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

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, May 5, 2001


  • [01] Teacher 'shot by neighbour' in parking dispute
  • [02] Cyprus welcomes US criticism of Denktash
  • [03] Bomb explodes outside Eroglu's house
  • [04] Akamas villagers claim EU is listening to their views
  • [05] Savvides seeks to reassure public over meningitis fears
  • [06] MaxDATA boss suspected of using 680,000 of investors' money
  • [07] Inquiry results expected within days
  • [08] Government announces 4.5 million fire-fighting plan
  • [09] Appeal for more mobile units in drug prevention programme
  • [10] Australian UN police veterans remember the troubles

  • [01] Teacher 'shot by neighbour' in parking dispute

    By George Psyllides

    A 75-YEAR-old man from the village of Psimolophou was yesterday detained after allegedly shooting his neighbour over a long-standing parking dispute.

    Police said Andreas Kourtellaris yesterday morning tried to kill his neighbour, 29-year-old teacher Simos Antoniou, over a protracted parking disagreement.

    The two have been arguing continuously over the narrow space outside their homes in the Nicosia district village.

    The victim and his brother have complained that Kourtellaris' truck takes up all the space, making it difficult for them to park their own car.

    On Thursday night, the two men rowed again, police said.

    Yesterday morning, Kourtellaris found that his truck's tyre was flat, and immediately assumed Antoniou was to blame.

    He allegedly took his shotgun and sat outside Antoniou's door, waiting for him to go to work.

    At around 7.20am, Antoniou opened his door and came face to face with Kourtellaris, who opened fire on him.

    Antoniou instinctively raised his arms for protection and suffered serious injuries to his hands.

    He ran into the house and apparently locked himself in a room, from where he called a friend for help.

    He then jumped out of the window and tried to escape with the old man in pursuit.

    According to police, Kourtellaris was chasing Antoniou to shoot him again.

    Antoniou was helped by a friend, who rushed him to hospital, while the suspect surrendered to police at around 7.40am. Police say he admitted to the shooting.

    Antoniou underwent emergency surgery, but lost three fingers. Doctors said his condition was not life threatening.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Cyprus welcomes US criticism of Denktash

    By Noah Haglund

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday praised Washington's criticism of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, although speculation that the United States would object to the island's accession to the European Union without a settlement to the Cyprus problem have clouded the horizon.

    On Thursday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell levelled direct criticism at Denktash, blaming him for stalling the United Nations-led Cyprus peace effort.

    His comments came at a hearing at a Senate Committee on the 2002 State Department Appropriations, during which Powell also reiterated US support to the UN effort for a settlement in Cyprus.

    "As you know, we're at a bit of an impasse right now because of the position taken by Mr. Denktash," Powell said, adding "we are supporting the UN efforts on this."

    Speaking from Athens yesterday, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides commended his US counterpart, saying, "the Secretary of State's statement reflects the composed and wise approach we have adopted with regard to the UN-led proximity talks".

    However, reports circulated yesterday that certain aides to US President George W. Bush had expressed concern over Cyprus' EU accession ahead of a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Three papers, Phileleftheros, Simerini and Politis, yesterday reported that the Bush administration's concerns hinged on Turkish opposition to Cyprus EU membership and the form that opposition might take.

    In its report, Phileleftheros said, "various scenarios are being mulled over at the (US) State Department, among which is even a 'freeze' on Cyprus' accession to the EU".

    "Reports of the US blocking Cyprus EU accession are baseless," was the response from a US embassy spokesman in Nicosia yesterday.

    Asked about possible US concerns about accession ahead of a settlement, Cassoulides said: "my view on this is that the US is trying to protect Greco-Turkish rapprochement or avert any Turkish moves which would lead to the collapse of these efforts."

    Anna Lindh, the Foreign Minister of Sweden, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency, said on Thursday the United Nations would try to restart peace talks after parliamentary elections in Cyprus on May 27.

    Lindh indicated the EU was willing to leave the talks under UN sponsorship. "We shouldn't try to be involved in solving the real Cyprus issue - that's for the UN," she told reporters in Stockholm.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Bomb explodes outside Eroglu's house

    By Elias Hazou

    A BOMB exploded in the early morning hours yesterday in the Turkish- controlled part of Nicosia outside the residence of Turkish Cypriot 'Prime Minister' Dervis Eroglu.

