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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, March 6, 2001


  • [01] Police drop attempted murder charges against Patsalides
  • [02] Former ambassador in court, but case adjourned
  • [03] Deputies protest at being kept in the dark on CY plans
  • [04] Vets fuming over British sterilisation programme
  • [05] Pontian hurt in cabaret brawl
  • [06] Suspects deny gang rape charge
  • [07] A weekend of destruction

  • [01] Police drop attempted murder charges against Patsalides

    By Martin Hellicar STATE prosecutors yesterday dropped two attempted murder charges against former fugitive Petros Patsalides, one of them for allegedly trying to gun down his former fiancée, Christiana Andreou.

    The 34-year-old carpenter, from Nikitari in the Troodos foothills, still faces a number of charges relating to a machine-gun attack on Nicosia's Dow Jones nightclub in the early hours of January 21. The Nicosia Assizes yesterday decided the man who gained notoriety by escaping capture by police for 18 days last month would answer to these charges on Monday.

    It was not clear yesterday why the attempted murder charges had been dropped by state prosecutors, but a conviction began to look increasingly unlikely after the suspect's ex-fiancée began declaring her undying love for Patsalides. Police had hoped she would take the witness stand during her ex-lover's trial to testify to him allegedly threatening to kill her on a number of occasions before the January 21 incident.

    The other dropped murder charge concerned an alleged attempt to gun down Dow Jones bouncer Nicos Andreotis.

    Patsalides and his co-accused Andreas Christodoulou still face charges of injuring two Russian girls hit by bullets outside the club. They are also charged with illegally carrying and using an army issue G3 automatic.

    Police say the machine-gun attack on the Dow Jones took place shortly after bouncers had thrown Patsalides out as he tried to drag Christiana from the nightspot.

    Patsalides and Christodoulou, 22, were arrested shortly after the attack. But, on March 6, Patsalides gave a five-man police escort the slip in old Nicosia. He remained on the run for 18 days after, in the end surrendering to police through well-known Sigma TV reporter Demetris Mamas.

    Police were again out in impressive force for Patsalides' court hearing yesterday, fearing he might try a repeat of an escape act that thoroughly embarrassed the force.

    Officers kept Christiana, who had turned up to see her former fiancée, away from Patsalides to avoid a repeat of the crush of photographers, relatives and officers that occurred outside the court as Petros and Christiana tried to embrace each other on Tuesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Former ambassador in court, but case adjourned

    By a Staff Reporter THE case against Cyprus' former ambassador to Egypt was adjourned until Thursday yesterday after the defence requested time to study prosecution witness' testimonies.

    Charalambos Kapsos was suspended in 1999 following allegations that he pocketed the proceeds -- £11,500 - of a bouzouki night that he had hosted in Cairo.

    Kapsos could also face charges that he allegedly abused his diplomatic position to smuggle 372 cases of wine into Egypt, declaring the container as personal effects.

    This would have saved him paying 300 per cent import duty levied by Egyptian customs.

    Diplomats are allowed to buy limited quantities of alcoholic beverages tax- free.

    Yesterday, Kapsos, who tried very hard to keep a low profile, was ordered by the court to post £10,000 bail and submit his travel documents to the authorities.

    After the hearing, Kapsos remained inside the building for around three hours trying to avoid the awaiting television cameras.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Deputies protest at being kept in the dark on CY plans

    By Melina Demetriou DEPUTIES yesterday complained about not being briefed about Cyprus Airways' fleet renewal plans until well after they were announced last month.

    The House Finance Committee had two behind-closed-doors sessions to pore over CY's purchasing plans before they were announced on February 16, but deputies yesterday complained they had not been told how many planes would be replaced or when or what tenders had been submitted.

    Deputies wanted to check that CY's finances were healthy enough to survive the costly aircraft buying process.

    "We sent a letter to the Finance Minister asking for a briefing about the renewal plans but he ignored us. The House judges that it should have been informed about the plans before any final decisions were made. The only information we had until today was from the media. It was an oversight and a mistake on behalf of the ministry to shut us out," Finance Committee chairman Marcos Kyprianou said yesterday after a meeting where deputies were finally briefed about CY's plans.

    "Both the people and we have a say in the national carrier's future," he insisted.

    DIKO leader and deputy Tassos Papadopoulos claimed the carrier had long- term plans that would cost much more to realise than the official announcement suggested.

    "People have a right to know about all this since the company is listed on the CSE," Papadopoulos said.

