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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, October 06, 2000


  • [01] American tourist plunges to her death from hotel balcony
  • [02] Government relief at Annan clarifications
  • [03] Officials play down asbestos fears
  • [04] Archimandrite seeks to cover Paphos Bishop in spiralling Church crisis
  • [05] Irish tourists held after drug haul
  • [06] Turkish Cypriot donates bone marrow to Nicosia girl
  • [07] Award for fire hero
  • [08] Minister suspends two over amphetamines scandal
  • [09] Dairies feel the squeeze as EU looms
  • [10] Market kept low by uneasy investors

  • [01] American tourist plunges to her death from hotel balcony

    By Christophina Hanni

    AN AMERICAN tourist plunged six floors to her death after falling from the balcony of a Nicosia hotel room yesterday.

    Her Albanian boyfriend, Vincent Grav, discovered 27-year-old Violet Toro had fallen to her death at about 3am yesterday.

    The couple had arrived in Cyprus on Monday. They spent Wednesday evening drinking out in a variety of local nightclubs before returning to the hotel at around 2.50am.

    Grav, who is 40 years old, reported to police that on their return to the hotel he had left his partner to visit the bathroom, but could not find her in the hotel room on his return. He eventually realised she had fallen to the ground six floors below.

    According to Grav's statement to police, Toro may have been drunk at the time of the accident.

    The hotel's doctor arrived at the scene straight away and declared the victim dead. State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous carried out the autopsy and stated that the American had died of severe head injuries caused by the fall. Police are investigating the matter further.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [02] Government relief at Annan clarifications

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan had finally set the record straight on the controversial statement he made at the opening of the New York proximity talks last month.

    Speaking to journalists in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Annan clarified that his reference to the “equal status” of the parties related to the terms of a comprehensive settlement.

    His New York statement had been interpreted to mean recognition of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime in the north.

    "The equal status of the parties must and should be recognised explicitly in the comprehensive settlement which will embody the results of the detailed negotiations required to translate this concept into clear and practical provisions," the original controversial statement said.

    But Annan told a news conference in Strasbourg that the equal status of the two parties engaged in the peace process would emerge from the comprehensive settlement with respect to UN resolutions.

    "Annan's statement is particularly important as it clarifies that the issue of the status of the parties was raised in his earlier statement to define the status each party will have in the framework of a comprehensive settlement," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told his daily briefing yesterday.

    The Greek Cypriot side had sought and received clarifications on the statement, boycotting the New York talks for two days until it received a satisfactory answer, but the Turkish Cypriot side continued to claim Annan's statement implied the beginning of recognition.

    Annan said on Wednesday his statements did not prejudge anything, and stressed he was referring to the result of the negotiations, due to resume in Geneva next month.

    "Annan's reference to a solution with respect of UN resolutions outlines his understanding of resolution 1250 that full consideration of the relevant resolutions will be taken into account in the peace effort," Papapetrou said.

    Papapetrou also noted Annan's position that his statement did not recognise any regime, nor did he intend to do so.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [03] Officials play down asbestos fears

    By Melina Demetriou

    PUBLIC officials yesterday sought to reassure Lakatamia residents worried that a spate of cancer cases in the Nicosia suburb might be down to asbestos pipes carrying water to their homes.

    Residents of Ayia Paraskevi area in Lakatamia reported last year that 12 of their number had developed cancer, eight of whom had died. They blamed the rise in cases to drinking water from asbestos pipes and asked the Health Ministry to step in.

    Addressing a meeting of the House Health Committee, Ministry official Andreas Georgiou yesterday played down the allegations, but said his department would conduct a study to define whether there was any truth to them.

    Georgiou pointed out that only one person had died of cancer of the intestine, one of the types of cancer suspected to be caused by drinking water from asbestos pipes.

    The other seven had died of other types of cancer.

    A Water Department representative said there was no need to worry as no health organisation or government in the world, apart from the United States, had expressed any worries about asbestos pipe water being a threat to health.

    “Every year, we send samples of asbestos pipe water from all over Cyprus to a lab in Canada to be on the safe side. The US and Canada have defined that if water contains more that 7 million asbestos fibres in a litre of water it could cause lung cancer. Until now, Cyprus water has been found to contain only 2 million fibres in a litre.”

    Akel deputy Kyriacos Tyrimos asked from the Health Ministry to give a swift official response to the residents' request to get to the bottom of the matter.

    “People are panicked and they deserve a responsible answer whether the pipes are dangerous for their health or not. If the pipes are really dangerous they must be replaced as soon as possible,” he said.

    The Health Ministry promised to investigate the matter thoroughly and give an answer to Lakatamia residents soon.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [04] Archimandrite seeks to cover Paphos Bishop in spiralling Church crisis

    By Martin Hellicar

    LIMASSOL archimandrite Andreas Constantinides yesterday set himself up as the fall guy should a police probe uncover evidence of a conspiracy to defame Bishop Athanassios of Limassol.

