|Wednesday, 29 November 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-08
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Thursday, March 8, 2001
 Sparks fly over claims of police cover-up of unsolved casesBy Melina Demetriou
POLITICIANS and journalists watched aghast yesterday as AKEL deputy Kikis Yiangou threw a police report at Police Chief Andreas Angelides as the two clashed during a meeting of the House Ad Hoc Committee on Crime yesterday.
The 1995 report that Yiangou submitted to the Committee and "delivered" to Angelides reveals there are about 400 cases of criminal offences which occurred between 1993 and 1995 that are missing from police records.
The report suggests that the police solved only half the crimes committed in that period and hid the rest from the public eye.
"The police in a number of cases urged citizens who reported crimes to the police to sign a document agreeing not to file official complaints. In exchange, the force would take measures such as patrolling their house to protect them. Such actions are forbidden and illegal," the report says.
"If you dismiss those findings then I shall reveal more facts."Yiangou threatened Angelides.
But the Police Chief was quick to respond: "It is not the first time Yiangou makes these moves to impress the public. We looked into previous allegations he made in the past concerning similar issues and we found out they were imaginary."
Yiangou then lost his temper, rose from his seat and - in front of in front of his shocked colleagues and a nervous Justice minister -- threw the report at Angelides. The report missed, and landed on the floor.
"I got this report from you, from your force!" he shouted.
Committee Chairman Rikkos Erotocritou of DISY managed to restore order, reminding the two men that they ought to behave and respect each other in parliament.
"Do you want this incident to dominate the television news tonight?" he asked.
The Committee asked Angelides to submit police files of the period to the House so that deputies could examine whether any illegalities had occurred.
The Police Chief then admitted: "It is possible that one branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) followed that practice then, but there is no way that anything like this happens nowadays."
Costas Papacostas of AKEL, who held a senior position in the police force at the time, confirmed that what Yiangou claimed was true.
Yiangou went further, saying he had looked into police files and found out that only 40 per cent of serious criminal cases had been registered in the criminal records and claiming the rest were those the police had failed to solve.
"They do that to be able to come up with statistics showing that crime is not on the rise. I found out that in 1996 there were three times more criminal cases than in 1992," he said.
CID officer Tassos Panayiotou admitted that in some cases the police omitted to include cases of minor criminal offences in official records but still investigated them.
"Stealing objects worth less than £500 constitutes a minor offence. Some people report that their bicycle is missing and call again in two days to say they found it somewhere. That's why we keep some of those cases in the station diary only," he explained.
Justice minister Nicos Koshis dismissed the deputy's claims and asked Yiangou to submit to him any evidence he had to back his allegations.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Government to table CyTA reform billBy Elias Hazou
THE CABINET yesterday announced it was tabling legislation to turn the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) into a state-owned private company, ending months of speculation on how the government planned to face the liberalisation of the sector.
The Minister of Communications and Public Works, Averoff Neophytou, announced the decision after a Cabinet meeting yesterday, noting the government would be tabling the bill to parliament as early as next week.
"The key word here is flexibility: CyTA needs to keep up with the rest of the world. Otherwise it will not be able to survive in the liberalised telecommunications market," Neophytou said.
Cyprus' harmonisation with the EU's acquis communautaire means that CyTA's monopoly in the telecommunications sector must end by 2003.
The plan would require the approval of the House of Representatives, which keeps a close eye on semi-government organisations, even when it comes to approving pricing policy.
Though the government decision was expected, its precise timing seemed to take everyone by surprise, coming so close to parliamentary elections.
This time last year, the government was categorically denying any plans to privatise CyTA, and last December the Cabinet put off discussion of the proposal so that unions would have time to review the proposal.
According to the government's plan, CyTA's sole shareholders would be the state and the company's employees, who would have a fixed stake of six per cent.
"CyTA employees will become our partners, but they will need to buy their shares in the company; nothing will be given away," Neophytou said yesterday, denying suggestions that CyTA unions had been "bribed" by offers of free shares.
But opponents of the plan argue that if CyTA were listed on the stock market, there would be nothing to stop anyone buying up the shares.
Opposition parties who contest the plan immediately mounted a full-scale assault on the government.
Neophytou had to respond to claims that changing CyTA's legal status was unconstitutional.
"The Attorney-general has already looked into the issue and has determined that no amendments to the Constitution are necessary to go ahead with the plan."
But the communist party mouthpiece Haravghi yesterday quoted a state attorney claiming changes to CyTA's status would involve reviewing or amending Article 123 of the Constitution, a core clause that could not be altered, even with a two-thirds vote in Parliament. The same attorney went on to say that the proposed plan was "evidence that those governing have no knowledge of, or no regard for, the constitution."
