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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 23, 2001


  • [01] Markides asked to investigate alleged abuse of Turkish Cypriot journalist
  • [02] Pittokopitis in new trouble over co-op overdraft
  • [03] Aradippou politicians accused of obstructing co-op scam investigation
  • [04] Michaelides: 'I was quoted out of context'
  • [05] New delay for health plan vote as government seeks consensus
  • [06] Turkish Cypriots protest over Clay speech
  • [07] Almost buried alive
  • [08] Cypriots handed a great deal

  • [01] Markides asked to investigate alleged abuse of Turkish Cypriot journalist

    By Jean Christou ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides has been asked to investigate the alleged manhandling of a Turkish Cypriot journalist by a plain-clothes police officer outside Larnaca court on Tuesday.

    The call came from the Union of Journalists yesterday, following a complaint from the Turkish Cypriot journalists' union after one of its members claimed the officer had slapped him and confiscated his film.

    "We have sent a letter to the Attorney-general," said Journalists Union president Andreas Kannaouros. "We want, we ask and we demand an immediate and urgent investigation and to be informed accordingly."

    The incident occurred outside the Larnaca court on Tuesday, immediately after the 10-year sentencing of Turkish Cypriot drugs smuggler Omer Tekogul.

    Since Tuesday, local media have reported that Turkish spies infiltrating the reporter continent were collared outside the courthouse after being caught filming police officers and a National Guard camp across the road.

    However, veteran Greek Cypriot photo reporter Andreas Manolis, who had his camera lens smashed when tried to defend his Turkish Cypriot colleague, said events were not how they have been portrayed in the local media.

    "We are hearing nothing about the events," he said. "Only about spies and military positions and equipment."

    Manolis said other stories about the alleged Turkish spies calling their bosses in the north to report on the trial were also false, because during the trial there was no mobile phone access in the area of the courthouse. "We could not use our phone because there was a blackout," he said.

    He said the trouble began when the journalists spotted the relatives of abducted Greek Cypriot Panicos Tsiakourmas standing near the National Guard camp walls. Tsiakourmas is facing drugs charges in the north after being seized from SBA territory 10 days after Tekogul was arrested.

    "We all started taking pictures of them, which was a big mistake for the Turkish Cypriots," Manolis said. "If they were going to arrest someone they should have arrested all of us because we all took pictures."

    He said that, within seconds, a plain-clothes police officer arrived on the scene without identifying himself. "He grabbed the cord of the camera and the Turkish Cypriot tried to defend himself and pushed the man. The policeman then hit him in the face. I put myself I the middle because I know all of the Turkish Cypriot journalists and I believed it was my duty to protect him."

    The police then confiscated the film. Examinations found nothing incriminating.

    Asked if his other Greek Cypriot colleagues had made any protest, Manolis said: "They shut their mouths and didn't say anything, and instead of telling the truth they are talking about spies. All I know is in this case he was innocent."

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou confirmed yesterday that nothing suspicious had been found in the Turkish Cypriot's camera. "But it was the right of the policeman to act the moment he had a suspicion that the suspect was taking pictures of the military camp," Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail.

    The government spokesman added that he was not aware of any allegations in this particular case. "But his kind of alleged behaviour on the part of the police in the exercise of their duty should be made in such a way as not to cause problems," he said.

    Turkish Cypriot press reported that the journalist, who works for Kibris newspaper, had to be treated for facial injuries and that the Turkish Cypriot side would report the incident to the UN.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Pittokopitis in new trouble over co-op overdraft

    By Melina Demetriou THE RESULTS of a preliminary investigation into the activities of the Paphos Hellenic Co-operative committee, suggest that its chairman, DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis, may not have repaid a 93,000 overdraft that he took out last year.

    If confirmed, the report would be a serious embarrassment for Pittokopitis, who has so far insisted that he paid back the amount in full.

    A report drafted by the director of the co-operative movement's audit service was leaked press earlier this month, saying that accounts belonging to members of the Paphos Hellenic Co-operative committee showed overdrafts in excess of 93,000.

    Pittokopitis has admitted to taking out a loan of 93,000 from the bank he chaired, breaking his overdraft limit of 30,000, but insisting that he had repaid the loan before a December 30 deadline.

    But Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday revealed to the House Watchdog Committee that the Cabinet was investigating allegations that the amount in question had not been paid back yet.

    "I had some information only hours ago and I looked into the matter. The preliminary investigation's results suggest that the money is still missing, " the minister said, adding that the Cabinet had launched an investigation into the matter.

    "I cannot say more until we have the official investigation's results in about a week's time. Then, we will act accordingly and take all necessary measures."

    When the ministry first got wind of the irregularities, it sent a warning letter to the co-op committee members. asking them to pay back the money overdrawn in excess.

