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

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

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


Saturday, March 3, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Britain considers plea for lifting of poultry ban
  • [02] Defence lawyer accuses Athanassios of conspiracy
  • [03] Drugs cases up 600 per cent in 10 years
  • [04] Court rules against Kyprianou plea
  • [05] Markides stands by Mamas investigation
  • [06] Co-op overdraft breaches now a sacking offence
  • [07] Tsiakourmas case adjourned for extra week
  • [08] Cyprus shipping on its way to meeting EU standards
  • [09] Tsangarides denies telling foreigners they could work without a permit

  • [01] Britain considers plea for lifting of poultry ban

    By Jennie Matthew THE BRITISH High Commission said yesterday it might lobby the government to relax the blanket ban on British meat products, imposed 11 days ago in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

    The European Union banned the export of all British meat and dairy products on February 21, to try and prevent the foot-and-mouth epidemic from spreading to the Continent.

    Cyprus followed suit and banned the import of British meat and derivative products, but Commercial Secretary Lawson Ross yesterday said the Cyprus ban extended to poultry imports - not included in the EU move.

    Foot-and-mouth disease affects only cloven-hoofed animals: cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer.

    Ross said neither poultry nor horses were at risk from foot and mouth disease, and therefore a ban on the movement of these animals was unnecessary.

    Live poultry made up 99.75 per cent of the live animals exported from the UK to Cyprus between January and November 2000 - up 20 per cent on figures for 1999.

    Exports of live animals to Cyprus netted Britain £442,558 over the same January to November 2000 period, nearly 64 per cent of which (£282,410) came from poultry.

    Nevertheless, the ban on British cheese imports spells a heftier blow to British suppliers.

    "Our meat exports to Cyprus are very limited, but there was much more on the cheese side. Certainly about every supermarket in Cyprus stocks cheese from the UK," said Ross.

    Cheese and curd exports to Cyprus netted nearly twice the revenue earned from meat, at £850,714.

    The Director of the Veterinary Department, who is responsible for overseeing the shipment of meat products to Cyprus, was abroad yesterday and unable to respond to the poultry plea.

    British meat products had still not recovered from the 'mad cow' crisis when they were hit by foot-and-mouth.

    The foot-and-mouth virus is airborne, so outbreaks of the disease usually precipitate a full-scale epidemic. So far, 32 cases have been reported in Britain.

    Supermarkets have reported that more and more customers are avoiding British products, in favour of domestic or mainland European items.

    British cheddar has lost out in favour of variants from Ireland and the Netherlands.

    RAF Akrotiri meanwhile yesterday introduced disinfectant walkways for personnel arriving from Britain, similar to those put in place at Larnaca and Paphos airports on Thursday.

    All passengers and aircrew arriving from the UK, civilian and military, must walk across chemically treated foam mats when disembarking their aircraft.

    The last recorded case of foot and mouth disease in Cyprus was in 1964.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Defence lawyer accuses Athanassios of conspiracy

    By Martin Hellicar THE Lawyer defending two Limassol archimandrites charged with conspiring to label their Bishop, Athanassios, a homosexual, yesterday accused the Bishop of working to subjugate the Cyprus Church to the Mount Athos monastery of Vatopedi.

    Athanassios was appearing as a prosecution witness in the trial of archimandrites Andreas Constantinides and Chrysostomos Argyrides, who deny bribing a number of men to tell a Church probe last year that they had had sex with the Bishop of Limassol. The Church eventually threw out the gay accusations against Athanassios.

    Before the Nicosia District Court yesterday, defence lawyer Demetris Pavlides tried to turn the tables on Athanassios, insisting it was the popular Limassol Bishop who had conspired against his clients. He suggested Athanassios had also tried to defame his Paphos counterpart, Chrysostomos, in an effort to get himself in pole position to succeed Archbishop Chrysostomos.

