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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-07-31

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, July 31, 2001


  • [01] Heavy jail term for drug dealing tourists
  • [02] British 'holding back' information on new antenna
  • [03] Disgraced cleric: "I'll tell all if I'm not reinstated"
  • [04] Bank robber jailed for seven years
  • [05] Caviar on the menu?
  • [06] Bahrain says Cypriots arrested on fake bank guarantee charge
  • [07] Parliament to probe claims of property sales in the north
  • [08] Police probe tourist rape claim

  • [01] Heavy jail term for drug dealing tourists

    By Jean Christou

    TWO British tourists were yesterday jailed for three years by the Famagusta Assizes for trafficking in ecstasy tablets at the holiday resort of Ayia Napa.

    Lee Mortimer, 22 and Paul Hartely, 25, both from Burnley in Lancashire, were found guilty of trafficking and possession of a class A drug, and a charge of assaulting a police office, causing actually bodily harm.

    Each was sentenced to three years for trafficking, three years for possession and nine months for assault. The jail terms will run concurrently.

    Handing out what was the stiffest drugs sentence this year, Judge Andreas Paschalides, president of the three-bench Famagusta Assizes Court, said "a deterrent sentence was needed to combat the drugs scourge" that was plaguing the island.

    Mortimer and Hartely, who seemed taken aback at the heavy sentence but didn't comment to journalists, arrived in Cyprus on June 11 this year. They were both arrested two days later trying to sell 25 ecstasy pills at an Ayia Napa pub. A subsequent search of their holiday apartment revealed a further 159 tablets.

    During mitigation, defence counsel Michalis Pelekanos argued that the two men had a clean record and were not professional drugs pushers. Judge Paschalides replied there would not be a drugs market without users.

    So far this year, some 45 British tourists have been arrested on drugs charges. Almost all were arrested in Ayia Napa, the popular resort on the southeastern coast of the island, where young British holidaymakers are flocking to the booming club scene.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has pledged to put more police on Ayia Napa's streets, but the government has shelved the idea of a specialised tourist police force due to budgetary constraints.

    Cyprus implements a "zero tolerance" policy on drugs and often imposes harsh sentences on convicted offenders.

    A British video campaign aiming to stop tourists taking drugs in Cyprus is due to be launched shortly, but the video had to be softened after it ruffled the Cyprus government's feathers.

    Britain was forced to change the 45-second video twice after initial versions were rejected by Cyprus authorities, who said it was too harsh. The original video featured a prison wagon and the grim message "Drugs + Cyprus = Jail".

    The video will now show two British clubbers in Cyprus being escorted into a police car after buying ecstasy tablets.

    It will be shown on incoming flights and tourist buses - mainly those headed towards Ayia Napa.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] British 'holding back' information on new antenna

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE BRITISH bases are handicapping efforts to assess the health impact of a huge Akrotiri antenna that sparked anti-bases riots earlier this month, the Cypriot team assessing emissions from the planned mast claimed yesterday.

    Andronikos Kakouris, the expert heading the Communications Ministry team testing electro-magnetic emissions at the Akrotiri base listening site, told the Cyprus Mail the British bases (SBA) were refusing to supply technical specifications for the new mast, citing "military secrecy".

    SBA spokesman Rupert Greenwood said he was "extremely surprised" by Kakouris' complaints, saying co-operation with the Cypriot test team was "perfectly happy" and that all information asked for had been handed over.

    The start of groundwork for the 100-metre high new bases antenna sparked anti-bases rioting at the Akrotiri salt lake mast site and at the Episkopi SBA police station on July 3. Almost 50 people were hurt in clashes which followed protests against a mast locals fear will give them cancer.

    With work on the new mast stalled, Nicosia and London have since had a series of meetings aimed at arriving at a consensus over the impact of an antenna. Britain insists the new mast is harmless but has also vowed to shelve the antenna plans if an adverse health affect is shown.

    The Cypriot test team is today due to begin a second round of emissions tests from existing masts at the Akrotiri site in a bid to assess what the impact of the planned mast would be. Greenwood said the Cypriot team would be conducting three days of tests and repeated the British line that the new antenna, earmarked for erection in 2003, poses no health risk.

    Kakouris admitted yesterday that emissions tests carried out by his team early this month had proved "unreliable" and that different methods and equipment would be used this time round.

    But he said a lack of vital information on the exact design details for the new aerial was a far bigger hindrance for his team than the technical hiccups.

    "The British have not given us all the data we have asked for," Kakouris told the Mail. "We need to know the technical specifications for new the new antenna, but when we ask for them they cite military secrecy," he said.

    The expert said this lack of information made his team's task of assessing the new mast's impact on the basis of emissions from existing salt lake antenna very difficult.