    Insisting on his innocence, Pittokopitis has argued that private and co- operative banks allowed their customers to exceed their overdraft limits all the time.

    But he conceded that "these kind of irregularities must stop."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Aradippou politicians accused of obstructing co-op scam investigation

    By Melina Demetriou THE FOUR main parliamentary parties yesterday all came under fire from the government as Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday brought to public attention a letter suggesting that DISY, DIKO, AKEL and KISOS had tried to obstruct an investigation into allegations that members of the Aradippou Co-operative committee were responsible for 4.2 million missing from the bank.

    The police have been investigating the Aradippou bank case since last year, but have not yet solved it.

    Deputies on the House Watchdog Committee yesterday watched in disbelief as Rolandis presented them a letter addressed to the Co-operative movement's audit service, suggesting that an investigation into allegations that Co- operative committee's members were behind the scam should be stopped.

    The latter is signed by representatives of the four parties' Aradippou branches. The letter is also stamped by DISY and DIKO.

    The letter, dated October 30, 2000 says: "Our parties' local branches have been in contact with the members of the bank's committee and would like to reassure you that they are innocent.

    "Our parties fully back the committee and we are sure you will take that into account."

    Rolandis explained: "This letter was sent to the audit service shortly after the amount was found missing. It was later submitted to me and I must tell you it put me in a very difficult position. I could not proceed with the investigation," the minister complained. House Committee chairman Christos Pourgourides of DISY charged: "This is unacceptable and I will give this letter to the press."

    Pourgourides said his party would take action against DISY's Aradippou branch members for committing a disciplinary offence.

    But AKEL deputy Aristophanis Georgiou insisted his party had absolutely nothing to do with the obstruction, since there was no AKEL stamp on the letter.

    "We have never obstructed the investigation procedure. This signature must be forged," he charged.

    Pourgourides then ended the meeting urging parties to investigate the matter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Michaelides: 'I was quoted out of context'

    By Athena Karsera ADIK president Dinos Michaelides yesterday said he had been saddened by media reporting of comments that he had always "served" voters and would continue to do so despite of a new law criminalising nepotism.

    His use of the word "service" in an interview on a Tuesday night was widely interpreted as referring to nepotism, and provoked the government spokesman into calling all politicians to comply with the new law and not dress up nepotism as a "service."

    "I was quoted out of context," Michaelides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "I applauded the introduction of the law and the President's efforts for it to be enforced."

    "I have never acted illegally," he said.

    "I provide services within the framework of the law and I do not intend to break the law."

    On March 1, Parliament approved a law making nepotism a criminal offence, punishable by up to 12 months' imprisonment. President Glafcos Clerides has sent letters to all in authority instructing them to implement the law strictly, and has asked police chief Andreas Angelides to give him a monthly report on the number of nepotism offences reported.

    Michaelides yesterday added that nepotism could only be carried out by someone in power: "I am not part of the ruling party, I am not connected to the government. I am in the opposition. I could not even ask for something to be done because there would be no response unless it came from someone in power."

    He said that his services only went as far as trying to help members of the public with genuine problems -- "in as much as a party leader might be listened to more than a non-political figure."

    Michaelides said he hoped the law on nepotism would be extended beyond covering its current remit of employment and promotion.

    Michaelides was forced to resign as interior minister in 1999 following an investigation into alleged abuse of power spearheaded by House Watchdog Committee president Christos Pourgourides. Michaelides was eventually cleared of wrongdoing, and has always protested his innocence.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] New delay for health plan vote as government seeks consensus

    By Martin Hellicar THE very last working session of the current parliament, on May 5, yesterday emerged as the most likely date for a long-awaited vote on the controversial state-proposed National Health Plan.

    The House of Representatives plenum yesterday also put off a vote on another contentious bill -- that providing for the use of police cameras to capture road offenders in the act.

    The House Health Committee met for hours behind closed doors yesterday in a bid to achieve consensus on the relevant bill. Few statements were made after the session, but the bill did not come up before the House plenum session later in the day and the expectation was that May 5 was the most likely date for the crunch vote. This is the body's last working session before it dissolves ahead of the May 27 parliamentary elections.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides, who attended yesterday's committee meeting, again called for the plan to be approved. He said it was high time the country had a "comprehensive" health plan, adding that this was an EU harmonisation requirement.

    But the chairman of the health committee, Andreas Parisinos, said the aim was to achieve as large as possible a majority in favour of the bill. This suggested there was still work to be done in bringing opposition parties "on side" before the contentious plan would make its way to the plenum.

    The government health plan provides for employees, employers and the self- employed making set contributions to a scheme in exchange for comprehensive medical cover at hospitals. The plan is vehemently opposed by civil service unions, who do not see why they should contribute to a state plan when they already have their own provisions.

