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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-01

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Thursday, March 1, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Russian woman murdered in Limassol
  • [02] Cyprus to go ahead with Open University plan
  • [03] Pittokopitis mum on Paphos co-op claims
  • [04] Prison governor pleads for more staff
  • [05] Koshis hands over Sigma report
  • [06] College fury at immigration crackdown
  • [07] Cabinet avoids discussion of controversial market rescue package
  • [08] What happened to the Savvides-Matsakis addiction pledge?
  • [09] Doctor acquitted of taking bribe
  • [10] Racehorse feed doped?
  • [11] Cabinet orders probe into Turkish Cypriot ill-treatment claim
  • [12] Sex discrimination plea over ID cards
  • [13] More illegal immigrants found in Dhekelia base

  • [01] Russian woman murdered in Limassol

    By George Psyllides A 29-YEAR-old Russian woman was found dead in a pool of blood yesterday after she was apparently stabbed in her Limassol flat.

    Police said they were questioning a man seen wandering suspiciously in the area half an hour after the body of Marina Tsietsenko was found.

    State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous told the Cyprus Mail that the woman had died from a single wound to the throat, inflicted with a sharp object.

    No evidence of struggle or sexual assault had been found, Sophocleous said.

    A former roommate found the body at around noon when she visited the victim's flat in Morpho Court on Kimonos Street in the Ayios Nicolaos suburb.

    Tsietsenko was found face down in a pool of blood in the flat's sitting room.

    She was a permanent resident of Cyprus and worked for an offshore company.

    She arrived on the island four years ago and had no relations with the other residents of the building.

    One resident said she kept to herself and in the four years that she lived there, and that they had never said good morning.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Cyprus to go ahead with Open University plan

    By Jennie Matthew CYPRUS will set up an Open University whatever the cost by 2002, the director of higher and tertiary education, Constantinos Yialoucas, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The Education Ministry has debated and studied the pros and cons of the university for a year, and took the decision to go ahead with plans earlier this month, convinced that there was a big demand for distance learning in Cyprus.

    "I think there is a lot of demand, particularly to upgrade professional skills, such as information technology, business administration and further education for teachers," said Yialoucas.

    The venture will hook Cyprus up to the global bandwagon of lifelong and distance learning, facilitated by the new trend of 'e-versities'. More than 70 million people around the world are thought to study in this way.

    As well as stemming the tide of Cypriots following long distance learning courses abroad, the Ministry hopes that an Open University will shore up Cyprus as an academic centre.

    To this end, a preparatory committee will assess the possibility of running courses in English as well as Greek, to attract foreign students.

    Negotiations are under way to collaborate with the Open Universities based in the UK and Greece, as well as academic institutions here.

    "Everyone's quite excited about the whole thing, and they're very willing to co-operate," Yialoucas said.

    But the bulk of logistics have still to be worked out.

    "We have no idea about funding yet, but the political will is there. We are going to establish it at any cost," said Yialoucas.

    The Ministry is hoping to commandeer the former Philoxenia Hotel in Aglandja for the OU's administrative headquarters, as it is already equipped with suitable teaching rooms, offices and lecture theatres.

    Overflow is likely to be mopped up by Cyprus University and the University of Technology and Applied Sciences.

    Staff will be drawn from both universities, as well as from accredited study programmes at private colleges.

    Teaching will combine traditional and multimedia methods, pitting e-mail and teleconferencing alongside evening classes in Nicosia and face-to-face tutoring.

    The open-university philosophy offers full-time and part-time degree courses to adults who study in their homes or workplaces in their own time.

    Regional study centres support tuition transmitted through computer software, audio and videotapes and textbooks.

    One third of graduates from the British OU failed to meet minimum entry requirements for traditional universities.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Pittokopitis mum on Paphos co-op claims

    By a Staff Reporter THE CHAIRMAN of a Paphos co-operative bank remained tight-lipped yesterday over reports of irregularities involving thousands of pounds found by an audit in members' accounts.

    DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis declined to answer any questions, saying the bank's committee had issued a statement concerning the matter.

    The issue emerged after a report drafted by the director of the co- operative movement's audit service was leaked to the press.

