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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-01

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] SBA and police haggle over illegals in Achna
  • [02] Greek man on spying charge
  • [03] CY submits application for Olympic
  • [04] Turkish Cypriot teachers union office raided
  • [05] Deputy police chief fired over radar tender fiasco
  • [06] Clerides briefing party leaders on natural gas reserves
  • [07] EU seal for eight halloumi factories
  • [08] Cyprus team to travel to Indian quake zone
  • [09] Man accused of trying to swindle former employer
  • [10] Size matters in bitter airline war
  • [11] Banks to open suspect accounts to war crimes prosecutors
  • [12] Youths remanded over soccer violence

  • [01] SBA and police haggle over illegals in Achna

    By Athena Karsera THE police and the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) authorities will today discuss the fate of 15 illegal immigrants found hiding in a dry reservoir bed at Achna within the British Bases.

    The Foreign Ministry and British High Commission continued negotiations late into the night over who should deal with the immigrants and how they had reached Achna. The illegals were eventually given shelter for the night by the Bases pending a final decision.

    Speaking after the initial discussion, High Commission spokesman Jonathan Allan said, "We are taking them in for the night and we have asked the SBA Police and the Cyprus Police to get together tomorrow and produce a full report on who these people are and where they have come from so as to determine what the next step should be."

    The illegals, believed to be of Iraqi origin, said they had arrived on Monday but had not realised they were in Cyprus. They said they had each paid 1,000 for the journey and were seeking political asylum in Europe.

    If it is determined that the immigrants landed on Cypriot and not SBA territory, the government would have to handle claims for political asylum.

    Police chanced upon the immigrants only when they arrested two Iraqis who arrived on the same boat and were spotted wondering around Xylotembou, a village near the Achna reservoir in Famagusta district.

    Famagusta police said the two men had been taken to police holding cells and are expected to be remanded on suspicion of entering Cyprus illegally sometime today.

    Captain Rupert Greenwood of the British Bases said: "The High Commissioner is speaking to the Foreign Ministry to ascertain where they (the illegals) landed. If it is established that they landed in the Republic of Cyprus, then it is hoped that Cyprus police will take the jurisdiction.if they landed on Dhekelia beach on the southern Bases area, then of course we will deal with the matter."

    Captain Greenwood added that SBA laws were very similar to Cyprus laws on illegal immigrants.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Greek man on spying charge

    By George Psyllides THE CASE of a Greek man accused of spying against the Republic was yesterday referred to the Nicosia Criminal court, which will convene on February 20.

    Soteris Katsikas, currently serving a one-year jail term for credit card fraud, appeared in court without a lawyer yesterday, claiming he was only a "pawn".

    Katsikas requested that a lawyer be appointed by the state, since he had no income, and no one from his family was on the island.

    The court appointed a lawyer and heard that the suspect was charged with six counts of spying, inciting another person to spy, and giving out classified information important for the island's security.

    The offences were allegedly committed in August 1999, while Katsikas was serving as a non-commissioned officer with the National Guard.

    But the case had not emerged until he was arrested and convicted on credit card fraud, on July 13, 2000.

    According to reports, the suspect allegedly confided to another convict that he had spied for the Turks, conveying information to them through his mobile phone.

    Authorities monitored his phone while he was in prison and allegedly found he had been talking to Turkish agents in the north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] CY submits application for Olympic

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday submitted an application to head a consortium of investors tendering for the privatisation of Greek national carrier Olympic Airways.

    The decision was first announced in mid-December last year.

    The Cyprus Airways consortium, made up of unknown Cypriot, Greek and foreign companies, may be invited to submit a binding proposal made up of what would basically be a business plan for the next five or ten years for the section of Olympic Airways they are interested in. This would have to be submitted by the end of March.

    CY chairman Charis Loizides has said that CY, depending on the asking price, would be interested in 10 to 30 per cent of the OA sections it was interested in.

    Olympic Airways, which has only once made a profit in the past two decades, is saddled with debts of more than Dr40 billion (approximately 66.7 million) and is expected to lose at least half of that amount again this year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Turkish Cypriot teachers union office raided

    By Athena Karsera A Turkish Cypriot teachers union yesterday said that the occupation regime's secret police had raided its head office and confiscated all its equipment after the union issued press releases critical of mainland Turkish policies towards the occupied areas.

    In an announcement printed in Turkish Cypriot papers Yeniduzen and Avrupa and seen by the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Cyprus Turkish Teacher Trade Union (KTOS) secretary general Varol Oztug said, "We need urgent international support. Yesterday we gave press releases which included negative statements about Turkish policies towards North Cyprus to the local papers.

    "Today (Turkish Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash and the other fascist political groups threatened us. Secret police came to the KTOS head offices and took all our office equipment. This is a good indication that there is no democracy in North Cyprus.Our lives are in danger."

