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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-05-01

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 1, 2001


  • [01] Boy of 14 dies during surgery
  • [02] Dolphin found 'riddled with bullets' in Akamas
  • [03] Ministry promises tests on refinery safety
  • [04] More Turkish Cypriots applying for Cyprus passports
  • [05] Clerides offers vigorous defence of domestic achievements
  • [06] Tsiakourmas to take Turkey to European court
  • [07] Police turn away boatload of Iraqi migrants
  • [08] Former minister denies wrongdoing over Louis shares
  • [09] Not enough speech therapists to go round

  • [01] Boy of 14 dies during surgery

    By George Psyllides AN AUTOPSY will today determine why a boy of 14 died on the operating table yesterday morning while undergoing apparently routine surgery at Nicosia General Hospital to clean an infected wound.

    Nicosia General Hospital Head Surgeon Pericles Symeonides told the Cyprus Mail that George Hadjidemetris from Yeri had first been treated in the emergency room last Saturday week for a wound he had received to the backside.

    He said the boy's wound had been stitched up and he had been discharged, only to return on Thursday with fever and pain in the area of the wound.

    The on-duty doctor found that the boy's wound had been infected and decided to keep him in hospital for treatment.

    On the same day, the boy underwent surgery and his wound was opened and cleaned, Symeonides said.

    Hadjidemetris was treated with antibiotics for the infection.

    "Yesterday, and after the infection reappeared, doctors deemed it necessary for the 14-year-old's wound to be cleaned again, but unfortunately." Symeonides tailed off.

    The boy's father, Omiros Hadjidemetris, blamed doctors for his son's untimely death. He accused them of not carrying out blood tests or cardiological examinations before yesterday's surgery, going instead on the basis of tests carried out before the first operation.

    Symeonides conceded that no pre-operational tests had been carried out, saying they were not needed due to the patient's young age.

    The cause of the boy's death will be determined by the autopsy, but his death could have been caused from pulmonary embolism due to the infection, the surgeon added.

    Pathologist Marios Matsakis, who will be observing the autopsy on behalf of the family, told the Cyprus Mail that he did not wish to speculate on the possible causes of the boy's death before the autopsy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Dolphin found 'riddled with bullets' in Akamas

    By Jennie Matthew STORMY weather yesterday postponed an operation to remove the carcass of a dead dolphin, allegedly riddled with bullet holes and marooned on the rocky Akamas coast all weekend, as the Green Party campaigned for an immediate police investigation to bring those responsible to justice.

    Two fishermen brothers found the dead fish on Saturday afternoon as they were fishing between Fontana Amorosa and Cape Arnaouti, the northernmost tip of the Akamas peninsula.

    They claimed the carcass, weighing in at more than 700kg, was peppered with gunshot wounds, suggesting that it had been shot repeatedly.

    The Green Party immediately issued a statement denouncing the killing and informed Marine Police and the Fisheries Department of the find.

    "The numerous puncture wounds showed the shooting was neither a mistake, nor something done by chance. If it was done as a joke or out of ignorance, then, at the very least, it is inhumane. If it was murdered by someone on purpose, in an attempt to eradicate wildlife from the area, then that it is criminal," the statement said.

    But the Fisheries Department was yesterday unable to confirm the fish's cause of death and was reluctant to point the finger at anyone.

    "No, we've never had any cases of problems with fishermen. Dolphins are usually caught in a net, or washed ashore, or get trapped because they're very old," Fisheries Officer Marina Argoirou told the Cyprus Mail.

    Indeed a video, filmed after the fishermen had made their initial report, cast doubt on whether the dolphin had in fact been shot.

    "The only hole that was obvious was the hole through which the dolphin breathes. The fish was clearly battered on the rocks, but there is a possibility that the dolphin turned over in the waves, because she was lying on a different side than on Saturday, and that the bullet holes might therefore be hidden from view," Green Party representative Andreas Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail.

    But despite a humid 30 degrees Celsius, an easterly wind blowing up to 15 knots whipped up the surf and the waves lashed too high for a boat to venture up the coast from Paphos harbour.

    The conditions would have prevented a vessel from getting even close to the jagged rocks, on the remote stretch of coast where the dolphin washed up.

    With a chance of isolated thunderstorms, the Weather Department yesterday advised boats to stay in harbour.

    The Fisheries Department said efforts to shelter the dolphin at the Latchi Fishing Centre would have to wait until tomorrow.

    Once the fish has been transferred to the Centre, scientists will conduct an autopsy to determine its cause of death and record its size and species.

    If the body is in good condition, then it could be preserved as a museum exhibit. If not, then steps will be taken to dispose of it.