    Constantinides and Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos have spearheaded a months- long campaign to get Athanassios ousted for alleged homosexual activity.

    Yesterday, the archimandrite sought to deflect attention from Chrysostomos' role in the anti-Athanassios campaign. Constantinides insisted he was the “main mover” behind the accusations against Athanassios - accusations that the Limassol Bishop flatly denies.

    Constantinides' surprising statement came a day after Archbishop Chrysostomos publicly stated his namesake the Paphos Bishop was guilty of conspiring against Athanassios and could be defrocked.

    The Archbishop's attack on Chrysostomos of Paphos came a few hours after Attorney-general Alecos Markides announced a state probe into allegations that Athanassios was the victim of a defamation campaign.

    During a news conference he called in Limassol yesterday, Constantinides focused on the Church primate's attack.

    “The Paphos Bishop is not behind this story. If the Archbishop had accused me or said I was behind it I would accept it, because indeed almost all efforts (against Athanassios) have been made by me,” the Archimandrite said.

    Constantinides is currently suspended pending the completion of a Holy Synod probe into claims that he has had two illegitimate children with a woman working in his Limassol shop.

    Constantinides and the Paphos Bishop succeeded in getting the Synod to set up a committee to investigate Athansios's alleged homosexuality. The investigation resulted in a Synod committee of inquiry being tasked to question Athansios over the gay accusations.

    The police probe was launched after a man who testified before the original Synod investigating committee publicly stated he had been bribed by Constantinides and Chrysostomos of Paphos to witness against Athanassios.

    Constantinides yesterday again denied that the witness had been bribed.

    Athanassios' supporters claim there is a plot to “get rid” of their favourite.

    Church observers suggest Chrysostomos of Paphos is keen to see the back of Athanassios, because the Limassol Bishop has usurped him as the Archbishop's favourite.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [05] Irish tourists held after drug haul

    By Staff Reporter

    FOUR Irish youths suspected of pushing drugs were yesterday remanded in custody by the Famagusta District.

    In Nicosia meanwhile, a young Iranian man arrested on Wednesday after he allegedly tried to sell opium and hashish to two plain-clothes policemen was also remanded in police custody.

    The Famagusta court, which convenes in Larnaca, heard that police had found 180 grams of cannabis, 8 grams of cocaine and 55 ecstasy tablets in the Paralimni apartment the four Irish holidaymakers were staying in.

    Case investigator Dimitris Costa said the quantity of narcotics found in the possession of the four youths - aged between 18 and 25 - made police believe they had come to Cyprus to sell drugs.

    The suspects, who were arrested on Wednesday, were remanded for eight days.

    At the Nicosia District Court, a man who allegedly tried to sell half a kilo of opium and a similar quantity of hashish to under-cover drug squad officers in the capitol was remanded for eight days. Police told the court they were looking for three other persons believed to be the Iranian suspect's accomplices.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [06] Turkish Cypriot donates bone marrow to Nicosia girl

    By Martin Hellicar

    A 27-YEAR-OLD Turkish Cypriot man in the north has bridged the divide to give a seven-year-old Greek Cypriot girl suffering from leukaemia a life- saving bone marrow donation, Health Minister Frixos Savvides revealed yesterday.

    Little Andrea Grigoriou from Nicosia received the transplant at the M.D. Anderson hospital in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday.

    The unnamed donor was discovered thanks to last year’s massive across-the- divide response to a search for bone marrow donors for six-year-old Greek Cypriot Andreas Vassiliou and 13-year-old Turkish Cypriot Kemal Saracoglu, both leukaemia patients.

    Savvides yesterday paid tribute to the 27-year-old donor’s great determination, which, the minister said, had proved crucial in overcoming the logistical problems created by the island’s division to get the vital bone marrow to Andrea.

    “The donor’s response was moving, it was his great, great desire to give the transplant that allowed it to happen,” the Minister told the Cyprus Mail.

    The compatible donor was discovered in June, his blood sample having been picked out from the 50,000 donated by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots for Andreas and Kemal. But getting the vital bone marrow to Andrea was no simple matter.

    “Our great achievement was to keep things out of the public eye since publicity could have affected things as it was a sensitive matter. He was a Turkish Cypriot so we did not have direct access,” Savvides said. The transplant was only publicised yesterday.

    “There had to be very serious efforts behind the scenes,” Savvides said. “In the end, the donor went to the bone marrow donors’ bank in Istanbul where they took the transplant and it went from there to Houston,” Savvides said.

    The minister said the transplant had come just in time.

    “Andrea has had leukaemia for two years.She was in the last stages, in a very critical condition, this is her hope for life,” Savvides said.

