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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 28, 2001


  • [01] Police out in force as Patsalides sent to trial
  • [02] Army pin-up and her love come home to face the music
  • [03] EAC to lose power monopoly by 2003
  • [04] Arrest warrant after Church scandal witness fails to show up in court
  • [05] US report highlights continued abuse of rights of the enclaved
  • [06] Parents' fury at call for school heating contribution
  • [07] Cyprus could speed up open sky policy
  • [08] CSE trading marks record new low
  • [09] Almost half a million calls across the Green Line last year
  • [10] High Commission sets up passport and visa hotline
  • [11] Police turn away boatload of immigrants
  • [12] Cyprus authorities know nothing of fugitive Serb banker
  • [13] National guard chief leads 76-man parachute jump

  • [01] Police out in force as Patsalides sent to trial

    Martin Hellicar PETROS Patsalides, the nightclub shooting suspect who gave himself up on Saturday after 18 days on the run, was yesterday sent to trial before the Nicosia Criminal court, convening on Monday.

    In the dock of the Nicosia District court yesterday, he came face to face with the man police say has named him as responsible for last month's machine-gun attack on Nicosia's Dow Jones club, which left two club-goers seriously injured.

    Police were again out in force for 33-year-old Patsalides' second court appearance in four days, fearing he might try to repeat the daring escape that thoroughly embarrassed the force earlier this month.

    On February 6, while on remand in connection with the January 21 nightclub shooting, Patsalides gave a five-man police escort the slip in old Nicosia. Police did not get their man back till he decided to hand himself in by surrendering to well-known TV reporter Demetris Mamas, who escorted him to police in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    The escape and the manner of his surrender have made Patsalides notorious and the media were out in force to capture his court appearance yesterday morning.

    The ranks of photographers, TV cameramen and reporters played their part in the creation of a tight scrum outside the court as Patsalides was led in. Things threatened to get out of hand as the suspect tried to wrestle free of his police guard to get close to his former fiancée, Christiana Andreou, who was waiting by the courthouse entrance to see him.

    A huge crush developed on the courthouse steps as the suspect and his ex- lover were surrounded by about a dozen plain-clothes, uniformed and riot squad police officers. A group of Patsalides' relatives added to the confusion, pushing, shoving and yelling. Police eventually managed to sort things out, and escorted the handcuffed suspect into the courtroom, where he was allowed to sit at the back of the chamber tearfully embracing Christiana and surrounded by his mother, father and other relatives.

    A few minutes later, a pale-looking Patsalides was standing in the dock hearing a long list of charges against him, which included an alleged attempt to murder his ex-fiancée.

    No charges relating to his February 6 escape or 18 days on the run from police were read out yesterday.

    Patsalides, from Nikitari in the Troodos foothills, faces eight charges relating to a machine-gun attack on the Dow Jones club at 3.30 am on January 21. He is accused of seriously injuring two Russian girls by firing on the club with an army issue G3 automatic.

    Police say he shot at the club in an attempt to kill Christiana. Patsalides denies these claims, but police say that just before the shooting he had been thrown out of the Dow Jones by bouncers who intervened to stop him dragging Christiana out of the club.

    Patsalides, who will reply to the charges before the Criminal court on Monday, is accused of carrying out the January 21 attack with his friend Andreas Christodoulou, from Nicosia. Police say 22-year-old Christodoulou has testified that he acted as driver for the machine-gun attack after Patsalides threatened to shoot him.

    Christodoulou had already been referred to trial before the Assizes on Monday in connection with the same attack, but was yesterday up before the District court to hear further charges. He looked sheepish sitting next to Patsalides in the dock yesterday, avoiding the gaze of his rather more solidly built co-accused.

    The additional charges read out to both men concerned illegally carrying and firing a G3 in the minutes immediately after the Dow Jones attack and causing over £3,000 worth of damage to a furniture shop next to the club.

    Patsalides' lawyers objected to his being charged with carrying and using an illegal weapon both during the alleged attack on the nightclub and in the alleged attack on the furniture shop 10 minutes later. The judge eventually ruled that these objections could be heard by the Criminal court.

    After a lengthy hearing frequently interrupted by defence objections to the state prosecution's line, Patsalides and Christodoulou were handcuffed and led away to run the media gauntlet outside the court.

