|Friday, 1 March 2024
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-02
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
 'Pin-up' soldier AWOL, UNFICYP confirmsBy Jean Christou
UNFICYP yesterday confirmed that a married 'pin-up' British female soldier had gone absent without leave (AWOL) at the same time as a sergeant serving on the island.
The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Lance Bombardier Heidi Cochrane, 24, serving with the Royal Artillery had gone missing from Cyprus last July, and had not contacted friends or family since.
Cochrane had in the past been chosen by Britain's Ministry of Defence as a model example for women in the army, and had been shown in photographs wearing full battledress. The photographs had been distributed by the Ministry in army publicity material highlighting the value of women in the army.
Attempts to locate Cochrane and the sergeant, who has not been identified, have so far failed, and her parents have made a public appeal for her to return home. She is not answering her mobile phone, The Telegraph said, although it added that Cochrane had sent text messages to her friends from Sri Lanka, telling the army: "Come and get me if you can be bothered".
Cochrane joined the army straight from school. She disappeared on her birthday shortly after her promotion from private. A soldier who served with her before she was posted to Cyprus, said: "Basically she did a runner with the sergeant." Another said: "She ran off with the sergeant, leaving her husband behind."
An army spokesman told the British paper they were looking into the circumstances of her disappearance. Going AWOL is considered a serious offence in the army and can carry punishment ranging from disciplinary measures to military incarceration.
UNFICYP spokesman Charles Gaulkin said Cochrane disappeared shortly after her unit arrived in Cyprus. He said he was unable to track down information on the sergeant since he had not been identified. The unit in which she served rotated in December, he said. He added that the issue was one for the British army.
Cochrane's unit was part of the 300-strong British UN contingent monitoring the Nicosia Green Line.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 New marriage law could be before Parliament within a fortnightBy Jennie Matthew
LEGISLATION allowing Turkish Cypriots to marry and divorce in the free areas are being drawn up by the Attorney-general's office and could be tabled before Parliament within a fortnight.
The few Turkish Cypriots still living in the free areas are in a legal limbo in respect to civil law. Without any provision for civil marriage, the 1960 Constitution gave authority over religious and education issues to respective communal assemblies -- but that went awry in 1963 when the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the Constitution.
Since then, parliament has avoided any legislation that would have a direct impact on the Turkish Cypriot community. As a result, when parliament voted in 1990 to allow civil marriages, the law only applied to Greek Cypriots.
The bills currently being drawn up would cement marriage legislation into one law, legalising marriage between adults of any religion, ethnic group, nationality or citizenship, be they Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, or anything else.
Civil family courts will be granted the jurisdiction to allow divorce to Turkish Cypriots as well as Greek Cypriots.
"I welcome these three bills. It's very optimistic and very good. I expect them to be in Parliament in two weeks' time. Little by little, Turkish Cypriots living in the free areas will no longer be second class citizens," United Democrats deputy George Christofides told the Cyprus Mail.
Several hundred Turkish Cypriots live in the free areas.
Christofides, who is President of the Human Rights Committee, last week spearheaded a drive to amend the law before a Turkish Cypriot takes the government to the European Court of Human Rights for not allowing him to marry his Romanian wife in this country.
The man is currently awaiting a date for the Strasbourg hearing.
A representative from the Attorney-general's office yesterday told the Mail that the legislation had been under review for four months, and that it would be dispatched to the Ministry of Interior for approval in 10 days' time.
Christofides added that there was a third bill to ensure that all issues pertaining to marriage and personal relations would not be regulated by the Constitution.
"This law will avoid the need to change the Constitution," said Christofides.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Helicopter debate stalls at the HouseBy George Psyllides THE PROCUREMENT of four Bell helicopters for the National Guard went up in smoke last night after the government, through DISY, failed to muster a majority at the House plenum.
The explosive debate over the acquisition of the helicopters, which has been dragging on for months now, began with a delay of one-and-a-half-hours because of the intense backstage horse-trading, which carried on throughout yesterday morning.
The voting ended in a draw - 26 to 26 - despite desperate behind the scenes efforts from both sides, which continued well into the plenum in public view.
While the debate was raging on, deputies could be seen moving from one party's bench to another, trying to sway the votes for their side.
Two of AKEL's deputies even postpone a trip to Greece to be present for the vote.
The great surprise however came from ruling DISY which asked from its deputy Christos Rotsas to abstain from voting.
Rotsas is Bell's representative in Bulgaria and DISY feared his vote could provide ground for the opposition to accuse the government of unethical practices.
A loss for DISY, which only needed a one vote majority to secure the £22 million for the helicopters' procurement, was also veteran deputy and former party leader Giannakis Matsis who was absent from the vote.
