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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, November 10, 2001


  • [01] Denktash seeks to bypass UN with direct talks call
  • [02] Prison extension to solve overcrowding problem
  • [03] Court told of land scam 'network'
  • [04] Travel Agents call on government to do more to save tourism
  • [05] Air steward spots credit card fraud
  • [06] Police officer suspended after being caught poaching
  • [07] Shares dip as investors cash in on gains
  • [08] Markides pleads with deputies to reconsider rejection of anti-terror unit

  • [01] Denktash seeks to bypass UN with direct talks call

    By Jennie Matthew

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides met UN Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday, just hours after Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash reiterated his invitation for a face-to-face meeting with Clerides.

    "We should have a heart-to-heart talk... probably talks," Denktash yesterday told Reuters in Ankara.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader sent Clerides a letter, making the formal request on Thursday.

    "At least, I want to be very frank with him, because in the end everyone will suffer if things go wrong, and I feel there is no need for anything to go wrong. He should understand our predicament, our fears, our anxieties in view of what has happened to us, and I want to understand why, knowing all of these facts, he is insisting on a path of collision," Denktash said.

    But it is doubtful whether his comments can be interpreted as a desire to return to UN proximity talks - the condition Clerides yesterday laid down for a personal meeting with his political adversary.

    "The President's reply to Denktash's invitation for a face-to-face meeting is very simple: as soon as Denktash accepts Annan's invitation to return to the process of a dialogue under UN auspices, the President would, with pleasure, meet with him face to face with a view to facilitate through such a meeting the process, conducted under UN auspices," Michalis Papapetrou said in New York.

    But Denktash said yesterday that foreign diplomats should stay away and let the two sides get together on their own.

    He implicitly criticised the UN Special Envoy to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who has chaired the five rounds of proximity talks.

    "These negotiators and others, who are all involved thinking they are helping, should hold back until we have heart-to-heart talks with Mr Clerides. They have not been helpful because they are not in a position to see the realities of Cyprus," he said.

    Neither Clerides nor Denktash have been briefed on new ideas and proposals put together by the UN over past months. Papapetrou yesterday poured scorn on Denktash for refusing invitations to a process he was ignorant of.

    Ankara also stands by its threat that north Cyprus could be annexed if Nicosia joins the European Union in 2004 without a solution.

    But Denktash stood firm against suggestions that his appeal for "heart-to- heart" talks was just hot air.

    "My intentions are good. It is my duty to discuss with Mr Clerides what I feel, what I see will happen if this dangerous trend continues," the Turkish Cypriot leader said.

    Clerides is in New York at Annan's invitation after an initial meeting was postponed because of the September 11 attacks.

    The invitation was also extended to Denktash, who refused to take part. He abandoned the UN talks last December because the international community refused to recognise the legitimacy of his breakaway regime.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader wants the UN to recognise that Clerides only represents the south, and he the Turks of the north.

    The last time Denktash spoke to Clerides was on the telephone to offer his condolences over the death of the President's brother at the end of last month.

    The prospect of EU accession ahead of a solution has drawn a dark cloud of the future of the Cyprus question if Turkey follows through on her threats.

    There is no question that the international community or the Greek Cypriot side will agree to any solution other than the UN-sponsored bi-communal, bi- zonal model, rejected by Denktash.

    Brussels insists it will allow a divided island to enter the EU, anxious not to give Turkey a veto on enlargement and hopeful it might force Ankara to show goodwill in order to secure her own EU ambitions.

    Some political groups in north Cyprus fear that Turkey's bid to join the EU takes second place to her military interests on the island, while others point towards a growing Europeanising trend in Ankara.

    US State Department Cyprus Co-ordinator Thomas Weston reaffirmed his hope that UN talks would resume on Thursday, after a meeting with Clerides.

    He described their discussion as "wide ranging", "very positive" and "very friendly".

    He said De Soto's whistle stop-diplomatic tour of the region last week offered hope of a way forward.

    UN spokesman Fred Eckhard refused to comment about the Denktash invitation for talks without the UN, on the grounds that it hadn't been addressed to him.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Prison extension to solve overcrowding problem

    By Elias Hazou

    A TOTAL of 2.3 million will be spent on upgrading and extending Nicosia's central prison facilities, following an agreement signed this week between the government and a private construction company.

