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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 9, 2001


  • [01] Mamas charged over Andreou interview
  • [02] Doctors slam technicians' strike
  • [03] Cyprus will adhere to European protocol banning human cloning
  • [04] Intercollege accuses government of suffocating higher education
  • [05] Not enough vets to monitor foot-and-mouth measures
  • [06] KOA under fire over gym inspections
  • [07] Government to crack down on unlicensed z-cars, but only the new ones
  • [08] Minister hits back at CyTA critics
  • [09] Pourgourides apologises to China over Rolandis remark
  • [10] Russian man sought over woman's murder

  • [01] Mamas charged over Andreou interview

    By Jennie Matthew POLICE have charged Sigma journalist Demetris Mamas and interviewee Christiana Andreou with prejudicing the trial of suspected gunman Petros Patsalides, currently under way in Nicosia.

    The charges were levelled on Wednesday afternoon, eight days after Sigma aired an interview by Mamas with Andreou, the former fiancée of Patsalides.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides launched an immediate investigation to determine whether the interview could prejudice the trial, making public his disapproval of the journalist's conduct.

    But Mamas yesterday continued to assert that he had done nothing criminal. "I told police I was admitting nothing. And I retain my right for defence if the case goes to court. I transmitted news and information, which as a journalist I believe I should have done," he said.

    Patsalides is on trial for alleged involvement in a nightclub shooting that put two Russian girls in a critical condition. He allegedly clashed with bouncers who tried to prevent him from dragging Andreou out of the club, then returned with a gun and opened fire at the venue from across the road.

    Mamas has been a cornerstone in the Patsalides drama, ever since the suspect ran went on the run and arranged a secret rendezvous with the Sigma journalist to give him a letter and teddy bear for his beloved Christiana.

    Following Sigma-relayed appeals from Andreou, and an appeal made by his brother to President Glafcos Clerides, Patsalides surrendered to police escorted by Mamas, 18 days after escaping custody.

    Police have since dropped the charge of attempted murder against Andreou.

    But Mamas has fought back against Markides, accusing him of being "selectively sensitive" and doing nothing about other media hacks who "convicted" Patsalides before the trial.

    He blamed Markides for turning a blind eye to claims made by Patsalides that CID officers had threatened to strip Andreou naked, take pictures of her and beat her, during the questioning of the suspected criminal.

    "I wondered when the Attorney-general announced the investigation, why they're prosecuting me and they're not interested in launching an investigation into those horrific charges from the girl, to see if they're true or not? We still haven't had a reply," Mamas said yesterday.

    Mamas and Andreou both made statements to police on Wednesday concerning the televised interview. The case will be passed on to the Attorney- general's office to decide whether the matter should be taken to court.

    In light of the Patsalides trial, police declined to make any further comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Doctors slam technicians' strike

    By a Staff Reporter HOSPITAL laboratory technicians yesterday staged a 24- hour strike in protest at the hiring of a microbiologist in a position outside their regular scales.

    The Government Doctors Union (PASIKY), however, accused the technicians of putting the treatment of patients at risk with their actions.

    The technicians said they had no choice but to strike, "since our previous protests have fallen on deaf ears".

    But PASIKY said microbiologists were an essential part of laboratory requirements and had been an integral part of medical care for some time.

    "Now that the Health Ministry has finally hired a microbiologist, the technicians have taken action demanding his dismissal," PASIKY said.

    The doctors' union also asked for an investigation to be carried out into an unspecified event alleged to have taken place last month, saying the technicians' "improper behaviour towards their colleague and, even worse, disruption of his work has put proper treatment into jeopardy."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Cyprus will adhere to European protocol banning human cloning

    By Jean Christou A PLANNED bill on controlling genetic technologies will have to outlaw human cloning entirely under a Council of Europe protocol, which the island signed over two years ago.

    "We signed the protocol and we will adhere to it," Health Minister Frixos Savvides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. Savvides, who was speaking from Salonica, said he could not comment further on the issue until he returned to the island.

    The Cabinet on Wednesday gave the green light for the setting up of committees to look into genetics legislation for Cyprus.

    Two committees are expected to be appointed: a legal committee and a co- ordinating committee, which will include university professors in biochemistry and biology, doctors, lawyers, patients-rights groups and other parties interested in genetics legislation.

    The government's move came a day after a brief visit to the island this week 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 in Rome today.

    The consortium is expected to operate in an unnamed Mediterranean country. Zavos declined to comment on whether it might be Cyprus.

    However, the government's commitment to the Council of Europe protocol would rule out Cyprus as a venue for human cloning experiments. In January 1998 in Paris, 19 European states signed an agreement to prohibit the cloning of humans and to ban by law "any intervention seeking to create human beings genetically identical to another human being, whether living or dead." It rules out any exception to the ban, even in the case of infertile couples. The text, which is to become a part of the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, would permit cloning of cells for research purposes. Cyprus signed the protocol in September 1998.