In the end 19 DISY deputies along with four from KISOS, two from the United Democrats, and Nicos Moushiouttas of DIKO who went against his party's orders - voted for the approval of the funds, while 19 from AKEL, six from DIKO, and one from KISOS - its leader Vasos Lyssarides -- voted against.
The debate was kicked off by KISOS deputy and House Defence Committee Chairman Takis Hadjidemetriou who said meddling with the experts' decision by deputies with a limited knowledge on military technical issues was a dangerous action.
AKEL deputy Doros Christodoulides, an ardent enemy of the Bell choice, charged that there was an organised effort to slander his party's deputies, stressing the Bell helicopters did not meet specifications.
DISY'S Antonis Karas said all legal procedures had been followed and wondered if the House had the right to intervene in special and technical issues.
After the vote, Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos, who was clearly irate, refused to comment saying: "Never in the heat of the moment."
But government sources warned this could have wider repercussions for the island's armament effort.
Failure to honour the tender procedure would make Cyprus unreliable to arms manufacturers, and already the United States has warned that this would create huge problems in future arms procurement agreements.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Granny in blood appeal for knee opBy Athena Karsera AN 80-YEAR-OLD British granny who served in the Second World War and lived through the Turkish invasion has had to have a knee- replacement operation postponed after doctors' realised there were no stores of her rare blood type.
Freda Worsnop, 80, had been due to have the operation on Wednesday when the Paphos hospital surgeon due to carry out the procedure noticed that she had a very rare O negative (O-) blood type.
"I was checking myself in when I was told the doctor wanted to see me. He said the operation would have to be postponed," Worsnop, who was a rigger in the Second World War, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
She said that she had never needed blood before and had so far gone through life not realising just how rare her blood type was: "I have donated blood but they never said their was anything unusual about it."
Worsnop's son and two grown-up granddaughters all live in the UK.
Two of the necessary four individuals needed to build up the required store for Worsnop's surgery to take place have already come forward. Another two are needed to give blood during the first two weeks of March, so that a large enough fresh store is available.
"One, a woman in her fifties, was on a walking tour when the guide, who had heard about my case, asked for volunteers while they were all standing on a mountain top, and she came forward," Worsnop said, adding that she had just heard about the second donor yesterday morning.
Worsnop was living in Kyrenia when the invasion began and was forced to leave almost all her possessions behind to flee the fighting. She has since settled happily in Chlorakas, Paphos.
Helping in the campaign to find more O- donors is Worsnop's family friend Susan Reynolds, who told the paper that raising awareness of the problem would prompt more donors to come forward.
Anyone with O- blood who is interested in donating blood for Worsnop is invited to contact the Cyprus Mail who will then pass details onto Worsnop or Reynolds for arrangements to be made.
If two different blood types are mixed together, the blood cells may begin to clump together in the blood vessels, causing a potentially fatal situation. Therefore, it is important that blood types be matched before blood transfusions take place. In an emergency, type O blood can be given because it most likely to be accepted by all blood types. However, there is still a risk involved.
Paphos hospital yesterday said that in the case of an O- individual being involved in an emergency, the more common O+ would be used until a more suitable donor was found if the need arose.
A person with type A blood can donate blood to a person with type A or type AB. A person with type B blood can donate blood to a person with type B or type AB. A person with type AB can give blood to a person with type AB only. A person with type O blood can donate to anyone.
A person with type A blood can receive blood from a person with type A or type O. A person with type B blood can receive blood from a person with type B or type O. A person with type AB blood can receive blood from anyone. A person with type O blood can receive blood from a person with type O only.
Because of these patterns, anyone with type O blood is said to be a universal donor. A person with type AB blood is said to be a universal receiver. In general, however, it is still best to mix blood of matching types and Rh factor, either positive or negative.
This Rh factor is connected to your blood type. For example, your blood may be AB+, which means that you have type AB blood with a positive Rh factor. Or you might have O- blood, which means that you have type O blood with a negative Rh factor.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Doctors brace for surge in flu casesBy Athena Karsera
HOSPITALS across the island are braced for the usual surge in winter flu cases.
Doctors said yesterday the number of children coming down with winter illnesses these days was so far normal for the time of year.
Provisions have nevertheless been made for any sudden rise in patient numbers.
Reports had suggested that Nicosia's Makarios hospital, which operates the capital's paediatric clinic, had been ill-equipped to cope with a sudden demand from young outpatients earlier this week, leaving some waiting for up to four hours to see a doctor.
The head paediatrician at the Makarios, Dr Nicos Pavlides, insisted yesterday the reports had been exaggerated.
"We have been having the usual number of cases expected whenever there is a change in the weather. We routinely have one specialist paediatrician and one junior paediatrician at the outpatients department every day. It has to be expected that, when there are more patients than usual, there will be some delay."