    The two men, who will remain in custody till Monday's court appearance, were driven off in a police Black Maria with an escort of police cars and motorbikes.

    Meanwhile, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis announced that President Clerides had ordered a probe into allegations that police had shown favourable treatment to the TV channel that Demetris Mamas works for, Sigma, during Patsalides' dramatic surrender in the early hours of Saturday morning. Other television channels have complained that police kept their cameras away as the fugitive gave himself up at police head quarters at 1 am, giving Sigma exclusive coverage.

    Koshis said he would be reporting to the Cabinet on the matter today.

    Mamas could yet find himself in hot water for secretly interviewing Patsalides while he was still on the run earlier this month, as police have asked the Attorney-general's office to rule whether Mamas broke any laws with his controversial interview. Mamas insists he did nothing wrong.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Army pin-up and her love come home to face the music

    By Jean Christou A 'PIN-UP' British female soldier and her sergeant lover who went AWOL from the UN in Cyprus last July have given themselves up and are awaiting their punishment at their base in Essex.

    Lance Bombardier Heidi Cochrane, 24, serving with the Royal Artillery, ran away with Sergeant Jason Archer, 30, her immediate superior, deserting their spouses and the army, and failing to contact other family members.

    Cochrane had in the past been chosen by the British Ministry of Defence as a model example of women in the army and has been shown on 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 the couple had failed until this month when the British tabloid News of the Worldtracked them down in Holland. It had initially been thought the couple had fled to Sri Lanka after a friend of Cochrane's received a text message from her mobile.

    The couple eventually gave themselves up last Saturday and now face a range of disciplinary measures. The Times said on Monday that the best they could expect would be a fine, but they would more likely be court martialled and possibly jailed or discharged from the army.

    A Ministry of Defence spokesman told The Times: "They have been taken into custody and their commanding officer will decide what disciplinary action will be taken. He will probably recommend disciplinary action, which could be a court martial, a custodial sentence or dismissal from the army."

    Archer's mother was said to have persuaded them to return amid fears they could be jailed for desertion, which is a more serious offence than going absent without leave.

    Archer told the News of the World: "Every morning when the key turns in the door of our separate cells we will close our eyes, say each other's name and whisper, 'I love you'. And every evening at lights out, as they turn the keys in our cell doors, we'll whisper each other's names and say, 'I love you'. We'll know exactly the moment we are thinking of each other."

    Cochrane said: "Our freedom is precious to us. But we want to spend the rest of our lives together and, though it hurts terribly now, the only way to do that is to come home and meet our responsibilities."

    Cochrane joined the army straight from school. She disappeared on her birthday shortly after her promotion from private soon after her arrival for a six-month stint with UNFICYP. She was part of the 300-strong British UN contingent monitoring the Nicosia Green Line.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] EAC to lose power monopoly by 2003

    By a Staff Reporter THE ELECTRICITY Authority (EAC) will from 2003 no longer hold the monopoly on power, with the state obliged to liberalise a third of the carrying and distribution of electricity by then.

    Speaking after a Ministerial Committee meeting, Commerce, Tourism and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday that the government was already taking steps in this direction, adding that that Greece had already begun the practice from February 19.

    "Our obligation," Rolandis said, "along with the other EU candidate countries is to liberalise one third of electricity. Some (foreign) companies have already expressed interest. This indicates that we are entering a competitive environment and that our companies and the EAC will have to be in a position to compete. This is what we are trying to do."

    The Minister continued said he had also heard that the EU planned to liberalise the entire market sector, "This means that Cyprus will have liberalised its whole market and that the entrance into the market of some and not others will depend entirely on whether they can compete."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Arrest warrant after Church scandal witness fails to show up in court

    By a Staff Reporter A MAN on trial for allegedly falsely testifying that Bishop Athanassios of Limassol was gay faced arrest yesterday after he failed to turn up for a hearing before a Nicosia court.

    The defence presented court with a doctor's note stating that Lefteris Psyllos was being treated in a clinic in Greece and was too ill to attend the hearing. But the court agreed with a prosecution argument that the doctor's note was not enough to excuse the accused and issued an arrest warrant for Psyllos.

    The same court had earlier this month adjourned a hearing in Psyllos' trial because he had been taken ill.

    Psyllos is charged with trying to defame Athanassios by falsely testifying before last year's church probe into claims that the popular Limassol Bishop was gay.