    The 2am explosion, heard throughout the capital, shattered car windscreens and caused damage to houses in the vicinity. The bomb had been planted inside a rubbish bin near the guardhouse outside Eroglu's house on Ilhan Sabut Street, close to the Ledra Palace checkpoint.

    The guard on duty sustained minor injuries. Turkish Cypriot security forces quickly cordoned off the area and launched an immediate investigation, but no announcements were made or arrests reported. There was also no information on the type of bomb used.

    This was the third bomb explosion in the occupied areas over the past three weeks, one going off in Famasusta near the residence of the 'finance minister' and the other near the Riverside Casino in Kyrenia. No one has claimed responsibility for the acts, but Turkish Cypriot press reports speculated they were related to the ongoing economic crisis in the north and were perhaps carried out by groups with anarchic tendencies.

    Eroglu and his family were unhurt in yesterday's blast. Eroglu's wife later told reporters that the act was a "sad incident, but there is nothing more that can be said about it." She added her family had only vaguely heard the explosion because of double-glazing.

    Eroglu is also chairman of the National Unity Party (UDP), which on Sunday is holding elections to nominate new party leadership. Turkish Cypriot sources speculated the act might be related to this, but did not elaborate.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Akamas villagers claim EU is listening to their views

    By Martin Hellicar

    AKAMAS villagers yesterday claimed the EU had finally heard their calls for "sustainable" development to be permitted in their area, a remote peninsula earmarked for national park status.

    Mukhtars from local villages called a news conference in Paphos yesterday afternoon to claim there had been an "organised conspiracy" to keep EU officials from hearing their views on the Akamas issue.

    Last week, mukhtars Sophocles Pittokopitis of Inia, Stelios Koupparis of Drousia and Savvas Theodorou of Neo Chorio were in Brussels trying to drum up support for developing Akamas.

    "Till now, there were two being judged, but the EU had only seen one of them," Pittokopitis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, suggesting that the EU had, till recently, only heard the views of environmentalists.

    The villagers have long been at loggerheads with environmentalists. The former see mass tourism development as the only way to revive their communities. The later insist Akamas, with its spectacular scenery, rare flora and turtle-nesting beaches, should be preserved as is, with any tourism development kept to within existing villages.

    The EU is, increasingly, making its presence felt over the Akamas issue. British MEP Chris Davies last week said the European Commission was moving to make proper protection for Akamas a precondition for the island's accession.

    But Pittokopitis, the father of DIKO vice-chairman Nicos, said he was satisfied that EU officials had now taken villagers' concerns on board. "They were surprised to hear our side of things," he said. "They certainly listened, the EU is sensitive on environmental issues but it is also sensitive on human rights issues," Pittokopitis senior said.

    The Inia mukhtar claimed the freeze on Akamas development imposed 12 years ago meant villagers had been denied their right to use their properties. The development ban was put in place to give the government time to decide on a final formula for an Akamas national park. In March last year, the Cabinet announced a controversial plan to permit "mild and controlled" development on the peninsula. But the plan has yet to be finalised, leaving locals in limbo.

    Pittokopitis insisted local villagers were not out to destroy the Akamas wilderness: "We want sustainable development in keeping with EU laws. We want to be able to build a home for our children on our land, or a two- storey building. We do not have the money to build hotels."

    "Inia community has eight kilometres of coastal land, what would be the harm in developing half a kilometre of this to generate some income for the community?" the mukhtar said.

    Greens claim big development interests are behind locals' demands for development. Environmentalists back a state-commissioned 1995 World Bank plan, which recommended most all tourism development be kept within existing Akamas villages. The plan, approved by parliament but rejected by the Cabinet, is anathema to locals: "The World bank plan is dead," Pittokopitis said yesterday.

    On Thursday, it was revealed that planning permission had been granted for a second hotel at Asprokremnos, on the Akamas coast.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Savvides seeks to reassure public over meningitis fears

    By Noah Haglund

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday told the public there was no cause for alarm from the recent cases of viral meningitis in Limassol, saying it was not an "epidemic", but an "outbreak".

    The Minister of Health repeated Thursday's advice from Senior Health officer Dr. Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou that the only precautions that could be taken were maintaining good personal hygiene.

    Meanwhile, the condition of 13-year-old Andreas Achiotis, the Limassol boy with bacterial meningitis, yesterday remained dire with little or no change from Thursday.

