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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, February 16, 2001


  • [01] Lawyers strike over jailed colleague
  • [02] Deputy seeks tourist police for holiday areas
  • [03] Denktash to quit politics?
  • [04] UNHCR checking government asylum provisions
  • [05] Investors call for market trade to be suspended
  • [06] Britain offers expats postal votes for the first time
  • [07] Cod shortage? What cod shortage?
  • [08] Bill tabled to end parliamentary interference in defence supplies
  • [09] Cutting down on paper over elections
  • [10] Don't prejudge Sharon, ambassador tells journalists

  • [01] Lawyers strike over jailed colleague

    By George Psyllides NICOSIA lawyers were up in arms yesterday, refusing to appear in court between 11am to 4pm, after the Limassol Criminal Court put a lawyer behind bars for five days for contempt of court.

    Former state prosecutor and DIKO member Michalakis Kyprianou was jailed on Wednesday for remarks made to the judges during the murder trial of British tourist Graham Mills.

    Kyprianou had accused the judges of exchanging 'ravasakia', which was interpreted by the court as meaning 'love letters'.

    The court even resorted to a dictionary to determine the exact meaning of the word used by Kyprianou.

    But Kyprianou's colleagues yesterday questioned the interpretation of the word, and five of them lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court against the court's decision.

    One of the five, Christos Clerides, said he too had looked up ravasakia in the dictionary, and that, apart from love letters, the word could also refer to letters, messages, and notes.

    The appeal, which will be examined this morning at 10, is based on 13 points, most of which concern technicalities and procedural issues.

    The incident happened when the Presiding Judge intervened during cross- examination to point out to Kyprianou that his line of questioning was inappropriate.

    But Kyprianou started shouting, interrupting the Presiding Judge, who was trying to complete the court's argument.

    Kyprianou: "Since the court judged that I'm not doing my job properly, then I ask for permission to drop this case."

    The court did not allow Kyprianou to leave, but he insisted that since he had been obstructed from going on with his questions, his presence did not serve any purpose.

    Kyprianou then added: "I'm sorry, but while I was cross-examining, the judges were sending love letters (ravasakia) to each other, effectively hindering my work."

    The court said Kyprianou's attitude was perceived as contempt, giving him two choices.

    To stick to what he said, and answer for it before the court, or to take it back.

    "You can go ahead and try me," Kyprianou said.

    The court decided by majority vote to jail Kyprianou for five days.

    In its decision, the court said Kyprianou's attitude was unacceptable, adding that it was no exaggeration to say that he was raving and gesticulating at the judges.

    The court said Kyprianou was twice given the chance to apologise, but he continued in the same manner, saying: "You can try me."

    The decision added that Kyprianou had accused the court, which was trying to regulate procedure, of operating in a secret manner and obstructing him.

    "It is impossible to think of any other occasion of such blatant and unacceptable contemptuous behaviour towards a court by an individual, especially a lawyer," the ruling said.

    Lawyers in Nicosia stopped work in support of their colleague, between 11am until 4pm, marching on the nearby prison where Kyprianou is being held.

    The lawyers argue that if Kyprianou was suspected of contempt, he should have been tried by a different court.

    Deputies at the House of Representatives seemed to agree with that argument, announcing yesterday after a meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee that they would push for a change in the law so that the same court would not be able to try a lawyer in such a case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Deputy seeks tourist police for holiday areas

    By Melina Demetriou DISY deputy Lefteris Christoforou has proposed the establishment of a tourist police to serve in holiday areas and give information and advice to visitors.

    Christoforou submitted his proposal to the House Commerce and Industry Committee yesterday.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis welcomed the suggestion and said the government was already considering the idea.

    "But the move would require an extra 300-400 policemen to serve in tourist areas. I don't expect this to be easy," he warned the Committee.

    "The idea is that tourist policemen would not be dressed as ordinary policemen, so as not to scare people away. We need to boost policing and patrolling in tourist areas but we don't want to make people uncomfortable by placing an ordinary policeman on every corner. Tourist policemen would also give information and advice to holidaymakers," Christoforou said.

