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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, November 24, 2001


  • [01] Land scam suspects face 43 charges of bribery and fraud
  • [02] EIB loan a vote confidence for Cyprus
  • [03] New test results set scene for autopsy clash
  • [04] State appealing billboard ruling
  • [05] School heads instructed to act on failing canteens
  • [06] Settler in 'savage attack' on old enclaved man
  • [07] Athens offer almost sold out
  • [08] George Best in Limassol clinic with stomach virus and fever

  • [01] Land scam suspects face 43 charges of bribery and fraud

    By George Psyllides

    FOUR suspects held in connection with the illegal transfer of Turkish Cypriot land in the Tylliria area were yesterday referred to the criminal court, where they will face charges including conspiracy to defraud, corruption, and concealment, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

    Businessman Costas Constantinou, 38, Andreas Savvas, 55, trader and member of the Kato Pyrgos council, 61-year-old Kato Pyrgos Muchtar Krinos Theocharous and Land Survey Department official Michalis Kalathas, 46, from Nicosia, took their place in the dock yesterday in anticipation of the court's decision on whether they would face trial on 43 charges - including three of conspiracy to defraud - concerning the illegal transfer of Turkish Cypriot land and its subsequent sale to an investment company for around 900,000 - 30 per cent over its actual value.

    Constantinou is facing four counts of concealment for his alleged acceptance of a total of 334,653 in four cases, money that prosecutors say he knew was the product of crime.

    Savvas was charged with eight counts, three each of bribing a public official and corruption, and two of concealment.

    Savvas is accused of twice bribing Kalathas, once with 10,000 and the other with 90,000, and of bribing Theocharous with 130,000.

    Savvas was also charged with three counts of corruption for the alleged bribes, and was accused of concealing around 440,000, which the prosecution said were the product of criminal actions.

    The money was then allegedly distributed among the various suspects.

    Theoharous will have to face 11 charges including extorting 130,000, receiving bribes, corruption, two charges of abuse of authority, two of issue of fake certificates, and four counts of concealment.

    Michalis Kalathas was charged with 21 counts, including two each of corruption, extortion and receiving bribes, three of abuse of authority, and 12 counts of concealment.

    Kalathas is also facing 10 similar charges in a separate case concerning land in the village of Pigenia.

    Lefkos Clerides, defending Constantinou, argued that there was no evidence his client had been involved in any conspiracy.

    He said meetings between Constantinou and the other suspects did not justify conspiracy charges since the contents of those meetings were unknown.

    And if conspiracy could not stick in court then the concealment charges had to be thrown out too as a logical consequence since the charges were connected, Clerides argued.

    Attorney Michalakis Kyprianou, who it was agreed would plead for the rest of the defendants, said the evidence was insufficient to justify his clients' referral to the Assizes.

    The prosecution's case was based on hearsay evidence, Kyprianou said, adding there was no solid evidence in the land registry to prove that the land claimed and later sold by the defendants did in fact belong to Turkish Cypriots.

    But the court said the case presented by the prosecution was adequate to justify the suspects' referral to the Assizes, where their trial begins on December 11.

    The court will decide today whether the defendants will remain in custody until their trial.

    The issue yesterday became the focus of a long and hard fought battle between the two sides.

    The defence held that the court in its present capacity had no right to order the defendants to remain in custody, arguing there was a loophole in the law governing the particular process.

    After a brief recess, Public Prosecutor George Papaioannou asserted that the defence's argument could not apply in this case since there had not been a preliminary examination.

    The defence's point, Papaioannou said, could only apply in the case of a preliminary examination and not in a pre-trial hearing, which was a step further, thus skipping the legal articles evoked by the defence.

    The court ruled that it did have the power to order the defendants to remain in custody. The procedure resumed, with the prosecution arguing that should the four defendants be released they could attempt to flee or influence witnesses in the case.

    The court said it would rule on whether the defendants would be remanded in custody today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] EIB loan a vote confidence for Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS yesterday signed a deal with the European Investment Bank for a loan of 50 million euros for the development of the new Nicosia General Hospital.

    The deal was signed by Finance Minister Takis Klerides and EIB director general Terence Brown in Nicosia and will account for almost half the cash needed to complete the hospital project by mid 2003.

    " It is significant that the Nicosia General Hospital project is the first health sector project to be financed by the EIB outside the EU,"Klerides told reporters after the signing ceremony.

    The new hospital is being built some three kilometres south east of the capital. It will comprise a main hospital building of 59,000 square metres and is due to be completed in July 2003. The loan is for 25 years with a four-year grace period.

    The hospital will provide 430 inpatient beds in 18 nursing units for general surgery and medicine, including orthopaedics, cardiology, nephrology, neurosurgery and critical care services also covering burns, ITU and coronary care.