    “The first 20 days are critical, but the fact that the donor is fully compatible, up to the very last detail, gives her a good chance,” he added. Andrea will remain in Texas for the next few weeks at least.

    No compatible donor was ever found for Andreas Vassiliou but he is doing well after a recent operation to halt the spread of the leukaemia. Kemal’s story had a tragic ending, a suitable donor being found too late. The 13- year-old died last month.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [07] Award for fire hero

    By Athena Karsera

    FIREMEN will from Monday be paying visits to schools, homes, offices and factories during the annual Fire Prevention Week.

    Running from October 9 to 14, the week will also involve Fire Brigade officials handing out fliers in the street and from special kiosks and open days at fire stations for children to learn about how the Service operates.

    During a news conference publicising the week yesterday, plaques were awarded to outside services and individuals who had helped put out blazes, and in one case single-headedly rescued another civilian.

    Recipients of the awards were Limassol's 'Kourion' Rotary Club for raising money for the Fire Service to purchase special equipment to locate people trapped in earthquake ruins, the Police's Air Division for their help in putting out countryside fires, the Royal Air Force for their assistance on putting out fires, and Emilios Michaelides, the man who rushed into a burning shop to rescue a woman on December 31, 1999.

    Officially opening the week's events, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said: “The catastrophic consequences of fire are known to all of us, as are the many causes, human errors and neglect that can cause it. Human lives are lost and entire properties become victims to the fire's rage in a short time and the exertions of an entire lifetime become formless masses of ash.”

    Fire Service Chief George Hadjigeorgiou said the campaign aimed to “pass over the message that it is the human factor that causes most fires in the areas where man travels, is active, works and is entertained, whether this is called a home, office, leisure area or factory. The number of fires and their destructive consequences can only be reduced with the implementation of the necessary fire prevention measures.”

    Hadjigeorgiou said there were 602 people in the Fire Service, made up of 42 officers, 493 non-commissioned officers and 493 fire-fighters, including four women. This number is boosted by 104 volunteer firemen at 14 countryside fire stations all over Cyprus.

    “The Service's fleet is made up of 80 fire trucks, five hydraulic platforms for rescues and putting out fires in high buildings, 102 pumps, 50 secondary vehicles and five ambulances,” he said.

    Hadjigeorgiou said the Fire Service had been called out about 10,000 times during 1999, of which 5,150 were to put out fires and the remainder to provide specialised services such as helping at traffic accidents, rescuing people trapped in lifts, transporting the injured and helping during floods.

    “Damage caused by fires amounted to £12,697,000. It should be noted that because of the interventions and effective extinguishing of the fires, the property saved would amount to ten times as much.”

    Police chief Andreas Angellides noted that the Cyprus Fire Service had also sent 18 fire-fighters to Greece to help combat the summer's forest fires and said that the police would always be willing to help the Service wherever it was needed.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [08] Minister suspends two over amphetamines scandal

    By Athena Karsera

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday two pharmaceutical services officials had been suspended pending investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of amphetamines from Nicosia general hospital.

    The two officials were named as senior pharmacist Maria Mina and pharmacist Maria Neocleos.

    House Health Committee president and Disy deputy Andreas Parisinos said yesterday he was convinced of Savvides' determination to put an end to the Health Service's problems, and to solve the case of the missing amphetamines.

    “We were unimaginably saddened by the event but it proves that the pharmaceutical services sector needs an in-depth reorganisation. I hope that visible action will be taken soon.”

    Parisinos said that once vacant positions in the Pharmaceutical Services were filled, the system was computerised and new legislation put forward by the Health Ministry implemented, great improvements would be made.

    “The Minister's decisiveness has encouraged us to believe steps will be taken soon,” he said.

    The Committee president said prevention was preferable to having to solve problems.

    “I cannot believe that there are not 10 capable and honest people that can do the job properly,” he said.

    Police are investigating the tablets' disappearance, as well as the stockpiling of expired medicines in hospital stores. Both problems were revealed during routine checks last week.

    New drug-monitoring systems have been rushed through as part of the investigations in an attempt to discover what went wrong with the old system.

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

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [09] Dairies feel the squeeze as EU looms

    By Jennie Matthew

    STRICT European Union standards on milk are squeezing profit margins as dairy owners shelve out millions to meet new criteria, while smaller firms fear the cost will drive them out of the market.

    Managers are calling for government subsidies to bail them out, given the state's commitment to full EU membership by 2003.

    But one diary owner yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that a Wednesday meeting with the Agriculture Minister, Costas Themistocleous, had been inconclusive.

    “The government yesterday promised to help, but I don't know whether they will,” said

    Lefteris Panayi, manager of the Panayi Bros dairy.