    The mayors of Ayia Napa and Paralimni, who were present at the Committee meeting, asked for more money to be allocated to tourism.

    Ayia Napa Mayor Varvara Pericleous complained: "There are only 10 people in each hotel during the winter period. We need more marinas, a sports' centre and most of all, we need more money from the government to implement tourist projects. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation should bring public attention to our churches and to the Cape Greco area."

    Nicos Vlittis, Mayor of Paralimni, suggested that the government should spend 30 million per year instead of the current 16 million to support tourism.

    Rolandis replied that a ministry action plan to support tourism had already been approved by the Cabinet and would be submitted to the House in about two weeks' time.

    "We plan to attract all kinds of holidaymakers, not only those who come for the beaches and the sun, but also those who like sports, to collect items, to attend cultural events etc," the minister said.

    But on the financial side, Rolandis said that, "there is only a limited amount that can be used for tourism".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Denktash to quit politics?

    By a Staff Reporter TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday offered to abandon politics if he was granted his biggest wish: recognition of his break-away occupation "state", the so-called TRNC.

    "I will give you some good news, if you acknowledge the existence of the TRNC today, I will move out tomorrow. If you want to get rid of me, you give me this and I will move out," a smiling Denktash told state broadcaster CyBC during an interview televised last night.

    The veteran Denktash is reviled by the Greek Cypriot side for his constant demands for recognition of the 'TRNC' and support for the Turkish invasion.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader has stalled UN-led proximity talks aimed at achieving a federal Cyprus settlement by resurrecting his recognition demands.

    In his interview with the CyBC, he said he had only attended the first five rounds of indirect talks with President Clerides because the UN and the US had promised he would be treated as equal to his Greek Cypriot adversary and that negotiations would start with a 'clean slate'.

    "It was agreed that everything would be on the table, that there would be no reference to UN Security Council resolutions and no reference to communities any longer. All these conditions were forgotten after the fifth round," Denktash stated.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] UNHCR checking government asylum provisions

    By Jennie Matthew A NEWS conference yesterday exposed the cracks between government policy and the country's obligations to international conventions on asylum seekers.

    The European Director of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Anne-Willem Bijlevelv, yesterday held talks with senior officials at the Interior Ministry to ensure that Cyprus was living up to the objective of international treaties.

    But it was clear that the UNHCR request for refugees to be allowed access to territory clashed with the government's preferred "no landings policy".

    Bijlevelv said only that interception was "an issue".

    Suspicions that candidates for political asylum had been deported last year before their cases could be heard spurred the official visit.

    Thirty-four Syrians and Kurds who had applications for asylum pending at the UNHCR are thought to have been shipped back to Beirut on the Royal Prince, which sank on its return journey in December.

    The UNHCR added that immigrants who wanted to apply for asylum had been deported in November and that they were unable to confirm whether asylum seekers were also sent back in September.

    The UNHCR condemns the return of potential political asylum seekers before their cases have been reviewed.

    Cyprus ratified the Refugee Act last January, but its own body to review applications of political asylum is only expected to be in place by the end of this year.

    Answering questions about why the body was taking so long to set up, Bijlevelv said past experience showed that drafting regulations were very complex, adding that Cyprus was "on the right track".

    She said she was "reassured that the government lives up to its obligations. I am looking forward to a very close co-operation".

    Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Kyriakos Triantafyllides said that the Council of Ministers had recruited officers to work in the bureau, after they are trained with the help of the UNHCR.

    The government is thought to be reluctant to finance the burden of providing for waves of asylum seekers, such as those that flock to Western Europe.

    The number of applications for political asylum has risen in recent years. In 1997, there were just 10 to 20. The figure for 2000 was nearer 300.

    But, Bijlevelv insisted that Cyprus was in a favourable position. He said the cumbersome and lengthy processes adopted in the West could be examined as lessons about how not to do it.

    He said he was confident that immigrants would be given the chance to ask for asylum before being deported again from Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Investors call for market trade to be suspended

    By a Staff Reporter ABOUT 200 investors demonstrated outside the Stock Exchange yesterday to demand suspension of all share trading till their demands for radical measures to boost the bourse are met.