    "You want a Vatopedi to take over, to end the autocephalous state of the Cyprus Church and bring it under the Vatopedi monastery," Pavlides said to Athanassios during a lengthy cross-examination. "That is all in your imagination," the black-clad Bishop calmly replied.

    Vatopedi is a revivalist monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, which is particularly popular with Cypriot monks. Many observers saw the gay claims against Athanassios, spearheaded by Chrysostomos of Paphos, as a clash between revivalist forces within the Cyprus Church, personified by Athanassios, and more traditionalist elements, represented by the Paphos Bishop. Chrysostomos of Paphos recently resurrected the gay claims against Athanassios.

    Athanassios confirmed before court that he had told police that his Paphos counterpart had spread "lies and slander" about him. The Limassol Bishop again denied ever having sex with men, saying such claims were "ridiculous filth".

    Pavlides' cross-examination tactic for yesterday's hearing consisted of going through the statements Athanassios gave to police last October and the events surrounding last year's "gay Bishop" saga and repeatedly putting it to the Bishop that he had lied.

    A typical exchange between the defence lawyer and the Bishop went like this: "I say your aim was to collect materials to conspire against accused and other clerics, not excluding Synod members," said Pavlides. "That is your opinion but it is a lie," said Athanassios. "I say it is true," said Pavlides. "I say it is a lie," replied Athanassios.

    The two accused sat impassively in the dock through a hearing lasting over two hours. Their lawyer repeatedly failed to observe protocol by addressing the Bishop in the singular, despite being told off for this by the court during Friday's first hearing.

    Pavlides cited Church law and submitted to Athanassios that it was a defrocking offence for a cleric to take another cleric to court.

    "I am not the accuser, I did not bring the accused here, the state did so and asked me to testify," Athanassios responded.

    Pavlides persisted with the same line of questioning and the presiding judge, not for the first time, intervened to tell the lawyer that he was being irrelevant. "This is not a case of a cleric bringing a case against another cleric," Judge Phivos Zomenis told Pavlides.

    Constantinides and Argyrides were charged after two men who had testified before a Church probe into the gay claims against Athanassios said they had been bribed to lie to the investigating clerics. The two laymen were last month jailed for three months for defaming Athanassios. One of them walked free on Thursday after receiving a presidential pardon on compassionate grounds.

    Athanassios told the court yesterday that he had "no complaint" against Constantinides and Argyrides so long as they were not proved guilty and added that he would be "delighted" if they were acquitted. He repeated that he forgave his two subordinates. Last year, Constantinides spent long months lambasting Athanassios as a homosexual.

    The trial of the two archimandrites -- which has done nothing for the reputation of a Church dragged through the mud by last year's "gay Bishop" saga -- continues on Wednesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Drugs cases up 600 per cent in 10 years

    By Martin Hellicar THE NUMBER of drugs related cases in Cyprus has risen by 600 per cent over the past decade, the head of the islands Drug Squad, Demetrakis Iasonos, said yesterday.

    Iasonos, presenting the police drugs report for 2000, also identified what he said was a worrying increase in heroin use. "In 2000 there were 57 people involved in heroin cases, compared to only 19 in 1999," the senior police officer said.

    Iasonos said his department was focusing on prevention in a bid to reverse this trend. He also slammed recent suggestions from senior DISY member Eleni Vrahimi that cannabis be legalised. Iasonos restated the police line of zero tolerance for drug abuse.

    This "low tolerance" for drug abuse on the island was yesterday heralded by the US State Department report on narcotics for 2000.

    The report stated that drug trafficking from the occupied areas remained a problem but also noted that low tolerance for drug abuse shown by Cyprus police had "converted Cyprus from a drug transit point to a 'broker point', in which dealers meet potential buyers".

    Iasonos commented yesterday that the local Drug Squad was in constant contact with foreign drug officers in a bid to stamp out such drug "brokering" on the island.

    The State Department reported that Cyprus did not produce a significant amount of narcotics and had only a small, if growing, band of "soft" drug users.

