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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-03
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Saturday, November 3, 2001
 New remands in growing land scandalBy George Psyllides
THE MUKHTAR of the village of Pigenia and a Nicosia real estate agent were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with the illegal transfer of property in the remote Tylliria area near Polis.
The two are the latest suspects in a scam concerning the land of seven Greek Cypriots and four Turkish Cypriots involving millions of pounds.
Until now, police had detained five land survey department officials, and the Mukhtar of Kato Pyrgos along with a member of the local council.
The Paphos district court yesterday heard that three out of the 11 cases under investigation concerned land in the Pigenia area.
Case investigator Kypros Michaelides told the court that a deceased man had in 1992 left some land in the area to his eight children.
The legal heirs, after their father's death, sought to register the land in their names.
A lawyer appointed by the heirs to handle the paperwork went to Pigenia Mukhtar Vassos Stylianou to get an ownership certificate for the land. But Stylianou allegedly refused, claiming the land was owned by somebody else without disclosing any details.
The court then heard that on March 4, 2000, one Martha Crysanthou from Pigenia applied for the title deed of the land at the land survey department, presenting a 30-year ownership certificate issued by Stylianou.
Police found that Martha Crysanthou was the suspect's wife.
The deceased man's heirs eventually went to court, agreeing to settle the issue by selling the land for £300,000 and splitting the proceeds with Chrysanthou.
The relatives got £180,000 from the sale while Crysanthou received £120, 000.
The court heard that throughout the case, Stylianou posed as Chrysanthou's representative, concealing their relationship, while real estate agent Dimos Dimosthenous, 50, from Nicosia acted as the middleman of Sharelink Company, which bought the land.
Dimosthenous, who surrendered to police on Thursday night escorted by his lawyer, said anything he had to say would be said before the court.
The Nicosia district court heard yesterday that Dimosthenous had received two cheques for his involvement in the case.
One was for £10,000 and the other for £12,593.
Police said they were investigating 12 offences against the suspect, including conspiracy to commit felony, fraud, forgery, bribery of a public official and concealment of registries and archives.
The suspect was also involved in the sale of three plots of land belonging to Turkish Cypriots, which were sold to an investment company for £972,197.
The price, according to the land survey department, was 30 per cent higher than its estimated value of £650,000.
During the transfer, said the police investigator, the owners and buyers were represented by others.
Dimosthenous was representing the buyer, Lenios Beach Hotel Management Ltd, and had presented a power of attorney dated September 15, 2000 proving he was the legal representative.
But according to police, the specific company was non-existent since it had changed its name to Brinkwood Properties Ltd on June 23, 2000.
Police investigator Ioannis Mavrohannas told the court that the land survey file where the transfers were recorded was missing.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Central Bank cuts rates by half per centBy Jennie Matthew
THE Central Bank yesterday lowered lending rates 0.5 per cent, under pressure from politicians and stockbrokers to shield the country from the shocks of an international recession.
The key lending Lombard benchmark and the deposit facility dropped 0.5 per cent to 5.5 and 2.5 per cent respectively.
It is the second time the Bank's board of directors has lowered rates by 0.5 per cent since the September 11 attacks on the United States.
The terrorism alert and ensuing economic difficulties have prompted opposition AKEL to predict growth rates of 2 per cent, rather than the government targets of between 4.0 and 4.5 per cent.
The Governor of the Central Bank, Afxentis Afxentiou, yesterday admitted that expected growth rates were being reassessed.
" We do expect a favourable impact on the economy (from the cut), but interest rates are just one of many tools. For instance, we would now expect the government to speed up its own development projects,"he said.
Tourism, which contributes over 20 per cent to the gross national product, is not expected to make gains on last year's 2.7 million visitors because of the crisis.
The stock exchange's 50 per cent collapse since January without any immediate way out of the abyss has also slashed consumer spending.
Independent statistics claim spending almost 7 per cent in 2000, but has grown by less than 3 per cent this year.