AKEL spokesman Andreas Christou reiterated the party's long-standing opposition to the privatisation of semi-government organisations, arguing there were other ways to making such organisations more flexible and competitive and that altering CyTA's status would make the public utility's pricing policy more complex.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Three hours of cross-examination and 85 questions still to goBy George Psyllides
BISHOP Athanassios of Limassol yesterday dismissed allegations that he frequented a brothel where he met a man who later falsely testified before the Holy Synod that he had sexual liaisons with the Bishop.
The trial of archimandrites Andreas Constantinides and Chrysostomos Argyrides, accused of conspiring to defame Athanassios by branding him a homosexual, continued yesterday with the defence concentrating on trying to prove that the Bishop was indeed associated with any number of seedy characters.
The hearing begun about 30 minutes late because the court's clerk could not find a stenographer.
Once that was sorted out, Athanassios took the witness stand in the crowded courtroom as Demetris Pavlides, defending, resumed cross-examination from where he had left off last Friday.
The Bishop of Limassol, who seemed more at home now after some 12 hours of often tedious questioning in the last 11 days, leant against a window ledge and fiddled with a paper clip.
Pavlides put it to Athanassios that he had in fact known witness Costas Savva before August 2000, when the man had confessed he had been lying about the bishop.
Savva was jailed for three months for falsely testifying that he had had a sexual relation with Athanassios.
He told police he had been paid by the two archimandrites to lie to the Holy Synod.
Athanassios said he only met Savva after his confession in August last year and had never seen him before.
But Pavlides suggested Athanassios had known Savva since 1994, when they met in a Limassol brothel.
"Do you know Niki?" Pavlides asked.
"Niki who? My sister's also called Niki," Athanassios quipped.
"Niki the madame," Pavlides said, prompting some amusement in the court.
Athanassios replied he did not know Niki the madame, but Pavlides insisted he had met Savva at her brothel.
The bishop calmly dismissed the charge as the opinion of the defence.
The procedure continued, with Pavlides often getting caught repeating himself, prompting Athanassios to suggest the defence lawyer needed to learn Greek.
Pavlides resumed after asking the court to warn the witness not to be sarcastic. His request was ignored
Pavlides then asked Athanassios why he refused to see Christos Stangos, a Greek man who wrote an explicit letter describing an alleged sexual liaison with Athanassios while the two were at Mount Athos.
Athanassios said he did not want to see Stangos because he had heard he was an "immoral person".
He rejected the defence claim that the real reason for his refusal was because he feared what Stangos knew about him, arguing that if indeed he were afraid he would cajole Stangos and not refuse to see him.
The hearing continued with the defence trying to prove that Athanassios was linked to several homosexuals.
This tactic drew several objections from state prosecutor George Papaioannou, who told the court the defence was repeatedly introducing third parties who had nothing to do with the case at hand.
Judge Fivos Zomenis allowed the defence to proceed with caution, pointing out that the connection of these parties to the case must soon be made evident by the defence.
Pavlides continued his line of questioning while Athanassios leaned back against the windowsill, relaxed, with his hands folded and listening carefully.
At some point, weary of the repetition, he told Pavlides: "I think you came unprepared."
Pavlides again complained that the witness was being sarcastic, asking the court to reprimand him.
But the court instead wondered how much time the defence needed to complete its cross-examination, after three hours of non-stop questioning.
Pavlides said he had another 85 questions lined up and the judge adjourned the trial for March 16.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Deputy claims party plot for omission from list of candidatesBy Athena Karsera
DISY deputy for Larnaca Stelios Yerasimou yesterday blamed dirty games being cooked up by "master chefs" within the party for his omission from the ruling party's ballot for the upcoming general elections.
The party, through its president Nicos Anastassiades and spokesman Tassos Mitsopoulos, said it could not rule out Yerasimou's claims, saying such activities were an unfortunate part of political life.
The party was also rife with unconfirmed rumours that the president of the party's women's group, Josephina Antoniou-Francis, had resigned. She was unavailable for comment, but the reports claimed her resignation had been due to the outcome of Sunday's election meeting in Larnaca, at which Yerasimou lost his place.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Yerasimou said: "I was not defeated during the conference (to select who would appear on the ballot) I was attacked because it was almost certain I would appear on the ballot. It is not only me that is saying this. Everyone is.
"The master chefs of politics are everywhere. It seems that an agreement (to exclude me) was cooked up last September and now in spite of opinion polls putting our party at only 27 to 28 per cent these chefs don't care about anything but paving a road for themselves."