    CY -- whose fleet is entirely supplied by Airbus - has said it will buy two Airbus A319 aircraft and lease two A330s. The four new planes will cover the airline's needs after the sale of four ageing A310s. The sale and replacement operation is scheduled to be completed by 2003.

    The national carrier said it would lease four Boeing 737 aircraft, to be delivered in 2003, for its charter-wing Eurocypria.

    The total investment adds up to about $100 million, and the airline is offsetting costs by selling the four A310s.

    Responding to the Committee's complaints after yesterday's closed session, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said: "I didn't have time to brief you because I didn't receive your letter until one day before CY's announcement."

    But Kyprianou insisted: " We could have been briefed - for the sake of principle -- even an hour before the official plans were out."

    CY chairman Haris Loizides said: " We briefed deputies about our decisions and I think they are satisfied with the information they had."

    But Kyprianou argued that the Committee did not have adequate information to judge the grounds on which CY's decisions had been taken.

    "On the financial side, there are still things to be cleared," he said, " and we have asked for more details."

    Asked to comment on Papadopoulos' claims that the carrier's plans provided for more spending than what had been declared, Loizides said: "I cannot comment on things that I am not aware of but the official announcement mirrors our decisions. But the cost of leasing is always an ambiguous matter. If you lease a plane for long it will cost you more than it will if you lease it for a short period, " he explained.

    The CY chairman had last month denied that criteria other than financial had played a part in CY's decision.

    CY currently has 12 Airbuses -- eight A320s, which seat 165 passengers each, and four A310s, which seat 241. Three of the A320s are leased to Eurocypria. The average age of the fleet is 10.7 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Vets fuming over British sterilisation programme

    By Jean Christou THE FUR is flying over a planned visit by British vets to carry out a major spaying programme on the island's stray cats in June.

    But local vets said yesterday they would do everything in their power to prevent the project - now in its third straight year - from going ahead because they say it is illegal.

    A press release from The Cross Cats Project, which first began on the island in 1999, said that a party of British veterinary surgeons and students due to graduate in July this year would be on the island from June 1-16.

    For the first time, the team will be joined by five representatives from the University of Salonica and two Cypriot graduate veterinary surgeons. The two-week programme is based at the Famagusta veterinary station at Ormidhia.

    Cats will be collected from other tourist areas and brought to the station for spaying.

    The project is supported by the government and funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It is organised by Suzy Gale, the wife of British MP Roger Gale, chairman of the Conservative Animal Welfare Group.

    In its press release, Cross Cats said it has the support of the Veterinary Council and the Veterinarians Association in Cyprus, but both organisations yesterday expressed total opposition to the project and threatened to take measures to prevent the programme going ahead.

    Takis Koliandris, president of the Veterinarian's Association, told the Cyprus Mailthe spaying being done was illegal. He said that under Cyprus law only registered vets could operate in Cyprus and that foreign professors could only operate here at the invitation of a local vet. "These people are not vets," he said. "They a re students."

    Koliandris said the previous visits were tolerated because they had been told it would be the last time. The 1999 visit was to Akrotiri on the British bases.

    "We were told it was a pilot programme but it has been going on for two years now," he said. "This is not about business because it concerns stray cats. It's just illegal."

    Veterinary Council chairman Andreas Emmanuel also said it was a matter of law and has written to Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous on the issue. "Only vets can practice veterinary medicine," he said. "Our law is clear. These people are not fully qualified."

    He said he would not comment on whether business interests were involved. "My duty is to act according to the law," he said. "The government can't give permission for something that is against the law of the country. If I was in another country I would expect a reaction to my letter from the Minister but not here."

    He said the Council, a veterinary watchdog, had the authority to take action against any vet who got involved in the Cross Cats project. "We act within a wide area investigating the practices of private and government vets," he said.

    Ministry official Klitos Andreou said he was "astonished" by the reaction of the two bodies. "Members of the Council and the Association agreed to the project and were present last year," he said. "It is an opportunity for all of us to meet and exchange ideas but it seems there are some personal interests at work here."

    Andreou said there was a special national spaying programme for local vets for which the government sets aside some £10,000 a year but, he did not believe this was the issue at stake. "There are some other personal interests," he insisted.

    Under the government programme, 679 cats -- 505 females and 174 males -- were spayed last year. Another 403 cats -- 215 females and 189 males -- were sterilised under last year's Cross Cats programme.

