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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, September 28, 2001


  • [01] Police want traffic fines doubled to cut down on road deaths
  • [02] Government welcomes UN criticism of Denktash
  • [03] Judge suspended over letter to the media
  • [04] Visiting Kuwaiti deputies say their country will not join anti-terror war
  • [05] Cyprus denies handing over Arab pilot list
  • [06] Bi-communal activists furious at Denktash sex allegation
  • [07] Minister blamed for stock market woes
  • [08] Teachers' dispute seen dying down

  • [01] Police want traffic fines doubled to cut down on road deaths

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE POLICE yesterday suggested increasing fines for serious traffic offences from 50 to 100 to cut down on road deaths.

    Traffic Police chief George Voutounos yesterday submitted the relevant proposal to the House Legal Affairs Committee during a meeting with Communications and Justice ministries' representatives.

    Voutounos noted that a total of 99,143 traffic offences had been reported from the beginning of the year until yesterday.

    About half of those were speeding offences, he said.

    " During the three-day clampdown on mobile phone use last month, we reported 1,204 cases,"the Traffic Police chief added.

    Voutounos suggested that offences putting human lives in danger should be punished with 100 fines.

    The officer made special reference to speeding offences, which are currently fined according to how much the speed limit is exceeded.

    He also referred to the use of mobile phones without using hands free equipment and to the offence of not wearing a seat belt, both fined at 50.

    " If all these offences are punished with bigger fines, drivers will be forced to obey the law,"Voutounos argued.

    " I will bring you a statistical list showing how well fining systems work in other countries,"Voutounos told the Committee.

    The Legal Affairs Committee and the representatives of the Justice and Communications ministries all responded favourably to the police proposal.

    Some deputies, however, suggested offenders should be given more time to pay such hefty fines to police or be given the right to pay by cheque.

    The Committee also discussed a proposal tabled yesterday by Attorney- general Alecos Markides that would see prisoners whose convictions are quashed by the court of appeal compensated.

    According to the proposal, a prisoner who wins an appeal against his conviction would be entitled to compensation for financial damages he has suffered because of his imprisonment.

    The Committee will reconvene on both proposals.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Government welcomes UN criticism of Denktash

    By George Psyllides

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Michelins Papapetrou said yesterday that the United Nations Security Council had rejected Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash's conditions for returning to the negotiating table.

    On Wednesday, UN Security Council members censured the Turkish Cypriot side for refusing to resume talks on the Cyprus issue.

    Denktash refused an invitation to attend proximity talks with UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan and President Glafcos Clerides scheduled in New York for September 12, saying " the groundwork was not in place" .

    This month's council president, French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, said after a closed meeting that council members were disappointed at the Turkish side's unjustified decision to decline the invitation.

    The council encouraged Annan and his Special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto to follow earlier guidelines, " namely that there should be no preconditions"and that " all issues are on the table,"Levitt said.

    Britain's UN Ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said his country was pleased the council was " pointing a finger at the side that has declined the Secretary-general's invitation" .

    " It is quite clear that Mr. Denktash on the Turkish Cypriot side is not inclined to follow the Secretary-general's lead to try once and for all to find a settlement to the Cyprus problem,"he said.

    He added: " There is no reason not to talk about everything, but there must be no preconditions, because if one side sets preconditions, then the other one will."

    Yesterday, Papapetrou said the statement by the Security Council sent a clear message that the body not only was not prepared to give in, but also rejected the preconditions set by Denktash on the procedure and substance of the talks.

    " The Security Council also names the party responsible for the dead end, expressing its disappointment at the Turkish side's stance and her turning down of the invitation,"he added.

    He said this was the Security Council's first reaction to the Turkish side's refusal to attend the talks.

    " Politically, this undoubtedly puts pressure on the Turkish side, "Papapetrou added.

    He revealed that President Clerides intended to fly to New York to meet Annan during the session of the UN General Council, which will probably be held between November 10 and 16. Clerides had been on his way to meet Annan on September the 11 when suicide hijackers launched devastating attacks on New York and Washington, forcing the president's plane to divert to Canada. The meeting with Annan was eventually cancelled.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Judge suspended over letter to the media

    By George Psyllides

    THE SUPREME Court yesterday suspended a high court judge after he wrote a letter to the media claiming a convicted murderer was innocent.

    In the letter, Judge Marios Georgiou claimed that convicted murderer Ierotheos Christodoulou, alias Ropas, was innocent.

    Ropas had been convicted of the murder of Marios Panagides in Limassol in September 1998.

    Ropas, who has since claimed he was innocent, appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the life imprisonment sentence imposed by the Assize.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides said on Wednesday that the letter did not substantiate Georgiou's claim.

