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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, March 17, 2001


  • [01] Witness 'was promised cash and car' to testify against Athanassios
  • [02] Hospital row deepens as Papapetrou and Papadopoulos trade accusations
  • [03] Outsiders blamed for university brawl
  • [04] Central Bank ordered to pay out 152,000 compensation to architect's widow
  • [05] Vets reject apology from British colleagues
  • [06] Consumers call on CY not to raise Athens fare
  • [07] Two more held after ecstasy haul

  • [01] Witness 'was promised cash and car' to testify against Athanassios

    By George Psyllides TWO archimandrites accused of conspiring to defame the Bishop of Limassol visited the home of a key witness and promised to give him a car and cash if he testified before the Holy Synod that Athanassios was gay, a court heard yesterday.

    The trial of Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides and fellow cleric Chrysostomos Argyrides continued yesterday, but for the first time without television cameras or photographers hounding the protagonists on their way into court after the House last week passed legislation banning them from court grounds.

    At 12pm everyone took their place in courtroom five, which this time was not filled to its limited capacity.

    Demetris Pavlides, defending, resumed his cross-examination, now into its fourth day, while Argyrides stared blankly and Constantinides whispered in his ear.

    Pavlides put it to Athanassios that he had summoned Constantinides to the Bishopric and asked him to forget everything that had happened between them.

    "You hugged and you kissed the first suspect (Constantinides) and asked him to forget everything," Pavlides suggested.

    "That never happened," Athanassios replied.

    But Pavlides insisted, telling the Bishop that he had asked Constantinides to forget everything after the archimandrite told him about Christos Stangos and an "incident" - he did not elaborate -- that allegedly happened on Mount Athos.

    Stangos last year wrote a sexually explicit letter describing his alleged liaison with Athanassios when they were both at Mount Athos.

    A Major Synod, only the second ever held on the island, in November vindicated Athanassios.

    Pavlides then asked the Bishop about where he had met another witness, Costas Savva.

    Savva was earlier this year jailed for three months for falsely testifying against Athanassios.

    The Bishop said that he had met Savva at a Limassol house after he asked to meet him in order to apologise for lying about him.

    " He said he was sorry he lied to the Holy Synod and asked me to forgive him."

    At this point, Pavlides conferred with his clients, before retorting that Athanassios had gone to the house to meet Savva, instead of asking him to got to the Bishopric, because he wanted to persuade him to change what he said before the Synod and write a letter saying so.

    Athanassios, smiling, said he often visited people in their homes and did not believe they had to come to him because he was the Bishop.

    Pavlides insisted that Savva wrote the letter after Athanassios convinced him to do so and claimed its contents were in fact dictated by the Bishop.

    "Why else did you go to the meeting with your lawyer?" Pavlides said.

    Athanassios said the lawyer was also his close personal friend and he had gone along with him to the meeting in that capacity.

    "He is a friend and he came along of his own free will," Athanassios said.

    Pavlides then asked the Bishop if he knew Archimandrite Lazaros and if they had travelled to Jerusalem together during the last year.

    The defence lawyer added he wondered whether Athanassios knew that Lazaros was a homosexual.

    Athanassios admitted he knew Lazaros, adding that to the best of his knowledge the archimandrite was not gay.

    Concerning the trip to Jerusalem, the Bishop confirmed that Lazaros was indeed on the trip, along with another 2,500 people.

    "Didn't you physically assault Lazaros when you were at Mount Athos?" Pavlides continued.

    "Never," said Athanassios.

    Pavlides then asked Athanassios about his relations with another man, Manolis Elia, who was found guilty and jailed for three months along with Savva.

    Pavlides insisted that Elia had met Athanassios to brief him on what was going on at the three-member committee appointed to investigate the allegations against Athanassios.

    Athanassios repeatedly denied this had ever happened, but Pavlides persisted, drawing multiple objections from state prosecutor George Papaioannou.