    Two Limassol archimandrites face similar charges while two other men are serving three-month prison sentences for accepting bribes to slander Athanassios.

    The church eventually dismissed the gay claims against Athanassios, but his Paphos counterpart, Chrysostomos, last week resurrected them with another flurry of lurid allegations against Athanassios.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] US report highlights continued abuse of rights of the enclaved

    By Jennie Matthew A US STATE Department report on human rights in Cyprus focused on continuing human rights abuses against Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north, despite recent improvement, and continuing police brutality on both sides of the Green Line.

    Published this month, the report for 2000 covered friction between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, as well as within civil society in both communities.

    Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north are still not allowed to change their residence at will and vote in elections, despite being allowed to bring their spouses over to live with them in May.

    Travel within the occupied areas is limited. Maronites are forbidden from visiting religious sites in the north that are situated in military zones, while Armenians are prohibited from going to any religious site in the north.

    "Their treatment still falls short of the Vienna III Agreement of 1975," the report concludes.

    By return, the report said the 300 Turkish Cypriots living in the south also faced difficulties, be they of a lesser extent, in getting identification cards and government documents.

    They are not allowed to vote in elections and although Greek Cypriot police subject them to surveillance, few complain to UNFICYP.

    The report emphasised that police on both sides of the Green Line continue to abuse their power and brutalise suspects, "mostly non-Cypriots".

    Turkish Cypriot 'police', controlled by the military, are guilty of extracting a high percentage of confessions from suspects denied legal representation after their arrest.

    Members of the Turkish Cypriot bar have complained that civilian colleagues defer to the military in the military 'courts'.

    The Government denied entry to visiting Turkish journalists last year, while the Turkish Cypriot authorities continue to restrict attendance at bi- communal events - even abroad, on a case by case basis.

    On the civil society front, the report stated that the minimum wage of £260 in the north and £287 in the south was "insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family".

    The report said illegal trafficking of women for forced prostitution also took place in both communities.

    The government's record on political asylum seekers also came under fire. The report confirmed that 34 Syrian Kurds who had pending applications for asylum were deported in December. The government also refused to allow UNHCR access to the 266 people moored off the coast of Limassol for three weeks in September, after the boat on which they were travelling sank near Paphos.

    Spousal abuse is deemed significant in both communities, but largely brushed under the carpet.

    Attention was also given to the persecution of Avrupa journalists by the Turkish Cypriot authorities, and the lack of progress made by the Missing Person's Committee.

    Mention was made of the abduction last December of Panicos Tsiakourmas in apparent retaliation for the arrest of Turkish Cypriot Omer Tekogul outside Pyla; the advance of the Turkish military at Strovilia in the summer and Turkey's continued refusal to pay compensation to Titina Loizidou, as ordered by the European Court of Human Rights for preventing her from going to her property in the north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Parents' fury at call for school heating contribution

    By Melina Demetriou A GOVERNMENT proposal for parents to contribute to school heating costs has sparked a furious reaction from the Parents' Association.

    The group yesterday lashed out at the Education Ministry initiative calling on parents to cover 50 per cent of the cost to install central heating at all schools.

    The proposal was discussed in a charged atmosphere at the House Education Committee.

    Out of 457 schools, both elementary and secondary, only 275 have central heating.

    "We plan to install central heating at the remaining schools by 2004," ministry official Petros Kareklas told the Committee.

    "But some schools' parents' unions have volunteered to cover half the expense in order to speed up the procedures. That is why we made this proposal," he explained.

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis accused the ministry of taking advantage of parents: "It's only natural that parents would do just anything to make sure their children don't freeze for seven hours every day. And they are not willing to wait for two or three years for the government to take care of the problem. The ministry is taking advantage of that, instead of acting quickly to provide heating to all schools."

    But Kareklas insisted that technical service officials were too busy to install central heating at all schools immediately.

    Matsakis retorted: "There are children with health problems and children who are sick for almost the entire winter period because their classrooms are not heated properly. You should treat this matter as a priority.

    "How difficult can it be to install central heating at a couple of hundred schools?" he wondered.

    Stavros Stavrou, the president of the secondary schoolteachers' union OELMEK, felt that the government's three-year plan was reasonable.

    "But if we look at this from a student's point of view we'll realise it is not that simple. If I tell a student that he has to be patient and stand the cold for two more years, I will sound paranoid," Stavrou said.

