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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, October 05, 2000


  • [01] 5-year pink slips only for the chosen few
  • [02] Police called in after amphetamines go missing
  • [03] Cassoulides sees 50-50 chance of settlement
  • [04] Markides orders probe over false witness claims in Church scandal
  • [05] Immigration officials cleared over immigrant's death
  • [06] Little changes on depressed bourse

  • [01] 5-year pink slips only for the chosen few

    By Martin Hellicar

    FOREIGNERS working on the island in the offshore sector or as journalists, top accountants, businessmen, lecturers or teachers are likely to be among the ‘chosen few’ to be eligible for five-year employment permits.

    The Interior Ministry confirmed yesterday that a recent law change making it harder for foreign workers to bring their spouses into the island could prove to be good news for all EU nationals and other aliens working in ‘selected’ sectors.

    Costas Hadjipavlou, a senior immigration official at the Ministry, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that, because of the new law, the Ministry was now “days away” from approving internal regulations that will allow some foreigners to secure unprecedented five-year pink slips.

    The new law, approved by the House on July 27, stipulates that foreigners must be “in possession of a working permit of a total duration of five years” before their loved ones can join them on the island. The law change means foreigners must either have a five-year work permit or have worked on the island for five years or have some combination of worked time and work permit extension totalling at least five years.

    The new provisions caused an outcry from foreign worker groups, as no alien has even been known to secure a five-year permit, and many aliens working on short permits seemed destined to be forced to wave goodbye to their spouses.

    But the Attorney-general’s office then said that the law change had prompted the Interior Ministry to begin drawing up criteria for granting five-year permits for EU nationals and anyone employed in certain chosen sectors. State Attorney Georgia Frangou also told the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday that foreigners already working on the island who fell into these categories could expect to have their permits extended long enough for them to be allowed to have their families with them.

    Interior Ministry officer Hadjipavlou yesterday confirmed the good news for some, though he was at pains to point out that nothing had yet been officially approved.

    “It is likely that citizens of EU member states will get five-year permits and also that certain professions -- independent of which country they come from – will get the same,” Hadjipavlou said.

    He listed the favoured professions as: “Those working in offshore companies, reporters, foreign correspondents, those who have invested in Cyprus companies with more than £100,000, accountants for big firms, lecturers at universities or schools.”

    “We are preparing a relevant document which will have to be approved by the Minister,” he said. “Things will hopefully be sorted out within the next few days and than we will have a decision.”

    The final word on the matter rests with Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    Thursday, October 05, 2000

    [02] Police called in after amphetamines go missing

    By Athena Karsera and Jennie Matthew

    POLICE are investigating the disappearance of hundreds of amphetamine tablets from Nicosia general hospital as well as the stockpiling of expired medicines in hospital stores.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the case of the missing drugs was a “very big scandal”.

    “The Ministry is leaving the investigation to the police at the moment but we have commissioned our own investigative team,” he said, adding the drugs appeared to have disappeared through the systematic issue of false prescriptions.

    He added he had requested the suspension pending investigation of two officials from the Public Service Committee in connection with the disappearance of the amphetamines.

    “New drug-monitoring systems have been rushed through as part of the investigations in an attempt to pinpoint exactly what was going wrong with the old system, including isolating the sections with controlled drugs, confiscated drugs and prescription drugs,” the minister said

    Savvides said the missing and expired drugs were part of a broader problem in the hospitals' internal control and prescription records: “There is absolutely no control. We are only now beginning to computerise it all,” he said.

    Savvides later told reporters that two different issues had been highlighted by the problem: “The first is the finding of irregularities connected to a specific controlled drug. It seems they were falsifying prescriptions for some time and giving medicine to a non-existent patients. This issue and all its ramifications, because there are many of them, are being investigated by the police on various levels, including the drug squad.

    “There is also something else which was discovered during the investigations of this issue, which is being investigated by the police so we have stopped our own internal investigations. It seems there are protocols for the destruction of certain expired medicines and that some of these were still on the hospital pharmacy shelves.”

    The two problems were uncovered during routine checks at the pharmacy and reported to Nicosia Drug Squad last Thursday. Savvides has said that the amphetamines' stock figures and archives were kept separately due to the pharmaceutical being a controlled substance.

    Police could not say how many tablets had disappeared yesterday.

    Last year, the Nicosia hospital was rocked by similar investigations over the disappearance of the kidney drug erythropoetine, with allegations it had been channelled to the racetrack for doping horses. Police and Health Ministry investigations are continuing.