    Oztug said that measures imposed on the occupied areas by mainland Turkey had led to a reduction in their rights and those of many workers. 'The 'Economy Package' imposed by the leaders of the Republic of Turkey and about to be implemented by their domestic collaborators aims to exterminate Turkish Cypriots economically, socially, politically and culturally," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Deputy police chief fired over radar tender fiasco

    By Athena Karsera PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday fired deputy police chief Nicos Serdaris for his part in a delayed radar tender process.

    The radars would have provided special coastal surveillance facilities in the fight against illegal immigration. The delays caused the tender process to collapse, at a time last year when several boatloads of immigrants slipped through coastguard patrols.

    Announcing the decision following a lengthy enquiry and after consultation with Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Clerides said:

    "I have concluded that there is a collective responsibility in the unacceptable delay for the evaluation of tenders by the technical evaluation committee.

    "Deputy Chief of Police Serdaris' responsibility has to do with the period from March 24 2000 up until the tenders' expiry date. As to whether the entire delay of the tender process, which began in 1990, was also caused by other individuals, this is something that is being investigated and which will be determined in the Attorney-general's report to the Cabinet."

    Clerides added: "It is obvious that there was collective responsibility which was not limited to one person. The decision on Serdaris is based solely on the fact that he did not tell the truth to a commission of enquiry."

    He said the one-man commission of inquiry into the matter had found Serdaris' testimony to be "untruthful on substantive points and a testimony of evasion. He tried to cover up for himself."

    Clerides said the probe led by former Supreme Court president Demetrakis Stylianides was in a better position to assess a witness' credibility than any other body.

    "Taking into account the assessment of Serdaris' testimony and because his testimony was considered not truthful. I decided that he could no longer remain in the post of the Deputy Chief of Police, and I am therefore terminating his services."

    Serdaris' dismissal is effective immediately. Clerides said a replacement would be appointed shortly, once he had consulted with the Minister of Justice and Public Order and the Chief of Police.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Clerides briefing party leaders on natural gas reserves

    By a Staff Reporter PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday kicked off a circle of briefings with party leaders to inform them about natural gas reserves discovered in the southeastern Mediterranean, some of which may lie in Cyprus territorial waters.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis last week conceded the government had known about the matter over a year ago, saying he regretted the information had been leaked to the press.

    The government is maintaining strict secrecy about the issue, but has confirmed that Rolandis met with officials in Egypt to discuss the matter.

    The deposits have been discovered in the sea region between Egypt and Cyprus,

    After meeting with Clerides yesterday, DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades said: "It would not be wise to say much about the matter as developments are on the way and the government is looking into it."

    United Democrats President George Vassiliou, who was also briefed by Clerides, said: "I think the less we talk about this, the better. It is too soon to report anything, as nothing is final yet. The more we discuss this, the more confused we will get. When I was President, almost 10 years ago, we received information about gas reserves off Cyprus' shores. But we were not sure where exactly and whether they would be worth exploiting. It all has to do with the amount of the reserves you know. I am not sure that even now we are in the position to answer these questions."

    The President is expected to meet with KISOS, DIKO and AKEL leaders soon to discuss the situation.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was yesterday quoted as saying the Turkish Cypriots had an equal right to benefit from any deposits found off Cyprus, and that everything would be done to protect this right.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] EU seal for eight halloumi factories

    By a Staff Reporter EIGHT halloumi factories have been approved by the European Union and certified to export to the EU, two years ahead of the 2003 deadline date for harmonisation.

    That means the 2,600 tonnes of exported halloumi from Cyprus meets EU standards.

    Experts from the Food and Veterinary Office, based in Dublin, visited Cyprus in December to tour the 150 island's halloumi-producing factories.

    Just eight were given the coveted official approval - in the first-ever official EU inspection.

    It is considered a bonus for establishments in candidate countries to meet EU regulations - an obligation only for full member states.

    The EU's food office is commissioned to check outfits in all member and candidate EU states.

    The 142 who failed to come up to scratch will not be penalised until Cyprus becomes a full member of the EU.

    "They don't export anyway. Eventually, they will have to comply," said the senior officer at the Veterinary Department, Andreas Orphanides.

    Public money is likely to be made available to help smaller industries meet the grade. No facility for providing that money has yet been set up.

    Europe, however, is a smaller halloumi market than the Middle East, where halloumi heavyweights, Pittas Dairy Industries, say most of their produce goes.

    Two Pittas factories are among the eight approved.

    The Veterinary Department is currently issuing export certificates to the eight factories.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Cyprus team to travel to Indian quake zone

    By a Staff Reporter A DOCTORS of the World Cyprus team is to fly to India on Sunday to help with the humanitarian disaster resulting from last Friday's devastating earthquake.