    Preliminary investigations along the Akamas coastline, also unearthed a dead turtle, similarly riddled with bullets.

    Dolphins wash up on the Cyprus coast about three or four times a year, but this is the first time one has been found with gunshot wounds.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Ministry promises tests on refinery safety

    By Jennie Matthew THE HEALTH Ministry said yesterday that it would commission a full-scale medical study in Larnaca, following a 3,000- signature petition due to be submitted to the Ministry later this week, branding the town's oil refinery a health hazard.

    If so, it could be the third medical investigation into health-related complaints from refineries commissioned by the government since January 2000.

    The Larnaca Progressive Movement collected almost 3,000 signatures from townspeople, demanding that health tests be carried out on the local population living in the vicinity of the Larnaca oil refinery.

    The Movement accuses the refinery of polluting the area with dangerous CFC gasses and of ruining the three-kilometre stretch of beach that it occupies.

    They blame the plant for decimating the town's tourism and forcing locals to bathe at Pyla, more than 15 miles away.

    "The local people are in a state of misery. It's inconceivable to have a housing area next to the refinery fence. The refinery must be abandoned, without carrying out major work to prolong its life," the president of the movement, Panicos Sordas, told the Cyprus Mail.

    But he said it would be unfair to blame local cases of asthma and cancer on the refinery, without a proper medical study.

    A copy of the petition is expected to land on the desks of Minister of Health Frixos Savvides and President Glafcos Clerides by the end of the week.

    But public health inspector Andreas Georgiou yesterday promised the Cyprus Mail that a medical investigation, similar to the tests carried out in Ergates, and currently under way in Omonia, would be carried out.

    The government shut down the Ergates foundry, after tests concluded that the plant was dangerous to public health.

    "I haven't yet received a copy, but when I receive the official document, we will carry out a study," said Georgiou.

    Sordas yesterday welcomed the Ministry's response, but said promises weren't enough. "We hope the Ministry will take direct, practical steps as soon as possible," he said.

    The Larnaca movement has been campaigning to block efforts to upgrade the Larnaca oil refinery for the last three years, as part of its general aim to improve the town's development.

    In February, the government and Larnaca municipality agreed to relocate the oil refinery to Vassiliko - an industrial site halfway between Larnaca and Limassol - by 2010 and turn its current complex into a tourist development by 2012.

    But the agreement also provided for the plant to be upgraded before its planned move - work the movement considers a waste of money.

    "For every move the government makes, we will respond with increasingly dynamic measures," Sordas said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] More Turkish Cypriots applying for Cyprus passports

    By a Staff Reporter THE NUMBER of Turkish Cypriots applying for Cyprus passports has increased over the past three months, the government said yesterday.

    Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, commenting on reports on a private TV station on Sunday night, said the increase might be because Turkish Cypriots were realising the benefits of having a Cypriot passport once the island joined the EU.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has rejected a proposal by President Glafcos Clerides for the Turkish Cypriot side to be represented on the island's negotiating team.

    Papapetrou said Turkish Cypriots applied for passports either to the Interior Ministry in Nicosia or at the Republic's embassies abroad, especially in Britain, but refrained from revealing figures.

    The government said last week there was a huge number of Turkish Cypriots leaving the occupied areas due to the increasing economic problems in the north.

    Turkish Cypriots made up 18 per cent of the Republic's total population before the 1974 Turkish invasion. Estimates suggest that there are now around 80,000 to 90,000 Turkish Cypriots in the north, compared with just over 100,000 mainland Turks, who have settled on the island since the Turkish invasion.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Clerides offers vigorous defence of domestic achievements

    By Jean Christou PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides has fended off criticism over his domestic policies by presenting facts and figures comparing the island to other countries.

    Clerides made his presentation at a news conference on Sunday night, and used reports from various ministries and international organisations to prove his point.

    He said the economy was doing fine, the crime rate was the lowest in Europe, the standard of living had reached enviable levels, unemployment was almost non existent and people lived in a free and democratic country with respect for human rights.

    Clerides repeated a statement he made in his previous new conference last month, that he was not infallible and assumed full responsibility for the errors committed during his term in office.

    He said he would like the people of Cyprus to remember him for entering the Presidential Palace poor and leaving even poorer.

    "The domestic policy we have been following and continue to follow aims at turning into reality our vision to join the European Union and when this is achieved, it will be the most important accomplishment since the declaration of independence of the Republic of Cyprus," Clerides said.

    He added that even if the prospect of EU accession had not been looming on the horizon, updating and modernising institutions and society at large was "a must" for Cyprus to enable the country to meet global challenges.