    Thursday, October 05, 2000

    [03] Cassoulides sees 50-50 chance of settlement

    By Jennie Matthew

    FOREIGN minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday he expected talks to solve the Cyprus problem to wind up next year.

    “I am saying that [this dialogue] cannot be drawn out beyond a date in 2001. By then it should be obvious whether it's heading towards a solution, or a breaking of the deadlock, albeit without a complete solution,” he told London Greek Radio.

    He confirmed that negotiations at the UN sponsored proximity talks had become substantive. On the back of this progress, he said this summer had yielded more hope than the last.

    “Last summer I told our compatriots that they must be very careful of their aspirations, because of Turkey's behaviour; not that this has changed, but at least the negotiations have entered a serious phase, at a better pace,” he stressed.

    Meanwhile, Secretary General, Kofi Annan yesterday told journalists in New York, that both sides had misunderstood his bent at he beginning of the talks.

    In an opening statement read to President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Annan stated that each party “represents its side - and no-one else - as the political equal of the other”. The comment caused uproar at home, with critics branding the speech tantamount to recognition of the occupation regime in northern Cyprus.

    “I meant that equality would arise from a comprehensive arrangement with respect to the resolutions. I did not predict the final outcome, nor recognise any specific regime,” he said yesterday.

    He added that achieving a long-term solution would take a considerable amount of effort.

    But Cassoulides was upbeat in London, saying there was a 50-50 chance of a positive outcome to the talks. The alternative, he said, would be ruin.

    Indeed, his feeling of optimism was so strong that he warned against complacency.

    “This 50 per cent means we have to be particularly careful not to take things lightly, or think we have the luxury of leaving the negotiation table,” he said.

    “We can fight and battle without fear. If the President needs to reject the [unofficial documents] in the future he will. We are in a position to protect the rights of Cyprus and I don't think these interests are better protecting by leaving.”

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday applauded a statement made by British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, which refused to recognise the Denktash regime and stood by the Security Council resolutions as the only appropriate framework for a solution.

    He fended off criticism Clerides had mishandled the situation in New York.

    “You have to prioritise what you ask for. The President exhausted all margins. He took what he believed was the maximum he could take. He saw it as being satisfactory and he moved on.”

    He denied that any of the major political parties thought it would be best to leave the talks.

    Thursday, October 05, 2000

    [04] Markides orders probe over false witness claims in Church scandal

    By Melina Demetriou

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday ordered an investigation into whether testimony against Limassol Bishop Athanassios was false, but said he doubted any witnesses could be prosecuted for perjury as the Holy Synod to whom the evidence was presented is not an official legal body.

    Meanwhile, Athanassios is suing Astra radio station for broadcasting “defamatory statements by Lefteris Psyllos about the Bishop,” his lawyer Christos Clerides said yesterday.

    Two men, Lefteris Psyllos and Christos Stangos, told Astra in lurid detail on Thursday that they had had homosexual relationships with the Limassol Bishop.

    But a third man, Costas Savva, who had earlier joined Psyllos and Stangos in testifying against Athanassios has now withdrawn his claims, saying he was bribed by Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides into witnessing against Athanassios.

    The Limassol Bishop's detractors -- with Archimandrite Constantinides and Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos at the helm --have succeeded in getting the matter before a Synod investigation committee.

    Markides said yesterday he had sent a letter to Police Chief Andreas Angelides authorising him to proceed with a police investigation to find whether any false statements had been made against Athanassios.

    “But I do not think that the matter of perjury can be an issue here as the Holy Synod is not a legislative body to which someone can testify,” Markides said.

    The Attorney-general also critisised the way the media had intruded the Bishop's privacy by publishing testimonies against him and warned he would put in effect article 122, which refers to the right to privacy and family life if the situation persisted.

    Meanwhile, over 100 Limassol clerics came out in support of Athanassios on Tuesday night, holding a vigil in support of their bishop.

    Clerides, who is also President of the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus, called a news conference yesterday to say he was suing Astra for defaming Athanassios.

    Clerides said the Synod's investigation and the testimonies it had heard went against European Conventions on human rights and legal principles in general, as well as the Cyprus Constitution itself.

    “A public media 'trial' is completely obnoxious and ridiculous. It must be stopped immediately and maybe the matter should be taken up by a superior body of the Holy Synod.”

    Clerides pledged he would try to bar public statements about the matter until the investigation was complete.

    He accused the government of putting up with defamation, perjury and possible conspiracy against Athanassios, but saluted Markides' decision to deal with the matter “even a bit late.”

