.

    Police found that the moped had been rented to Mark Cooper, 18, and 17-year- old Jacob Stone, who were tracked down and allegedly admitted to stealing the goods.

    Police said the pair named as their accomplices Joe Street, James Davies, William McInerney, Matthew Fraser and Calvin Wilson, all 18, and Patrick Spencer, 19, all staying at the River Side holiday apartments.

    Police found two wallets and a lady’s handbag in Cooper’s apartment, which the suspects claimed they had found on the street.

    The court heard the eight had confessed to stealing the items during questioning and led police to the rest of the loot, which had been dumped at an open area near the apartments.

    Before being remanded, the suspects told the court that they had "missed their flight and they did not have any money to return home."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, August 24, 2000

    [06] Mystery of decomposing body found in car deepens

    By Jean Christou

    AN AUTOPSY on the decomposing body of a man found in his car on Tuesday night has proved inconclusive in determining whether he was the victim of foul play.

    Diko deputy and former state pathologist Marios Matsakis, who is acting on behalf of the family, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday there were no signs of external or internal injuries on the body of 46-year old Antonis Antoniou from Nicosia. Matsakis carried out the autopsy jointly with state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous who agreed with the conclusions.

    Antoniou had been missing from his home since Saturday afternoon.

    "There were no signs of external or internal injuries," Matsakis said. "But I can’t exclude foul play either." He said that if Antoniou had been poisoned or drugged, it would not show up until toxicology tests had been completed. Samples have already been sent to the state lab.

    "Investigations of death on a decomposing body are always very difficult," Matsakis added.

    The mystery deepened last night as Antoniou’s wife Constantina told two private TV stations that she believe underworld figures were responsible for her husband’s death, and that she now feared for her life and the lives of the couple’s two children. She claimed he had wanted out and had already received several threats from people unknown to her.

    Matsakis said police would also have to determine whether, in the event Antoniou was murdered, that he had been killed elsewhere and his body moved to the beach area in Pervolia where it was found.

    Antoniou’s badly decomposed body was found at around 7pm on Tuesday evening close to the Pharos Hotel near the journalists’ holiday village.

    A man who had stopped his car nearby noticed body fluids on the ground near Antoniou’s grey BMW and spotted the body in the back seat

    Antoniou left his home just after 4pm on Saturday after receiving a mysterious phone call. He drove off immediately telling his wife he would return later to take her to Ayia Napa.

    She said yesterday Antoniou was taking a nap when the phone rang and someone asked for ‘Tonis’, the name by which her husband was known. "I asked who wanted him and they didn’t answer. They rang again ten minutes later and asked for Tonis and I asked again who wanted him," she told Sigma. The third time Antoniou said he would take the call.

    "He said ‘I’m coming’ and nothing else. He put on blue shorts and a grey T- shirt and said he wouldn’t be long. But he never came back," she said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, August 24, 2000

    [07] Investors wait out holidays

    By Jean Christou

    ANOTHER lacklustre trading session yesterday saw the all-share index sink further to close at only 379 points, down 0.73 per cent as investors remained thin on the ground.

    Volume however was the highest so far this week, totalling £21.9 million, some five million more than Tuesday and more than twice Monday’s abysmal low of only £9 million.

    Trading opened on negative territory sliding steadily with little or no gains in a session characterised by an apparent lack of interest by the investing public.

    "The trend over the past few days seems to lean towards profit taking on earlier gains, probably to pay off holidays" said one Nicosia broker. "There are not enough small investors going back in. The market is dead and it looks as if investors are adopting a wait and see attitude".

    Only GlobalSoft attracted any investor interest yesterday with the company’s stocks accounting for 44 per cent of total volume. Over two million GlobalSoft shares changed hands, including large blocks of up to £300,000. The share lost six cents to close at £4.74, a slight hiccup in an otherwise excellent run, observers said

    Most sectors were down yesterday with only manufacturing ending in the black with gains of 0.37 per cent. The trading sector registered losses of 1.68 per cent, investment companies 0.5 per cent, insurance 0.71 and ‘other’ companies 0.67 per cent. The tourism sector showed no change but the banking sector dropped 0.92 per cent with Bank of Cyprus (BoC) slipping 11 cents to close at £6.55 and Laiki six cents to end at £9.53. For the second day running Hellenic Bank was the only one in the sector to post a gain, rising two cents to close at £2.23. "There’s also a lack of interest in bank stock," the broker said. "Investors are worried about what price BoC will float on the Athens exchange, which also affects Laiki which is also likely to seek a listing in Greece depending on how things go for BoC."

    Yesterday’s only other gainers were Kronos Distribution Agency, which surged 27 cents on its second day of trading, to close at £1.77, on a volume of some two million pounds and over 1.2 million shares traded. Keo stocks also rose, gaining 12 cents to close at £2.45.

    The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) is today expected to examine eight new applications for listing including Lanitis Bros (Coca Cola), New Marathon Tours and Tsokkos Hotels. Market players hope the end of the August holiday lull will see renewed interest in the bourse by big and small investors alike. "All it needs is a push in the right direction," the Nicosia broker said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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