    The accord became binding on March 1 after five countries, including Greece, ratified it. Britain and Germany did not sign the protocol. Germany claimed the measure was weaker than a current German law that forbids all research on human embryos, a result of Nazi genetic engineering experiments.

    The protocol stipulates that states must provide in their legislation for penalties for offences, such as prohibiting researchers and practitioners from practising, revoking licences for laboratories or clinics, and criminal penalties.

    Four other additional Protocols are being prepared to complete the Convention to cover organ transplants, the protection of the human embryo and foetus, genetics and medical research.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Intercollege accuses government of suffocating higher education

    By Jennie Matthew THE Director of Intercollege, the largest private college in Cyprus, has launched a withering attack on the government's foreign students policy, saying it was strangling efforts to turn Cyprus into an international centre of learning.

    Nicos Peristianis drew a damning comparison with the UK, the world's leading education centre, which he said did everything possible to attract students from overseas.

    He said the British government fully supported all efforts made by universities, whereas government policies in Cyprus hampered college efforts.

    And in the wake of a recent government crackdown to ensure that no foreign students work during their studies, Peristianis noted that international students, their spouses and their children were allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours a week while studying in Britain.

    Overseas students in Britain also have access to subsidised accommodation, free medical and dental treatment, and cheap prescriptions and eye examinations.

    Cyprus offers no free medical care or subsidised accommodation. It prohibits all foreign students from taking part-time jobs, and those who are caught red-handed are threatened with immediate deportation.

    "I simply took the leaflet about the Education UK conference and tried to pinpoint what Britain says their advantages are and compare them with what we have," Peristianis told the Cyprus Mail.

    While he said Cyprus could not emulate the 800-year tradition of academia in the UK, government policy was suffocating attempts to bolster up research centres.

    "We are a dwarf trying to fight against giants and now they've taken away our guns," he said, adding that of course Cyprus had advantages that Britain lacked.

    "Living is a pleasure here. The people. And the location is very important for lots of studies, we combine an east-west approach," he said.

    The ratio of foreign students to Cypriots at Intercollege is three to seven. Other colleges have an international majority in their student bodies.

    Peristianis said he knew of foreign students who had suffered at the hands of the government for working part-time during their studies when faced with financial problems.

    "It's very unfair," he said.

    The Education UK Exhibition, at the International Conference Centre in Nicosia, opened yesterday and runs until tomorrow, from 2.30pm to 8.30pm.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Not enough vets to monitor foot-and-mouth measures

    By Melina Demetriou THE DEPUTY head of the Veterinary Department, Andreas Orphanides, admitted yesterday that there were not enough vets to monitor the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth from the occupied north.

    A string of emergency measures was announced on Monday amid fears that the highly contagious disease might enter Cyprus through the occupied areas after four cases were reported in Turkey.

    The last case of foot-and-mouth anywhere in Cyprus was in 1964.

    The matter was discussed at a meeting of the House Agricultural Committee yesterday.

    Orphanides raised the alarm, saying that Turkey had never implemented any measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

    But no cases of foot-and-mouth have yet been reported in the occupied areas in the latest outbreak. There is no evidence that the cases in Turkey - where foot-and-mouth is endemic - have any connection with the British outbreak that has caused so much concern in Europe.

    Turkish Cypriot reports said yesterday that great care was being taken with Turkish imports and arrivals from Britain.

    Cyprus has already fallen into line with an EU ban on imports of all British meat and by-products, including dairy products.

    Foot-and-mouth disease is caused by a virus and affects cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer. Infected animals have a good chance of recovery, but the virus is highly contagious. The disease is harmless to humans. Because the virus is airborne, outbreaks often result in epidemics.

    Emergency measures include disinfecting the shoes and vehicles of anyone coming arriving from the occupied areas or Britain.

    The grazing of animals near the Green Line has also been banned. Inspections at all farms, and extra patrols are carried out to prevent the smuggling of livestock across the buffer zone, while farmers have been asked not to move their animals around unless absolutely necessary.

    But Committee chairman Christos Mavrokordatos said yesterday there were only 17 state vets to co-ordinate the emergency plan.

    "It is impossible for 17 vets to keep things under control," he said.

    Orphanides agreed that the state should appoint more vets.

    He also suggested that the enclaved should stop carrying food products across the Green Line.

    Mavrokordatos argued that the ban of animal grazing near the Green Line was difficult to implement.

    "Animals near the Green Line on both sides must not be allowed outside farm premises until the disease has been eradicated in Turkey. And that could happen in seven months because that's how long it takes for animals to cure. But the ban on free ranging means extra cost for farmers. The government should cover that cost," he insisted, "otherwise farmers will not comply."