Yesterday's announcement was the third cut in rates since August 17, but there is still a large gap between Cyprus and eurozone rates.
Afxentiou yesterday defended the relatively small cuts, saying that reductions of one percentage point would induce unnecessary panic.
Stockbrokers hope yesterday's cuts will entice investors back to the ravaged stock market.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Airports back to normalBy Jennie Matthew
ALL AIRPORT staff were back on the job yesterday after a week of strikes to protest against the government's plans to transfer the running of the airports to private investors.
A spokesman for Larnaca airport said that all flights were on schedule and that passengers were being processed in the usual manner.
Cyprus Airways (CY) spokesman Tassos Angelis said last night he knew of no delays to CY flights.
" If there were any problems I would have heard, so I'm assuming everything was OK,"he said.
Union representatives promised to abandon industrial action after Parliament approved the plan to relinquish control of the airports to private investors through 10 to 15-year BOT (build, operate, transfer) tenders.
Even left-wing PEO, the most ardent backer of the last-ditch attempt to sway deputies' votes, said there would be no further action.
But PEO official Christou Alecou said yesterday: " now it's time to start the other battle."
He declined to elaborate, saying all would be made clear next Thursday.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Disgraced cleric lashes out at his opponentsBy George Psyllides
AS PROMISED on Thursday, former Limassol Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides yesterday revealed what he claimed were the backstage machinations of the clergy during last year's investigation of homosexuality claims against Bishop Athanassios.
Constantinides, defrocked on the Thursday by the Holy Synod for his leading role in last year's campaign to defame Athanassios, held a news conference yesterday and charged that Bishop Neophytos of Morphou had played a crucial role in his defrocking.
But the disgraced former clergyman claimed it had been Neophytos who gave him the names of two witnesses who subsequently testified before a Synod committee against Athanassios.
Though their testimony was initially accepted by the three-member Synod committee, the witnesses were later deemed unreliable, leading to Athanssios' vindication by the Greater Synod, which convened for only the second time in the history of the Church of Cyprus.
Constantinides yesterday wondered how some of the had bishops changed their stance towards him, saying his defrocking was unfair.
" In our effort to help the Church, we got involved in this case; I didn't have anything against Athanassios or anyone else.
" We did our duty before God and the Church,"Constantinides said.
Constantinides and former archimandrite Chrysostomos Argyrides, who has also been defrocked, spearheaded the campaign against Athanassios, making vitriolic statements throughout the case.
" The Bishop of Morphou Neophytos was the one who passed the information on to me through another priest,"Constantinides said.
" (Neophytos), said he was a member of the investigative committee and could not be involved.
" He told me to find them because they knew a lot about Athanassios."
Constantinides repeated that his defrocking was an act of vengeance, saying he would now join a renegade Orthodox sect, not recognised by the Church.
In a separate front, Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos yesterday accused the Holy Synod of lacking the necessary seriousness, interest and responsibility to fight for the good of the Church.
Chrysostomos said the Synod had sunk so low that he did not believe it was worth his effort to be a member.
" I am fed up and disappointed that we are talking to deaf ears,"he said.
" There is no co-operation, love, respect and interest to serve the Church, "Chrysostomos added.
As he had on Thursday, Chrysostomos yesterday snubbed the Synod, saying that with such members it was doubtful it could accomplish anything.
He charged that some bishops were exploiting the Archbishop's poor health and did as they pleased.
Chrysostomos said that from now on he would not participate actively in the Synod.
" I'm obliged to go but I will remain silent and wait for the end of the session,"he said.
The new 'holy war' - as it is being dubbed by the media - could stem from the fact that bishops are already engaged in a bitter struggle for the Archbishop's succession.
On Thursday, Kyrenia Bishop Pavlos accused the Bishop of Kition before the Holy Synod of using a bugging device to record a meeting between them and the Bishop of Paphos.