Yerasimou said he had carried out an independent study and found that he could have personally guaranteed more than 6,000 Larnaca votes for his party, had he been included on the ballots.
Yerasimou said he was proud of his years of service to the party and would continue to act for the best interests of Larnaca residents even though no he would no longer be a deputy after the next elections.
"I worked as a deputy for five years, spent ten as a municipal councillor for DISY and eight years as the party's district secretary in Larnaca. I will keep working whether I am on the ballot or not," he said.
Anastassiades said everyone recognised Yerasimou's services to the party and said he was an example to be followed. While not confirming Yerasimou's charges of a conspiracy, he said such games had always been an unfortunate part of political life.
Mitsopoulos said the party's leadership would never have been involved in a conspiracy such as the one described by Yerasimou and that every election process carried some risk for its candidates.
"We would be naive to say (such plotting did not take place) but it is unavoidable. We can not intervene in the voter's choice but only hope they have the political maturity to make the right choice," he said.
Mitsopoulos said the party had been saddened by Yerasimou's omission, just as they had been saddened by the omission of the party's local district secretary Kritonos Erotokritou. Erotokritou has since resigned.
Mitsopoulos was unable to confirm whether Antoniou-Francis had submitted her resignation.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Green light for genetics committesTHE CABINET yesterday gave the green light for the setting up of two committees to look into genetics legislation, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said.
"The Cabinet discussed the proposal submitted by the Ministry of Health and gave its approval for us to proceed with the setting up of the committees immediately," Savvides told the Cyprus Mail.
Two committees are expected to be appointed: a legal committee and a co- ordinating committee, Savvides said.
They will include university professors in biochemistry and biology, doctors, lawyers, patients-rights groups and all other parties interested in genetics legislation.
The new legislation, when tabled, will be designed to control what Savvides termed the "genetics explosion".
The government's move comes a day after a brief visit to the island by Cypriot reproductive expert Dr Panayiotis Zavos, a 25-year veteran in the field, who is planning with an international consortium to launch a serious effort to clone humans to provide children to infertile couples.
Zavos, from The Andrology Institute of America and the Kentucky
Centre for Reproductive Medicine and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), is currently on a European tour, and is expected to give a news conference on his plans in Rome tomorrow.
He gave his views to Savvides during a meeting in Nicosia on Tuesday.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Intensive care crisis at cardiology unitIF HAVING a heart attack wasn't bad enough, patients being rushed to intensive care at Nicosia General Hospital face the added stress of struggling to find a vacant bed.
The lack of beds at the hospital cardiology unit's intensive care department has become acute. Politis claimed yesterday one patient had occupied one of only 13 beds in the unit for the last eight years, while two others had been taking up space for three years.
Giorgos Flourenzos, the President of the Nurses' Association, yesterday confirmed the report and conceded the situation had become "unworkable".
He said the Ministry of Health had promised to supply the hospital with more equipment and staff.
"But this will not permanently resolve the problem, since there has been a rise in the number of heart attacks. This problem will not just go away."
Flourenzos said one patient who had suffered a massive heart attack recently had to wait in agony as nurses tried to persuade other patients to give up their beds. Finally, an accommodating patient offered his place. He had been admitted to the intensive care unit just the day before.
Hospital staff, already hard-pressed to accommodate emergencies, are complaining that they have to improvise every time a patient comes in for treatment, with patients sometimes being transferred from intensive care the day after suffering a heart attack, in order to make way for someone else.
Nursing staff insist the three patients who have been there for years do not require intensive care and could receive proper treatment at home, where they can be set up with respirators, but the patients refuse to leave the hospital.
In the past, the Ministry of Health suggested the patients be transferred to Kyperounda hospital, but the proposal fell through as the hospital lacked an anaesthesiologist for emergencies.
According to Politis, the cost of accommodating and treating the three chronic heart patients amounts to over £100,000 a year.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 News is turning criminals into heroes, union warnsBy a Staff Reporter THE JOURNALISTS' Union yesterday criticised broadcasters for their sensationalist treatment of criminal items during news bulletins.
The union said such coverage "turned bad role models into heroes".
A union statement noted its "disappointment, concern and displeasure" at the fact that "news bulletins on the broadcast media, and especially television, give systematic over-exposure to scenes of violence and criminality, with the result that crime news now overshadows other reports."
The announcement said the attention had turned criminals into heroes and could influence impressionable young people.
"The board of the union feels the need to ask all owners, chief editors, journalists and others at television stations to abandon such an approach in their quest for higher ratings, to which quality often falls victim."
The union also called on the Broadcasting Authority to use its power to ensure the broadcast media met their obligations to programme quality public interest.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001