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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-08-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, August 26, 2000


  • [01] Little Andreas is doing well
  • [02] Neophytou: civil service risks total paralysis
  • [03] Vassiliou claims Clerides support in vote law battle
  • [04] Police probe denies racism and claims policeman was assaulted
  • [05] Safety warning over children’s swing
  • [06] Larnaca protest plans in anger over refinery
  • [07] Multichoice props dormant market
  • [08] Maria’s nightmare: It was like someone slapped me and I fell down

  • [01] Little Andreas is doing well

    By Melina Demetriou

    ANDREAS Vassiliou, the six-year old leukaemia sufferer whose plight moved thousands in Cyprus and beyond, is doing well as he recovers from an operation in America four months ago, his doctor said yesterday.

    "During the critical period of the four months after the operation, Andreas’ body adapted well to the blood transplant," said Loizos Loizou, the head of the children’s oncology unit at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia.

    "We are quite optimistic because everything went well until know," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    "Andreas had some fever in the first month after the operation but he soon overcame it."

    The boy is expected back home in early September and he is in a good mood.

    Doctors will be certain of Andreas’ long-term health in about three years, Loizou said.

    On April 24, surgeons at the M.D Anderson hospital in Houston, Texas, performed a blood transplant with white blood cells taken from the donor’s placenta and umbilical cord.

    This kind of surgery, only practiced for the last two years, has a 40-50 per cent chance of success, and was carried out as a last resort after efforts to find a suitable donor for a bone marrow transplant failed - despite an unprecedented surge of volunteers on both sides of the Green Line.

    Doctors searched their way in vein through 5.5 million bone marrow donors across databanks all over the world.

    In a wave of cross-community support, 50,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots also came forward, offering blood in the hope of finding a prefect donor for Andreas and Turkish Cypriot fellow sufferer Kemal Saracoglu - one chance in 35,000.

    The Karaiskakio Foundation in Nicosia conducted the screenings.

    The organisation is still sifting through the samples collected during the April campaign, ahead of a possible need for a transplant, should Andreas fall ill again during his remission.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [02] Neophytou: civil service risks total paralysis

    By Athena Karsera

    THE COMMUNICATIONS Minister yesterday warned the civil service was on the verge of total paralysis.

    Speaking following spot checks at various of his ministry’s departments in Paphos yesterday, Neophytou said: "We established the usual, that the system is handicapped with the danger of becoming completely paralysed."

    The Minister said certain departments that he had checked had shown that "the people in the system are not productive enough to justify their salary."

    "We don’t want this finding today in certain departments and certain services to be considered a general rule, but we do have an obligation to the people we serve to inform them of our findings," he added.

    Neophytou would not say which departments he had visited or which were especially at fault. "There is no reason to name a specific employee or department."

    The minister is understood to make such spot checks within his department on a regular basis.

    Meanwhile, Neophytou also used his time in Paphos to visit the town’s airport.

    Accompanied by Ministry director Vassos Pyrgos and other officials, Neophytou said his goal was to check on the effectiveness of measures taken to improve the airport. "We listened to the opinions of the workers and people who use the airport."

    The Minister said his "general impression was that the situation has been improved," and that any problems mentioned were "small to non-existent and to be expected".

    Neophytou said £500,000 had been spent on improving the departure lounge to serve the 1.5 million people expected to pass through the airport by the end of the year.

    He added that while no changes had been made to the arrival area yet, a study would be undertaken to improve the space by the next summer and that another £500,000 would probably be spent on the airport by the end of this year.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [03] Vassiliou claims Clerides support in vote law battle

    By Martin Hellicar

    GOVERNING Disy’s drive to raise the threshold for parliamentary representation is alienating junior government coalition partners the United Democrats (UD) and also appears to be raising eyebrows within the Presidential Palace.

    Right-wing Disy is pushing ahead with tabling a bill amending electoral law so that a party has to get at least four per cent of the vote in any parliamentary elections before it is allowed a seat in the 56-member House of Representatives. The current system is one of true proportional representation, with a much lower entry threshold of 1.79 per cent.

    Disy says the change is needed to prevent politicians with no electoral backing from having a seat on the President’s top Cyprus problem advisory body, the National Council. The smaller parties – like UD, New Horizons, and the Greens – see the Disy move as a blatant attempt to squeeze them out before the May 2001 parliamentary elections.

    In the last parliamentary elections, in May 1996, the UD won only 3.69 per cent of the vote and two seats. The Greens and the New Horizons failed to make the grade, garnering only 1 and 1.71 per cent of the vote respectively. Disy, meanwhile, won 34.47 per cent of the vote, while left- wing Akel got 33 per cent, centre-right Diko 16.43 per cent and Edek 8.13 per cent.

