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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, February 17, 2001


  • [01] Markides hits back at lawyers as Kyprianou released from jail
  • [02] British jockeys to race at Nicosia
  • [03] Coach and player charged with inciting violence
  • [04] Minister promises more polling stations and a quicker count
  • [05] Now Limassol and Nicosia pupils get into a fight
  • [06] Cypriots stranded in Bulgarian flight chaos
  • [07] Doctors' union accepts new offer
  • [08] Government spearheads new drugs campaign
  • [09] EU could close pre-retirement pension loophole
  • [10] CSE trading ends up at 204.85

  • [01] Markides hits back at lawyers as Kyprianou released from jail

    By Martin Hellicar

    INCENSED by the jailing of their colleague Michalakis Kyprianou for contempt of court, lawyers yesterday went to the Supreme Court in a bid to strip courts of the power to impose instant sentences for contempt.

    But Attorney-general Alecos Markides stated that the appeal to the higher court had no constitutional basis and there was growing evidence of a backlash against the lawyers' protest action yesterday.

    The lawyers' detractors argued that people had for the past 41 years been sentenced for contempt of court in the same way as lawyer Kyprianou was on Wednesday.

    The well-known lawyer, whose sentencing sparked an island-wide lawyers' strike on Thursday, was meanwhile released from Nicosia central prison after serving a little over 36 hours of a five-day sentence for contempt. The sentence -- imposed by the Limassol criminal court after the lawyer accused judges of passing 'love notes' to each other during his cross- examination -- was cut under standard prison practice.

    Released at 7.30 am, Kyprianou went straight to the Supreme Court to watch a team of five of the island's most prominent lawyers argue that his sentence should never have been imposed.

    The higher court heard three-and-a-half hours of arguments from Efstathios Efstasthiou, Lefkos Clerides, Eleni Vrahimi, Christos Clerides and Michalakis Triantafyllides.

    Efstathiou told the court that the Criminal court had acted as both accuser and judge for Kyprianou, thus violating his constitutional rights. Efstathiou attributed the sentencing to "personal animosity" between Kyprianou and the three Criminal court judges.

    The controversial contempt ruling came during the trial of two Limassol youths charged with murdering British tourist Graham Mills last year.

    Kyprianou, representing one of the two accused, objected to being told by the judges to keep his questions during cross-examination of a police witness "short and to the point". Kyprianou charged the judges with passing "love notes" between themselves during the questioning. The judges found him guilty of contempt after he twice refused to apologise for the remark.

    Lawyer Vrahimi told the Supreme Court yesterday that Kyprianou had "done his best" during Wednesday's hearing and referred to dictionaries to argue that the word for "love note" used by Kyprianou - ravasakia - could also mean simply a "note".

    But Attorney-general Markides, appearing as a 'friend of the court', argued that the Criminal court's contempt ruling had been entirely constitutional. Markides also took a swipe at lawyers for their protest strike on Thursday.

    The court decided it would reserve its ruling on the issue for a later date.

    Beyond the confines of the Nicosia courts, reaction to the lawyers' collective defence of their colleague and to parliament's response to Kyprianou's imprisonment was becoming more evident. On Thursday, the House legal affairs committee rushed to discuss revising the law empowering courts to impose instant sentences for contempt.

    Michalis Papapetrou, speaking in his capacity as vice-chairman of the United Democrats rather than as Government Spokesman, pointed out that courts had been exercising this right unhindered for 41 years.

    "Many citizens have been imprisoned for contempt of court on the basis of this same law," he said. Papapetrou, himself a lawyer, suggested lawyers were acting in a self-serving manner over the Kyprianou case.

    "I think lawyers are guilty of exercising double standards and I think this approach does not give the right messages -- lawyers must not seek special treatment," Papapetrou said.

    He supported the decision to jail Kyprianou and said lawyers' reaction to it had been tantamount to "putting judges against the wall and shooting them".

    Turning to the actions of the House legal affairs committee, Papapetrou said deputies had acted "on the hoof", without proper consideration of the issue.

    The lawyers also came under fire from former Supreme Court judge Antonis Indianos, who said there was a need to "protect" courts.

    Indianos said lawyers were often guilty of stepping "out of line" before courts and defended the imposition of instant contempt rulings: "The offence happens right before the eyes of the court so the court can hand out a sentence at once," he said.