    The report said that accounts belonging to members of the Paphos Hellenic Co-operative council showed overdrafts in excess of 93,000.

    It added there were disciplinary responsibilities concerning the matter, which needed to be investigated.

    Members of the council had purchased shares worth thousands of pounds without any security, the audit found.

    The current council was elected to office around two months ago.

    In a statement issued after an emergency meeting, the council said it was practically impossible not to have overdrafts, stressing that loan payments were guaranteed.

    It pointed out that none of the bank's top officials had overdrafts, while the audit report did not refer to criminal offences. The council charged that people with ulterior motives had leaked the report to the media, before its members knew anything about it.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Prison governor pleads for more staff

    By a Staff Reporter PRISON governor Haris Themistocleous appealed to Parliament yesterday to approve a Cabinet decision to appoint 48 new staff to Nicosia Central Prison, sounding the alarm that current staff shortages put the prison well behind European Union regulations.

    Themistocleous said EU guidelines stipulated a security officer to inmate ratio of approximately one to one.

    But the prison population in Nicosia stands at 300, with just 130 security staff -- a ratio of 2.3 prisoners to every guard.

    New appointments have not kept pace with a sharp increase in the number of prisoners over the last decade.

    "I originally asked for 76 new people just to operate proper security. I don't want the House to cut that down, that's why I went today. I can't afford any cuts and changes to that," Themistocleous told the Cyprus Mail.

    He said that although the issue was a "big problem" the situation in the prison was under control.

    The annual US State Department report on human rights in Cyprus said that prison conditions met minimum international standards "in general," but criticized the mixing of minor offenders with hardened, violent criminals.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Koshis hands over Sigma report

    By a Staff Reporter JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis yesterday handed President Clerides his report into allegations that police unfairly granted a private TV station exclusive coverage of last week's dramatic surrender of wanted man Petros Patsalides.

    Nightclub shooting suspect Patsalides, 34, gave himself up to Sigma TV reporter Demetris Mamas in the early hours of Saturday morning. Mamas, with a TV cameraman in tow, escorted the fugitive to Nicosia police headquarters. Patsalides had managed to escape arrest for 18 days giving a five-man police escort the slip in old Nicosia on February 6.

    Sigma gave extensive coverage to Patsalides' surrender, and rival stations, which missed out on the event, complained that police had kept their cameras away from police headquarters at the crucial time.

    Clerides ordered Koshis to probe these claims of favourable treatment for Sigma.

    The Justice Minister's report was ready yesterday, but was not discussed by the Cabinet. "Koshis handed his report to the president, who will forward it to the Cabinet after he has studied it," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said after yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

    On Monday, Patsalides goes on trial before the Nicosia Assizes in connection with a shooting incident outside Nicosia's Dow Jones club on January 21. Two Russian girls were seriously hurt in the machine-gun attack.

    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

    [06] College fury at immigration crackdown

    By Jenny Curtis A NICOSIA college said yesterday it was fed up with the draconian attitude of the Immigration Department after a series of its students were refused entry to the island.

    During the past fortnight, five young men and women have been were told they could not begin their courses at Americanos College in Nicosia, because they were carrying insufficient funds.

    The complaint comes on the same day as government officials begin weekly inspections of colleges in an effort to clamp down on the number of students working illegally.

    "We understood they had to bring in just $1,000, providing they had pre- paid their tuition fees, yet five were told to go home when they landed by immigration officers who told them the minimum amount was double that," Tassos Anastassiou, the Admissions Executive told the Cyprus Mail.

    He explained that he understood they only had to bring $2,000 if the fees had yet to be paid. When he raised the issue with Immigration, he was told all the receipts had to be taken by hand to Larnaca airport.

    "I did as they said and yet was told this still was not proof enough - now those students have lost all the money they spent on their flights."

    He said their fees would be refunded.

    Anastassiou said he was annoyed at what appeared to be a lack of consistency in the rules surrounding foreign students and that he was currently seeking clarification on the matter.