    The quake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, hit the western state of Gujarat. The Red Cross says more than 50,000 people are feared dead in the rubble.

    Dr. Eleni Theocharous, the leader of NGOs Cyprus branch and a child surgeon at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail: "Myself and two other experienced surgeons -- I can't say who yet -- plus two nurses are planning to fly to India to operate on people who have been injured. We have not raised adequate money for the trip yet, but we believe we will have the amount we need in a couple of days."

    The team is raising money through donations.

    "We will be performing operations on a 24-hour basis for at least 10 days. It is quite exhausting but definitely worth it. I cannot begin to tell you what it means to save a life," said Theocharous, who has led several such missions in the past.

    The surgeon admitted there were risks in providing services at the scene of the devastating earthquake.

    "There is always a chance of getting an infection or a disease from the large number of dead bodies in the area, particularly the ones buried under the rubble. Aftershocks are a possible threat too. But as I said, it is worth taking the risk. We would have to write a book to describe the experiences we go through in lifesaving operations," she added.

    People can contribute to the team's fund at the following bank accounts: Bank of Cyprus 00114-010-16785 and Popular Bank 015-21-008-116.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Man accused of trying to swindle former employer

    By a Staff Reporter A 32-YEAR-old Lebanese man was yesterday remanded in custody for six days, suspected of attempting to swindle $69,000 and circulating a forged document.

    Antonio Ibrahim was arrested yesterday outside his house, minutes before leaving for Larnaca airport.

    When confronted by police officers, Ibrahim allegedly said: "I don't know what you're talking about."

    But, according to the police investigator, Ibrahim, who arrived on the island last in November, met compatriot Antoine Srour, who is a permanent resident of Cyprus.

    Srour, the owner of an offshore company, agreed to employ the suspect on a trial basis in the marketing department of his business.

    Four days later, on January 19, Srour sacked Ibrahim, telling him he was not suitable for the job.

    But two days ago, the suspect allegedly sent a fax to the bank where Srour kept his company's account, ordering the transfer of $69,000 into his own account, which he had opened with the same branch.

    The order carried a security code necessary for such transactions.

    But the code changes daily, and the employee who checked it found it did not match the current one.

    The employee called to confirm the transaction, but an astonished Srour informed him he had not issued such an order.

    Srour notified the police, who moved quickly and arrested Ibrahim.

    A subsequent search of the suspect's luggage and flat allegedly found, among others, a fax machine, two company stamps, and a prototype of the forged document.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Size matters in bitter airline war

    By Jennie Matthew NIT-PICKING and hair splitting were the order of the day yesterday as representatives of Airbus and Boeing made a last media fling in the bid to refurbish the Cyprus Airways fleet in a contract worth as much as 400 million.

    Airbus press and information representative for Greece and Cyprus Costas Rapis yesterday accused Boeing of spreading inaccurate information about their own prowess and Airbus' alleged shortcomings.

    He is in Cyprus to set the record straight with the media, with the decision on the new fleet expected from the CY board any day.

    Boeing executive Steve Aliment, on the other hand, is in town to promote "Connections by Boeing" - a new technology, which provides every passenger with Internet and interactive satellite links for the duration of the flight, available in Europe from summer 2002.

    Rapis yesterday refuted Boeing claims that the 737 cabin was wider than that of its Airbus rival. "It's simply not true. We are definitely 18cm wider."

    While he concedes that the Boeing can climb to a higher altitude faster (a ceiling height of 41,000 feet opposed to 39,400 for Airbus), he says, "the difference is ridiculous. It doesn't make any operational sense."

    Boeing says the extra 1,600 feet means the plane burns less fuel, makes for a smoother flight and keeps the plane above mainstream traffic.

    "If you can't do it, then of course you don't think it's important," retorted Aliment.

    Other bones of contention are passenger numbers: Boeing claims to hold 12 more, whereas Airbus swears that should only be 6-9. Boeing says their planes are longer and so allow for the extra seats should the airline want them.

    Then there's the size of the hold: The Boeing 737 is 15 per cent larger, but according to Airbus, "that's volume. What is important is useable space".

    Rapis uses a common comparison - you can't put the fridge in front of the door.

    Airbus claims it has the lead in container transportation: weather-proof, theft-proof and electronic to reduce the danger of human injury or entrapment.

    The A320 is "an aircraft of our times and future," designed from scratch, says Rapis, whereas the 737 is just a revamp of the original 1965 model.

    "Boeing aircraft do not have anything close to modern technology," says Airbus. But Boeing claims to be the pioneer of the "next generation airplane".

    Airbus claims Boeing flights are mainly mechanical with computer back-up, whereas its planes are all state-of-the-art electronic fly-by-wire. Boeing says all planes have mechanical back-ups and that not putting fly-by-wire technology into 737s saves maintenance costs.

    So what do the companies think of each other?