    The four larger parties appear to favour Disy’s proposal, but introduction of the four per cent threshold could spell political death for these smaller parties.

    George Vassiliou, the leader of UD and the island’s chief EU negotiator, was not about to take this lying down.

    Yesterday, he brought the matter up in his regular weekly meeting with President Clerides at the Presidential Palace. In statements after the meeting, Vassiliou made it plain that Clerides – though honorary president of Disy - was not about to back the governing party at the risk of loosing his government coalition partner.

    "The president does not agree that there is a need to change the electoral law," Vassiliou stated.

    "The president has authorised me to say that for the government there is no issue of changing the (electoral) law. The government’s position has already been expressed by the government spokesman and is that if the government wants to have a change it will do it, but for the time being there is no such issue."

    "The law we have today is the most democratic, it is the law which serves the interests of Cyprus and the presidential system and must not change," Vassiliou added, denying suggestions that he was only after saving his party’s skin.

    But Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday appeared unconcerned about treading on the toes of either Clerides or Vassiliou. He launched into a vigorous defence of his party’s proposed change to the electoral law and insisted the aim was not steal votes from the smaller parties.

    Anastassiades said his party would win the next elections hands-down and did not need to "adjust" the electoral system to do so. He said it was the proposal’s detractors who were guilty of acting in a self-serving manner: "They have ulterior motives – either they want to get into parliament or they want to control others."

    The Disy leader insisted that all the major parliamentary parties supported the Disy law change. But main opposition party Akel later issued an announcement supporting true proportional representation and condemning Disy efforts to "fiddle" the electoral system.

    Diko, however, does appear to support the Disy move. Diko deputy Zacharias Poulias came up with a colourful defence of the Disy proposal yesterday. "The current system is a measure to ensure a husband-and-wife team get into parliament," Poulias protested, referring to the fact that George Vassiliou and his wife Androula were the two UD deputies elected to parliament in 1996.

    Diko parliamentary spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos – piped by many to succeed Spyros Kyprianou as party leader – has attacked the upping of the entry threshold, but he appears to stand alone in the party.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [04] Police probe denies racism and claims policeman was assaulted

    By Martin Hellicar

    AN INTERNAL investigation by Limassol police has found that an alleged case of racist policing was in fact an unprovoked attack on a traffic policeman.

    Earlier this month, an eyewitness to an incident in on Limassol’s John Kennedy avenue contacted the Cyprus Mail to complain of what he said was a case of police racism.

    He gave an account of a uniformed officer knocking an African Cypriot man off his scooter on a busy street, all because the black man had objected to the traffic policeman yelling at him for not wearing a helmet.

    The Mail informed Limassol police chief Charalambos Koulentis of the complaint and he promised to look into the matter.

    Yesterday, Koulentis contacted the Mail to say the internal probe had cleared the traffic policeman in question of any wrongdoing.

    The Limassol police chief claimed the coloured man had verbally and physically assaulted the police officer after he had stopped him for jumping a stop sign on his scooter.

    Almost the only point of agreement between the eyewitnesses account of the incident and the findings of the police probe was the timing of the events: around 10.15 pm on August 12.

    Koulentis gave a detailed account of the incident: "Two persons, dark- skinned brothers of Cypriot descent, were driving along John Kennedy Avenue towards Makarios III Avenue and failed to stop at a stop sign. They were also not wearing helmets."

    "The traffic officer told them to stop on side of the road. The driver of the scooter did not comply and then proceeded to insult the officer, saying: ‘You bastard, I’ll show you’, and using rude gestures."

    The man riding behind the driver left the scene but the driver stayed, continuing to shout abuse at the officer as he came closer, the police chief said.

    "The officer went up to the man and informed him of the traffic violation, upon which the man hit him in the chest and belly."

    "The officer then told him he was under arrest and tried to handcuff him but he jumped off his bike and fell on the ground," Koulentis said.

    He said bystanders then intervened to help the officer arrest the suspect.

    According to the eyewitness, the officer had attacked the black man after the scooter-rider had objected to being shouted at in an abrupt manner. The eyewitness said six riot squad (MMAD) vehicles had rushed to the scene to arrest the man.

    Koulentis yesterday said only that the traffic policeman had called for assistance and both MMAD and crime prevention (Ope) units had responded.

    He said the suspect’s Cypriot father had even apologised for the incident: "The father appeared on the scene and he apologised for his sons’ behaviour, saying they had just argued with their girlfriends and had been drinking."