The meeting took place at the Kition Bishopric last Thursday. According to the Paphos Bishop, at some point during the meeting a loud noise was heard coming from the Kition Bishop's pen.
It turned out the pen was a microphone. A recorder was taping their conversation in a room next door.
The three bishops were meeting to discuss issues pertaining to the reform of the Church Charter to allow for 14 bishoprics instead of the current nine.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Ecstasy warning as local use feared on the riseBy Alexia Saoulli
ECTASY is the latest amphetamine-based drug on the rise among young people in Cyprus, a top anti-drugs campaigner warned yesterday.
Dr. Kyriacos Veresies, Scientific Director of the Centre for Education about Drugs and Treatment of Drug Addicted Persons (KENTHEA), blamed the tourist clubbing scene and the general increase in drug use for the trend.
" Unfortunately most users of ecstasy do not even consider themselves addicts, because ecstasy comes in the form of a pill and not a needle,"he told the Cyprus Mail .
The psychologically dependent drug has not yet been proved to harm specific physical organs, but what has been proved is that it causes hyperactivity. This hyperactivity, coupled with alcohol and the enclosed area of a nightclub, can result in hyperthermia, an increase in body temperature, which can then lead to death, said Veresies.
Although there have been no recorded ecstasy-related deaths in Cyprus to date, he felt the media should inform the public of its dangers.
Drugs in general are on the increase in Cyprus, the doctor said, as testified by frequent drug arrests, the types and quantity of drugs found on the market, and the increasing number of users seeking help from treatment centres.
In 1995, only two people asked for help for heroin addiction, but last year 121 people sought help. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Veresies.
A national epidemiological research sampling 1,500 people between the ages of 16 and 60 found that five per cent of the sample had used drugs.
" The main indication that the problem is much larger was the fact that 15 per cent of the people polled said that if they were using drugs they would not admit to it,"said Veresies.
He cited the problems of today's youth and the need to give their lives meaning through greater human contact, communication and self-worth as a means of prevention.
Former Lyceum headmistress Anna Farmaka shared his sentiments, saying it was up to the state, educators, parents and society as a whole to find ways of bringing children back to a balanced way of living.
She blamed a lack of unity within nuclear families and the easier, more affluent lifestyles that children have for the increase in drug taking, as well as the media for bombarding people with messages that discourage family unity and bonding, friendship and caring about your neighbour.
" Children have lost a semblance of order and purpose in their lives and no longer work towards achieving a sense of self-worth. It's up to parents and teachers to instil those moral and ethical values by showing love, compassion and tolerance towards the young,"she said.
The Director of the Drug Squad Demetrakis Iasonos, yesterday confirmed there was an increase in the number of locals using illegal substances such as Class A drugs, heroin and ecstasy, and said the Drug Squad was investigating reports of ecstasy in local nightclubs.
" Unfortunately we have not yet located any such pills inside nightclubs.
" It seems that these youngsters swallow them before actually entering the nightclub in order to avoid possible police spot checks,"said Iasonos. " This makes tracking down the illegal substance all the more difficult."
Despite efforts to educate students, members of the National Guard and various youth groups through Drug Squad campaigns and lectures, he said teenagers and young adults in Cyprus were not aware of the extreme dangers of the Class A drug.
" Two girls have already died in the UK due to this pill.
" It's more dangerous than heroin, since it can kill you the first time you use it, whereas heroin deaths result from long-term, continued use"he said.
Unfortunately drug pushers advertise the drug as a feel-good, energy pill and so Cypriot clubbers, enticed at the thought of euphoric, all night dancing succumb to the relatively cheap temptation, going for £10-£12 a pill according to Iasonos.
In the past four years, ecstasy pill confiscations have leapt from just three in 1997 to over 2,600 pills by September this year. Heroin is also on the increase, with a capture of over 4kg last year compared to just 35.48g in 1998.