    "Boeing are very good competitors," says Airbus rep Rapis. "We respect their profits, their selling effort. We believe they have a number of very good points. Precisely for that reason that we are surprised that they come up with these little things that mean nothing." "I think Airbus is a company that has come a long way in a short time. We compete with them every time for every order," said Boeing's Aliment.

    And the bitter rivalry? For Rapis, aggression is part of the never-ending business game, endemic in deals all over the world, and to be enjoyed.

    "We are at each other's throats all the time. I believe that they make absolutely excellent aircraft. Ours are just better."

    Aliment denied that the rivalry was petty, despite its almost obsessive attention to detail.

    "This is a very tough campaign. I mean we're the underdog. Airbus have always had a monopoly on Cyprus Airways," he said.

    CY said yesterday that a decision could take another two weeks, but that they were in constant contact with Boeing and Airbus.

    "A loss is a loss. But we don't exactly expect to lose this one. We believe that we have made a very good case, both on the technical side and the financial side," said Rapis.

    "You never want to be over-confident and I've learnt never to underestimate your competitor. We need to focus on what Cyprus Airways really needs and what we can offer them," said Aliment.

    As to the political twist in favour of European players Airbus, both dismissed its importance. "We don't do politics," said Airbus. "I really believe that when focusing on your customer, you give them best value, you don't need to play political games," said Boeing.

    Of course Airbus says it never gives out "a single piece of information that cannot be verified".

    "We have never knowingly beautified our side or demeaned the competition," said Rapis.

    "We think we've got a great product," finished Boeing. Aliment has been working on the CY deal for two and a half years. It's not one on which he's going to give up easily. Only time will tell.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Banks to open suspect accounts to war crimes prosecutors

    By Jean Christou THE ATTORNEY-general has given the go ahead for the Central Bank to hand over the accounts of seven Yugoslav offshore companies to the Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

    Following reports in yesterday's Phileleftheros, sources at the Central Bank said the green light had been given to pass on the details to Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte.

    Last October, the Cabinet froze the accounts of 12 companies operating in Cyprus suspected of links with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    The sources said that the individual banks would either make the information available to The Hague directly, or someone would come from abroad to collect the files. The issue had to pass through the Attorney- general's office due to the island's banking secrecy laws.

    The development does not indicate any guilt on the part of the companies involved, just the government's willingness to comply with Del Ponte's request, the sources said.

    Del Ponte paid a brief visit to the island at the beginning of October as part of a tour of countries in the region to gather information about 38 suspected associates of Milosevic.

    When she visited the island requesting the information, the government immediately complied by freezing the accounts.

    Rumours have abounded for years that Milosevic channelled $100 million in funds through various countries, including Cyprus, but the government and Central Bank have consistently denied that the island was involved.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [12] Youths remanded over soccer violence

    By George Psyllides TWO teenage brothers were yesterday remanded in custody for five days in connection with the beating of a youth after the end of a Nicosia football match on Sunday.

    Ten police officers were also slightly injured in the violence, while damage to the stadium is estimated at 20,000.

    The court heard that the brothers, a 17-year-old schoolboy and a soldier aged 19, allegedly beat up Olympiakos youth team goalkeeper Demetris Stylianou, causing him grievous bodily harm.

    The alleged attack took place during an outburst of hooliganism at the end of Sunday's derby game between Nicosia teams Omonia and Olympiakos.

    Police told the court that Stylianou, who is still recovering in hospital, was beaten by a pack of 15 Omonia fans, who stormed the south stand of the GSP stadium occupied by Olympiakos supporters.

    At the same time, other Omonia supporters hurled coins, plastic bottles, and other objects onto the pitch as the referee tried to get out of the ground. The referee eventually needed the protection of police riot shields to leave the pitch.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of Omonia supporters trashed the stadium's main entrance, reducing it to rubble. Police charged the fans in an effort to push them back. Ten officers were injured and a patrol car was severely damaged.

    Three fans were questioned and released on Sunday in connection with the trouble.

    But police said in court yesterday that the case under investigation concerned the beating, which was much more serious, insisting that if the suspects were released, they could interfere with police efforts in arresting all those responsible for the attack.

    The defence objected to the request, arguing its clients had already admitted to taking part in Stylianou's beating.

    The two suspects had agreed to post any bail, give up their travel documents and present themselves to a police station whenever requested.

    But the police investigator insisted that, despite the youths' confession, the investigation had not yet been completed.

    "Should the suspects be freed, they could influence other individuals involved in the fray," he said.

    The defence retorted that the police just wanted to use the suspects as witnesses to other offences, thereby violating their personal and constitutional freedom, since they had already told the truth about the incident, which effectively meant the case was solved.

    The judge, while acknowledging the defence's argument that the case against the two brothers had been resolved, agreed with the state that if they were released they could influence other witnesses.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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