    "I consider our accession course a catalyst in the effort to upgrade and restructure our economy and society," he said, adding that globalisation of world economies, liberalisation of international trade and rapid technological developments created an environment that Cyprus has to tackle.

    He said boosting the Republic's defences increased the feeling of security amongst the public. "Our planned participation in European defence and security institutions would give a new dimension of security to Cyprus," he said.

    Replying to a question on defence matters, he said he had no intention of reducing armaments and expected to get additional deliveries of military hardware.

    Commenting on the problems of the Cyprus Stock Exchange, the President said people had got the wrong impression that they would always win on the market, but he also said that the proposed stabilisation fund, strengthening current institutions and allowing more time for the repayment of loans, were all measures that could help bring trust back into the market.

    On criticism of the economy, crime and nepotism, he said what was important was, "not how we see ourselves, but how the world sees us". He said the media often exaggerated and focuses on crimes and other ills of society, which abroad would not get the same prominence.

    Clerides cited UN and EU reports that Cyprus was among the 22 richest countries worldwide, and had a very low crime rate. He described nepotism as "an illness which has been around since the Republic was set up" and called for a change in attitudes in that area.

    Outlining some of the achievements of his government, he said there was a sound economy, social justice, loans and grants given to refugees, and state allowances increased.

    Asked to list some of the errors his government had committed, the President replied in Latin that "to err is human".

    "It would be very arrogant to say no errors were committed," he said, adding that what was important was not the errors one made but whether overall the policies adopted and implemented by the government had yielded results.

    "I would like the people to credit me with this: I became President as a man of modest means and I am not leaving the office of the President with a larger fortune than what I had at that time, and once I leave and publish my assets, people will see clearly the difference."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Tsiakourmas to take Turkey to European court

    By Jean Christou GREEK Cypriot contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas, who was freed last Thursday from a Turkish Cypriot prison, intends to file an application against Turkey for violations of his human rights.

    "I intend to file an application against my detention and my family is planning to follow suit for violation of our human rights by Turkey" Tsiakourmas, 39, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

    Tsiakourmas, who was freed just hours too late to say farewell to his dying mother, plans to return to work in the next few days. He was detained in the north for nearly five months after his abduction from British bases territory on December 13 last year.

    The Turks claim he was arrested within the occupied areas carrying 1.1kg of cannabis and put him on trial for possession and trafficking. He was found guilty last Thursday but released taking into account time served since his abduction.

    The case against Ankara is likely to be based on Articles 3.5 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibit torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, safeguard the right to liberty and security and the right to respect of one's private and family life.

    Tsiakourmas, a diabetic, said he had been beaten and threatened in the first days after the abduction and did not initially receive the medical care he needed, but he thanked his Turkish Cypriots co-workers who had visited him in prison and encouraged him not to give up. He described conditions in the jail as "appalling and unhealthy", but said the government, the UN and the British High Commission had taken a keen interest in his well being.

    Tsiakourmas said that after a British Bases police reconstruction of the circumstances surrounding his abduction, the Turkish Cypriots had not allowed UN doctors or doctors from the government-controlled areas to examine him.

    Commenting on Tsiakourmas' intended application, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said he had a sound basis to file against Turkey since the court had ruled in the Titina Loizidou case that Turkey was responsible for what went on in the north.

    "It is up to Mr Tsiakourmas and his family to decide whether they will file an application against Turkey or not, but the government can and will make use of its right to intervene and back with legal arguments Mr Tsiakourmas' case," Markides said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Police turn away boatload of Iraqi migrants

    By Noah Haglund CYPRUS police turned away another group of illegal immigrants hoping to land on the island after they intercepted a Lebanese- registered fishing boat carrying 23 suspected illegal immigrants from Iraq and two Lebanese crewmembers on Sunday.

    The boat, which was stopped by police at 6pm, was headed through Cyprus' coastal waters towards Cape Greco, the island's southernmost tip.

    "Police officers questioned the passengers who said they were of Iraqi origin. The vessel was then led to a safe distance out of Cyprus' territorial waters," a police spokesman announced yesterday.

    Thousands of poor migrants from the Middle East pay a small fortune to ply the Mediterranean in ramshackle fishing boats in an attempt to get to a European country.

    Cyprus is considered an easy target, as it is less than 100 kilometers from Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. Smugglers usually choose weekends or public holidays to sail, telling unsuspecting passengers they have arrived either in Greece or Italy upon arrival.

    The Cyprus Mail was unable to reach immigration officials for comment yesterday. An official from UNHCR, the branch of the UN in charge of overseeing refugee rights, refused to comment on the situation pending further investigation.

    However, the President of the Immigrant Support Action Group (ISAG), Doros Polycarpou, voiced the stance that the authorities are "not allowed to turn them away without checking out if there are people among them who might be political refugees."

