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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-05-12

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, May 12, 2001


  • [01] European Court verdict a 'powerful weapon' in future talks
  • [02] Boy succumbs to meningitis
  • [03] Friends pay respect to Nicos Sampson
  • [04] Brothers claim squatters scamming drought insurance on their land
  • [05] Greens turn up the EU heat over Akamas
  • [06] Ministry orders probe into forged prescription claims
  • [07] Tourist held in psychiatric hospital after airport karate attack
  • [08] Turkish Cypriot caught on way to Britain with 9kg of heroin
  • [09] New stretch of motorway opens for Ayia Napa
  • [10] Chinese men sought on kidnap claim

  • [01] European Court verdict a 'powerful weapon' in future talks

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE VERDICT of the European Court of Human Rights finding Turkey guilty of violations of human rights in Cyprus opens new horizons for the solution of the Cyprus problem, President Glafcos Clerides said yesterday.

    "The Court by its ruling has given us a powerful weapon in the negotiations for a solution and we are going to examine the entire text of the decision very thoroughly to see how to make the most out of it," Clerides said.

    "The Court ruling is of immense importance, it considers Turkey responsible for human rights violations in the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, and describes this regime as a subordinate local administration to Turkey," the President said.

    Clerides said he would call a meeting of the National Council for "a constructive discussion" on the matter.

    "Now we have a formal decision by the European Court saying that what Denktash wants, such as to deny refugees the right to return to their homes, violates the European Convention of Human Rights," he said.

    Addressing a news conference earlier yesterday, Attorney-general Alecos Markides described the ruling as the greatest legal victory for Cyprus against Turkey since 1974.

    In its ruling on Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg stung Turkey with a verdict finding her guilty of gross violations of human rights in Cyprus.

    The decision comes as a serious blow to Ankara's application to join the EU - and is the strongest ever denunciation of its human rights record in recent history.

    Cyprus took Turkey to the European court in 1994. Six-and-a-half years later, in a judgment passed by 16 votes to one, the Strasbourg court ruled that Turkey had violated 14 articles of the convention, including the right to life, the right to liberty and security, the right to freedom of thought and the right to freedom of expression.

    "It is now up to the National Council to decide how to take advantage of that decision," Markides said yesterday.

    The Attorney-general, who led the government's legal team in Strasburg, said the decision was the biggest and most important case ever heard by the court.

    But when asked how this decision could be put into effect, Markides said: "There is still a long way to go."

    This was the first time the court had found a member of the Council of Europe guilty over mass violations of human rights in a fellow member country. But it was difficult to say what measures the court would take to implement its decision, Markides explained.

    "However, from the moment the decision was announced yesterday, Turkey has a responsibility to comply with that decision and to restore human rights in northern Cyprus," Markides said categorically.

    "The court is now supposed to ensure just satisfaction of the case, but what that would mean for Cyprus at the end of the day I can't say. It could take a few years before there is a development," Markides said.

    The court has not yet decided whether to fine Turkey and will issue a final verdict in a few months time. As a signatory to the Human Rights Convention and a member of the Council of Europe, Ankara must comply with the final ruling.

    Markides said that his office was looking into ways of achieving just satisfaction, but did not elaborate.

    He added that refusal by Turkey to comply with the court's decision would lead to an unbridgeable gap between her and the Council of Europe.

    Political parties in Nicosia yesterday all hailed the court's verdict and said it was a card the government should play to strengthen Nicosia's bargaining position in settlement negotiations.

    Greece too welcomed the Court's condemnation of Turkey and called for an enforcement of the verdict.

    "The decision by the European Court is of historical importance," Greek Government Spokesman Demetris Reppas said.

    But Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit dismissed the Court's decision as a mistake, arguing the judgment would not contribute to a settlement on the island.

    "Cyprus's questions are not legal but political," he said "The questions can only be solved if the two sides enter into a dialogue."

    "Cyprus has two independent states," said Ecevit, who ordered the 1974 invasion. "Even though many nations do not recognise this, it is a reality... The decision made by the European Court of Human Rights does not meet the realities of Cyprus."

    A Turkish government official added he feared the verdict could be politically exploited.

