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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, March 20, 2001


  • [01] Clerides seeks crack down on nepotism
  • [02] Police baffled by second bomb attack on businessman
  • [03] Powell meeting 'sign of US commitment'
  • [04] Amathus residents demand compensation for land on archaeological site
  • [05] British insist massive new transmitter will be safe
  • [06] Newspaper dispute goes to Labour Ministry
  • [07] Labour Minister tries to head off Eurocypria strike
  • [08] Shots fired at supporters' bus
  • [09] Prison governor to carry gun after threats
  • [10] Tsiakourmas trial resumes, but relatives 'not optimistic'

  • [01] Clerides seeks crack down on nepotism

    By Martin Hellicar PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday launched a personal anti-nepotism drive, instructing all state and semi-government officials to report to police anyone approaching them for a favour.

    Clerides has also told police chief Andreas Angelides to give him a monthly update on the number of officials reporting such attempts at interference.

    On March 1, parliament approved a law making nepotism a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday said Clerides was determined to wield this law as a potent weapon in the battle against nepotism, a problem widely acknowledged to be rife in governmental and semi-governmental bodies.

    The new law makes it illegal for any unauthorised person to intervene in the appointment or promotion of any person to any post within the civil service or semi-governmental organisations. It provides for up to 12 months' imprisonment or a fine of up to 2,000, or both, for those found guilty of practicing nepotism.

    Papapetrou yesterday said Clerides had sent letters to semi-governmental organisations and public services asking them to implement the new law on nepotism strictly.

    The spokesman read out an extract from this letter: "I call on all chairmen and members of authorities and state officers and public servants who are approached by people wanting to influence their judgment concerning promotions, appointments, placements, transfers or disciplinary probes to. lodge a complaint with police." The President's letter hints at prosecution of officials failing to report such favour seeking.

    Papapetrou said the police chief would be briefing Clerides on the number of complaints of nepotism submitted each month "so that there can be continuous monitoring of the implementation of the law".

    In making nepotism a crime, parliamentary deputies acknowledged that approval of the relevant bill was unlikely to stamp out the widespread scourge.

    Papapetrou was similarly matter-of-fact about the realities of nepotism yesterday, saying that the number of politicians who had not indulged in the frowned-upon practice at some time or other "could be counted on the fingers of one hand".

    The chairman of the parliamentary watchdog committee, Christos Pourgourides, a seasoned anti-corruption campaigner, recently admitted that he too had at times in the past been guilty of nepotism.

    Papapetrou commented that Pourgourides was simply being more honest than most.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Police baffled by second bomb attack on businessman

    By a Staff Reporter POLICE were still in the dark yesterday over who was behind two bomb attacks in 24 hours, which targeted two cars belonging to a Nicosia businessman.

    No one was hurt, but the Engomi blasts rocked most of the capital.

    The first blast, on Saturday, went off at 1am under the rear wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero belonging to 35-year-old clothing importer Charalambos Charalambous.

    The vehicle, which was parked on Photiou Street, was badly damaged.

    Less than 24 hours later, another bomb went off under Charalambous' BMW, which was parked on the same lot as the Pajero.

    High intensity homemade devices caused both blasts, police said.

    After the second explosion on Sunday, angry residents of the area blasted police for failing to secure the area after the first blast.

    In statements to reporters after Saturday night's bombing, Charalambous said he had no idea who might want to hurt him.

    Bomb and arson attacks have become an almost daily occurrence in recent weeks, much to the embarrassment of the police force and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, who has urged the public to co-operate with the police.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Powell meeting 'sign of US commitment'

    By a Staff Reporter FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides is due to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington next month, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported yesterday.

    Diplomatic sources told CNA that the visit was indicative of Washington's interest in the Cyprus question.

    US diplomatic sources believe that the forthcoming meeting between the two ministers "at a rather early date for a new administration is a pretty good sign that the administration sees Cyprus as a priority."

    "Secretary Powell would not have the meeting unless he was very serious about it," the source said.

    US Ambassador in Nicosia Donald Bandler is expected to be present at the

    Washington meeting.

    Cassoulides leaves for the US on April 2 and will return to the island on April 10. The meeting with Powell is scheduled for April 9.

    Powell has already said that he US remains interested in continuing its efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Amathus residents demand compensation for land on archaeological site

    By Jennie Matthew LOCAL residents are fighting a desperate battle against the government over land in Amathus, east of Limassol, which has been earmarked as a permanent archaeological site by the Ministry of Interior at the request of the Department of Antiquities.

    What is one of the most important archaeological sites in Cyprus was declared a top priority essential monument years ago.

    French excavators from the French School in Athens are to begin digging in the area next month to continue efforts to uncover the fortifications and the old town.