    Limassol police officers were never guilty of racist behaviour, Koulentis stated. "Such things belong to the past," he insisted.

    The African-Cypriot suspect was released the following day, August 13, after being charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, causing a disturbance, failure to stop at a halt sign and failure to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote>

    </blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote>

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [05] Safety warning over children’s swing

    By Anthony O. Miller

    AN INJURY warning about the dangers of Fisher-Price "Lift-and-Lock" outdoor children’s swing is being issued in Cyprus, following the US recall of 2.5 million of the toys, Consumer Protection Centre Director George Mitides said yesterday.

    US-based toy maker Fisher-Price ordered the recall after receiving at least 110 reports of children falling or wriggling out of the swings due to a defective seat-locking mechanism. At least 38 of the children were hurt, some seriously.

    One suffered a fractured skull, two others concussions, another a broken leg, another a broken arm, two incurred broken collarbones and others needed stitches to close cuts in their foreheads, the Press Association reported yesterday.

    Parents, kindergartens, day-care centres and ‘party houses’ for children will be warned the "Lift-and-Lock" swings are not safe for the children aged nine months to three years for whom they were designed, Mitides said.

    Fisher-Price claims the swing’s defect is readily remedied with a kit containing an extra restraining belt to keep children from falling or squirming out of the swing’s seats.

    The Cyprus distributor for Fisher-Price said he had not had any reports of children hurt using the swings. His claim echoed that of the UK spokeswoman for Fisher-Price.

    The local distributor said "Lift-and-Lock" swings were no longer being imported or sold in Cyprus and had not been for about 18 months. He added that "Lift-and-Lock" swings were not in the US-based toy maker’s current catalogue.

    However, both the distributor and Mitides acknowledged that some of the swings might still be in use in Cyprus.

    For this reason, Mitides said he planned to inform Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis of the toy’s hazardous construction and the need to issue an injury warning to consumers.

    He indicated the warning would be issued later yesterday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [06] Larnaca protest plans in anger over refinery

    By Anthony O. Miller

    ANGRY Larnaca residents plan a march on their city centre today to protest against government plans to spend $40 million to upgrade the island’s oil refinery instead of building new petrol storage tanks somewhere other than the Larnaca shore.

    Currently, the beachfront north of Larnaca along the coast is chock-a-block with oil, petrol, diesel, and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) storage tanks and the island’s oil refinery.

    The Larnaca Progressive Movement, comprising some 200 residents, says the tanks and refinery are an eyesore, a source of noxious fumes, a danger to nearby residents and an obstacle to developing the beach between the city and Dhekelia.

    They want the government to abandon its $40-million plan to upgrade the refinery so it can produce more unleaded petrol and low-sulphur diesel fuel, and thus comply with EU strictures with an eye to entering the European Union in 2003.

    In the long term, the government plans to demolish the Larnaca refinery and, instead of replacing it with a new one, build tank farms capable of holding minimally a 90-day supply of refined petroleum products, in compliance with EU rules.

    But the planned $40-million upgrade of the refinery would involve its retention for perhaps 15 more years – something Panicos Sardos, president of the Progressive Movement, says is unacceptable.

    "The area now is a disgrace, with storage tanks only a few metres from the sea. We want the government to stop any new investment in the refinery and the tank farms, clean up the area and give the beaches back to the people of Larnaca," Sardos said, adding the $40 million should be spent on new tank farms.

    The government has long pledged Larnaca residents that it would move the refinery and the tank farms, so Sardos’ group views plans to spend millions more to prolong the refinery’s life by 15 years as a breach of that promise, and they vow a fight.

    "It’s not going to be easy for them," Sardos said. "We will go to court, go to Europe, to the European Commission’s Environment Directorate," to which he said his group had already reported their displeasure at the government’s plans.

    Sardos dismissed as hype Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis’ claims that it will take several hundred million dollars to construct fuel storage tank farms to comply with EU rules.

    If Cyprus were to continue to refine crude oil – versus its plan to ultimately abandon refining oil in Cyprus – EU rules would require it to triple its current 100,000-ton crude oil storage capacity to about 320,000 tons. Building these tanks could cost over $300 million, Rolandis has said.

    Rolandis has also said it would cost millions of dollars more to replace the current storage tank farms along the Larnaca coast with sufficiently large tank farms elsewhere to store the minimum 90-days worth refined petroleum products that EU rules require.

    Sardos said experts his group has consulted say new tank farms would cost a mere "few million pounds to build," and nothing near as much as Rolandis estimates.

    This logic is false," Sardos said of Rolandis’ plans. "It’s serving the interests of some people, but not of the Cypriot people," he charged.