    Echoing Mavrokordatos' views, the secretary-general of the farmers' union EKA, Costas Constantinou, called on the government to subsidise farmers affected by the scheme.

    Marios Matsakis of DIKO claimed that the British Bases and UNFICYP were not taking the necessary precautions to eliminate the risk of the disease spreading across the Buffer Zone or through the bases.

    UNFICYP said on Tuesday they had been taken unawares by the sudden measures announced, and that they had only learned about them through the media. But the UN said they were ready to co-operate with any measures required.

    Mats have been placed at the entrance to UNFICYP headquarters at Nicosia Airport, and at the Athienou and Dherynia crossing points.

    Orphanides admitted that "UNFICYP and the British authorities have not taken all necessary measures," but said a meeting to co-ordinate efforts between the Cyprus authorities, the UN and the Bases would take place today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] KOA under fire over gym inspections

    By Jennie Matthew THE CYPRUS Sports Association (KOA) yesterday fended off criticism that it was failing to inspect private gyms and fitness centres, six years after such checks were enshrined in law.

    An act passed in February 1995 made KOA responsible for licensing and checking fitness centres to ensure that they adhered to strict operational requirements.

    The country's more than 80 private gyms and fitness centres have never been centrally approved or issued with permits, since the gym-craze hit Cyprus in the mid-1980s.

    Gym managers told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that KOA had sent out letters informing them of pending inspections a year ago.

    "I don't know what happened before, but I saw the problem three months ago and now we're acting," KOA president Andreas Charalambous said. He was appointed chief six months ago.

    "It's a very serious problem. Two years ago a footballer lost his life in Paralimni," he added.

    A footballer died after being electrocuted by gym equipment in 1998.

    None of the gyms that spoke to the Cyprus Mail admitted to falling foul of the KOA regulations, but several said they knew of shoddy establishments, which lacked properly trained staff.

    Managers yesterday agreed about the importance of licences and checks, but the owner of Nicosia's Strawberry Gym, Panicos Panayiotou, accused KOA of not complying with its own rules.

    "The Athletics for All programme that they take to schools does not comply. They teach children in school halls, but they don't have the appropriate showers or stuff that they ask from us. They should comply with the rules first and then apply them to the private sector," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    He also criticised the organisation for hankering after licence fees. "They should check and make sure gyms apply, but charges are not the point; safety is," he said.

    Others were surprised that the checks were finally about to be implemented. "We believe that it will be a nice gesture if it's going to be done, but there are a lot of practical problems. I don't know what the trigger is, perhaps there have been complaints and the market is small," said Lakis Anastassiou, manager at California Fitness and vice-president of the Nicosia district Association of Physical Education.

    The 1995 law stipulates that all fitness centres submit all details of operation to KOA, which must be inspected and approved. Annual licences are to be issued for a fee, expiring on December 31 of each year.

    Gyms are supposed to have four square metres for each member, one shower for every 30 members, emergency exits, equipment in good condition and qualified personnel, in addition to all installations necessary in all public buildings.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Government to crack down on unlicensed z-cars, but only the new ones

    By Jennie Matthew THE GOVERNMENT Licensing Authority yesterday announced a series of measures to clamp down on unlicensed car rental outlets, from which those already in business are to be exempt.

    The House Communications Committee erupted over a Z-car scandal in January, when DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis pointed out that many hired cars were not licensed and therefore not covered by insurance.

    He said that of 30 randomly picked Z-cars in Limassol and Paphos, only half were legal.

    But the Authority announced yesterday that new requirements would have to be met by prospective new businesses only - not those already in operation.

    The new process is expected to take 13 months from application to approval or rejection, and all licensed cars will sport special stickers, to make it clear which are legal and which are not.

    Transport Minsiter Averoff Neophytou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that rental companies found guilty of misconduct in court must comply with the new stipulations.

    But the investigations conducted by Matsakis suggested that huge numbers of companies operating without licences went undetected.

    Neophytou said he did not have time to read the Licensing Authority report, but that he was confident that it would be a success.

    Car rental companies must set up shop in one of the country's main city centres or tourist areas. Owners must be at least high school graduates, speak a foreign language, not have a criminal record, or have been previously declared bankrupt.

    The business must be fully equipped. Offices must have at least one director and one other employee, two desks, a telephone and a fax machine.

    Rental cars must be parked in a proper car park, not too far from office.

    In the case of listed companies, applicants must not have sold on licences obtained in the past, unless the company was sold or management handed over to another party.

    Licences for cars will last four years and are non-transferrable. All car- rental applicants must prove that their intended business will be their main occupation, not a sideline interest. Viable business plans must be submitted along with evidence of sufficient capital investment.

    The measures were drawn up after consulting rent-a-car organisations and the opinions of the House Communications Committee.