    The verdict includes condemnation of Turkey for mass violation of the right to abode of displaced persons, for mass violation of the right of displaced persons to own property and for mass violations of the rights of the missing persons - not because there was testimony that Turkey killed them or was still holding them, but because it refuses to investigate their fate.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Boy succumbs to meningitis

    A 13-YEAR-old Limassol boy suffering from bacterial meningitis died yesterday.

    Andreas Achiotis had been described as clinically dead since last Wednesday. He had been diagnosed as suffering from meningococcal meningitis, the deadly strain of the disease.

    The case set off a nationwide scare and parents at the boy's school warned their children would not return to classes until the classrooms were disinfected.

    Health officials have tried to allay concerns. Every year in Cyprus there are 20 to 25 cases of bacterial meningitis, of which zero to one are fatal. The elderly, children and adolescents are the high-risk groups. Last year a 78-year-old man died of the disease.

    Meanwhile yesterday fresh allegations came up in the case of the death of a 14-year-old boy from Nicosia, who died during surgery 11 days ago. Inquiries are under way to establish whether there was any medical negligence by the team of surgeons who allegedly missed a piece of cloth that had slipped inside the boy's wound and is believed to have caused the infection.

    Press reports yesterday suggested foul play in the investigations, noting that a bottle containing tissue samples from the boy had disappeared. The bottle was to be used as evidence in the investigations. Other allegations have also emerged that witnesses were being pressured to change their testimonies. Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday noted that a new criminal investigation was under way to establish the validity of these latest allegations.

    He added the administrative inquiry would be complete in a few days' time.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Friends pay respect to Nicos Sampson

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE BODY of Nicos Sampson lay in state yesterday at the offices of Machi newspaper for dozens of relatives, friends and comrades in arms to pay their last respects.

    Sampson, one of the most controversial figures in the history of the island, a hero to some and traitor to others, died of cancer at the age of 66 in Nicosia on Wednesday night.

    Sampson was a prominent EOKA member during the struggle against the British in 1955 to 59.

    He was arrested and tortured by the British and sentenced to death twice in 1957, but managed to escape the sentence.

    Founder of Machi newspaper in 1962, Sampson will be remembered foremost for taking over the presidency during the 1974 coup that ousted President Makarios.

    The coup was followed five days later by the Turkish invasion.

    Born in Nicosia in 1935, Sampson studied journalism in Athens and took up arms during the intercommunal strife of 1964, most notably freeing Greek Cypriot residents from the besieged Nicosia suburb of Omorphita.

    He was elected deputy for Famagusta in 1970 at the age of 35.

    Sampson was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the coup in 1977. He was the only person punished for his part in the coup.

    In 1979 he travelled to France for medical treatment, remaining in exile until 1990, when he returned to prison for a few months before being released.

    His funeral will take place today at 3pm at the Panayia Palouriotissa church in Nicosia.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Brothers claim squatters scamming drought insurance on their land

    By George Psyllides

    THOUSANDS of pounds are being paid in agricultural insurance to people claiming land that does not belong to them with no one bothering to check its ownership, the Cyprus Mail has learned.

    The Agricultural Insurance Organisation (OGA) pays thousands of pounds in insurance claims to farmers who cultivate other people's land without their permission.

    Two Nicosia brothers recently found out that their land in Peristerona in the Nicosia district was being used by a farmer without their permission or any other agreement.

    The farmer not only capitalised on the crops he cultivated on their land, but filed insurance claims whenever there was drought.

    For this, he received compensation from the OGA, who did not ask for an ownership title or any other leasing agreement.

    The OGA was satisfied with the farmer's claim that he had a verbal agreement with the owners to use their land.

    Such agreement, verbal or otherwise, did not exist, the landowners told the Cyprus Mail.

    "We had no idea this was happening," one of the brothers said.

    OGA District Officer George Tsangarides confirmed that it was standard practice not to ask for ownership titles in order to avoid bureaucracy.

    Tsangarides said the organisation visited the site to inspect the damage and then paid the compensation to the applicant.

    He said the specifics of the compensation were posted at every community and if there were any objection they were looked into.

    "We have no time to make checks," he admitted.