    "The only illicitly cultivated controlled substance in Cyprus is cannabis and this is grown only in small quantities for local consumption," the State Department report says.

    A recent Europe-wide study on drug abuse by teenagers put Cyprus at the bottom of the league table of drug abuse. But it also picked up the same trend regarding heroin use noted by Iasonos yesterday, identifying a shift from "soft" drugs like cannabis to heroin among 16-year-old schoolboys. The study showed that only 3.5 per cent of Cypriot 16-year-olds had tried drugs, compared to the European average of 18 per cent.

    The two foreign reports make a mockery of widespread recent press speculation about growing abuse of dangerous narcotics on the island.

    The near-hysterical reports have been sparked by televised interviews with heroin addicts and disputed reports that one-in-four Cypriots had dabbled with illegal drugs.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Court rules against Kyprianou plea

    By a Staff Reporter A LAWYER who last month spent 36 hours behind bars for contempt of court has failed in a bid to have the three judges who jailed him replaced for the murder hearing that gave rise to his imprisonment.

    Michalakis Kyprianou said his client, 17-year-old Andreas Panovic, felt he would not get a fair hearing from the Limassol Criminal court judges who had jailed Kyprianou because they would be biased against the well-known lawyer.

    Last month, the judges sentenced Kyprianou to five days in jail after he twice refused to apologise to the bench for accusing them of passing 'love notes' to each other during a hearing. Kyprianou was released after 36 hours inside, under standard prison practice.

    The Limassol Criminal court examined Kyprianou's request during a five-hour session yesterday. With Attorney-general Alecos Markides arguing against, the court threw out the lawyer's request.

    The same judges will continue the trial of Panovic and another Limassol youth charged with murdering British tourist Graham Mills in Limassol last year.

    The contempt ruling against Kyprianou brought his lawyer colleagues out on a one-day strike last month. Kyprianou, represented by five of the island's top lawyers, is appealing against the contempt ruling before the Supreme Court.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Markides stands by Mamas investigation

    By George Psyllides ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday stuck to his guns in the face of a barrage of criticism of his decision to launch an investigation into whether an interview by Demetris Mamas could prejudice a trial.

    The interview, aired on Sigma on Tuesday night, featured Christiana Andreou, the former fiancée of Petros Patsalides, who goes on trial on Monday suspected of involvement in a nightclub shooting.

    Patsalides gained notoriety after escaping from police custody and surrendering to Mamas after 18 days on the run.

    Two Russian girls were seriously injured in the attack, which came after Patsalides allegedly clashed with bouncers as he tried to drag Andreou out of the club.

    On Wednesday, Markides launched a probe into whether the interview could be prejudicial to Patsalides' trial.

    Mamas on Thursday accused Markides of being "selectively sensitive", saying he acted under pressure from other channel bosses.

    Yesterday, Markides once more rejected the accusations, saying he was merely enforcing the law.

    Markides argued that if the media were going to be allowed to interview witnesses in serious cases and destroy their reliability, then the House should change the law.

    The Attorney-general stressed he was used to being attacked and that it would not stop him from doing his job.

    "No matter how many times I'm attacked, I will do my duty," he said.

    He added: "In this case, the attacks come from those under investigation."

    Yesterday, the Journalists' Union sent a letter to Markides supporting Mamas and urging the Attorney-general not to pursue the case further since, as the union claimed, the reporter was acting within his constitutional rights.

    Markides on Thursday told the Cyprus Mail that it was unprecedented for Cyprus to have a crucial witness going on television to contradict a statement given to police in the course of a criminal investigation into a case where the charge was attempted murder against the witness herself.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Co-op overdraft breaches now a sacking offence

    By Melina Demetriou ANY Co-operative Movement committee members exceeding their overdraft limits will henceforth be sacked, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis announced yesterday.

    The new rules come in the wake of the admission by DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis that he exceeded his overdraft at a Paphos co-operative that he chaired by £63,000.

    The decision is not retroactive, so Pittokopitis will not be affected.