    But Amathus residents are demanding compensation for not being allowed to build on their land.

    In a demonstration on Sunday, they closed the road for an hour, describing the government as "thieves" for depriving them of their property, and threatening to take the government to the European Court of Human Rights.

    But the Director of the Department of Antiquities, Sophocles Hadjisavvas, told the Cyprus Mail that residents' complaints were not his problem.

    "It concerns the Ministry of the Interior. We've got nothing to do with the acquisition of property," he said.

    Speaking of the plans, he said: "there will be a small site museum. The master plan has nearly been completed, but we now need time to prepare construction and invite tenders."

    Some 350 local families are demanding compensation.

    "The people have a legitimate right. Their land has been destroyed and it's not their fault that there were antiquities there. The whole of Cyprus should bear the cost, not the few," said one campaign supporter.

    But DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis said another campaign should be started to bring home the Amathus Acropolis pot - the largest discovered example of its kind in the world - back from the Louvre in Paris, where it was taken during Ottoman rule.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] British insist massive new transmitter will be safe

    By Jennie Matthew THE BRITISH Bases yesterday unveiled the details of their two-year project to build a massive new high frequency transmitter at Akrotiri, in what could spark a full-scale environmental row with the Republic.

    The enormous construction, supported by three 96-metre masts spaced 184 metres apart is to upgrade the British strategic communications system.

    The project to replace 21 smaller antennas began in 1998, but work on the final phase will begin in May.

    The 12 hectares of Sovereign land in question is currently leased to villagers who graze their animals there.

    The British are offering compensation packages for the suspension of these rights, but Limassol deputy Marios Matsakis has branded the matter a scandal.

    He says the transmitter will completely destroy the ecosystem of the salt lake and land that "belongs to the community of Akrotiri where they have been grazing their animals for hundreds of years".

    "It's going to take up 12 hectares of land. Spaced 184 metres apart, can you imagine the environmental damage from the metallic net between the masts?" he said.

    The Bases claim that a full Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted in 1997 and proved that the installations would have a limited effect on the area's flora and fauna.

    The area affected by frequency emissions will be fenced off and subject to UK National Radiological Protection Board guidelines.

    The British claim the new transmitter will emit fewer emissions than the antennas dismantled in 1998, which subjected Akrotiri to one 50th of the UK NRPB limit at the northern village boundary.

    The Bases add the installation will be built as far away from the village as possible. They insist that there will be no health risk outside the fenced area and that care will be taken not to damage the environment more than necessary during construction work.

    But Matsakis called for a full-scale public enquiry into the SBA decision.

    "I got full support at the House Environment Committee last week. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also raised the issue with the SBAs," he said.

    While the results of the environmental study are under review, the Bases do not expect them to change.

    Matsakis went on to accuse the British of trying to buy off the village council by offering them the use of the Lady's Mile Beach for putting up sun-beds, offering them plots of land elsewhere and financial incentives at the expense of the environment.

    "It's a scandal because the chairman of the Akrotiri council, Christos Georgiou, is employed by the Bases. How can you expect him to be impartial?" Matsakis said.

    The SBAs hope all foundation work, roads and tracks will be completed in 2001. Hard fittings and fencing will be installed in 2002. The masts and antenna are to follow in 2003. A local company is to carry out the construction work.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Newspaper dispute goes to Labour Ministry

    By a Staff Reporter A DISPUTE between staff and bosses at Apogevmatini newspaper took a turn for the worse yesterday and the Labour Ministry was called in to arbitrate between the two sides.

    Staff at the evening paper are threatening to strike if a proposed merger with Phileleftheros newspaper goes ahead without safeguards for their employment rights being put in place.

    "The issue has been sent for arbitration by the Labour Ministry," Journalists' Union chief Andreas Kannaouros said yesterday.

    Apogevmatini staff had given their bosses till yesterday to come up with safeguards for employees. Kannaouros said there had been "some response" from bosses yesterday and there would be another meeting today.

    "But, irrespective of what might come out of this meeting, the arbitration will go ahead because there is a labour dispute," Kannaouros said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Labour Minister tries to head off Eurocypria strike

    By Jean Christou EUROCYPRIA pilots yesterday postponed a planned extraordinary general meeting to decide on strike action, after the intervention of Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas.

    The charter firm's pilots will hold their meeting today and vote on whether to hold off their decision for "a few days", a representative of the pilots said.

    "We had a meeting with the Minister of Labour today and we informed him of the latest developments in this situation," Andreas Varnavides told the Cyprus Mail.

    Varnavides said Moushiouttas has undertaken to mediate between the two sides, Eurocypria and its parent company Cyprus Airways (CY).

    Moushiouttas urged the pilots not to take a decision to strike for the next few days. They will vote on the issue today.