    Indianos did say he would not have handed down such a "stiff" sentence to Kyprianou but he too criticised parliament for its "haste" to consider changes to the relevant law.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] British jockeys to race at Nicosia

    By a Staff Reporter

    THREE prominent British jockeys will race 18 horses in 10 races at the Nicosia racetrack on Sunday, at a high profile event organised by Megabet Bookmakers.

    UK-based Kieran Fallon was yesterday described as "one of the best UK jockeys" by track administration officer, Yiannis Yiannikouris.

    He will race alongside compatriots F. Lynch and B. Woodworth, based in Singapore and Malaysia.

    "It will be a very successful meeting and there will be many people from abroad who deal with bookmaking there," Yiannikouris told the Cyprus Mail.

    British jockeys have raced in Nicosia on previous occasions. The most notable event this spring will be the All Stars Show Meeting, a three-team competition between Greece, the UK and Cyprus, on March 4.

    British jockeys ranked in the UK Top Five 2000, Kevin Darley, Jimmy Fortune and Richard Quinn will take part, alongside the Cyprus top three and three of the top five from Greece.

    It will be the first time this competition has taken place in Nicosia since 1986.

    The March 4 event is to be sponsored by London Clubs International and Horse Racing Abroad.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Coach and player charged with inciting violence

    By a Staff Reporter

    AEL basketball team coach Vassilis Frangias and player George Palalas were yesterday charged with incitement to violence and released on bail, after a hooligan rampage ruined a Wednesday night cup final between AEL of Limassol and APOEL of Nicosia.

    Twelve youths aged between 16 and 26 were also remanded for two days in police custody yesterday in connection with the violence.

    Their court appearance had to be adjourned until yesterday, after a lawyers' strike to protest against the jailing of a colleague for contempt of court, froze the Nicosia courts on Thursday.

    Sixteen policemen and some 40 AEL fans were hurt in the clashes between riot police and Limassol supporters in and outside Nicosia's Eleftheria stadium on Wednesday.

    The trouble began with just eight minutes left on the clock. AEL were trailing 61-51 when coach Frangias was sent off. In a rage at what he considered unfair refereeing, Frangias grabbed the trophy from its courtside stand and hurled it towards the APOEL fans.

    AEL fans took this as their cue, lobbing water bottles, coins, lighters and other debris onto the court.

    A club member was seen passing water bottles up into the stands to keep the fans supplied with projectiles.

    The violence was only quelled when riot police stormed the AEL stand, armed with crowd control shields and wielding batons.

    Frangias resigned the following day and apologised for his behaviour at a news conference on Thursday. But it did not stop being arrested later in the day.

    AEL have condemned the violence, but insist the match referring was biased in favour of Nicosia club.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Minister promises more polling stations and a quicker count

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE INTERIOR Minister said yesterday he expected the May 27 parliamentary elections to run more smoothly and swiftly than ever, thanks to changes introduced by his department.

    After a meeting on the subject with party representatives, Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou told reporters there would be 1,200 polling stations throughout Cyprus, compared to just 880 in the 1996 elections.

    The minister said vote counting this year would take place at local voting centres, not at a central counting centre in Nicosia as in previous elections.

    Christodoulou added that voting time would be reduced from 11 and a half to 10 hours. Polling stations on May 27 will be open from 7am, instead of 6.30am and close at 5pm instead of 6pm, with an hour break between noon and 1pm.

    The first results are expected to be announced within half an hour of polls closing and the final results will be issued sometime between 8 and 9 pm.

    The elections will cost the government 2 million.

    The number of voters is expected to increase to 470,000 from 409,000 in the 1996 elections. Voting is compulsory.

    The House of Representatives will dissolve itself about a month ahead of the elections.

    Asked about overseas voters, Christodoulou said: "Under the law, whoever is registered on the voting list is obliged to cast their vote, but I don't know what kind of arrangements the parties have decided to make."

    Political parties usually subsidise the travel expenses of overseas Cypriots wanting to come home to vote.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Now Limassol and Nicosia pupils get into a fight

    By Melina Demetriou

    TWO days after the hooligan rampage during a basketball match in Nicosia, police yesterday had to deal with Nicosia and Limassol pupils who got into a fight outside the International State Fair grounds in Nicosia, some of them suffering minor injuries.