    Cyprus' Health Department has no programme in place for compulsory meningitis vaccines. Hadjianastasiou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that, "no vaccination is compulsory in Cyprus, but the parents are informed about this and we have very high coverage for all vaccines."

    According to Dr. Boris Jacovides, a Nicosia based Paediatrician, only one of the three available vaccines corresponding to the three major types of bacterial meningitis is currently available in Cyprus. It is the Haemophilus Influenza Type B vaccine, which costs about 30 a shot.

    In fact, Hadjianastasiou says this is the only one recommended by the Word Health Organisation (WHO) and other international medical experts for the general population and not just high-risk groups.

    Two other vaccines for the A and C strains of meningitis were made available about a year ago in the UK, and are due to be imported to Cyprus soon by a private company.

    Dr. Jacovides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that a general vaccination programme in the UK had helped drastically to curtail the number of type B cases seen there since its introduction in the late1980s.

    He feels that the current approach by the government could be stepped up, as "those who can't afford to go to a doctor run a greater risk," and that a programme similar to the one in the UK, if implemented in Cyprus, would have "drastic" results.

    "The other vaccines, when introduced (to Britain) a year later, also made a huge impact, and I would expect the same thing to happen here."

    But Hadjianastasiou said that for the moment there was "no epidemiological data to justify introducing (the type A and C vaccines) to the general population outside of high-risk groups."

    According to the WHO website, childcare centres, schools, colleges, and military recruit camps are at particular risk of outbreaks.

    Newborn children are generally protected by maternal antibodies, but the level of antibody decreases with time and reaches a minimum between 6 and 24 months of age. Until antibodies reach protective levels as a result of natural immunisation the children are regarded as susceptible to bacterial meningitis.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] MaxDATA boss suspected of using 680,000 of investors' money

    By Melina Demetriou

    ANDREAS Athanassiou, owner of MaxDATA Holdings Ltd, a company which failed in its bid to enter the Cyprus Stock Exchange, was yesterday remanded in custody for five days on suspicion of using 680,000 of investors' money for personal purposes.

    Athanassiou, 52, from Strovolos, Nicosia, was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department on Thursday and appeared before Nicosia District Court yesterday.

    The company began preparations to enter the CSE early last year. It was ordered to return investors' money after its entry was delayed and issued cheques to pay back the money. But about 100 investors in the company have claimed their cheques bounced and that they now face financial ruin.

    After a marathon procedure, the court remanded Athanassiou in custody for five days for allegedly withdrawing from a bank account between March and October last year over 680,000 invested in the company

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides said that Athanassiou was accused of committing a criminal offence and not of breaking the law on the stock market.

    About 30 investors in MaxDATA stormed the company's offices in Strovolos on successive days last month, demanding back money they had invested in the firm last year. Athanassiou said in April that the company was not obliged to return investors' money until a financial problem -- its bank accounts had been frozen -- was resolved, but promised investors that they would have their money back by the end of the month.

    But the investors allege the company has repeatedly refused to return the money.

    Markides said that in 500 different cases companies which failed to enter the CSE had not returned investors' money. The companies in question would not be allowed to enter the CSE, he added. Markides said his office was already investigating 60 to 80 cases.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Inquiry results expected within days

    By a Staff Reporter

    AN INQUIRY into the death of a 14-year old boy who died on Monday on the operating table is to be completed sometime over the next few days, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    Giorgos Hadjidemetris from Yeri underwent surgery twice for a minor injury, but doctors apparently missed a piece of cloth that had slipped inside the wound. It is believed that the fabric caused the infection that required the surgery, although pathologists have ruled out the possibility of septicaemia.

    Coroners are awaiting the results of toxicological and tissue tests to determine the cause of death.

    A criminal investigation is also under way.

    Savvides yesterday clarified that the purpose of the administrative inquiry was to determine any medical negligence and the "behaviour" of the doctors who carried out surgery. He reiterated that no one would be suspended pending the findings of the investigations. In the event that negligence is found, the Cabinet will order a disciplinary investigation into the case.

    On Wednesday, dramatic scenes unfolded outside the hospital morgue, where Hadjidemetris' parents held up a sign with the names of two surgeons they held responsible for their loss.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Government announces 4.5 million fire-fighting plan

    By George Psyllides

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday announced that the government would be spending 4.5 million over the next five years in the fight against summer forest fires.