    "At a meeting we had at the ministry today, we decided to toughen regulations regarding etiquette breaches in order to get in line with EU standards. An existing law on the Co-operative Movement's operation also allows us to make this change," Rolandis said yesterday.

    "But to be fair, we will not penalise members of the Paphos co-operative committee because they were not aware of this development when going into overdraft," he added.

    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 committee showed overdrafts in excess of £93,000.

    "When we found about the irregularities in the bank we followed the standard procedure sending a warning letter to the bank's members who were involved in the case, asking them to pay back the money overdrawn in excess. And they complied," the minister said.

    Pittokopitis has admitted to taking out a loan of £93,000 from the bank he chaired, breaking his overdraft limit of £30,000.

    "I took out this loan last October and I had until December 30 to pay it out. But I paid all the money back by December 1," Pittokopitis told a news conference on Thursday.

    But insisting on his innocence, he argued that private and co-operative banks allowed their customers to exceed their overdraft limits all the time.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, however, yesterday described the Pittokopitis case as unique, putting the deputy in a tight spot.

    "We are not talking about just any citizen, but about a deputy, who for years badgered others about everything. This same person has called on almost each and every politician from the across the ideological spectrum to resign. I just felt I had to comment on that."

    In an interview to CyBC yesterday, Pittokopitis was categorical that there was no issue of him resigning.

    "I haven't abused any money. I have been elected as a Chairman of the bank's committee by overwhelming majority of the bank's council."

    But the deputy agreed that, "these kind of breaches must stop."

    The Chairman of the House Watchdog Committee Christos Pourgourides of DISY insisted yesterday that his colleague's action constituted a serious offence and said he was not satisfied with the government's handling of the matter.

    Pourgourides called on his colleague to apologise for his mistake, and said the matter would be discussed at the Committee.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Tsiakourmas case adjourned for extra week

    By a Staff Reporter A TURKISH Cypriot 'court' yesterday held Greek Cypriot contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas over until March 19, a week longer than expected.

    UNFICYP spokesman Charles Gaulkin told the Cyprus Mail the 'court' had met briefly for ten minutes and decided to adjourn until March 19.

    Tsiakourmas, 39, who is accused of possession of drugs, was due to reappear in 'court' on March 12 at the end of the Muslim holiday of Bayram but Gaulkin said the case had been postponed for another week.

    "They said they had some matters to handle the following week," he said.

    Tsiakourmas` wife Niki crossed to the north to attend the hearing in occupied Nicosia along with other relatives of the diabetic man who has been held by the Turkish Cypriot side since December.

    Gaulkin said the family was extremely upset at the new delay but that Tsiakourmas was "holding up" and was receiving regular checkups for his condition.

    Tsiakourmas was taken forcibly from his car on the Pyla-Pergmos road inside British bases territory on December 13.

    It is believed the new delay in completing the Tsiakourmas case is directly related to the drugs trial of a Turkish Cypriot, which winds up with an expected verdict on March 16.

    Omer Tekogul, 42, from the mixed buffer-zone village of Pyla was arrested on December 1 on charges of possession of two kilos of heroin.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Cyprus shipping on its way to meeting EU standards

    By Jean Christou THE RACE is on to bring Cyprus shipping standards up to scratch before meetings in Brussels this month to close the island's transport chapter under EU harmonisation.

    Delegates at the annual general meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Council (CSC) yesterday heard about the huge progress made in the past 12 months to improve the image of the Cyprus flag, but also that much still needed to be done.

    Over the past two years, Cyprus, which boasts the world's sixth largest fleet with over 2,000 vessels, has toughened its stance on substandard ships. Several have been deleted from the register, while the number of inspectors has now been increased to 38 in 20 major ports around the world, leading to a reduction in detentions.

    The government has also offered new tax incentives to shipmanagement companies, and abolished all discrimination between Cypriot and foreign companies. The long-awaited computerisation of the Merchant Shipping Department is also well under way.