    He added that an ongoing investigation into the case would continue in search of evidence substantiating Ropas' claim.

    Markides said that if after the conclusion of the investigation there was reasonable doubt about Ropas' guilt he would ask President Glafkos Clerides to pardon him.

    The fresh police investigation into the crime began four months ago after Ropas' appeal was thrown out.

    On Wednesday, Markides declined to comment on allegations made in Georgiou's letter about another judge, saying the Supreme Court would examine the issue.

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided to prosecute Georgiou on suspicion of improper behaviour in relation with making public a signed statement, giving a television interview, and abandoning his duties.

    The court decided to immediately suspend Georgiou pending trial.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Visiting Kuwaiti deputies say their country will not join anti-terror war

    By Melina Demetriou

    KUWAIT will not be involved in a US-led war against terrorism, the chairman of the Kuwait-Cyprus Parliamentary Friendship Group, Mubarak Al-Duwaila, said yesterday in Nicosia during a meeting at the House.

    The Group, which is made up of Kuwaiti and Cypriot deputies, yesterday convened to touch base in the light of dramatic international developments following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

    Al-Duwaila said his country condemned terrorism, but made clear it would not participate in US planned retaliatory attacks against countries giving haven to the terrorists.

    " We fear that more innocent people will die. We can't fight terrorism with terrorism. We can't punish a country's population for the actions of a certain group and we hope the international community will realise that,"Al- Duwaila said.

    " The world should learn to solve problems peacefully and by legal means, "he added.

    The Kuwaiti deputy added his country would have nothing to do with a " holy war"that some Muslim groups have threatened to declare if the US strikes Afghanistan.

    " We are a small and friendly country and oppose terrorism in any form,"he said.

    Meanwhile, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said at the House that Cyprus was soon to ratify a EU convention aimed at fighting terrorism.

    The EU signed the convention after the devastating attacks in the US, which took place over two weeks ago, launching a campaign to combat terrorism.

    House Defence Committee chairman and KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou yesterday saluted the EU initiative but warned that it should in no case compromise democracy and human rights.

    " KISOS' view is that open democratic societies, liberal democratic states, civil rights and freedoms must be safeguarded. These values must not be violated in a spirit of cold-war hysteria,"Omirou stressed.

    Asked why there was an increased aircraft and helicopter activity in Cyprus' airspace, the Defence Committee chairman said that: " the activity is connected to American plans in response to the 11 September attacks."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Cyprus denies handing over Arab pilot list

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday denied supplying foreign intelligence agencies with the names of 20 Arabs who trained as pilots in Cyprus between 1997 and 98, on suspicion they might be linked to the terrorist hijackers who wrought havoc in New York and Washington DC two weeks ago.

    Alithianewspaper yesterday claimed the government had handed over a list of past pupils to secret agents.

    The island has a handful of small pilot schools, where students learn to fly light aircraft.

    The suspected Arab hijackers in the United States flew Boeing passenger jets. Students in Cyprus have to go abroad to get licences to fly larger aircraft.

    " No list was requested from us, no list was handed over to anybody and after all, I think it is amusing that Cyprus could in any way train pilots, "said Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    He said the number of Arab students at Cypriot flying schools in the last 10 years could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

    Papapetrou also denied allegations of an investigation to determine whether any Cyprus-trained Arabs were connected to the terrorist-hijackers.

    Concerning Arab graduates of Cypriot flying schools, Papapetrou said there were " absolutely"no suspicions against them.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Bi-communal activists furious at Denktash sex allegation

    By Jennie Matthew

    ACTIVISTS yesterday rounded on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash over a statement made to a British newspaper that bi-communal meetings were just opportunities for casual sex.

    In an interview with The Guardian , Denktash was quoted as saying: " What's the point of such [bi-communal] contacts? I've heard the only thing people seem to do at these meetings is have sex."

    In an effort to counter criticism, he later told journalists that he'd based his comment on satirical remarks he'd read in the Sunday Mail 's 'tales from the coffeeshop' earlier this summer.

    But bi-communal activists yesterday lashed out against what they said were degrading, trivial and ignorant comments about serious efforts to rebuild a fractured nationality.

    Denktash also maintained that Greek and Turkish Cypriots had nothing in common, therefore justifying his demands for a confederation, rather than the bi-communal, bi-zonal arrangement favoured by the international community.

    The Denktash administration has made it increasingly difficult for Turkish Cypriots to attend bi-communal meetings since the collapse of the UN proximity talks nine months ago.

    The leader of the Turkish Republican Party Mehmet Ali Talat yesterday told the Cyprus Mailsuch comments were typical.