He admitted that on Tuesday, 120 children had shown up at the outpatients department compared to the usual 60-80 a day.
"We have since made arrangements for doctors' schedules to be more flexible so that more can come in if necessary," he added.
Limassol general, Larnaca Makarios hospital and Paphos general yesterday said they had not witnessed any particular rise in the number of paediatric or other outpatients.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Deputies question cancer findingsBy Melina Demetriou TEMPERS flared at the House Health Committee yesterday, when deputies questioned government findings that cancer cases in Lakatamia follow normal patterns, and have no connection with asbestos water pipes.
Deputies charged that the number of cancer cases reported in the Ayia Paraskevi area of the Nicosia suburb had increased by more than 300 per cent over the last five years.
Responding to the reports, the Health Ministry examined 52 of the 70 reported cases, looking into incidents from 1982 onwards.
"We have not pinpointed a cause for all these cancers. There were all different kinds of cancer. We also found that there has not been an increase in the number of cancer cases," ministry official Andreas Georgiou insisted before the Committee yesterday.
Health Minister Frixos Savvides came under fire from Doros Theodorou of KISOS and Marios Matsakis of DIKO. They insisted that, out of 50 cancer cases examined since 1983, 31 had emerged in the last five years.
"Asbestos pipes might not be what is causing the disease. But the number of cases is unusually high and there has to be a reason behind this," Theodorou told the Cyprus Mail.
According to Christakis Poumos of Lakatamia Council, seven new cases had emerged in the last four months alone.
The population of Ayia Paraskevi is about 650.
"We are dropping like flies and you tell me there is no increase in cancer cases. You have a responsibility to define the cause of all those cancers," Poumos lashed out at Savvides.
Municipal councillor Toulla Hadjipapa told the minister: "The only way you could convince me that there is nothing to worry about is by comparing these statistics with others showing the frequency of cases in different areas in Cyprus."
Savvides conceded that his ministry was carrying out research to identify the number, the types as well as the frequency of cases in each area to be able to draw conclusions about the causes of the disease on the island.
"An archive will be ready in six months and will enable us to look at the Lakatamia case more carefully," he promised.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 CY competing with five others for Olympic By Jean ChristouCYPRUS Airways (CY) will have to compete with five other bidders for a stake in Greece's national carrier Olympic Airways, reports from Athens said yesterday.
According to the reports, six Greek and foreign investors, including CY, have submitted non-binding offers for a majority stake in the ailing national airline.
Although the Greek government has not officially named the bidders, Greek newspapers yesterday said they included Axon, a small Greek airline, a Japanese bank, an Australian investment fund, America's Chrysler Aviation and Greek shipowner Stamatis Restis.
The non-binding bids were submitted on Tuesday at Credit Suisse First Boston Bank in London.
"Binding offers are expected to be requested by the end of March 2001," a statement from the bank said.
Greece is selling 51-65 per cent of Olympic in order to comply with EU regulations prohibiting state subsidies to national carriers.
The airline has to move its operations to the new Athens International Airport by March.
Although eight parties had initially expressed an interest, only six submitted bids by Tuesday's deadline. The two who pulled out were private domestic airlines Cronus and Aegean, who feared the cost of moving operations to the new airport would further cripple Olympic financially.
CY is considered to be the only openly declared suitor, wanting to lead a group of investors who have not been named but are believed to be Cypriot, Greek and foreign. The consortium will not be bidding for Olympic as a whole, but for parts of it. CY is expected to bid for between 10 and 30 per cent.
Olympic has only once made a profit in the past two decades, is saddled with debts of more than 40 billion drachmas (approximately £66.7 million) and is expected to lose at least half of that amount again this year.
British Airways abandoned plans to purchase a stake in Olympic last June, and, in December, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was allowing Olympic to fly to New York and Boston, but only on condition the airline's capacity and schedules were frequently checked. Such limitations could make Olympic less attractive to potential buyers.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Vassiliou: government must act to secure any gas depositsBy Melina Demetriou
FORMER President and United Democrats leader George Vassiliou yesterday charged that there was no legal framework safeguarding the island's rights to exploit any natural gas reserves discovered in the southeastern Mediterranean.
Deposits have been discovered in the sea between Egypt and Cyprus, some of which may lie in Cyprus territorial waters.
The government has known about the matter for over a year, but said it last week it regretted the information had been leaked to the press.
Vassiliou, who was President from 1989 to 1993, told reporters at the House of Representatives yesterday that the possibility of natural gas reserves in the region had first emerged during his term about 10 years ago.
"As soon as we found out about this, we didn't waste any time. We contracted a foreign expert to conduct studies and set the concession areas inside our legal borders, which we could then license to an exploration company. This procedure must be followed for a country to have a right to exploit any reserves discovered within its territorial waters. We even involved the Town Planning Department in this at a later stage.