    The government sterilisation programme also spayed 216 dogs -- 132 females and 84 males.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Pontian hurt in cabaret brawl

    By a Staff Reporter A RUSSIAN Greek, or Pontian, youth was yesterday fighting for his life in Limassol hospital after being cut in the neck with a broken bottle during a fight at one of the town's cabarets in the early hours.

    Three men -- the cabaret owner, a cabaret waiter and another Limassol man - were remanded in custody in connection with the bloody incident later in the day yesterday.

    The Limassol District Court heard that police had found the youth, whose name had not been released yesterday, in a pool of blood on the floor of the cabaret in the town's notorious Heroes' Square at about 2am yesterday. Police had rushed to the club after receiving a call informing them that a group of five Pontians were kicking up a fuss about the bill.

    The court heard that the victim and four of his friends had baulked at a drinks bill of £75. The youth apparently told club bosses he would pay £25 and his mates would pay the rest. But, while he was having this debate with the club, his friends did a runner, the court heard.

    Police said a fight ensued between the Pontian youth and the three suspects, during which the Pontian was hit in the neck with a broken bottle.

    Police rushed the bloodied youth to hospital, where he was still in a critical condition late yesterday.

    The court remanded the three suspects for eight days each.

    Police were yesterday still searching for the injured man's four drinking partners.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Suspects deny gang rape charge

    By a Staff Reporter FIVE Nicosia men yesterday pleaded not guilty before the Assizes court to charges of gang raping a 20-year-old Moldavian artiste last February.

    The court ordered the men, aged between 18 and 23 and hailing from villages around Nicosia, to remain in custody until the trial on March 26.

    They were arrested earlier this month after a 20-year-old woman told police that five men had raped her for hours at a remote spot outside Nicosia.

    Police heard the men had threatened to kill her if she reported the rape, and subjected her to horrific brutality before abandoning her in the fields.

    The crime is alleged to have taken place in a derelict shack in a deserted area between the villages of Marki and Kotsiatis between 3am and 8am.

    The 20-year-old told police she left the cabaret where she worked in Larnaca with five men, who offered to drive her home.

    Instead, she said, they took her to the shack, where they took turns in raping her for four hours.

    When the alleged assailants sped off, she called a taxi for help from her mobile phone, and returned to her Larnaca apartment.

    She then called her employer and together they went to the Pera Chorio Nisou police station, where they reported the incident.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] A weekend of destruction

    By Martin Hellicar POLICE were yesterday counting the cost of a weekend of arson attacks in Nicosia and Limassol, with a bomb attack to boot.

    One of the suspected arson attacks took place in the parking lot of the Omorphita police station, with a police officer's car going up in flames.

    In the early hours yesterday, it was Larnaca's turn to be targeted by arsonists, with three motorbikes being torched in two separate attacks.

    The first weekend attack, just before 6 am on Saturday morning, was rather embarrassing for police. Officers on duty at the police station in the capital's Omorphita suburb had to rush to the station's car park to put out a fire under a vehicle belonging to police officer Andreas Timoleontos. The exact cause of the blaze was not clear, but foul play is suspected.

    Meanwhile, across town in Engomi, and sometime between half-past-midnight and 8.30 am on Saturday, a fire broke out under a car parked in the underground parking lot of a block of flats on Harilaos Michail Street. The owner of the vehicle, 42-year-old Yiannis Kastanias, was in bed in his flat above the parking lot at the time of the blaze. Police believe arsonists were to blame.

    On Saturday night, at around 10.15, the fire brigade had to tackle a fire at a home off Kolonakion Street in Limassol. The house tenant was away at the time of the blaze. Police later found evidence that arsonists had been at work and that they had also tried to set fire to a neighbouring home. The back door of the next-door house was found forced and a flammable liquid had been splashed about. Both targeted houses belong to Melios Yiannaka.

    Just over an hour later, in the Ayios Pavlos area of Nicosia, a bomb went off under a Mazda 626 parked outside the home of owner Maro Michailidou, 63, at the junction of Archbishop Kyprianou and Omirou Streets. The blast shattered windows of nearby homes. Police later said the explosion had been caused by a homemade pipe bomb.

    There was a lull in the attacks on Sunday before three mopeds were targeted by arsonist in Larnaca in the early hours yesterday.

    The bikes were destroyed in two separate attacks at the junction of Dionisios Solomou and George Seferis Avenues in the Larnaca port area between 2.10 and 2.30 am.

    A passing police patrol spotted two motorbikes in flames. Officers managed to put out the fires using sand. They later discovered a third bike burnt out in the underground parking of a neighbouring block of flats.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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