    The new rules have disqualified 22 of the 30 companies previously approved for export. Unless the 22 firms spend the money needed to meet export standards, they face profit cuts as their market shrinks or at best stagnates.

    “The Cyprus market is saturated and anyone trying to survive will want to expand and to export,” Antonis Ioannou, director of the food technology consultancy firm, Foodtec, told the Cyprus Mail.

    In addition, the common market will boost dairy imports from Europe once Cyprus joins the EU. Companies who don't conform face the added onslaught of competing with lower priced and higher quality products from Europe.

    Christis Dairy Ltd accounts for 55 per cent of the Cyprus export market, shipping feta, halloumi and UHT milk to the UK, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as to the US and Arab countries.

    In two years, the company has invested £5 million to conform to all the Brussels guidelines. But with a 1999 turnover of £17million and an expected turnover of £20 million for 2000, that's money the firm can afford.

    Managing director Panicos Hadjicostas admitted smaller companies were facing a tough job to catch up.

    Panayi Bros employs just six employees with a turnover of around £250,000.

    Manager Lefteris Panayi is desperate to expand his market and win an export licence, but the initial outlay could prove too much.

    “Our building is not good enough for the Common Market and it'll cost over £200,000 to improve it,” he said.

    The five-man Daphne's Dairy is also on the verge of expansion. They plan to double their staff and build a new factory in the next two years.

    Dairies currently have an exemplary record in Cypriot industry.

    “The Cyprus dairy industry is very well developed compared to other European countries and compared to Greece we are well ahead by far. Raw milk products are very well organised and it is one of the most developed industries in Cyprus,” Hadjicostas underlined.

    According to tests carried out by his company on the milk they receive, 70 per cent of the milk already fulfils the EU requirements.

    “It is not difficult to improve. The farmers are very well educated and professional in Cyprus. We don't need major improvements, it is more a matter of education,” he said.

    But the issue of government grants is likely to prove sticky.

    Athos Pittas, managing director of Pittas Dairy Industries, is still hoping for a government grant over a year after a fire obliterated his factory in Latsia.

    Other candidate countries have issued industry grants to help with the harmonisation process.

    Cyprus also has considerable freedom in distributing its EU money as it sees fit. On September 14, chief Cyprus EU negotiator George Vassiliou announced that Cyprus was to manage its own funds, as part of a new experiment for candidate countries, shared with Malta.

    Dairies are expecting an EU inspection team in December, but the European Commission delegation in Nicosia told the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday that the government had not presented a paper on the milk issue.

    A spokesman emphasised that fulfilment of EU legislation was not obligatory until the island achieved full membership status.

    Friday, October 06, 2000

    [10] Market kept low by uneasy investors

    By Jean Christou

    THE ALL-SHARE index attempted to claw its way upwards yesterday but nervous investors sat on the fence neither buying nor selling as the current slump continued to bite.

    Trading closed at 356.9 points, a mere 0.75 per cent up on Wednesday’s finish of 354.25 as volume hit its lowest point in weeks to stand at only £14.77 million.

    A steady climb mid session to around 359 points prompted the more jittery investors to cash in causing the index to plunge dramatically to well below 356 points slashing all earlier gains.

    Only a last-minute surge of interest brought the index back slightly from further disaster but even this was not sufficient to be considered a significant gain.

    “The index has been up for two consecutive days but volume is low which shows there is not a lot of interest,” said one Nicosia broker. “But at the same time it shows there is not a lot of panic and not a lot of share dumping which is a good sign.”

    The majority of sectors gained slightly. Only insurance, manufacturing, tourism and financial services companies ended close to one per cent in the red.

    Banking came out on top to save the day’s trading with an increase of 1.06 per cent. Bank of Cyprus (BoC) edged up seven cents to close at £6.60 while Laiki gained ten cents to end at £9.34 amid the last minute surge.

    “I believe a lot of investors are sitting it out until the BoC listing in Athens on October 17,” the broker said. “GlobalSoft is also doing well.”

    GlobalSoft stock continued its long-running winning streak yesterday, gaining three cents to close at £6.13 on a volume of £4.2 million with close to 700,000 shares changing hands.

    Other IT companies also gained slightly yesterday with the sector gaining and overall 0.41 per cent.

    Avacom Computer Services added one cent to close at 40 cents, while Spidernet rose 2.5 cents end at 89 cents. Logicom jumped 14 cents to close at £4.82 with more than 38,000 shares changing hands.

    “The market is still trying to find its feet but we have a few new flotations coming up like Lanitis,” the broker said.

    Lanitis Bros announced yesterday that its recent initial public offering of four million shares was over-subscribed 104 times with the company receiving applications for subscriptions amounting to £206.9 million. The company expects to begin trading on October 16th.

    “We’re dealing with a very nervous market,” the broker said. “There’s not much cash about and things do not appear to be getting any better.”

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