According to drug cases reported by the Police, all hard drugs are on the increase, from amphetamines and methadone to LSD and crack.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Environmental harmonisation could cost £500 millionBy Rita Kyriakides
THE GOVERNMENT will have to shell out at least £500 million for the environment over the next 11 years, the House Finance Committee heard yesterday.
Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous told the committee that, according to an EU report, Cyprus would have to pay considerable amounts of money in order to harmonise with European Standards.
" According to the investigation, Cyprus will reap an economic benefit of at least £360 million over the next 20 years if we harmonise with EU standards,"said Themistocleous.
Themistocleous said the government was planning incentives for farmers to increase the output of organic production in Cyprus.
Less than one per cent of agricultural products are currently organic. According to EU standards, 10 per cent of agricultural products must be organic.
He also called on parliament to pass a bill in order to increase the price of water, citing accumulated debts of £25 million owed by the various Water Boards.
Finance Minister Takis Klerides told the Committee the level of debts owed by the agricultural sector was impossible to calculate as farmers were taking out loans for reasons other than financing their farms.
AKEL deputy Christos Mavrokordatos accused the government of abandoning the rural sector, saying investments in farming were falling at a time when they should be rising.
Mavrokordatos called on the government to teach farmers the latest methods of farming.
Themistocleous also told the committee that the building of a slaughterhouse for ostriches was progressing fast and that the meat would be exported.
In May 2002, Cyprus will be hosting a seminar to be held by the Farming and Agriculture Association with over 30 Ministers from all over the world.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Greek banking merger could hit expansion plansBy Jennie Matthew
FORTUNES on the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) yesterday corrected Thursday's flurry of trading and the ensuing overvaluation precipitated by the announcement of the merger in Greece of National Bank and Alfa.
The index peaked mid-session to around 126.5, but fell back by noon to close at 124.71 - up just 0.21 per cent from the morning's opening.
The FTSE dipped 0.97 per cent to 506.28, but volume rode high after the last fortnight's upside, making significant progress out of the £3 million doldrums to score a healthier £7.88 million.
The merger of National and Alfa, the two largest players in the Greek banking sector with a market share of over 50 per cent, looks set to disrupt Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB) ambitions to step up their presence in Greece.
But talk of acquisitions precipitated trading at prices in excess of true market values, which inevitably headed south yesterday to correct the balance.
" We expected things to clam down a bit after Thursday's over-reaction for no specific reason,"said Christos Achillides.
So just as BoC reached a high of £1.96 yesterday, prices fell back to close at £1.87, down three cents from its 10.30am opening at £1.90.
CPB closed down 1.33 per cent to £1.48 and Hellenic shed one cent to weigh in at 87.
Otherwise, financial companies cornered the second largest slice of market capitalisation at 18.25 per cent.
Marketrends Financial Services was the CSE's biggest gainer of the day, notching up 27.83 per cent to haul the share price up from 13.2 to 14.7 cents.
Close behind was Euroinvestment, jumping 13.41 per cent from 42.9 to 46.5 cents.
As underweight investment companies released their net-asset values on Thursday, a large number of them are poised to shoot north to share in the riches of the upside, so far denied to them.
'Other' companies netted the third biggest share of volume, at 17.5 per cent.
The group's winners were Atteshlis Shipping, up 9.68 per cent from 33 to 34 cents, and Farm Renos Hatzioannou up 5.67 per cent from 40.9 to 42.9 cents.
Those who dribbled south were Efremico Holdings, down 9.09 per cent to close where shares opened at 60 cents and Unifast Finance, down 14.89 per cent from 41.2 to 40.
Achillides does not think yesterday's announcement of cuts to the lending and deposit facility will have much of a bearing on next week's trading.
" It shouldn't have a negative impact, but it was a well-known secret and nothing out of the blue. It was already priced in and a lot of the recent upside is thanks to the expected rate cuts,"he said.
Actibond Growth Fund and Alkioni Fish Farms hit 52-week lows at 10.6 and 403 cents respectively.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001