    At this point, there was an angry exchange between the two lawyers, which was settled by Judge Fivos Zomenis, who pointed out to the defence that it had asked the same question five times.

    Pavlides then asked if Athanassios and Elia had ever had any conversation of sexual content.

    This opened the door for Athanassios to tell the court that Elias' wife had told him that Constantinides and Argyrides had visited their home and promised to give her husband a car and cash if he testified before the Holy Synod that Athanassios was a homosexual.

    Athanassios added that when he confronted Elia with this information, Elia confirmed that the two suspects had asked him to raise "vile claims" before the Synod.

    "Haven't you told Argyrides that you support homosexuals?" Pavlides said, switching tack once more.

    "This is ridiculous. I never said this -- especially when he (Argyrides) was reported for immoral behaviour," Athanassios said calmly.

    "What did Elia tell you about Argyrides?" Pavlides asked.

    "He told me not to trouble Argyrides because he was a good guy," Athanassios replied.

    He added: "I told him it wasn't his business. I knew that Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos threw Argyrides out of the Bishopric for this behaviour."

    Pavlides: "I put it to you that he wasn't thrown out."

    Athanassios: "The Bishop of Paphos in many instances has expressed his dislike for Argyrides."

    At this point, the defence asked for a brief recess, but after some deliberation the judge adjourned the trial for Thursday, March 22.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Hospital row deepens as Papapetrou and Papadopoulos trade accusations

    By Melina Demetriou GOVERNMENT spokesman Michalis Papapetrou called on the media yesterday to rewind the sequence of the bitter row that has broken out over the new Famagusta hospital, so people could understand that DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos had been disrespectful to the dead while his own response had been correct.

    Papadopoulos sparked the row on Wednesday, accusing the government of showing disrespect for both the living and to the dead, and charging it had taken advantage of a woman's death to announce the decision about the new hospital.

    The modern hospital will include maternity and intensive care units. The woman who died had just given birth at a private clinic in the area.

    Papadopoulos claimed the government had "taken advantage of this tragic incident to announce that a hospital, including a maternity unit, would be ready in 2004."

    Papapetrou on Thursday replied that it was Papadopoulos who had been guilty of using the woman's death for party political purposes in the countdown to the parliamentary elections on May 27. Papadopoulos then hit back at the government spokesman, saying his statements had been "unforgivable and offensive and don't honour him or his position."

    But Papapetrou yesterday insisted his response to Papadopoulos' accusations had been perfectly justified: "Political ethics require that when someone offends and abuses you, you do not act like usual, turn the other way and whistle carefree, just to protect certain interests."

    He urged the media, particularly the television channels, to rerun Papadopoulos' accusations as well as his response to them.

    Ruling DISY's chairman Nicos Anastassiades chose to remain aloof from the spat yesterday.

    "It was an unfortunate event. Both men were out of line. Of course Papadopoulos started the whole thing but they both said some things they would not say normally."

    AKEL general secretary Demetris Christofias has sided with Papadopoulos, while KISOS leader Vassos Lyssarides has said he sees no connection between the death and the Cabinet's announcement.

    But the DIKO leader insisted yesterday he had been right that the timing of the hospital announcement had been no coincidence.

    "The government was eight years late in making this announcement. The House Health Committee last year repeatedly opposed the inclusion of a maternity unit in a new hospital in the area. And even if the decision just happened to coincide with the death, they should have had the decency and the sensitivity to postpone the announcement," he charged.

    But Health Minister Frixos Savvides insisted that, "the matter had been on the Cabinet's agenda for discussion. No minister is allowed to bring up an issue at the last minute without it being on the agenda."

    However, Savvides admitted on Wednesday that the government's decision for the hospital to include a maternity unit had come at the last minute.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Outsiders blamed for university brawl

    By Martin Hellicar "OUTSIDERS" sparked the ugly scenes that followed the announcement of Cyprus University student election results on Thursday night, both police and the institution said yesterday.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou agreed that university students were not to blame and said the brawling, which left at least one university student injured, had been started by right-wing extremists.