    “The State is answerable to the European Council for human rights violations,” said Clerides, who underlined that, despite the fact that the Church was an autonomous body, all citizens, including clerics, had the right to privacy and family life.

    Thursday, October 05, 2000

    [05] Immigration officials cleared over immigrant's death

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE AIRPORT Immigration Service has been cleared of allegations of inhuman treatment of a Sri Lankan man who died in July after being detained at Larnaca airport for five days pending deportation.

    Both a cabinet-appointed state investigator tasked to probe the case of 35- year-old Mahalil Silva and Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou - who decided to investigate the matter off her own bat - found nothing wrong with the way the man was treated.

    Silva was denied entry on arrival from Dubai on July 6. He then remained in one of two purpouse-built rooms at the airport's departure lounge awaiting a flight back home. Five days later, on July 11, he suffered a stroke and was rushed to Larnaca hospital. He died in hospital on July 17.

    The Immigrants Support Group claimed Silva had been kept in a chair for days and that airport Immigration officials had ignored his complaints of chest pains.

    On August 10, the cabinet ordered a probe.

    The Attorney-general's office announced yesterday that the state investigator's report had cleared airport immigration officers of any wrongdoing. “According to the report, the foreigner's death was not caused by any action or neglect on the part of the relevant authorities,” the announcement read.

    Nicolaou also released her findings yesterday, again clearing airport officials.

    Nicolaou said the conditions of Silva's detention at Larnaca airport were “satisfactory” and there had been no delay in providing him with medical care. “There was no negligence or delay concerning Silva Mahilal's transfer to Larnaca hospital when he fell ill on July 11,” Nicolaou found.

    The decision not to allow Silva into Cyprus was justified, Nicolaou said, because the Sri Lankan had no entry visa and could not tell airport officials where he was staying.

    Every effort had been made to get Silva a flight out, the Ombudswoman added. A flight to Sri Lanka had been arranged for July 13, but Silva fell ill two days before this.

    Thursday, October 05, 2000

    [06] Little changes on depressed bourse

    By Jennie Matthew

    The all-share index dipped below the 342 mark – another yearly low – before closing 0.42 per cent up at 354.25 yesterday.

    The amount of cash pumped into the market reached £22.3 million – a third higher than on Tuesday – but the sum is still miniscule and the general mood still glum.

    The index held on to the 342 mark at the mid-way point, before curving up to 350 and then shooting up again on the back of last-minute massive bank transactions.

    The insurance group, floored by the depressed markets, yesterday catalogued the biggest sector loss, (3.92 per cent) with next to no trade – just £331, 771 changed hands.

    Such low volumes are dangerous in that even the smallest transactions can manipulate the market.

    Cosmos, one of the worst performers this week, opened and closed at 60 cents, after a daily low of 55 cents.

    Minerva fell to 57 cents from its opening 63 cents, finally managing to bounce back to 62 before the day’s close.

    Europrofit has suffered catastrophic losses this week. Yesterday it continued to deteriorate from its £1.90 opening on Monday: prices fell as low as £1.48, before scraping in at £1.58.

    All industry sectors lost more ground except for the technology companies, which amassed the day’s most transactions, at some £7.32 million, but according to some brokers, there are glimmerings of recovery.

    “If we graph the index for the last two days, then there is a buy message,” said Stavros Agrotis from CISCO.

    “The market is affected by the overall psychology, difficult to turn around. People must focus on specific stocks, not the index as a whole,” he added.

    The robust GlobalSoft stormed ahead adding 20 cents to its share price. Opening at £5.90, it closed 90 minutes later at £6.10.

    Logicom Ltd also did well, gaining 14 cents to finish at £4.60, with a morning high of £4.66.

    The banks pushed a volume of £3.74 million and the Bank of Cyprus saw the most activity. The share price opened at £6.58, dipped as low as £6.49 before climbing back to £6.53 before the day’s finish.

    Bargain buys are to be found among the investment companies – trading at big discounts since the bottom fell out of the market this summer.

    Agrotis cited Aristo, Demetra and Kyknos as three excellent options to buy now, sit on and then reap the profit during a recovery.

    Aristo finished at 61 cents yesterday, Demetra closed at 72 cents and Kyknos at 74 cents.

    “Companies which are diversified, with a foreign outlook are very attractive because they can expand more easily – the Cyprus economy is rather saturated at the moment,” said Agrotis.

    Libra, Golden Sun Leisure and Louis Cruise Lines make other obvious choices, given their foreign concerns.

    Glory Worldwide Holdings at a low £6.04 and on the brink of overseas expansion, also make an enticing option.

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