    Eurocypria pilots gave notice of strike action on March 2 when long-running efforts to solve a dispute with their CY counterparts over captain vacancies in the charter firm reached another deadlock.

    The issue came to a head when CY pilots union PASIPY allegedly ordered the company to halt the promotion of a Eurocypria first officer.

    Earlier, negotiations with the company had already broken down before the incident, when CY allegedly went against an agreement with Eurocypria pilots and brought in six more pilots to the charter firm.

    For the past several weeks, Eurocypria pilots have refused to fly with their CY counterparts. Although Moushiouttas asked them to reconsider the ban, Eurocypria pilots will continue to follow it, Varnavides said.

    "This will remain in force," he said. "We can't sit back and do nothing at all."

    CY's collective agreement with the charter firm clearly states that captain vacancies can only be given to Eurocypria pilots with at least three years' experience within the company.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Shots fired at supporters' bus

    By a Staff Reporter LARNACA police were yesterday investigating an incident in which shots were fired against a bus carrying 46 supporters of a second division football side from the Famagusta district as they were returning from an away game in Aradhippou.

    The 45-year-old driver, Kyriacos Colocassides, was slightly injured during the attack, in which the bus was also stoned.

    The bus was heading back to Sotira on the Aradhippou to Dhekelia road when it was attacked.

    Police said the bus was pelted with stones, which smashed its windows and injured the driver.

    No one saw where the shots or the stones came from.

    Colocassides visited a doctor after he returned home. An x-ray showed his wounds were from shotgun pellets.

    The driver told the doctor that he had not been hunting and did not think he had been hit by pellets, but a second x-ray came up with the same results.

    Colocassides reported the findings to local police, who contacted their Larnaca counterparts.

    The match, between Onissilos of Sotira and Ermis of Aradhippou, ended with the home team winning 2-1.

    The game interrupted for a few minutes at some stage after Ermis fans hurled objects at the Onissilos goalkeeper.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Prison governor to carry gun after threats

    By a Staff Reporter THE PRISON Governor is to carry a weapon 24-hours a day and be shadowed by a personal bodyguard in the wake of threats to his life following a series of arson attacks against prison officials this month.

    Police believe that criminals at large, in league with prison inmates, have orchestrated the recent explosions, which targeted one retired prison warden and two others still in the prison service.

    The precautionary measures were agreed at a meeting yesterday morning chaired by President Glafcos Clerides and attended by Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis and prison governor Harilaos Themistocleous.

    Koshis said death threats against Themistocleous and other wardens had come from several sources.

    Three other seniors wardens also have presidential approval to arm themselves 24 hours a day.

    "Because the information is from two or three sources, we can't ignore it. Our principle is that when we get a tip off, we take measures first, then we investigate it," said Koshis.

    The governor will be allowed to select his own bodyguard from his warden staff.

    The need to speed up work on two new prison wings was also discussed at the meeting.

    Despite the recent release of 60 prisoners, there are still 300 inmates living in a building built for 220.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Tsiakourmas trial resumes, but relatives 'not optimistic'

    By Jean Christou The drugs trial of abducted Greek Cypriot contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas resumed in the north yesterday after a 17-day break for the Muslim holiday of Bayram.

    UNFICYP spokesman Charles Gaulkin told the Cyprus Mail the trial had opened early in the morning and was adjourned at 1pm. It continues today.

    Gaulkin said that one of the Turkish Cypriot 'police' officers who had "arrested" Tsiakourmas had begun his testimony and was being cross-examined by the Greek Cypriot's lawyer.

    Tsiakourmas' wife Niki and brother Kyriacos crossed to the north yesterday to attend the 'court' session.

    Tsiakourmas, 39, who is a diabetic, was taken forcibly from his car on the Pyla-Pergmos road inside British bases territory on December 13. He is charged with possessing two kilos of cannabis.

    He had gone to pick up some Turkish Cypriot workers when he was abducted.

    Bases police said they found no traces of drugs in Tsiakourmas' abandoned car.

    "Mr. Tsiakourmas appeared to be in good shape," Gaulkin said yesterday, but added that the trial could take some time yet. He said documents from the British bases regarding the case had no yet been presented to the 'court' and that the translation process was also time-consuming.

    Speaking to reporters on his return from the north, Tsiakourmas' brother Kyriacos said the police officer who had been called to the stand was the prosecution's chief witness.

    "His cross examination by our English lawyer has just started," he said. "We don't know anything more. We are waiting to see but we are not at all optimistic."

    He said many of the Turkish Cypriot labourers who worked for Tsiakourmas were attending the trail to support the family. "Panicos is a bit better health-wise, but psychologically he is not well at all," his brother said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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