    " Mr Denktash is making a conscious effort to degrade, insult and alienate people involved in this kind of activity. He always uses this tactic of referring the information to his friends, to people in general or those who work for him, when arguing something. He pushes the DONGO button (Denktash Organised Non-governmental Organisation) and all the DONGOs start to shout, "he said.

    He claimed to have heard Denktash say that Turkish Cypriot girls went to the mixed bugger zone village of Pyla only to be " taken"by Greek Cypriot boys as part of an elaborate espionage plot.

    " I think it's sick, so I wouldn't even bother to consider it or react to it,"said Katie Economidou.

    " I think it's preposterous and totally male chauvinist. It is no reflection of the reality and he's in denial about the work that needs to be done between the two communities,"said Cyprus University lecturer Maria Hadjipavlou, president of The United Cyprus Friendship Association.

    " Of course we need to develop relations but we also talk about serious stuff,"she added.

    " I think he's just grasping at straws. There are friendships of course, but there are no love affairs going on,"said Tina Aramidou-Kallis, journalist and women's bi-communal activist.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Minister blamed for stock market woes

    By Jennie Matthew

    RECRIMINATIONS over the collapse of prices on the Cyprus Stock Exchange gathered pace yesterday, with a joint session of the House Finance and Watchdog Committees blaming Finance Minister Takis Klerides for the " misguided"re-opening of the CSE after its four-week closure in September 1999.

    Klerides approved the closure of the market at the height of the boom in September 1999 on the recommendation of the CSE Board, to give brokers a chance to deal with a huge backlog of deals and transfers of titles.

    A temporary four-week closure was initially agreed. When that ran out, the Board did not ask for an extension, Klerides said yesterday.

    The President of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Marios Clerides, confirmed to the Cyprus Mailyesterday that after four weeks the Board had told the Minister the remaining backlog was manageable.

    He now questions that advice and economists say that the untimely re- opening was a mistake, which contributed to the eventual downturn in prices and general chaos.

    But Board members and MPs now point the finger solely at Klerides for ordering the market to reopen.

    " According to the law, the commission didn't have the authority to keep it closed any longer. That responsibility lay with the Minister and the Cabinet,"said George Kofiotis, who was on the CSE Board at the time.

    DIKO deputy Zacharias Koulias agreed, read from a document submitted to the investing committee and Parliament by the Board.

    " 'The Finance Minister didn't agree with the proposal to shut the stock market and the stock market reopened on October 4, 1999. It's clear that the Finance Minister was responsible.' This is what the board says,"Koulias said.

    Klerides yesterday admitted that the government did have to shoulder some responsibility for the stock market, but said he hadn't been present when the decision to reopen was taken.

    " Just because someone has an opinion, it is immediately interpreted as the right way to deal with things. But shifting responsibility from one shoulder to another is totally wrong and does not help the problems that the stock market faces,"he said.

    " I am not ducking any responsibility. This will be decided by the investigative committee or maybe the courts, if there are criminal offences relating to the stock market,"he added.

    But bringing alleged cases of wrongdoing to court is a nightmare because of people's reluctance to testify.

    Yiannakis Papadopoulos heads a special committee to investigate abuses between 1999-2000, while the Securities and Exchange Commission deals with current complaints.

    SEC President Marios Clerides said yesterday it took up to seven investigators two months to collect evidence for just one case.

    He said the SEC had to deal with about 20 different types of complaint on a current staff of just 25.

    Ruined investors and MPs continually blame the government, brokers and faulty regulation for the market's demise.

    Economists, on the other hand, say that stock exchanges all over the world are susceptible to the bubble-collapse.

    " Once people get into that euphoria there's nothing you can do,"said Clerides, who predicted the collapse at the height of the euphoria in 1999.

    The SEC has five years to draw up regulations to bring the CSE in line with European standards, in an effort to restore investor confidence.

    The all-share index on the market fell 2.3 per cent yesterday, closing at 108.02, as nervous investors cashed in gains made on Wednesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Teachers' dispute seen dying down

    TEACHERS' union OELMEK's long-running dispute with the Education Ministry cooled yesterday, although a contentious agreement reached between the two sides last spring will not be fully implemented in the near future.

    The Cyprus Mailhas learned that the secondary schoolteachers union yesterday accepted a proposal made by the ministry providing for implementation of part of the agreement by November.

    But the union's main demands concerning reduction of some teachers' teaching hours and ordinary teachers' promotions will be shelved.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said he would discuss the provisions of parts of the agreement with Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

    A union source told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that teachers think of this development as " the death of that part of the agreement" .

    The source believed OELEMEK would not carry out its threats to take industrial action because " it has lost its members' trust" .

    However, if the ministry goes back on its promise to implement the other part of the agreement by November, OELEMEK could eventually take radical measures, the source said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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