    Ownership proof was only required when two people made rival claims for insurance, Tsangarides said.

    When the brothers found out what was going on, they wrote to the OGA asking for the name of the person who had been using their field for the past few years.

    An official wrote back giving them the information they needed and the brothers are now planning to take the case to court.

    The brothers later found out that a plot of land belonging to their aunt was similarly being used without her permission.

    They wrote to OGA again, but this time to a different official, who told them such information was confidential and could not be given out without a court order.

    They argued that they could not go to court if they did not have a case and they did not have a case without the name of the farmer.

    The organisation insisted they could only release the name with a court order or a ruling from the Attorney-general.

    Tsangarides yesterday confirmed the confidentiality rule, repeating that the case had to go to court for OGA to be able to give the necessary information.

    In the mean time the 'squatters' can go on about their business without disturbance.

    "I know that someone's stealing thousands of pounds but I can't do anything because I have no name," the owner said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Greens turn up the EU heat over Akamas

    By Elias Hazou

    CYPRUS' accession to the EU may be delayed or even compromised by the island's poor track record on environmental issues, the Green Party warned yesterday.

    Environmentalists are sounding the alarm over the island's chances of being included in the next wave of EU enlargement, following recent by members of the European Parliament that the Commission would seek assurances from Cyprus that the Akamas be declared a European Special Area of Conservation.

    "This situation should not be taken light-heartedly," warned Antonia Theodosiou of the Green Party yesterday.

    "The Akamas issue has serious political ramifications. Contrary to what is being parroted on new bulletins by officials, Cyprus is falling behind in its EU accession process. In fact, the island now trails Slovenia in the next wave of EU enlargement, and one of the major reasons for this is our non-compliance with the environmental chapter. The EU may well exploit the environmental issue to delay or even shelve Cyprus' accession," she said.

    A few days ago, the Greens published a leaked copy of a letter sent to the Foreign Ministry by the Cyprus delegation to Brussels. The letter warned that EU experts felt there was a lack of progress on green issues, adding that Cyprus now presented "a negative image."

    The fate of the Akamas peninsula, with its impressive scenery, turtle- nesting beaches and flora, has been the subject of controversy between environmentalists and local communities for years. The greens want any development projects to be restricted to the area's villages, while local communities and landowners are pressing for permission to carry out "mild and controlled development."

    In March last year, after years of promising to protect Akamas as a national park, the Cabinet announced a controversial plan to allow "mild and controlled" development on the peninsula. The cabinet plan, slammed by greens, also proposed that the biggest Akamas landowner, Photos Photiades, be granted permission to develop a large plot in the Akamas forest. Parliament has unanimously endorsed a 1995 World Bank plan recommending that tourism development on Akamas be restricted to within existing villages.

    But it emerged earlier this month that planning permission had been given for a second hotel at Asprokremos, on the Akamas coast, near the controversial Anassa Hotel built after Cabinet planning relaxations were granted to the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides. Meanwhile the Friends of the Akamas association yesterday also claimed that the Cyprus sulphur and copper company limited, a privately-run venture, had been allocated state land in the coastal forest area of Polis Chrysochous, in an area earmarked by the Council of Europe as protected.

    But time may be running out fast for the government, as a delegation of Euro-MPs is expected to arrive on the island in early June to discuss the environmental chapter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Ministry orders probe into forged prescription claims

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE HEALTH Ministry has launched an inquiry into claims that a Limassol General Hospital staff member forged drug prescriptions and misled hospital authorities.

    According to the allegations, the handwriting of Demetris Aspros, who was in charge of the hospital's pharmacy, appeared on invoices issued by a privately-run pharmacy supplying hospital employees and operated by his daughter. It is believed the drugs prescribed on these invoices in fact belonged to the hospital and not the private pharmacy. Aspros has been suspended pending the findings of an administrative inquiry ordered by Minister of Health Frixos Savvides.

    Aspros is also under suspicion of falsifying documents relating to the number of hours worked by a colleague of his. Yesterday Savvides said that if the claims were substantiated, disciplinary measures would be taken.