    SBA spokesman Greenwood insisted nothing was being held back from the Communications Ministry team. "We have handed over everything we have been asked for, we try to allow the Cypriot team to do their job," he said.

    Greenwood said he was surprised by the complaints, saying Kakouris had not asked for more information: "Mr Kakouris has not been in touch with our communications officer, whom he knows extremely well, over the issue."

    The bases were yesterday afternoon trying to get in touch with Kakouris to iron out the issue, and Greenwood said he hoped the complaints would not harm what he described as an excellent working relationship with the ministry test team.

    The antenna issue has strained relations between the bases and Cypriot residents of the Akrotiri SBA and while Nicosia has joined London in condemning the July 3 riots, many local politicians have used the mast affair as a platform for attacking the British presence on the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Disgraced cleric: "I'll tell all if I'm not reinstated"

    By Martin Hellicar

    DISGRACED archimandrite Andreas Constantinides went back on the allegations warpath yesterday, threatening to "expose" bishops and priests unless the Holy Synod lifted his suspension for leading a campaign to label Bishop Athanassios of Limassol gay.

    It took the convening of a Major Synod in Nicosia last November to clear the Bishop of Limassol of the allegations and put an end to a scandal that had rocked the local Church for months.

    The local Synod is due to meet at the Nicosia archbishopric this morning, and a review of the indefinite suspensions imposed on Constantinides and fellow Limassol archimandrite Chrysostomos Argyrides last October is expected to be on the agenda.

    Constantinides upped the ante on the eve of the Synod session, threatening to 'tell all' about what he said was the part played by bishops and other clergy in last year's sustained attack on Bishop Athanassios.

    "If they do not end my suspension I will be forced - and I stress that this is not a threat - but I will end my silence, because some things have been misunderstood," the archimandrite told state radio CyBC.

    Constantinides, who was suspended for slandering Bishop Athanassios, was seen as the 'front-man' in a campaign to oust the Limassol Bishop that most observers agreed was engineered by the Bishop of Paphos Chrysostomos and his close ally, Arsinoi Bishop Georgios.

    But the banned archimandrite claimed other bishops and priests had been behind the anti-Athanassios campaign. "People think the Bishops of Paphos and Arsinoe were behind all this, but this is not how things are, it was other clerics who wanted [Athanassios out] and gave me information about witnesses," Constantinides said.

    The Major Synod dismissed the claims of male witnesses who claimed they had had sex with Bishop Athanassios. Some of these witnesses were later imprisoned for false testimony against Athanassios, while Constantinides and Argyrides also ended up in court on similar charges. Attorney-general Alecos Markides later suspended the trial of the two archimandrites.

    Constantinides yesterday said both he and Argyrides had had enough of being Church outcasts. "From our side, the cup of patience has overflowed. We have had enough, we are facing financial, social and spiritual problems and I think it is unjust for this hassle to continue. We have not been paid since last November. We have a small allowance from the Church that does not even cover the interests on our debts," he said.

    The archimandrite launched a fresh attack on Athanassios, saying the Bishop was blacklisting any Limassol clerics who were friendly towards Constantinides.

    The renegade archimandrite also said the gap between the pro and anti- Athanassios factions within the Church had not narrowed since the Major Synod vindicated the popular Limassol Bishop.

    Church observers saw the 'gay Bishop' allegations as a manifestation of a major clash between revivalist and traditionalist forces within the Church, represented by Bishop Athanassios and Bishop Chrisostomos respectively.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Bank robber jailed for seven years

    A 27-year-old man was yesterday sentenced to seven years in prison for the armed robbery of a Limassol bank.

    Petros Petrou was arrested last month after a lone gunman robbed a Bank of Cyprus branch in Polemidia and made off with 28,000.

    Only 25,000 have been found.

    The court said it took into consideration the defendant's poor health and the fact that he confessed and co-operated with the authorities.

    The bank was robbed on June 29 by a gunman wearing a motorcycle crash helmet.

    Shortly after the robbery, police located the car used by the thief, burning in a field in Ypsonas.

    Forensics experts found a bullet hole in the car as well as a trail of blood leading to a nearby house found with a broken window.

    Petrou was arrested after doctors in the Limassol hospital emergency room told police a man had sought treatment for a gunshot wound in his hand and glass cuts in several parts of his body.

    Petrou, who had apparently shot himself by accident while trying to get away, initially denied any involvement in the robbery but later changed his story and led police to the place he had hidden the loot.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Caviar on the menu?

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS could be on the verge of joining the caviar trade, if efforts to breed sturgeon at the government's Fresh Water Fish Research Centre in Kalopanayiotis are successful.

    The centre's primary objective is to breed trout and a variety of other fish to re-stock dams and commercial fish farms.

    For the last eight years, scientists have been rearing sturgeon, which should be ready to reproduce next year.