    He says that turning away a ship in Cyprus' territorial waters went against the laws of the Republic as well as international conventions signed by the Republic that require the authorities to investigate claims from all potential asylum seekers.

    According to Polycarpou, the 1951 general convention from the United Nations on refugees makes clear that you cannot prohibit people from filing a demand for refugee status.

    A Cypriot law for refugees, passed last year, also states the rights of anybody to demand political asylum in the country.

    Even if police could turn them back, said Polycarpou, they could simply tell them to turn around, they must be sent back to a country offering a reasonable degree of safety.

    In an unrelated case, Famagusta police are investigating another case with 10 illegal immigrants who landed on the island's eastern shore near the Liopetri River and took a taxi to Limassol. They were sighted by police, but had not been apprehended by yesterday afternoon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Former minister denies wrongdoing over Louis shares

    By a Staff Reporter FORMER Communications Minister Leondios Ierodiakonou yesterday refuted any wrongdoing over share acquisitions in a statement issued after the issue was raised during President Glafcos Clerides' news conference on domestic affairs Sunday.

    In a two-page statement, Ierodiakonou admitted that he had bought 50,000 shares in cruise lines, but said it was a usual long-term business transaction.

    A fracas broke out in 1999 after it emerged that prominent public figures had received Louis shares through private placement.

    Ierodiakonou said he had purchased the shares in March 1999, before the stock market index soared to 800 points, adding that in no way could he have forecasted such a boost.

    The former minister said the rise had come in the second half of the year and the first indication that the specific share would open at unusually high prices had come in July, four months after he had purchased the shares.

    Ierodiakonou said he had received shares through private placement before, but no issue had been raised because the market's behaviour until then had been normal.

    He said he had until now kept quite so that he would not hinder in any way an investigation launched by the Attorney-general into the Louis share acquisition by public figures.

    "Unfortunately, until today nothing has been announced, despite, as I understand, the investigation having been completed over a year ago," Ierodiakonou said.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides was yesterday unavailable for comment on the state of the investigation.

    Ierodiakonou noted that until today he had not sold a single share.

    "Today, and despite acting transparently and in good faith, I decided to keep only those shares I had bought and transfer the rest - 85,000 - to the Dhali and Athienou elderly homes."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Not enough speech therapists to go round

    By Melina Demetriou TEN per cent of all Cypriots develop some sort of speech disorder during childhood but there are not enough state therapists to treat them all, Louiza Damianou, chairman of the Cyprus Speech and Language Association told a news conference yesterday, announcing a public awareness campaign starting today.

    "There is an urgent need for the state to employ more speech therapists. There are about 40 therapists working at elementary schools and one working at Makarios Hospital. "Children are put on long waiting lists and have to wait for between six months and a year before they see the therapist while adult patients never see him," Damianou said.

    Only elementary school children can receive treatment at school, the chairman of the Association added, but even at schools there are not enough therapists.

    Evgenia Mina, the Association's secretary, said it was sometimes hard for teachers to say which children had dyslexia or other problems.

    "It's up to the teacher to direct a child to a therapist, but unfortunately, not all teachers have been trained on how to detect speech problems," she said.

    "Difficulty in following the learning pace of a class is a usual sign of dyslexia.

    Three-year-olds who only use four or five words and four-year-olds who can't produce correct sentences are usually children with speech disorders, " Damianou said.

    "If a parent suspects his child has a speech disorder he can contact a paediatrician who will direct him to a state therapist. Treatment takes a few months or a few years, according to the case, " she added.

    "We receive innumerable calls every day from parents who have children with these kind of problems, but it is impossible to help them all," said Mina.

    A session with a state therapist is free, while private therapists charge around 7 an hour.

    A public awareness week to bring attention to speech disorders and available therapies starts today and will last until May 7, with a range of activities sponsored by the Association.

    At the May Day Fair on Nicosia's Stasinou Avenue, volunteers will hand out of balloons and other promotional materials.

    The following lectures are scheduled for May 3, from 6.00 to 9.00 pm at the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Centre: 'Speech Disorders and Education: Myths and Therapy' and; 'Dyslexia: Programmes for Reading and Improvement.'

    The awareness campaign will focus on a range of disorders that affect people of all ages.

    Speech disorders owe to a combination of genetic and environmental factors and may appear during childhood, throughout life as the result of traumatic injuries, misuse or strain of vocal organs, or due to diseases such as Alzheimer's.

    The Cyprus Speech and Language Therapy Association was founded in 1990 with 21 members and has since grown to 58, who work in public and private schools, government ministries, private universities and charitable foundations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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