"But I was no longer a President after the 1993 elections, so we sort of left it there. I have no idea what this government did in regards to this issue. What I do know is that it did not take care of the legal side to safeguard the island's rights of exploitation. The government has not given any signs of interest in this."
Vassiliou said the fact that Cyprus had signed the International Sea Convention guaranteeing that anything found within a country's territorial waters -- 200 miles off its shores -- becomes its own, was not enough to save the day.
An oil expert confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that Vassiliou was making a valid point. If Cyprus wanted to exploit any deposits lying within its waters, it should "get its act together and define its concession areas before it's too late".
The expert said the island needed an agreement with Egypt, which had already set its own concession areas to exploit deposits in the sea region between the two countries.
The government is maintaining secrecy around the issue, but has confirmed that Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis met with officials in Egypt to discuss the situation.
Commenting on Vassiliou's statements about the legal side of the issue yesterday, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said: " I cannot express an opinion on this before I talk to the Attorney-general. But according to the International Convention we have signed, our rights are reserved."
Attorney-general Alecos Markides declined to comment on the question yesterday.
DIKO deputy Stathis Kittis called on the government to come clean on the issue: "If what Vassiliou says is true, then the government is answerable to the people of Cyprus. And I think it should stop playing hide and seek but instead keep people and the House of Representatives posted. People have a right to know about this. We are talking about a possible national heritage and it is not a privilege of certain circles to be aware of the situation. The House may demand some explanations from Rolandis."
President Glafcos Clerides has kicked off a circle of briefings with party leaders to inform them about the matter.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Three more hauled up for soccer violenceBy George Psyllides
THREE more teenagers were yesterday remanded in custody for three days in connection with the beating of a youth after the end of a Nicosia football match on Sunday.
Two teenage brothers were on Wednesday remanded in custody for five days in connection with the same case.
Ten police officers were also slightly injured in the violence, which broke out at the end of a fiercely contested derby match between Omonia and Olympiakos. Damage to the GSP stadium where the game took place is estimated at £20,000.
The three suspects are aged between 16 and 17, and are all still at school.
Two of the three suspects yesterday appeared in court without a lawyer. Police said they had admitted to their part in the beating of Demetris Stylianou, who suffered grievous bodily harm.
The duo, police told the court, then took part in acts of vandalism at the stadium's central entrance.
The third suspect has allegedly admitted to rioting and causing malicious damage to private property.
According to police investigator Harris Lapertas, the third suspect confessed to smashing Stylianou's mobile phone while he was being beaten by a pack of 15 Omonia supporters who had stormed the north stand occupied by Olympiakos fans.
His lawyer objected to the remand request, arguing his client had admitted to the offences under investigation and there was no need for his further detaintion.
But, as in the previous case on Wednesday, Lapertas told the court that if the suspects were released, they could interfere with the investigation.
The father of the second suspect appealed to the court to show leniency, since his son was a first-time offender and had already admitted his offence.
"We never had any run-ins with the police.
"We are very sad. They have already been punished, and shamed by spending a night in jail," the distraught father said.
"Further detention would only make the situation worse.
"Let's not stigmatise them any more," he pleaded.
The judge acknowledged the suspects' young age and the fact that they were still at school, but added that the offence under investigation was serious and that, if freed, they could interfere with investigators' task.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Immigrants in limbo as police and SBA try to trace where they landedBy a Staff Reporter JOINT investigations between Cypriot and British bases police yesterday failed to prove conclusively exactly where 17 illegal immigrants had come ashore.
Fifteen of the 17 were found in Achna in the British Sovereign Base Area on Thursday, but where they actually landed will determine whether Cyprus or the SBA has to look after them.
"There was no clear indication of where they landed," bases spokesman Rob Need told the Cyprus Mail. "We will wait and see what tomorrow brings."
Need said the bases would continue to provide shelter and food to the 15 immigrants until the investigation resumed today.
Paralimni court yesterday remanded the other two Iraqis, arrested by Cyprus police in the government-controlled areas, for five days.
The two Iraqis, who had arrived on the same boat as the other 15, were arrested when they were spotted wondering around Xylotymbou, a village near the Achna reservoir in the Famagusta district. One of the men then took police to the other 15 in the reservoir in the Xylophagou-Ormidia area, which is within bases territory.
The Foreign Ministry and British High Commission continued negotiations late into Wednesday night over who should deal with the immigrants, who were transferred to the bases for the night.
The 15 said they had arrived on Monday but had not realised they were in Cyprus. They said they had paid an unknown crew to be taken to Italy. The immigrants said they each paid £1,000 for the journey and had planned to seek political asylum.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001