    Neophytou has distanced blame from the government for unlicensed Z-cars, claiming it is a structural problem that would be sorted out by liberalisation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Minister hits back at CyTA critics

    By George Psyllides THE Government yesterday dismissed opposition claims that the Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) was being turned out into private hands in the name of harmonisation with European Union rules.

    On Wednesday, the Cabinet announced it was tabling legislation to turn CyTA into a state-owned private company, ending months of speculation on how the government planned to handle liberalisation of the sector.

    The move prompted an outburst of dissent from the opposition, led by communist AKEL, which opposes the privatisation of semi-government organisations, arguing there were other ways of making such organisations more flexible and competitive, and that altering CyTA's status would make the public utility's pricing policy more complex.

    Yesterday, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou stressed that the government's aim was to ensure the authority's survival in a dynamic environment.

    This could only be achieved, Neophytou said, if CyTA evolved into a state- owned private company.

    The minister reiterated the state's concern to secure all the employees' rights to the last iota, adding that they would be offered the chance to become co-owners of the authority -with a six per cent stake reserved for them.

    The state would remain the primary owner of CyTA, with the remaining stake of 94 per cent, which could not be sold to the public, Neophytou said.

    The minister criticised opposition arguments, explaining that if after the government had cleared its position, these disagreements were repeated, it could only be seen as a conscious effort to alter the truth and reality by people using dated methods that "cannot be tolerated in a modern society".

    AKEL on Wednesday expressed its opposition to the plan, accusing the government of "selling the peoples' property" and warning "the government would not get its way".

    Neophytou said it was not a question of who would get their way, rather of finding the necessary solutions.

    "Honestly, we are surprised that those who monopolised the protection of workers' rights position themselves in this way," he added.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou reacted in similar manner, noting his surprise at the way "some people" responded to the CyTA bill, especially since the proposed law forbids the sale of state-owned shares to private hands.

    Papapetrou wondered why there was so much noise about "dismantling the public sector" when the bill was trying to provide the sector with the tools to survive.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Pourgourides apologises to China over Rolandis remark

    By a Staff Reporter A SPAT between the House Watchdog Committee president and the Commerce Minister took a bizarre turn yesterday with the deputy apologizing to China for saying that Nicos Rolandis was more a Minster of that country than of Cyprus.

    The argument broke out earlier this week, when Christos Pourgourides criticised the government's handling of DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis' massive co-op overdraft.

    In response, Rolandis criticised DISY Committee members for not all attending a meeting on the incident.

    Committee president Christos Pourgourides then said Rolandis had little idea of what was really going on in the country and that he was more a "Minister of China than of Cyprus."

    But speaking during a Committee meeting yesterday, Pourgourides said he apologised to China for using it as an example. "We are grateful to China for standing by our side in our struggle for the freedom of Cyprus. What I meant was that he was like a Minister in another land."

    Pourgourides said the Watchdog Committee did not tolerate irregularities and that any wrongdoers would be brought to justice. He said that the incident involving Pittokopitis would be discussed at an upcoming Committee meeting.

    "Deputies in this Committee do not represent their parties' interests but the interests of the public. A person that does not defend the principals of society but pushes his party's positions does not have a place here," Pourgourides said.

    Rolandis last Friday said any Co-operative Movement committee members henceforth exceeding their overdraft limits would be sacked, but that the decision was not retroactive so Pittokopitis would not be affected.

    Pittokopitis has admitted to exceeding his overdraft at the co-op he chairs by £63,000, but said he had paid all the money back as soon as he had been asked to and before the due date.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Russian man sought over woman's murder

    By a Staff Reporter POLICE yesterday released the picture of a Russian man wanted in connection with the murder of 29-year-old Marina Sliptchenko, who was found in her Limassol flat with her throat cut on February 28.

    Police said they were looking for 38-year-old Alexandre Kuzmenko.

    The man was described as being around 1.90 metres tall with strong athletic build, dark complexion, with short hair and scars on the face.

    Yesterday, Limassol CID Chief Andreas Kariolemos told the Cyprus Mail he did not know whether Kuzmenko was still on the island.

    Kariolemos said the man had visited the island before but there were no records of him entering or exiting Cyprus recently.

    He said police began looking for Kuzmenko two days after Sliptchenko was found.

    The woman's body was found by her ex-roommate Victoria Scouratova, who decided to look for her after repeated phone calls went unanswered.

    The victim was found face down in a pool of blood in the apartment's sitting room.

    Police said there had been no signs of forced entry into the flat on Kimonos Street in the Ayios Nicolaos suburb.

    This, coupled with the fact that no evidence of struggle or sexual assault was found by the state pathologist, led police to believe the assailant was someone Sliptchenko had known.

    Police think the perpetrator attacked the 29-year-old from behind and slit her throat.

    According to pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous, the woman died from a five centimetre deep wound to her throat.

    Sliptchenko was a permanent resident of Cyprus and worked in the offshore field.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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