    Speaking at a news conference marking the start of the forest protection week, Themistocleous said the Forestry Department, in conjunction with the fire service, had prepared a nationwide rural protection plan, which would be enforced during the summer season.

    The plan, which will cover all forested areas, will include access roads, water tanks, and 400 kilometres of firebreaks.

    The cost of these projects will rise to 2.5 million, while a further 2 million will be allocated for the procurement of equipment for the fire fighting services. The plan will be implemented over five years.

    Themistocleous reiterated the government's decision to lease two fire- fighting helicopters capable of carrying up to five tonnes of water.

    Procedures for the procurement of similar helicopters were already under way, the minister said.

    And he added the government was drafting an amendment to the law with stiffer penalties for those who started fires.

    Current legislation provides for one year in jail and 1,000 fine or both, while with the new law offenders could spend five years in prison or be fined 5,000 or both.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Appeal for more mobile units in drug prevention programme

    By Rita Kyriakides

    MORE Mobile Education Units are to be bought to educate children about drug abuse.

    The Life Education Centres, Round Table, Ladies Circle and 41 Club are making a joint effort to raise money for more units. Two of these units, called 'Mentors' are currently touring primary and secondary schools across Cyprus.

    At a news conference yesterday, the chairman of Life Education Crisis Centres Cyprus and Round Table Cyprus, Stavros Papamichael, appealed to companies to donate money towards the cause. Each Mentor costs 55,000 and they are hoping to buy at least two more.

    Every mobile unit is fully utilised and teachers have been trained to run the programme. By using special electronic equipment, visuals and other educational aids, they provide health education programmes and primary prevention for children aged six to 15.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides praised the work done by the units and stressed the programmes were instrumental in helping young people make the right decision regarding drug abuse. He also gave statistics concerning drug abuse showing that numbers had dropped since 1995.

    The organisations are to hold events at the Cyprus International State Fair in Nicosia from May 18-20 and May 25-26 to raise funds.

    On June 26, the International Day Against Drugs, the Nicosia anti-drug Association will be organising a cultural evening at the Presidential Palace under the auspices of President Glafcos Clerides.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Australian UN police veterans remember the troubles

    By Noah Haglund

    SEVENTEEN Australian veterans of the UNFICYP civilian police are touring the island to revisit their former post of duty.

    Australia was among the first countries to commit civilian policemen to the UNFICYP mission after violence flared up between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities in late 1963.

    Returning to the island this week were three members of the 40-strong Australian first contingent, which arrived on May 25, 1964 and stayed until May 26, 1965.

    One of them, Carl Hermanson, remembers: "there were continual conflicts between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which necessitated the best of our negotiating skill to maintain the safety of the people."

    "In all of our duties, it was absolutely imperative that we favoured neither one side nor the other," his colleague, Ian Hardy, added yesterday.

    "We absolutely prevented total warfare," said Hardy, who remembered how the intercommoned violence escalated following attacks by Turkish jet fighters.

    However, John Rice said that, "by the time we left the island in 1965, I had the feeling that everything was OK."

    "We felt successful for what we had achieved in terms of our mandate," agreed Hermanson.

    Merv Beck served as commander of Australian contingent in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion, for one year starting in November 1974.

    He said that the most difficult task for him came when he was ordered by the UN to convey 9,000 Turkish Cypriots who had chosen to remain in the South to the North.

    "It was very sad to take people from their homes because many of them did not want to leave," said Beck.

    When asked about the relationship between the two communities, Beck said "we always found that both sides wanted to co-exist with each other in the most part."

    Dennis Percy, organiser of the present trip and member of the UNFICYP civilian police form 1971 to 1973, said that heavy Cypriot immigration to Australia had created a strong bond between the two countries.

    Percy said that there were 60,000 Cypriots in Australia, most of whom have settled in Sydney or Melbourne.

    The oldest visitor was 87-year old Ron Laughton, who served in 1965 and 1966.

    The number of Australian policemen on the island has been gradually reduced over the years, and now numbers just 15, although there are no plans for them to leave anytime soon.

    Members of the current 2001 contingent were also present and related how they had had their hands full in recent months with the Tsiakourmas case, escorting family members across to the north for visits in prison and 'court', and arranging medical examinations and interpreters. They say the case kept eight to 10 members of UNFICYP police, both Australian and Irish, busy at any one time.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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