    The chairman of the Parents' Association, Elias Demetriou, who vehemently opposed the idea of parents paying for school heating, said: "We have issued a circular urging parents' unions to defy this proposal. There is no way we will have some schools with heating and some without just because some unions have bigger budgets than others."

    Eliades called on the Education Ministry to withdraw its proposal and "quit manipulating parents' soft spots."

    Haris Charalambous, secretary general of the elementary and nursery schools' union POED, complained to the Committee that there were no provisions for installing central heating at nursery schools.

    After failing to any official response on the matter, he wondered: "Can four-year-old children stand the cold more than elder pupils?"

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Cyprus could speed up open sky policy

    By Jean Christou THE date for the final liberalisation of the skies over Cyprus might be brought forward from January 1, 2003, Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.

    Neophytou was addressing a debate organised by the Cyprus branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society in Nicosia last night on the future of Cypriot airlines in a liberalised environment.

    He said full implementation of the European liberalised environment would happen with the island's accession to the EU, which is set for January 1, 2003.

    "This date may be brought forward if the efforts of the European Union for the establishment of a European Common Aviation Area materialise soon," he said. "The European regulation will be applicable in this area, which will encompass not only the member states but also all of the eleven countries who are candidates for membership."

    Cyprus' progress towards liberalisation has been moving very gradually as the government wants to give Cyprus Airways (CY) time to get its house in order to face the competition resulting from an open skies policy.

    Full liberalisation means that any European carrier has unrestricted access to any route between or within countries of the EU.

    Although more airlines have in recent years been granted licences to operate, CY is still protected on its most profitable routes.

    Neophytou said that five airlines in addition to CY and its charter arm Eurocypria had already been licensed to operate as charter and/or scheduled airlines. He said the government was now in the process of designating these airlines to start scheduled flights to and from Cyprus to points not presently served by CY.

    "It is our policy to proceed gradually and reach the required level of liberalisation by the target date, step by step, so that on the one hand the existing airlines get some more time to prepare. and on the other hand to allow new airlines to establish themselves and attain some reasonable strength," he said.

    "The era of extensive government intervention and protectionism belongs to the past. Competition is not a threat. It's a opportunity for development and for providing better services to the public."

    Last year, total passenger traffic through Larnaca and Paphos airports totalled 6.3 million, 4.9 million of which came through Larnaca. The overall figure represents a 10.7 per cent rise over 1999.

    "The liberalised environment which we are challenged to face presents a totally different picture from the strictly regulated one we are used to and which offers little or no choice to the consumer, indifferent service, high fares and no rights for passengers," Neophytou said.

    He also made reference to the role of the airlines themselves in a liberalised environment, saying it provided business opportunities and challenges, "which airlines old and new are called to exploit".

    "It is up to each one of them to estimate their relative strengths and weaknesses and plan their movements in the open market."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] CSE trading marks record new low

    By a Staff Reporter THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange resumed its downward slide yesterday, marked by the lowest trading volume in the past 18 months and losses amounting to 0.99 per cent - with the General Index flirting with the 200 mark all day before closing at 200.9. The FTSE Index likewise closed on a downward trend, with losses amounting to 0.85 per cent.

    Bank of Cyprus was the day's most active share in terms of volume, with 13.5 per cent of the day's total turnover. BoC closed down 0.35 per cent at £2.82 per share.

    The Banking sector showed losses amounting to 0.58 per cent with a small percentage of total trading volume. Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB) finished closed at £2.27, down 0.873 per cent, while Hellenic Bank (HB) lost 2 cents to £1.21.

    Farm Renos Hatzioannou (FRH) climbed by 9.06 per cent in normal volume, making it the day's leading share, while Cyprus Pipes Industries (CPI) was the main loser, dropping 10.46 per cent and ending at 214 cents.

    Altogether, 30 firms saw gains, 81 saw no change and 102 registered losses in their prices on the day's trading.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Almost half a million calls across the Green Line last year

    By a Staff Reporter ALMOST 1,200 telephone calls a day were made across the Green Line last year, the UN announced yesterday.

    An announcement from UNFICYP said that during the year 2000, a total of 432, 733 calls had been made between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

    Calls from south to north numbered 256,543 while those from north to south totalled 176,190. The number of calls increased from 31,978 in January to peak at 38,460 calls in November.

