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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-02
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Sunday, September 2, 2001
 Lifeguards hit back: 'we were provoked'By George Psyllides
LIFEGUARDS at the Nicosia municipal swimming pool yesterday rejected allegations that they were not doing their jobs properly, claiming a man who was thrown out of the pool on Friday had provoked and verbally abused them.
English Cypriot Chrysostomos Tokkos had earlier this week complained that lifeguards at the pool were oblivious to what was going on in the water.
He went back to the pool on Friday for the first time since making the allegations. He said his two sons were somersaulting into the water, as they had done on each of their last 20 trips to the pool, when a guard walked over and asked them to stop.
He claimed the lifeguards then tried to provoke him, but admitted to verbal rudeness.
Yesterday lifeguards at the pool told the Sunday Mail it was Tokkos who had been provoking them.
They said he seemed poised to create trouble from the first minute he came in.
“We knew he was the one who complained, but we didn't care since we're only doing our jobs,” they said.
They added the reason he had complained the first time was because the guards had not stopped some children who were messing around.
“The pool was almost empty and they were not really bothering anyone so we left them alone,” they said yesterday.
On Friday, they claimed Tokkos had been looking for trouble.
“He was looking at us and encouraged his sons to somersault into the water.”
“My colleague turned to me and told me to say something, as somersaults are not allowed, but I said, 'just leave him, he's trying to provoke us',” the lifeguard said.
To avoid further confrontation, the guards decided to ask someone else to tell the children to stop. But as soon as one got up to find someone else, the other lifeguard was heard calling Tokkos' sons to order. The lifeguards claimed Tokkos then responded with a tirade of expletives.
The lifeguard Tokkos was allegedly swearing at was just 16 and tension was running high. His fellow lifeguards said they had managed to hold Tokkos back while police were called.
Tokkos on Friday claimed two police officers had arrived at the scene, taken him into a corner and tried to threaten and intimidate him into leaving.
But lifeguards yesterday claimed Tokkos had told the officers he would make a phone call and sort them out.
An officer snapped back with a warning to drop the threats, the lifeguards said.
Two other officers who arrived later and asked Tokkos to leave were from the Ayios Dhometios precinct, which is responsible for the area.
Yesterday, the lifeguards said Tokkos was banned and would never be allowed in the municipal pool again.
The guards felt he had been unfair to accuse them of not doing their jobs properly, especially when they spent so many hours in the sun watching over thousands of people.
“We get tired too; we need to have a cold drink or eat or go to the toilet too,” they said.
But it's the lifeguards who get reprimanded every time something happens.
They said many parents left their children unattended to run around and get into mischief or danger while they enjoyed their newspapers and drinks.
While the guards have to keep people in check, there are no rules posted at the swimming pool warning people not to run, dive, push, eat or drink alcohol before swimming.
And another issue that emerged from the incident was the small number of lifeguards on duty at the municipal pool.
On quiet days, there is no problem, but a source told the Sunday Mail that there were days in the summer when 2-3,000 people were crammed in the swimming pool with only three or four lifeguards to keep watch.
“Despite their very best efforts, they are human too and are bound to get tired trying to be vigilant for nine hours continuously,” the source said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Israeli drowns off AkamasBy Rita Kyriakides
A 36-YEAR-old Israeli tourist drowned while swimming in the Akamas area yesterday morning.
Chaim Wijnbergen and his wife Mira, 33, had hired a boat from the Anassa Hotel water sports centre yesterday morning, and moored it off the Fontana Amorosa area.
Chaim jumped off the boat for a swim, while his wife stayed on board. After a few minutes she realised he was losing consciousness. She jumped in to help him and called for assistance from two nearby divers from the water sports centre.
The divers rushed to the scene and pulled the Israeli from the sea, trying to resuscitate him, but in vain.
The victim was rushed to nearby Latsi harbour and from there to Polis Chrysochous hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy will be performed tomorrow.
Police said the sea in the area was calm at the time of the accident.
On Thursday, a British tourist drowned in rough seas off Ayia Napa when the pedalo he was riding capsized.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Turkish Cypriot passport applications soarBy Rita Kyriakides
APPLICATIONS from Turkish Cypriots for Cypriot passports have tripled in the first eight months this year.
The increase has been linked to Cyprus' looming EU accession, and to the economic crisis in Turkey and the north. Once Cyprus joins the EU, a Cyprus passport would entitle Turkish Cypriots to unrestricted, travel, residence and employment opportunities within Europe.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has forbidden Turkish Cypriots from applying for Cypriot passports and has been quoted in the north calling on Turkish Cypriots who had Cyprus passports to give them up, warning they would end up "at a loss" if they did not.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said on Friday that Turkish Cypriot citizens of Cyprus had recently been brought before a 'military court' in the occupied areas and charged with possessing Cyprus passports.
Papapetrou denounced the tactics used by the Turkish Cypriot regime.
According to officials at the passport office, the number of Turkish Cypriots seeking Cyprus passports usually increases by 10-15 per cent every year, but the rate of increase so far this year has been far greater, with 817 passports already issued in the first eight months of this year, compared to 448 passports for the whole of last year and only 317 in 1999.
Many Turkish Cypriots are forced travel to other countries and apply for Cypriot passports through embassies and consulates or else submit applications through middlemen, as they cannot cross over to the south.
Costas Pilavas, who is in charge of the Nicosia passport offices, told the Sunday Mail there would probably be even more applications if there was a reliable person in the north helping Turkish Cypriots to obtain passports.
The requirements for Turkish Cypriots to get a passport are exactly the same as for Greek Cypriots. They need to prove they have Cypriot parentage and have Cypriot identity cards. Applications cost £25 and the applicant has to apply at a Cypriot Embassy or at the Nicosia passport office.
People born after 1974 can only be issued with passports if their birth certificates have been certified by doctors recognised by Cypriot government.
Turkish Cypriots made up 18 per cent of the Republic's total population before 1974. Estimates suggest 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 invasion.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Families rescued from apartment block infernoTWO FAMILIES had to be rescued from their burning homes when a fire broke out in a apartment block in Lakatamia in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The fire broke out at 1am at a two-storey apartment building in the suburb of Nicosia. The families were trapped in their apartments.
With help from neighbours, they managed to escape, except for one woman who had to be rescued by fire fighters.
Initial investigations revealed that the fire had been started by a short circuit on the electric board in a staircase in the building.
The flames damaged three apartments. A motorbike parked in the underground garage of the building was destroyed.
Lakatamia police are investigating.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001