    The move is expected to alleviate the long-time problem of overcrowding at the maximum security prison, which currently holds around 300 inmates but its capacity is for just 220. As a result, petty crime inmates often share sections, even cells, with convicted felons. In total, the number of inmates does not fluctuate significantly, although there has been a marked increase in drug-related cases.

    Central Prison governor Charilaos Themistocleous, told the Cyprus Mail the additions would add around 110 cells to the complex. The new parts to be built include a control centre providing access to each individual cell via an electronic system. A mess hall, watchtower, work labs and visiting quarters will also be constructed.

    The new facilities should become fully operational by late 2002, Themistocleous said. It is one of the first BOT (build, operate, transfer) projects implemented in Cyprus. In this case, the private company will build and be responsible for maintenance over a period of 10 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Court told of land scam 'network'

    By Elias Hazou

    MORE facts and figures emerged yesterday in the ongoing investigations into the illegal transfer and sale of Turkish Cypriot land, as authorities are just beginning to grasp the full extent of the scandal.

    Already 11 persons, including Land Survey Department officials, have been charged, with police having their work cut out investigating at least 13 separate cases. Over the past two weeks, investigators have discovered a number of instances where Land Survey Office files have gone missing or were tampered with. Police yesterday said they would start scrutinising even the bank accounts of suspects in the case.

    Although the cases are treated separately, chief investigating officer Tassos Panayiotou yesterday told a Nicosia court that at least eight of the suspects knew of each other's activities, suggesting they had formed a "network".

    The court heard police evidence on how Demos Demosthenous, a real estate agent from Nicosia, allegedly posed as a company representative and sold a stretch of land in the Tylliria area for 970,000, inflating its real value by 30 per cent. In the land transfer documents, Demosthenous said there was no record of a commission paid out to a real estate agent for the transaction. But police investigators have discovered that 100,000 were in fact received by an agent in the deal. The court remanded Demosthenous in custody for another four days.

    Meanwhile, in Paphos a court issued an extension for the remand of three suspects -- two village mukhtars and a member of a municipal council board. In court, the chief investigating officer conceded the scale of the scandal was unexpected, noting that another 180 witnesses would come forward to testify. The court granted the prosecution's request and remanded the three suspects for another eight days.

    Describing the alleged acts by Land Survey Department officials as "unacceptable", police chief Andreas Angelides yesterday gave assurances that investigations would be extremely thorough. "We are going all the way in this," he said, adding that the case was expected to be long drawn-out. The police chief added that some cases could be tried in court as early as next week, and reiterated that further arrests were possible as investigations continue.

    But Attorney-general Alecos Markides, who has refused to comment on the details or progress of investigations, yesterday levelled strongly worded criticism at what he labelled irresponsible publicity over criminal cases. "Announcements on pending arrests or what have you are completely uncalled for, since they alert perpetrators, who can then cover their tracks.

    "In my view, this insistence on publicity is somewhat irrational. I mean, non-publicity is not tantamount to a cover-up, far from it. In this case, being careful with publicising such information actually assists authorities in getting to the truth faster."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Travel Agents call on government to do more to save tourism

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE ASSOCIATION of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) yesterday expressed its disappointment at the government for not taking "sufficient and effective" measures to safeguard the tourism industry in the wake of the global terror crisis.

    ACTA said people the industry had submitted reports to the Tourism Ministry outlining the measures that needed to be taken to support the industry.

    However, it is complaining the only suggestion the Ministry has taken on board to save the ailing industry is an extended advertising campaign.

    Furthermore ACTA fear that Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis will be unable to convince foreign tour operators to include Cyprus in their travel packages when he attends the World Travel Market fair in London next week.

    ACTA also maintains the government is using EU harmonisations laws as an excuse for not granting more money to bail out the industry, arguing EU member states had adopted various support measures for their travel industries. ACTA citied Greece as a prime example, with its policy of sponsoring foreign travel agencies for three years in a row for a total of 90 days, during the periods November-March and October-April, by giving them 40 euros for every incoming visitor.

    ACTA also appealed to the government to follow other EU countries in taking immediate measures to support Cyprus Airways as well as other Cypriot air transport companies.

    "Without measures of support for companies which organise cruises and the travel agencies, they will be unable to continue with their activities, which will result in the possible closure of a number of them.