    With the all share index hovering around the 200-point mark, investors, represented by the PASEXA association, want the state to set up a market 'support' fund to keep share values up and to end all taxation of share profits.

    A slight market upturn for the second day running did nothing to still the anger of the PASEXA demonstrators, who converged on the bourse building on the outskirts of Nicosia as market bosses met inside yesterday afternoon. The protest passed off without incident.

    Thousands of small investors have watched their shares plunge in value as the market has lost about 300 per cent of its value over the past 18 months. Parliament has approved a number of bills aimed at bolstering the flagging market, but to no avail.

    PASEXA holds the state and market management responsible for the fall: "The criminal negligence of those in authority has brought tens of thousands of investors to the brink of bankruptcy," the association stated in a press release.

    "This crime against the people of Cyprus will not be forgotten," PASEXA warned.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides -- increasingly under fire over the market's collapse - yesterday repeated that the state had done its best to help the market and would continue to do so.

    "What I want to say is that we have already done much for the Stock Market and we have not exhausted out positive legislative intervention," he said, suggesting more Stock Market boosting laws were in the pipeline.

    Opposition party DIKO and fringe right-wingers New Horizons have been demanding Klerides' head over the Stock Market fiasco. Klerides yesterday insisted he would not bow to such pressure.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Britain offers expats postal votes for the first time

    By a Staff Reporter OVERSEAS British citizens will be able to vote by post for the first time at the next general elections.

    Until now, expats had to arrange proxy votes in their constituencies.

    Postal voting forms will be dispatched to all those who are registered six weeks before polling day - the prescribed period of notice given before any election.

    The scheme is to be made available for anyone who knows they will be out of the country on polling day - permanent residents abroad as well as business trippers.

    Votes will only be counted if they arrive on or before polling day. Delayed votes will be void.

    Electoral registers will be open all-year round so that voters can register whenever they want.

    Potential voters must have registered on a UK electoral register with a British address within the last 20 years.

    Four-page registration forms are available in writing or by telephone from the Consular Section of the British High Commission, Alexander Pallis Street, PO Box 21978, Nicosia, 1587, telephone number 02 861100.

    Forms can be counter-signed by High Commission Consular staff or any British citizen.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Cod shortage? What cod shortage?

    By a Staff Reporter FISH markets in Cyprus seem have so far remained unaffected by -- or even blissfully unaware of -- an international codfish shortage.

    While European fishing industry leaders have expressed concern over dangerously depleted North Sea stock and the European Commission has temporarily banned fishing from once cod rich areas, local fish markets hadn't even heard of the shortage.

    Christos Dilliros of the Triena Fishmarket in Strovolos said: "The cod we get is frozen from Europe. There have been no problems in getting our orders filled. Not yet anyway."

    Another Nicosia fish market initially thought the question was a practical joke and the markets contacted in Paphos, Larnaca and Limassol said they had no idea there even was a shortage.

    The owner of one Limassol store said: "We have so many kinds of fish, even local ones, that if there is a shortage I imagine people will just buy something else."

    She suggested that haddock could be used as a fair replacement: "But, as I said, we haven't had any problem getting the fish so far."

    Supermarkets also said they were not aware of any problem.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Bill tabled to end parliamentary interference in defence supplies

    By Melina Demetriou THE HOUSE of Representatives will no longer have the power to block decisions on military supply if a bill proposed by DIKO is approved.

    DIKO deputy Nicos Moushiouttas yesterday submitted a proposal to the House Defence Committee on behalf of his party. If the bill is passed, the government will no longer need to submit individual procurement budgets to Parliament for approval.

    Deputies are not expected to vote on the bill until after May's legislative elections.

    Moushiouttas' move comes after the government was forced to scrap plans to buy four Bell helicopters for the National Guard after it failed to muster a majority to approve the required budget. The debate about the Bells revolved around their military suitability, an issue seen by many as best left to the National Guard.

    Addressing his colleagues in Committee yesterday, Moushiouttas cited the incident to stress "the need for the government to make decisions based on its experts' views".

    "Deputies are not military specialists so they shouldn't be authorised to destroy the government's work like they have."