    The latest violence erupted between secondary school students from the two towns who ran into each other during an visit to the Education Fair yesterday at about 11am.

    A heated discussion about the basketball fracas led to a number of Nicosia and Limassol students insulting each other - then they came to blows and kicked out at each other.

    Police intervened to restore order but some students had already suffered minor injuries. Then the police escorted the Limassol students to their coaches. The fighting caused damage to a car and a motorcycle which were parked outside the State Fair grounds.

    In an interview with CyBC, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides condemned the incident, describing it as unacceptable.

    Yesterday's fighting followed violent scenes on Wednesday which ruined a basketball cup final between Limassol team AEL and Nicosia club APOEL in Eleftheria Stadium. AEL basketball team coach Vassilis Frangias and player George Palalas were yesterday charged with incitement to violence and released on bail.

    Twelve suspects aged from 16 to 26 were also remanded for two days in police custody.

    Sixteen policemen and some 40 AEL fans were hurt in the clashes between the MMAD police riot squad and Limassol supporters in and outside the stadium. Frangias resigned after the trouble and apologised for his behaviour at a news conference on Thursday.

    The nightmare started with just eight minutes left on the clock when AEL were trailing 61-51. At one stage, AEL fans threw water bottles, coins, lighters and other debris on to the court. A club member kept up the flow of ammunition by supplying hooligans with more water bottles.

    The violence was quelled when MMAD officers moved in, armed with crowd control shields. AEL later condemned the violence but insisted the match referring was biased in favour of Nicosia club APOEL.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Cypriots stranded in Bulgarian flight chaos

    By Athena Karsera

    A NUMBER of Cypriot passengers have been stranded in Bulgaria along with thousands of other travellers after the country's national airline froze all its flights.

    Alasia Travel Agents, the Cyprus representative for Balkan Airlines, yesterday said the office was in close contact with the airline and with other contacts in Sofia, but that no timetable had yet been set for the Cypriots' return home.

    Alasia's Financial Manager Christos Paschalis told the Cyprus Mail that the number of Cypriots waiting for alternative arrangements had not been determined, but added, "a lot of those waiting are Bulgarians working in Cyprus."

    Paschalis said that all Balkan's flights out of Bulgaria, not only those to Cyprus, had been cancelled due to a disagreement between the airline and Israel's Zeevi Group, which purchased a large number of shares in Balkan Airlines last summer.

    "There seem to have been different interpretations of the agreement on both sides and the flights were cancelled from Wednesday afternoon," he said, adding that information so far indicated Zeevi had not paid flight insurance for the trips and that this had led to the flights being cancelled.

    "The Council of Ministers in Sofia is discussing the matter. and will try to make other arrangements for all the passengers since the national airline is involved," Paschalis said.

    He added that the Bulgarian parliament was also discussing the issue.

    All Balkan Airlines flights to and from Cyprus have, meanwhile, been indefinitely suspended and Paschalis said that passengers planning to fly out with the airline had already been advised to change their plans.

    The Zeevi group agreed in 1999 to purchase a 75 per cent stake in Balkan Airlines and to invest $100 million in the debt-ridden company over five years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Doctors' union accepts new offer

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE THREAT of a new hospital strike appeared to recede yesterday with public sector doctors provisionally accepting a government proposal on better working conditions and higher pay.

    The proposal was accepted by union leaders, who will put it to the vote in the coming days.

    No details were released about the package yesterday.

    The doctors have been demanding that their starting salary be "significantly higher" than the current 950 a month.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides has confirmed the government is willing to increase salaries at the lower end of the scale, admitting the current 950 was "a little on the low side".

    State doctors held a 24-hour strike on January 12 to press their demands.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Government spearheads new drugs campaign

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT is to enlist the voluntary sector in a 94,000 effort to take on the growing drugs problem.

    President Glafcos Clerides yesterday chaired the first meeting of a new Anti Drugs Council at the Presidential Palace.

    Top-level intervention is thought to be an indication of the seriousness with which the government is tackling the issue.

    The Council was inaugurated on Thursday in order to supervise, fund and evaluate measures to prevent a severe drugs crisis from taking grip in Cyprus.

    Drugs specialist doctor Kyriacos Veresies yesterday told Cyprus Mail he was very optimistic about the venture.