    Savvides yesterday tabled a number of amendments to the plan before the committee, with the aim of appeasing detractors. Among these were the abolition of the two per cent contribution from pensioners who have a monthly income of less than 300 and guarantees that state hospitals would remain under government control.

    Another controversial bill put off yesterday -- for a week this time -- was that providing for the installation of automatic cameras to photograph drivers violating road safety rules at traffic lights and zebra crossings.

    Deputies all agreed to postpone consideration of the bill for a week to give them more time to examine the relevant committee's report.

    Police say cameras would significantly reduce offences such as speeding, but deputies have been wary of concerns that the cameras could violate people's privacy by capturing men with their mistresses.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Turkish Cypriots protest over Clay speech

    By a Staff Reporter THE TURKISH Cypriot authorities have made a formal protest to the British High Commission over a speech given by High Commissioner Edward Clay at a university in the north on March 18.

    Turkish Cypriot authorities were furious at what they said were "grave and false accusations that violate the rules of diplomacy".

    A statement went on to accuse Britain and certain other countries of using Turkish Cypriots as "tools" and meddling in domestic affairs in the north.

    It said that a diplomat from a guarantor country "should act with more caution than diplomats of other countries".

    Deputy High Commissioner Philip Barton was summoned to the 'ministry of foreign affairs' in occupied Nicosia for a dressing down on Wednesday.

    The speech was given at the second day of a conference, entitled "Communication in and between Societies. What women can do," organised by the British Council and funded by the High Commission.

    Clay is understood to have spoken about the difficulties made by both sides in allowing bi-communal occasions to go ahead.

    The Chairman of the Association of Retired Officers of the Security Forces, Halil Sadrazam, said Clay had described the administration in the north as a totalitarian and racist regime that treated people like animals.

    The British High Commission said yesterday that Clay had been misquoted, but refused to give the Cyprus Mail a copy of his speech.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Almost buried alive

    By Martin Hellicar A PAPHOS family was busy making funeral arrangements for its 85-year-old granny when it discovered the old lady was not dead after all, it emerged yesterday.

    The family said it had been told of the octogenarian's death by staff at the old people's home she had been staying at.

    The 85-year-old's son said he only found out his mother was in fact alive after staff at the home failed to satisfy his enquiries about how the old woman had died and he decided to ask at the Paphos hospital. At the hospital, he was told that his mother was not dead at all, but had rather suffered a coma brought on by low blood sugar and was recovering in intensive care.

    "We had arranged for the funeral to take place, we had arranged for a headstone and had notified the hearse," the son protested yesterday.

    Paphos health officer Chrysostomos Andronikou said the old people's home had failed to follow proper procedure: "Only a doctor can diagnose a death, " he commented.

    There was no comment from the home yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Cypriots handed a great deal

    By George Psyllides IRISH fans continued to arrive in planeloads yesterday for the Group Two World Cup qualifier against Cyprus at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia tomorrow.

    A football federation (KOP) official told the Cyprus Mail that around 3, 500 tickets had already been sold to travelling Irish fans while more were expected to be sold at the stadium's entrance.

    Tickets for the game have been priced at 25, but Cypriot fans will only pay 7 because their tickets have been subsidised by two large companies.

    Christis dairy products and Woolworth have struck a deal with KOP to pay the remaining 18 per ticket for every Cypriot fan attending the game.

    The move was seen as a way to encourage fans to attend the game. KOP defended the subsidisation claiming there was nothing irregular about it.

    Cyprus coach Stavros Papadopoulos has rejected suggestions his side were favourites for the match because they are playing at home. But he did add that with a bit of luck Cyprus - currently second in the group -- could snatch all three points from the ambitious Irish, who are placed fourth in the six-team group.

    Papadopoulos said the team was mentally ready for the match and all players would be fit and available tomorrow.

    Key midfielder Yiotis Engomitis, who plays for Greek club PAOK Salonika, is expected to overcome a slight injury while adopted Serb Milenko Spoliaric, his partner in midfield, was also recovering and would be 100 per cent fit.

    Papadopoulos said: "Our aim is to win. We are not underestimating our team - - we'll do our best to win the three points."

    The national team coach said his side were trying to keep their feet down to earth, careful not to get carried away.

    "After all we are not the ones expected to qualify for the 2002 World Cup - it is our opponents," Papadopoulos said.

    On his part Irish coach Mick McCarthy said it would be a difficult match for both teams.

    "It is a very important game for the team in our effort to qualify to the final stage," he said.

    The Irish team arrived without their towering Sunderland striker Nial Quinn but Manchester United captain Roy Keane and talented Leeds centre forward Robbie Keane are the star players in the squad.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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