    The case comes hot on the heels of another probe into the disappearance of kidney drugs from the Nicosia General Hospital in 1999. The affair raised the issue of inadequate control over up-to-date records and on methods of drug administration by state-run hospital services. The Cabinet has appointed a special investigator to look into the possibility of taking disciplinary measures.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Tourist held in psychiatric hospital after airport karate attack

    By a Staff Reporter

    A BRITISH tourist who karate chopped a police officer at Larnaca airport has been sent to the psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed as suffering with mental problems, police said yesterday.

    Police said the 52-year-old tourist was detained at Larnaca airport on Wednesday after allegedly assaulting an officer.

    The man allegedly began demonstrating his karate prowess in front of horrified passengers as he was waiting at passport control to leave the country at around 2pm.

    Police soon intervened, but when an officer asked the man for his passport, he allegedly received a punch in the stomach instead.

    He was arrested with the help of other officers and taken to the airport's holding cells.

    Police said: "It seemed from his behaviour and the fact that he hit an officer that he was psychologically unstable."

    A psychiatrist examined the tourist, who was apparently travelling alone, later that afternoon and decided that he should be committed to the psychiatric hospital in Nicosia for treatment.

    A police source told the Cyprus Mail that because of his condition the man would probably be discharged and allowed to return home without facing any charges.

    Police could not say when the Briton would be released.

    Officials at psychiatric hospital in Nicosia confirmed the man had been admitted, but could not give any more information about his condition or when he would be released.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Turkish Cypriot caught on way to Britain with 9kg of heroin

    By a Staff Reporter

    A TURKISH Cypriot man has been arrested with nine kilos of heroin as he attempted to leave for the UK from at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Kibris newspaper reported yesterday.

    Turkish police netted Mustafa Kuni, from the occupied village of Dikomo, along with four other Turkish Cypriots as part of a special operation.

    Police claim Kuni and his four friends were part of an organised gang, of which he was the leader.

    Following the arrest, Turkish police seized a fake identity card and a machine that the gang was allegedly using to crush drugs.

    The suspects told police that they had tried to smuggle drugs into the UK three times before being caught in their fourth, final effort.

    'Police' in the north have confirmed the arrest.

    According to Kibris, Kuni is married with two children.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] New stretch of motorway opens for Ayia Napa

    By Rita Kyriakides

    PROTESTS over access roads yesterday marred the opening of the new section of the Dhekelia to Protaras highway.

    Communication and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou cut the ribbon for the new 11km stretch from Ayia Napa to Xylophagou only to discover that the road was blocked off further down. About 30 business owners from the area gathered near Makronisos to close off the highway. They feel that their businesses will not prosper from the opening of the highway because of the lack of exits from the new road.

    Efforts by police to disperse the protesters sparked a struggle, further disrupting traffic on the way to Ayia Napa.

    Neophytou said the Ministry would not spend thousands of pounds so that certain businesses could make extra money. "Some people only think about money and not about the safety of drivers," he said.

    At the opening he said the ratio of roads per square kilometre meant Cyprus had the best highways in Europe.

    The new section of the highway represents Phase B of the 34 million project. It includes exits to Liopetri, Sotira and Ayia Napa.

    Road works began on November 12, 1999 and Phase A was completed last October.

    On completion of the works there will be a four-lane highway, with an emergency lane, roadside lighting, pavements, and bicycle lanes.

    The final stretch of the 42km Dhekelia to Protaras motorway - 10km linking Xylophagou and Ormidhia - is scheduled for completion by March next year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Chinese men sought on kidnap claim

    By a Staff Reporter

    POLICE are searching for two Chinese men suspected of kidnapping a compatriot earlier this week.

    Lin Kai, 24, told police he was was kidnapped in Limassol on Tuesday May 8 at 1am.

    The alleged incident took place when Lin met with two compatriots to lend them money. He offered them 40 but the two men decided it was not enough and proceeded to blindfold him and tie his hands. They put him in a car, driven by a third, unknown person and took him to another suburb in Limassol. They then forced Lin to call his father in China and tell him to deposit 5,000 in their bank account in China. The three assailants abandoned Kai after a few hours once they were satisfied the money had been deposited in their account.

    Lin managed to get back to his house and called the police, giving them a description of the two men.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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