    Cyprus' EU negotiator George Vassiliou told delegates yesterday that 100 ships "with problems" had been identified and would undergo a thorough and detailed investigation.

    "We want to maintain this sector by hook or by crook," Vassiliou said.

    Vassiliou said that when asked in Europe what the island had to contribute to the bloc, Cyprus said it was offering the sixth biggest fleet in the world, which would transform Europe into a global shipping power.

    "In order to join the EU, we have to meet some very high standards of safety, and slowly and steadily we are succeeding," he said. "We want to achieve safety standards better than those of many EU nations, enabling Cyprus, not to be the 6th or 5th or 4th largest fleet in the world, but the safest."

    Vassiliou said one EU country had raised objections to the closing of the Cyprus transport chapter of the acquis because of maritime safety concerns and that he was expecting a decision from Brussels later yesterday on whether the objection had be withdrawn.

    "This member country wanted to be reassured many, many times that we would improve safety standards and because of the insistence of this one member state on the aspect of safety we have speeded up the whole process," he said.

    "The Cyprus flag is not a flag of convenience. We want ships that are up to standard."

    Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou told delegates that by the year 2003 Cyprus would be in a position to meet the very high demands and expectations of the EU, while retaining the present incentives to the shipping industry.

    Outgoing CSC president Juergen Hahn said Neophytou's approach to the shipping sector during his term of office had been like a "breath of fresh air", but warned against complacency.

    "In 2000, some of the long-awaited corrective measures aimed towards the improvement of the Cyprus flag were implemented and such decisive action was welcomed by the international shipping community," he said.

    However, he warned that much still needed to be done and that one of the immediate challengers for the maritime administration was the fulfilling of a new convention on the endorsement of certificates of competency for all seafarers by February 2002.

    "Cyprus with its very large number of foreign seafarers on board ships faces a particular problem. The maritime administration must act now," Hahn said. "Cyprus simply cannot afford to lag behind other maritime administrations on this crucial issue. and if it is not handled promptly it will definitely also cause a serious problems vis-a-vis our accession process to the EU."

    Hahn also urged the government to continue a zero-tolerance policy towards substandard vessels and to appoint more inspectors at remaining ports around the world.

    "We have already entered the new millennium and the challenges for Cyprus shipping are clear and necessitate prompt and decisive action by the maritime administration," he said.

    The CSC has 142 members, which collectively control in excess of 1,400 ocean-going vessels with 24 million gross tonnes.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Tsangarides denies telling foreigners they could work without a permit

    By George Psyllides A LABOUR agent on trial for involvement in a fake work permits scam yesterday denied that he had ever told foreign workers they could start work before their permits were issued.

    DISY's former organisational secretary, Andreas Tsangarides, who also acted as an agent for foreign workers, was arrested in 1999 after police launched a probe into allegations of corrupt pink slip practices.

    Tsangarides, who pleaded not guilty to four counts of collaborating in the illegal employment of foreigners, yesterday denied assuring foreign workers that they could work without having a permit.

    He said his agency merely took the foreign workers to the prospective employer; from then on, it was up to them to take care of the paper work.

    In most cases, he claimed, he did not have any further communication with the employers.

    He admitted, however, that it was faster for foreigners to come to the island as tourists and then seek employment, though he claimed this method was used mostly in "emergency cases".

    The court heard that in these cases it was up to the Interior Minister or the head of the immigration department to decide whether to issue a pink slip or not.

    The court adjourned until March 13, when the defence will call its next witness, former immigration department chief Christodoulos Nicolaides.

    Nicolaides, who was suspended when the scandal emerged in 1999, has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and corruption, in allegedly arranging pink slips for cabaret girls.

    His trial continues on March 12.

    The probe has led to the arrest of a number of other officials and members of the police force. Senior immigration officer Nicos Vakanas, suspended from office along with Nicolaides, has been charged with offences similar to his boss is accused of. Three police officers were also arrested in 1999 in connection with the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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