    Sardos said his group’s protest would begin at 11am today at Acropolis Square in downtown Larnaca and march to the Municipal Square with a petition for President Glafcos Clerides and the Council of Ministers.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [07] Multichoice props dormant market

    By Jean Christou

    The all-share index lost ten points this week, ending a dreary five-days of trading yesterday at 372.38 points or 1.07 per cent down on Thursday, the biggest single-day drop since Monday.

    All sectors sustained losses ranging from a 2.4 per cent drop in the insurance sector to a small 0.12 per cent loss in the ‘other’ companies sector, only thanks to heavy trading in GlobalSoft and Multichoice stocks.

    The index opened down at around 375 points, heading steadily towards the 370-point mark before lifting slightly five minutes before closing.

    "We expect things to continue downwards for a while, at least until the end of the month," broker Maria Anastasiou told the Cyprus Mail. "The index will go up and down between 350 and 400 but I don’t believe it will fall below 350."

    Volume yesterday stood at a respectable £19.17 million – by this week’s standards and considering Monday’s £9 million.

    "The people who were selling have stopped," said Anastasiou. "They don’t want to sell at these prices but there are no buyers either because there is no money."

    The market’s tight liquidity squeeze is leaving attractively priced blue chip stocks, particularly banking shares, tantalisingly out of reach of cash-strapped investors.

    Bank of Cyprus (BoC) lost another five cents yesterday to close at £6.44, while Laiki plunged 19 cents to finish at £9.28. Hellenic also ended the week on a negative note, ending at £2.13, down 12 cents and in the process losing gains this week’s earlier gains. Small investors may be thin on the ground but one or two of the bigger investors came out of the closet yesterday to avail of some choice pickings.

    Star players yesterday were Toxotis which jumped 20 cents to close at £2.58 with over 1.34 million shares traded, Europrofit which rose 19 cents to end at £2.43 and Liberty Life Insurance which added 13 cents to end at £2.60.

    The most actively traded stock, after Toxotis, was Multichoice with 1.26 million shares changing hands, pulling the price up six cents. The share closed at £1.10.

    GlobalSoft ended a successful week with no change and over 750,000 shares traded and the highest cash volume, nearly 20 per cent of the total.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, August 26, 2000

    [08] Maria’s nightmare: It was like someone slapped me and I fell down

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE nightmare for Maria Antoniades, the 19-year-old Cypriot girl who was held in an Egyptian prison from July 25 to last Monday is finally over, but how quickly can a teenager get over such an experience? Not easily, says Maria.

    Last night Maria finally slept in her own bed in Nicosia after having spent one month in a Port Said jail. But, she told the Cyprus Mail that the grim experience had left a scar on her soul. "It was like someone slapped me and I fell down, and now I have to get back on my feet again," she said.

    Maria returned to Cyprus yesterday morning after the charges against her for allegedly trying to smuggle 3.5 kg of hashish out of Egypt were dropped.

    The Egyptian authorities released Maria after investigations showed that the substance she was carrying was not a controlled one, but was a harmless herb called mallow.

    Maria, physically and psychologically exhausted, arrived at Larnaca Airport yesterday morning with her mother and her lawyer. Upon her arrival, she avoided saying much to the media waiting at the airport.

    But later, speaking from her home, she described to the Cyprus Mail her time in the prison. "We were fifteen women in one cell -- the youngest one was 15. People treated us well.

    "We slept every night on a blanket on the floor, there were no mattresses. Some women were there for not having paid their bills or for sleeping with men while not married to them."

    Maria said she did not care at all about people talking behind her back. "I know everyone talks about me right now, and some not with sympathy. But if someone knows me and knows what is in my heart and soul and what kind of person I am they will not judge me," she said.

    Maria said she would stop relating to the "bad companies" who "got her into trouble". She said she now planned to attend a college course on childcare and nursery teaching.

    Maria’s mother said she found it strange that the Egyptian Attorney-general had ordered that Maria be released from prison at 8pm on Monday because the prison always closed at 3pm and no one went in or out after that time.

    In Cyprus, the police drug squad took a three-hour statement from Maria as soon as she arrived home. But a police spokesman said there was no case against Maria in Cyprus since the Egyptian authorities had dropped all charges against her. The police could not say why the Egyptian authorities could not tell hashish from mallow for about a month

    Maria Antoniades’ lawyer, Iacovos Avraamides said on Tuesday that the "Egyptian authorities were convinced of Maria’s innocence".

    Her father, Marios, who collected Maria and her mother at the airport, said he thanked God that his daughter’s adventure was over.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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