    Immigration yesterday defended the cash requirement: "We just ask that foreign students have enough money to stay here, as we don't want them being forced to get jobs, when they should be studying," said George Theodorou from the Immigration Department.

    He said he had now written to the college to try and make the regulations regarding entry to Cyprus clearer.

    Americanos is not the only college to be affected - one student from Intercollege was refused entry this semester, and others were given a "very hard time", according to Dr.Gregory Makrides, the Director of Enrolment Management there.

    "I can see why Immigration wants to be strict, because some of the smaller colleges, where the tuition fees are very low, have abused the situation," he said.

    "But it's wrong that those at the bigger establishments, such as ours, should have to pay."

    The government forbids all foreign students from any economic activity, even temporary or part-time, and the new regular inspections aim to weed out any illegal workers and put a stop to migrants using student visas as a back door to work.

    However, Intercollege's Makrides argued it was inappropriate for students not to be able to work at all.

    "Why not - we were all allowed to get part-time jobs to make a little pocket money, when we studied abroad, so why can't people visiting us here in Cyprus do the same? It's silly to be so bureaucratic and strict when we don't even have high unemployment - in fact I would say it's racist."

    Professor Phillipos Constantinou, the Principal of The Phillips College, which is also in Nicosia, said he agreed with the tough approach of immigration officials at airports, as he was against the import of cheap labour. However, he too is opposed to a ban on all part-time work, and, like the others, argues that it eases the financial burden on students and their families if they are able to work a little.

    A spokesman from Europa College of Communication Science & Arts, however, disagreed and said he fully backed the government's stance. "Everyone coming here must be able to prove they have sufficient funds to last them for one semester and it's only right that they're sent back if they lack the proof that they do," a spokesman said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Cabinet avoids discussion of controversial market rescue package

    By Martin Hellicar THE CABINET yesterday failed to discuss controversial plans to dip into the social insurance fund to finance a stabilisation package to shore up the depressed stock exchange -- a week after Finance Minister Takis Klerides announced the rescue-attempt.

    Opposition parties AKEL, DIKO and KISOS have branded the 100 million stabilisation plan a ploy to attract votes at the May parliamentary elections. Even junior coalition partners, the United Democrats, have frowned on the DISY brainchild, giving the government little hope of parliamentary approval for the rescue effort.

    Faced with such staunch party opposition, the government is apparently considering a dip into the Social Insurance Fund or securing a loan from a foreign bank to get the required cash.

    "Some relevant thoughts will be studied by sub-committees and the Social Insurance Committee before the Cabinet looks at this issue," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said after yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

    Klerides confirmed the issue would be referred to the Social Insurance advisory body.

    AKEL chairman Demetris Christofias denounced the proposed use of pension money for investment on the stock market.

    "I call on the government not to have second thoughts on the issue, but to get the idea out of their heads entirely. It is criminal to pay games with pensions, especially stock market games," he said.

    Klerides refuted allegations that the plan would endanger pensions. Instead, he claimed any decision would keep pensioners' best interests in mind.

    Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou said it was accepted practice in many countries for part of the social insurance fund to be invested on the stock market, under certain conditions.

    But the Cabinet did not discuss details of the stabilisation fund yesterday. Neither was the necessary legislation tabled at last week's House of Representatives plenum.

    Observers interpreted the continued delay as a step towards admitting that the government had no chance of pushing the salvage fund through parliament.

    The original plan was for the state to borrow from local or foreign banks to bolster flagging shares and register the fund as a private company with the state as the sole shareholder.

    President Glafcos Clerides has labelled the fund as the answer to "constant" calls for government intervention to save the bourse.

    DISY maintains that similar measures have been taken in Britain, America, Oman, Israel, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

    But AKEL says the cash would only help the "big players" -- not the small investors who have seen their money evaporate in the market crash.

    DIKO criticised the stabilisation fund as "blatant pre-elections fireworks, " and "an unorthodox cure that can only make things worse".

    Parliament has already approved a whole series of new laws aimed at reviving the market's fortunes, with little result.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] What happened to the Savvides-Matsakis addiction pledge?

    By Elias Hazou and Martin Hellicar MONTHS have passed since Health Minister Frixos Savvides and DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis made a public joint pledge to break their respective addictions- smoking and constant statements to the media.