    "It may be the first time in the last 10 years that such a decision has been made to help plan and organise the anti-drugs battle in Cyprus," he said.

    The Health, Education and Justice Ministries are to work alongside district officers, police officers, medical and mental health specialists, psychologists and the Church in the 14-member council.

    Veresies said he welcomed the co-operation between the government and voluntary sectors, but said non-governmental agencies, hampered by less bureaucracy, were better equipped to institute more rapid change.

    The results of a pan-European study on drugs, which includes Cyprus, are to be announced on Wednesday.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides, Health Minister Frixos Savvides and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis are then expected to draw up a list of concrete proposals.

    Savvides said more beds would be made available at the existing Ayia Skepi drugs rehabilitation unit, but stressed that the overall thrust of efforts would be to prevent rather than cure addiction.

    Seminar training for 1,500 volunteers aims to instil young people with anti- drug resistance.

    Veresies said the Council needed to oversee serious research into every aspect of the problem in order to organise effective primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] EU could close pre-retirement pension loophole

    By Jennie Matthew

    EUROPEAN Union harmonisation could jeopardise the current practice of claiming old age pensions before the official retirement age of 65.

    Cyprus social insurance needs only minor amendments to harmonise with EU regulations.

    But director of social insurance at the Ministry of Labour Antonis Petsis yesterday confirmed that the practice of pension claiming at 63 could face the axe in the run up to full EU membership.

    He said that the department's actuarial advisor had specifically labelled this system as a potential casualty of EU harmonisation.

    Cyprus currently adheres to a set retirement age of 65, but allows people to draw on pensions from 63, provided that they have paid social insurance for 28 years, or for 25.2 years since 1964 - 70 per cent of the contributions necessary to claim a full pension at 65.

    To get the full pension, people need to have paid social insurance for 40 years, or from 1964 until today.

    Therefore, if you've been contributing to social insurance every year since the age of 35, you're entitled to pension benefits at 63, while also being able to claim full salary until 65.

    Given that the vast majority of employees began full-time employment well before the age of 35, it means almost everyone can claim a pension alongside their salary during their last two years at work.

    As in Western Europe, longer life expectancy and a falling birth rate are swelling the proportion of senior citizens in Cyprus and multiplying public expenditure on state pensions and healthcare for the elderly.

    The Statistics Office yesterday told the Cyprus Mail there were 75,400 people in the over 65 age group at the end of 1999, compared to 56,500 at the end of 1982.

    The Labour Ministry said that 56,000 claimed old age pensions today, costing the government 156 million a year.

    But a European Union action programme, which includes Cyprus, seeks to abolish a set retirement age, outlawing discrimination in the workplace on grounds of religion, age, disability, sex and sexual orientation.

    As a result, employers will no longer be able to force workers to retire at 65 if they wish to continue work, thereby relieving some of the strain on the pension budget, if claims are forbidden for those still in the workplace.

    The British government intends to scrap the compulsory retirement age by 2006. Those wishing to take early retirement are not affected.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] CSE trading ends up at 204.85

    By a Staff Reporter

    TRADING on the Cyprus Stock Exchange remained modest yesterday, reaching just under 8 million and closing at 204.85. Despite the slight increase in the general index, losing shares outpaced winners by eight to five while 73 stocks saw no price change at all.

    Sector results were mixed, with seven moving up and six down. The results for each sector, by percentage, were banks +0.29; investments -0.62; insurance -1.53; manufacturing +0.08; tourism -0.12; trading +0.64; other - 0.21; international 0.00; construction -0.41; technology -0.38; finance +2.27; fisheries -1.48; and hotels +0.72. The all-share index ended up 0.19 per cent while the blue-chip FTSE/CySE 20 was up 0.47 per cent.

    The day's leading shares by percentage were Lordos Hotel Holdings (LHH +15.12), Kostas Michaelides Construction (KMC +8.62), Dimco Electrical Supplies (DES +6.80), Charilaos Apostolides Ltd (CHAP +6.77) and Leptos Calypso Hotels (LCH +6.48).

    The five main losers were Cyprus Pipes Industries (CPI -12.66), Karyes Investments Ltd (KAR -8.00), Dome Investments (DOME -5.00), Cellfloor Ltd (CFL -4.80), and Cosmos Insurance (COS -4.38%).

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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