    Moushiouttas was the only DIKO deputy to vote with the government in favour of the Bells.

    Yesterday, he suggested that the House should limit its powers to making sure that the government followed the right procedures to purchase military equipment.

    The Committee decided not to discuss the matter until after the elections in order to avoid voting at a time when campaigning would dominate the political arena.

    Governing DISY has already come out in favour of Moushiouttas' proposal, while the main opposition party AKEL is expected to oppose it.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday expressed his concern that parliament's attitude was delaying important supply decisions for the National Guard.

    The minister yesterday had to withdraw a proposal he had submitted to the House for the purchase of special night-vision equipment.

    The purchase has been questioned by the State Watchdog Services and by the Committee, which have both asked for more information and time to examine procedural matters.

    Hasikos said: "We cannot afford to loose another battle so we decided to withdraw the proposal for now. We will bring the matter up again when the House and the Watchdog Services are ready.

    "But I am worried about the way the House acts, sabotaging the National Guard's plans, and this is very serious. Both the government and the parties must think of ways to overcome this problem. If a war breaks out and the Army is not capable of protecting the country, everyone is going to blame the government, not the House for voting down this or that proposal," the minister said.

    But Committee chairman Takis Hadjidemetriou of KISOS pledged that the National Guard would be perfectly capable of facing any crisis, "partly thanks to this Committee's action."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Cutting down on paper over elections

    By a Staff Reporter IN KEEPING with its environmental philosophy, the Green Party yesterday announced it would be keeping election campaign paper use down to the barest minimum.

    The party also suggested measures that the Interior Ministry could implement to help keep the waste down.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, party leader George Perdikis said that political parties went through some 1,000 tons of paper -- worth around 2 million -- during their campaigns.

    "All this paper is put into peoples' letter boxes creating a mess and adding more problems to an already overburdened rubbish collection system and overflowing dumps," he said.

    Perdikis said leaflets put out by candidates and their parties were often of no particular interest to the general public and that more modern means of communication such as the Internet, e-mail and the mass media, made traditional methods wasteful.

    The Greens suggested that all the political parties join them in not handing out door-to-door material.

    The party suggested the Interior Ministry should issue a single fact sheet on the positions of all the parties and provide contact numbers for voters interested in finding out more.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Don't prejudge Sharon, ambassador tells journalists

    By Jennie Matthew ISRAELI Ambassador to Cyprus, Michael Eligal yesterday chastised the Cyprus media for its "unjustified and unfair" criticism of new Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whilst speaking of his "real concern" that mounting terrorist attacks could drag the entire Middle East into war.

    Right-winger Sharon came to power earlier this month in a landslide victory that ignited fears of a further escalation of violence in the Middle East.

    "I say in a very careful way that the trend to prejudge Sharon is not justified and is unfair, given that he has not yet formed a government. He should be judged by his policy and action," Eligal said.

    "Any peace agreement reached by the leader of the right could be sold to public opinion, better than an agreement signed by the left," he added.

    He urged critics to give Sharon credit for implementing the peace accord with Egypt and as the first Israeli to dismantle settlements in Sinai.

    Eligal conceded that Sharon was indirectly responsible, though not personally implicated in massacres at Palestinian refugee camps during his time as Minister of Defence.

    But he drew a comparison with French President Charles de Gaulle and US President Richard Nixon, who went on to end war in Algeria and end war in Vietnam respectively.

    He said people had branded Sharon as hawkish, but "we must admit sometimes it is an advantage to be a hawk rather than a dog".

    "We are involved in a war. Palestinians are shooting. They have guns. They have grenades. The only alternative is to control the situation. Peace now is impossible," said Eligal.

    He spoke of real concerns that a major terrorist attack from across the Lebanese border could thrust the entire region into conflict.

    Nevertheless, he expects Sharon to advance "less ambitious, more restricted and more partial agreements" than the peace efforts made by former Israeli- prime minister Ehud Barak and the Clinton administration, provided the Palestinian side is ready to end violence.

    Speaking about the presidential change over in the United States, Eligal said Israel expected the Bush administration to make Iran and Iraq their top priority in the Middle East, therefore sidelining the Palestinian issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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