    Police spokesman Stelios Neophytou said a university student had filed a complaint with police, saying he had been beaten up during the campus fracas on Thursday night. "One 20-year-old student filed a complaint that he was attacked by other students, possibly from the Higher Technical Institute, while he was celebrating his faction's election victory," Neophytou said.

    The police spokesman said the student had not been seriously injured but the complaint was being investigated.

    The deputy Dean of the University, Andreas Demetriou, said more than one student had been hurt. He also criticised police handling of the incident.

    "Some outsiders came in and clashed with students and there were minor injuries to two or three students," Demetriou said.

    "Police came to the university without previously co-ordinating or clearing things with us; they should have contacted me, as the Dean is abroad." Demetriou said police had not, in the end, intervened in the brawling.

    Neophytou said police had gone to the scene but had not been allowed in: "The University said it was an internal matter and they would sort out themselves, so police left."

    The deputy Dean said the matter was now considered "closed" by the University, adding that he hoped "more mature' attitudes would prevail in the future.

    Government Spokesman Papapetrou said the government was saddened by the campus brawling. He suggested the attacks were down to "nationalist, anti- federal elements".

    Nicos Koutsou, the leader of the right-wing anti-federal party New Horizons, was quick to state that those who had caused the fracas were in no way linked to his party.

    The five student groups that contested Thursday's elections for a university student board are all but one closely affiliated to political parties.

    The vote was won by Protoporia (affiliated to governing DISY), which secured 40 per cent of the ballot. Proodeftiki (affiliated to main opposition party AKEL) were second with 35 per cent of the vote.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Central Bank ordered to pay out 152,000 compensation to architect's widow

    By a Staff Reporter THE Central Bank yesterday declined to comment on a court decision ordering it to pay 152,000 in compensation for breaking a contract for design of the bank's Nicosia headquarters with a now deceased architect.

    The 152,000 will go to Miki Zembyla's widow, Oula, his son, Manos, and his work partner, Alkis Ioannides.

    "We have no comment to make on this issue at this time," a Central Bank source said yesterday.

    The Nicosia District Court passed judgment on the case on Thursday, after over 150 hearings stretching over five years.

    Ioannides and Zembyla's widow and son filed a suit for breach of contract against the Central Bank in 1992. The architectural office of Miki Zembyla and Ioannides won a competition to design the Central Bank's new headquarters in 1985. But, the court heard, the contract was torn up when Zembylas died soon after.

    The plaintiffs had asked for 260,000 in compensation, but got only little over half that sum, plus interest from the date of the start of the trial, plus legal expenses.

    In his 208-page decision, District Court judge George Arestis chastised the Central Bank defence for dragging out the case hearings.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Vets reject apology from British colleagues

    By Jean Christou BRITISH vets who plan to carry out a major spaying programme on the island's stray cats have apologised to local vets for any misunderstanding, but the Veterinary Council said yesterday the apology did not change the situation.

    In a press release yesterday, the Cross Cats Project, which has undertaken similar projects twice in the past, said it had apologised to the Veterinary Council and the Veterinarians Association for any misunderstanding.

    "We would stress we have always made it clear to all members of the public that the project can only deal with stray cats and that any domestic cats must be taken to a local veterinary surgeon for treatment," the statement said.

    "We are naturally extremely keen that members of the Veterinary Association and the Veterinary Council should visit the project during our stay. We have always been most grateful for their support in the past."

    Local vets said earlier this month that they would do everything in their power to prevent the project from going ahead in June because they say it is illegal.

    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. Suzy Gale will be in Cyprus next week.

    This year, the team will be joined by five representatives from the University of Salonica and four Cypriot graduate veterinary surgeons. The two-week programme is due to take place on the British bases.

    Cross Cats said earlier that it had the support of the Veterinary Council and the Veterinarians Association in Cyprus, but both organisations expressed total opposition to the project and threatened to take measures to prevent the programme going ahead.