    "This in turn would be a great loss for the island's economy as it relies greatly on travel and tourism," read the statement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Air steward spots credit card fraud

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CAREER of a serial user of stolen credit cards was yesterday abruptly cut short thanks to an attentive flight attendant aboard a Cyprus Airways aircraft.

    Andreas Asprogenis, 37, was aboard a flight from Bahrain to Larnaca. Shortly before landing, he attempted to purchase duty-free items with a credit card. When asked to sign for the purchase, Asprogenis refused. The flight attendant then asked to see the credit card, which was unsigned. The passenger also refused to produce his passport, telling the flight attendant he did not have it on him. Later he was seen entering the plane washroom.

    On arrival at Larnaca airport, police questioned Asprogenis, who again claimed he was not carrying a credit card. But the card turned up in the plane's lavatories after a brief police search.

    Police found the credit card had been stolen and had been used twice before, again for duty-free items.

    The suspect yesterday appeared before Larnaca court and was remanded in custody for five days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Police officer suspended after being caught poaching

    By Elias Hazou

    CHIEF of Police Andreas Angelides yesterday suspended a Nicosia police officer caught in the act of poaching on Thursday, describing as "unacceptable" such behaviour by law enforcement officials.

    Sergeant Christodoulos Christodoulou, who was on duty at the time, and two companions were caught red-handed by gaming department officers patrolling an area close to the buffer zone and the village of Akaki. Acting on a tip from sources, they arrived on the scene in time to see the suspects capture hares and partridges. Next they waited until the suspects entered a police Pajero, which they pulled over. Inside the car were dead hares and birds, two rifles and eight rounds of bullets. Christodoulou was in full police uniform.

    The suspects were taken to the nearest police precinct, charged and later released.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Shares dip as investors cash in on gains

    By a Staff Reporter

    SHARE prices dipped slightly yesterday, taking the all-share index to 137 points following four days of

    consecutive gains.

    Trading opened on negative ground, but the index rose sharply within the first twenty minutes to reach an intraday high of 139 points before losing momentum and hitting a low of 135 points. It ended the day 0.9 per cent down.

    The blue chip FTSE/CySE index fared slightly better, closing only 0.67 per cent down at 532 points while volume managed to sustain the higher levels experienced throughout the week, standing at 11.2 million.

    Sectoral gains and losses were mixed. The fish companies sub-sector recorded gains of over eight per cent compared to a low of 2.8 per cent in the construction sector.

    Banks lost an overall 1.29 per cent as Bank of Cyprus, the day's most actively traded share closed unchanged at 1.94 pounds. Laiki Bank came in second shedding three cents to close at 1.52.

    "It seems investors were saving up on the week's earlier gains and waiting for the weekend to do some cashing in," said one Nicosia broker.

    "But it could have been a lot worse," he added.

    Overall losers outpaced gainers by 70 to 40 with 32 titles remaining unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Markides pleads with deputies to reconsider rejection of anti-terror unit

    By Melina Demetriou

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday stressed the need for the Parliament to rethink its decision opposing the formation of a special unit that would combat the funding of terrorism.

    In a joint meeting on Thursday, the House Legal and Foreign Affairs Committees defied the government's suggestion calling for the establishment of the anti-terrorist unit to work side by side with the existing financial crime unit.

    The proposal is included in a general anti-terrorism bill submitted to the House last month.

    Deputies decided on Thursday the Plenum would vote on the government bill minus the controversial provision in a week's time. At that meeting, Markides had said the decision not to establish an anti-terrorism unit would not cause any serious problems, suggesting the expansion of the existing financial crime unit to do the job.

    But yesterday the Attorney-general had changed his tune, describing the formation of an anti-terrorism unit as "a necessity". Markides said he would make efforts to convince political parties to reconsider their decision against the provision.

    He argued that by setting up a force of this kind, Cyprus would prove its willingness and determination to combat the financing of terrorism, especially in the light of the island's EU accession course.

    Markides added such a move would counter Turkish propaganda, which he said aimed to blacken Cyprus' name and ruin its plans to join the European Union.

    The existing financial crime unit and anti-money laundering force had too much work to take on anything else, Markides added.

    The anti-terrorism bill rules that anyone found guilty under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism could face life imprisonment and/or a 2 million fine.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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