    Nothing has happened.

    Yesterday, both deputy and Minister were tracked down by the Cyprus Mail, in a bid to find out what had become of the bold pledge.

    Matsakis was direct as usual, renewing his challenge to Minister Savvides to ditch the smoking habit in a sponsored effort. Savvides said he was willing to quit the weed, but added that he very much doubted Matsakis could keep up his end of the bargain with the May parliamentary elections looming.

    It all began with a largely good-humoured exchange at a House Health Committee meeting last summer. Matsakis suggested it was "unacceptable" to have a smoking Health Minister. Savvides countered that he would give up cigarettes when Matsakis gave up his "addiction" to the media.

    The Minister and the opposition party deputy went on to pledge a joint addiction-busting effort, the plan being to collect money for charity by asking people to sponsor the them for each day they went without lighting up or making a statement to a journalist.

    Matsakis' part of the deal was never quite as clear-cut as Savvides', the Minister acknowledging it would be unreasonable to expect the deputy not to talk to the press at all. Savvides said Matsakis had to demonstrate that he was no longer "seeking out" the media. "He has to show he can survive without making statements," Savvides said at the time. Matsakis, one of the most outspoken and media-friendly House deputies, promised his part of the bargain would be to "restrict" his statements.

    Matsakis threw the gauntlet to Savvides again yesterday: "Savvides promised he would quit smoking by January 1 this year, but he is still puffing away like a chain smoker," he said.

    Savvides countered that he was at least doing his best to keep up his end of the deal. "Well, I am trying to quit smoking, I'm getting there, and at least I'm working on it. But honestly, do you really expect Matsakis to quieten down during the (parliamentary) election campaign?" the Minister said.

    Both men said they had not forgotten their pledge and that they were still willing to go ahead with the sponsored addiction breaking challenge.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Doctor acquitted of taking bribe

    By a Staff Reporter

    AFTER a trial stretching over two years, a senior government doctor was yesterday acquitted of charges of accepting a 2,000 bribe. Dr. Michalis Constantinides -- who was suspended from his post as director of the eye clinic of Nicosia's Makarios hospital when the corruption trial began n October 1998 -- broke down in tears as the "not guilty" verdict was read out by Larnaca District Court judge Nicos Santis yesterday morning.

    The court found there was insufficient evidence to convict Constantinides on charges that he accepted a 2,000 bribe from private Larnaca opthalmiatrist Andreas Vorkas on October 10, 1998. Vorkas told the court that he had handed the cash to Constantinides at his Larnaca clinic in return for the government doctor ensuring the Makarios bought eye treatment equipment through him.

    Police - having been tipped off by Dr Vorkas -- arrested Dr Constantinides with the 2,000 on him as he left Vorkas' clinic on the morning of October 10.

    Constantinides insisted he had been given the money by Vorkas as a loan for him to pay for his daughter, studying in London, to buy a computer.

    During the lengthy trial, Constantinides' lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, told the court his client had been set up by Vorkas. Efstathiou said Vorkas held a grudge against Constantinides because the opening of the Makarios eye unit was taking patients away from Vorkas' private eye clinic.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Racehorse feed doped?

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CYPRUS Turf Club yesterday refused to comment about reports in Phileleftheros that samples of horse feed had tested positive for doping in Ireland. The newspaper claimed that the Irish laboratory had found three banned substances in urine samples taken from winning horses.

    The Veterinary Department yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that horse doping was cruelty to animals, and that owners and trainers of doped horses were prosecuted.

    "Lately there have been quite a lot of cases that we have just prosecuted. Just recently, I signed the warrant for police to take measures against owners and trainers," said senior veterinary officer, Andreas Orphanides.

    He said several people were implemented in the case.

    Phileleftheros newspaper said the known results could be the tip of the iceberg if all horse feed had been contaminated.

    Trainers have accused the government of insufficient quality control checks on horse feed.

    But the Turf Club said individual cases were still pending and that it would be unfair to comment.

    CID said yesterday that they were still waiting for results before proceeding with a case.