    Yesterday, Veterinary Council chairman Andreas Emmanuel said the Cross Cats apology made no difference. "We can't change the law," he said. "It's the same as in the UK and the EU," he said. "We never gave our permission in the past and we can't give it now because the law is the law."

    He said the fact that the operation would be carried out on the bases made no difference. "This is no excuse," he added. "They take cats from different parts of the island."

    British bases spokesman Rob Need told the Cyprus Mail that bases law did not differ from that of the Republic. "On the bases, there are military vets licensed to practice and vets licensed in the Republic may practice here. However, we are speaking in terms of practice for gain," he said. "This is a charity, no money is changing hands and there is a precedent."

    Cross Cats said this would be the last project to take place in Cyprus. "It was always the intention to do one final neutering project in 2001," the statement said.

    Last year, the project neutered over 400 cats and hopes to reach its target of 600 during the two-week operation in June.

    Under the government programme 679 cats, 505 females and 174 male were spayed last year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Consumers call on CY not to raise Athens fare

    By a Staff Reporter THE CONSUMERS Association yesterday urged Cyprus Airways (CY) not to increase its fares to Athens, saying it would be detrimental to passengers.

    "Cyprus Airways fares to Athens are already comparatively high and any further rise would be damaging to Cypriot consumers," a statement from the Association said.

    Last week, CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said the Athens fare might increase due to the cost of services at the city's new airport at Spata, which opens on March 28.

    Angelis said that Spata airport was very modern, of a high standard and very expensive. He said its services and facilities would constitute an additional cost to airlines, some 14 for every passenger flying Larnaca to Athens. CY is trying to negotiate a deal with the Greek airport authorities.

    The current standard ticket for a round trip to Athens costs just over 100.

    The Consumers Association said the CY board and management should consider allowing the company to absorb any extra costs incurred at Spata "so that the taxpayer is not made to suffer further."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Two more held after ecstasy haul

    By a Staff Reporter TWO MORE suspects were yesterday remanded in custody in connection with possession and trafficking of 1,330 Ecstasy tablets, one of the largest hauls in recent years.

    Michalis Pashis, a 27-year-old taxi driver from Nicosia, and Petros Koromias, 21, also from Nicosia, were held over for eight days.

    Their arrest came after a 24-year-old Greek woman, Georgia Stefani, was detained on Thursday when customs officers found the tablets in her possession.

    Stefani told police she was carrying the drugs for Pashis.

    The court heard that Pashis had asked Stefani to carry the drugs from Greece to Cyprus as he was systematically checked by police officers whenever he travelled.

    Stefani said Pashis gave her 100 and 100,000 Drachmas for her personal expenses, promising more money after she delivered the drugs.

    Stefani was remanded in custody for six days on Thursday.

    Pashis has allegedly admitted to giving the tablets to Stefani to bring to Cyprus, but claimed she was bringing them to Koromias.

    Pashis, the court heard, told police that he, along with three other friends and Koromias, had travelled to Holland on February 7 to meet a Dutch man who would provide them with the drugs.

    Police said the Dutch man visited the island frequently and was thought to have imported large quantities of Ecstasy in the past.

    According to Pashis' testimony, the man brought the pills to the Amsterdam hotel where they were staying.

    The next day, the court heard, Pashis told Koromias he had found a way to send the tablets to Bulgaria, and on March 11, he flew to Athens.

    Koromias returned to Cyprus the same day but left soon after for Bulgaria, allegedly asking Pashis to find a woman who would be willing to carry the drugs to Cyprus.

    Koromias then took a bus to Athens, where he gave the tablets to Pashis, the court heard.

    Pashis allegedly approached Stefani, whom he knew had financial difficulties, and asked her to carry the tablets. She says she was not told they were drugs.

    When Stefani was arrested, Pashis told Koromias they should surrender too, but the latter refused.

    Koromias was arrested anyway, but denies he had anything to do with case.

    Police told the court they were looking for the Dutch supplier. They hope he might be on the island as he has a local girlfriend.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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