    If everything goes according to plan, and a lot of young fish are produced, fisheries officer Giorgos Anastassiades told the Cyprus Mail that caviar production could be the next step.

    "If we get a lot of young fish then we can try to make caviar, but we're not thinking about it yet. The first step is to reproduce. We are still in the experimental stage and we have contacts with people in Greece who are more experienced," he said.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday visited the centre to see the breeding tanks and the experiments being carried out at first hand.

    The aim is to produce young, in order to populate private fish farms with enough sturgeon to make caviar production a viable trade.

    The centre already breeds 16 species of fish, including carp, roach and catfish to re-stock dams used for angling as well as trout for six private fish farms.

    Caviar is made from the full roe of female sturgeon. The fish are clubbed and anaesthetized, before the belly of the fish is slit and the egg pockets emptied.

    If the fish dies before the roe is removed, then a chemical is released into the eggs, ruining the taste by making them bitter.

    The roe is then preserved in salt, drained and packed ready to be refrigerated and consumed.

    Out of the 24 species of sturgeon in the world, only three produce caviar. Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea is reputed to be the best in the world, whereas the Kalopanayiotis centre is trying to breed Osetra sturgeon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Bahrain says Cypriots arrested on fake bank guarantee charge

    By Jennie Matthew

    FEARS were growing last night for two prominent Cypriot businessmen detained in Bahrain, after the official Gulf News Agency reported the arrest of five Cypriot and Jordanian businessmen suspected of trying to use a fake bank guarantee for $50 million.

    Costas Polemidiotes, 50, and his colleague Andreas Papayiannis were in Bahrain on business, when they mysteriously disappeared last Tuesday.

    Their companion, Jordanian national, Asim Almonami was also reported missing.

    On July 19, the Bahrain Monetary Agency (Bahrain Central Bank) received a report from an international bank official that the suspects had presented a false bank guarantee for $50 million.

    The five businessmen were arrested and are being held in police custody, according to the BMA.

    But local journalists were last night unable to confirm the identity or number of Cypriot businessmen in police custody.

    The men's lawyer Christos Clerides yesterday refused to talk to the Cyprus Mail about the case.

    Early reports suggested that his clients were being detained to assist with an investigation concerning the import and export of money.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the honorary consul of Cyprus in Bahrain had visited the men, but also declined to talk to the press, stressing the need to handle the incident with tact.

    Cyprus police enlisted the help of Interpol after Polemidiotes' wife reported her husband missing to Nicosia CID last Thursday.

    She became concerned when she heard nothing after a last telephone call last Tuesday morning.

    The couple had been in contact three or four times daily.

    The two Cypriots were allegedly met in the lobby of their hotel by a police officer and a representative from the Bahrain Foreign Ministry, when they checked out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Parliament to probe claims of property sales in the north

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE Refugee Committee yesterday launched an investigation into allegations that Cypriot businessmen were illegally exploiting properties in the occupied areas.

    AKEL deputy Aristophanis Georgiou, who brought the matter to public attention last week, yesterday tabled it before the parliamentary committee that he chairs.

    Georgiou said he had information that a number of Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen were profiting from buying and selling Greek Cypriot properties in the Turkish-held areas in northern Cyprus.

    He insisted that the government was aware of the "immoral and illegal actions" and challenged it to reveal any information it had about the matter.

    But Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday hit back arguing that he had "no concrete information about the issue" and calling on Georgiou, "if he has any information to give it to me or to the media."

    Christodoulou urged anyone who had evidence in relation to the alleged activities to submit it to him or bring it to public attention.

    In a behind-closed-doors' meeting yesterday, the Refugee Committee unanimously decided to look into the claims.

    The committee vowed to put questions to the Interior and the Foreign ministries as well as to the Attorney-general's office requesting information about the affair.

    But Georgiou yesterday declined to give any names of businessmen allegedly involved in the shady transactions.

    "Names will be revealed when our investigation produces some results," he said.

    Georgiou went on to charge that, "if I know something about this then the government knows too."

    The committee has also asked the Interior Minister to submit information about "the transfer of ownership titles of Turkish Cypriot properties in the government-controlled areas to Greek Cypriots living in the south," said Georgiou.

    The House already investigated the long-standing issue last year. Christodoulou vowed to collect and submit any new information there was on the matter to the Committee.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Police probe tourist rape claim

    POLICE are investigating allegations that an 18-year-old British tourist was raped in her hotel room in Ayia Napa on Sunday night.

    The woman claimed that she was in her hotel room when she heard a knock at the door at around 10.30pm.

    She opened it, to find an unknown man standing there. She let him in and they chatted, before he reportedly forced her to have sexual intercourse against her will.

    She reported the incident to police the same night. She was taken to Paralimni clinic and examined by a doctor. An external examination showed no evidence of rape.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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