    The Horse Trainers Association SIDIK threatened industrial action earlier this month to protest against sluggish anti-doping measures.

    They say lengthy blood tests caused inconvenient delays in confirming race winners and distributing prize money.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Cabinet orders probe into Turkish Cypriot ill-treatment claim

    By a Staff Reporter THE CABINET yesterday appointed a two-man investigating committee to look into allegations that Turkish Cypriots who crossed to the south were ill-treated by police.

    The claims, made in the Turkish Cypriot press last week, prompted the government to launch an investigation.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has categorically denied the allegations.

    Because no formal complaint of ill-treatment was lodged with the Attorney- general's office, the government took it upon itself to investigate the claims.

    The two members appointed to the committee yesterday were Demetris Stylianides, a former president of the Supreme Court and a former member of the Commission for the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, and state attorney Olga Loizou.

    The government said last week it believed the Turkish Cypriot claims were a staged affair to substantiate their claims that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not live together.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [12] Sex discrimination plea over ID cards

    By a Staff Reporter

    DISY deputy Lia Georgiadou yesterday led a House Refugee Committee call for universal identity card application forms to be introduced for both sexes.

    Speaking at the committee yesterday, Georgiadou said women were asked how many times they had been married and how many children they had, something that was not required from men.

    "For a woman to be asked to say how many times she has been married and how many children she has while men are not is sexual discrimination," Georgiadou said.

    She said the Committee had asked for the applications to be made the same, adding: "Only asking a mother about her children is like going back to a matriarchal society where children have no link to their father"

    Committee president Aristophanis Georgiou said that the application had been in violation of sexual equality laws. "We have said time and again that requested information and criteria that are different (for each sex) have to be removed from society and the first to implement this has to be the state."

    Interior Ministry representative George Theodrou said women had been asked the additional information for statistical purposes.

    But a Women's Rights representative, Maro Varnavidou, said the applications were the product of outdated mentalities and should be same for both sexes. "If the government is interested in collecting information then the same should be obtained from both men and women."

    The matter was brought the Committee's attention by Georgiadou during discussion on whether the new identity cards should include information on the origin of an individual's parents and not just the holder's birthplace, as some may be the children of refugees.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [13] More illegal immigrants found in Dhekelia base

    By Martin Hellicar TWENTY-NINE suspected illegal immigrants from Iraq were arrested within the Dhekelia British Base at dawn yesterday, at the end of what they said was a long and torturous Odyssey from their homeland.

    The deputy chief of the Dhekelia Bases police, Nicos Pantechis, gave a detailed account of what the latest boat people to wash up on the island had been through.

    "They say they were picked up somewhere in Iraq nine days ago counting from yesterday," he said. "They were put in a container and travelled towards an unknown destination for endless hours before arriving at some unknown coast, " Pantechis said. "They loaded them onto a boat, which they describe as being manned by two people, a captain and another sailor. They were promised they would be taken to Greece. They eventually hit land, they cannot say exactly where, and then, they say, the captain and the other sailor threw them in the sea," the deputy police chief said.

    "They came ashore and walked for four or five hours before they reached the point where the police patrol met them," he added.

    Twenty-six of the immigrants were picked up by Dhekelia police and another three by Cyprus police. The 26 were yesterday being held in a specially designed holding enclosure at the Dhekelia base, while the three were at Oroklini police station.

    Cyprus police sources suggested the boat people had landed in the occupied areas and then wandered over to the Dhekelia area, but their exact landing point remained a mystery yesterday.

    Pantechis said the 26 Iraqis at Dhekelia were being well looked after yesterday: "We have given them food, medical care, clothes and all other amenities to make their stay here as pleasant as possible," he said.

    A Dhekelia bases court yesterday sentenced another 15 suspected illegal immigrants, who turned up in the Dhekelia area on January 31, to two months in jail for illegal entry.

    The 29 suspected illegals picked up yesterday are expected to appear in court today.

    Illegal immigrants have become an increasing problem for the island in recent years. On Monday night, in the latest of many incidents, police intercepted a boatload of illegal immigrants off the island's coast and headed them off using coast guard vessels.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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