    The automated telephone system, which was set up to facilitate bicommunal contacts between the two sides, began operation in May 1998. The system, which has 20 lines, was financed by the United States and cost some $165, 000.

    Until May 1998 callers had to go through the manual UN exchange to call the other side. Only around 100,000 calls a year were made under this system.

    In the first six months of operation of the new exchange, a total of 126, 536 calls were made.

    Callers to the north should dial 0123 to receive a dial tone while callers to the south of the island should dial 0139.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] High Commission sets up passport and visa hotline

    By a Staff Reporter THE BRITISH High Commission has teamed up with a Cypriot company to handle routine passport and visa enquiries and the registration of UK nationals resident in Cyprus.

    The Consular Services hotline, 09977677 will be manned by the operators of Evresis Call Centre Ltd based in Latsia. The e-Centre is a purpose built facility with up to 36 bilingual operators who will respond to incoming calls from 7.30am to 6pm seven days a week, including on public holidays.

    British High Commissioner Edward Clay said: "We want to offer the best possible service to all who use the High Commission. This partnership will mean speedier answers for the public while our staff will be able to devote more time to handling complex consular issues and processing passports and visas more rapidly."

    The new hotline will begin operation tomorrow. Calls will be charged at the rate of 30 cents per minute.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Police turn away boatload of immigrants

    By a Staff Reporter POLICE intercepted a boat believed to be full of illegal immigrants south east of the island on Monday night, they said yesterday.

    Coast guard vessels headed off the boat after it was spotted by helicopters. Police said seven men aged between 25 and 35 were on board. They were believed to be Iraqis.

    "The patrol boats accompanies the boat to a safe distance away from Cyprus territorial waters," a police spokesman said. Police said they did not know where the boat was headed.

    After being stung on several occasions by boatloads of illegal immigrants landing on the island, the authorities have begun a strict interception policy in the past few months. The UNHCR has criticised the policy saying it could result in genuine asylum seekers being turned away.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [12] Cyprus authorities know nothing of fugitive Serb banker

    By a Staff Reporter A FUGITIVE Serbian banker accused of embezzling millions of pounds had been hiding in Cyprus for eight years until police arrested him on his return to Belgrade on Friday, according to a report from Associated Press.

    But when asked yesterday, neither Cyprus police, nor the Immigration Department, nor the Cyprus International Business Association knew nothing about Jezdimir Vasiljevic having lived in the country for so long.

    Vasiljevic, the proprietor of the Jugoskandik bank, told Serbian police on his return that he had worked closely with former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and funded his pre-election campaign.

    He claimed he had enough information to put Milosevic behind bars for life.

    Vasiljevic fled Serbia in 1993, leaving behind a scattering of bankruptcies among account holders, lured by astronomical interest rates.

    He made the mistake of returning home -- convinced that police had forgotten his crimes - only to be handcuffed as soon as his plane touched down at Belgrade airport.

    He told police he had spent eight years living in Cyprus.

    Cyprus ratified the European Union Criminal Law Convention on Corruption earlier this year, which seeks to clamp down on corruption, crime and money laundering through cross-border mutual assistance to hasten extradition of suspects.

    Ratified by Cyprus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the treaty will come into effect when 14 states have signed up.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [13] National guard chief leads 76-man parachute jump

    By a Staff Reporter FIFTY-nine year-old National Guard chief Evangelos Florakis yesterday led a successful 76-man parachute jump from a dizzying height of 442 metres.

    But the 36 Cypriot participants complained that they had were not being paid for the jump, while their Greek counterparts got £800 for carrying out the two jumps over Tersephanou near Larnaca.

    Florakis said the exercise there was a risky one and so participants should be compensated, but added the matter was in the hands of the Finance Ministry.

    The exercise was part of a six-monthly parachute exercise, where 10 men jump at a time from a Greek Air Force SE 130 plane. Also jumping with Florakis was the commander of Cyprus' Commando Forces, Nicolas Badras.

    After the jump Florakis, who rose in ranks through the Commando Forces in Greece, said he had been very impressed by the expertise displayed by the other jumpers and that practice jumps were very important in raising self- awareness, confidence and experience.

    Florakis was made National Guard chief in May 2000 after having served in Cyprus during the 1980s. He also is married to a Cypriot from Paphos.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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