    The total cost of the new hospital will be around 55 million, some 40 million for the building and 15 million for equipment.

    The funds for the Nicosia hospital project are provided under the EIB's current8.5 billion pre-accession lending facility that runs up to the year 2003. Under the same facility ,three further projects have bee nappraised by the EIB's technical mission, and are under approval.

    The projects include the University of Cyprus campus construction, the first educational project to be financed by the EIB to a non-EU country, the construction of a new air traffic services building in Nicosia and upgrades of the instrument landing system at Laranca Airport and of radar and communications facilities.

    Klerides said the EIB had also expressed its intent to participate in the financing of the development of the new Laranca and Paphos Airports.

    " We are confident that the participation of the EIB is going to benefit the state, not only because of the favourable loan terms but also because of the EIB's experience and know-how in financing such projects,"Klerides said, adding that since January 2001, there were no restrictions on the amount of EIB lending to Cyprus.

    Brown said Cyprus was the first non-EU member to receive the loan for the health sector because the project had been so well planned.

    " In order to do such projects, you need good preparation,"he said. " In Cyprus we found the projects were well thought through and we were able to take them on."

    Brown said the EIB was looking forward to co-operating with Cyprus on future projects and expanding loans to the private as well as the state sectors.

    " For us as bankers we are forced to look ahead. We are looking three years ahead in our planning we are looking at (EU) accession and post-accession, "he said. " We think technology is one thing close to all European economies at the moment. We want therefore to develop this area also,"he added referring to e-learning and e-education. " These are areas that need to be developed over time and that we would hope to fund."

    Since 1978, the EIB has provided more than500 million for industrial development in Cyprus. The financing has been made available under four EU bilateral financial protocols.

    The largest amounts of EIB funding in Cyprus have gone towards environmental protection, with56.2 million for expanding and upgrading the supply of drinking water in Nicosia, Famagusta and Larnaca. A further59.2 million helped finance sewage systems.

    More than 150 small and medium sized industry projects have also been financed through five global loans totalling127 million through the Cyprus Development Bank while44.6 million euros have gone towards the development of Cyprus' energy potential including12 million euros for the construction of two power units at the Dhekelia power plant.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] New test results set scene for autopsy clash

    By Elias Hazou

    QUESTIONS still hovered yesterday over gaping differences in the results of two autopsies carried out on the body of a man who died last week while in treatment at the Nicosia General Hospital.

    The circumstances surrounding the 44-year-old man's death sparked a row between forensic pathologist Marios Matsakis - also an opposition DIKO deputy - and Health Minister Frixos Savvides.

    Results of histological (tissue) tests released yesterday seemed to confirm the man's cause of death as pulmonary embolism, contradicting the findings of the initial autopsy, observed by Matsakis.

    On November 13, road accident victim Christofi Christofi from Paralimni died at Nicosia General Hospital, 19 days after being transferred there from Paralimni hospital. The initial autopsy carried out by state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous and observed by Matsakis found the cause of death to be pneumonia and organ failure resulting from aspiration of gastric content.

    Matsakis claimed the man had choked on his vomit during transfer to Nicosia in an ambulance, leading to complications. He added a life could have been saved had a qualified paramedic been on board the ambulance. Cyprus has no paramedics and no training facility for them, despite pledges by Savvides as far back as 1999.

    That triggered a war of words between Matsakis and Savvides, with the Health Minister securing a court order for the second autopsy, whose results contradicted the first, showing the man had died as a result of stomach bleeding.

    Things escalated after that, with Matsakis calling on Savvides to resign. He accused the minister of denying the very existence of the first autopsy and suggested the Health Minister had ordered a second autopsy because he did " not like"the results of the first.

    The minister, however, ordered a state enquiry into the circumstances of the man's death, and asked police to initiate an investigation into suspected criminal negligence on behalf of medical staff. Police are currently gathering testimony, as conflicting accounts were given of Christofi's condition on arrival at Nicosia General Hospital.

    The results of histological tests were out yesterday, and seemed to confirm the second autopsy's findings. Eleni Antoniou, one of the pathologists carrying out the tests, said she had been notified verbally and that the results in writing would be out Monday.

    " Science is incontestable,"Savvides said yesterday at a news conference. " Now we are waiting for the state investigator's findings and, after that, everyone should assume their responsibilities."He went on to accuse Matsakis of practicing extreme " forms of populism."

    Matsakis' take was on similar lines: " It's not over until the investigator's findings are out."The DIKO deputy further claimed Savvides had refused to meet with him this week, noting that " for my part, I am available" .

    Sophocleous, the state pathologist who carried out the first autopsy, could be suspended if the state investigation concludes he acted negligently.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] State appealing billboard ruling

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE STATE is appealing against a court decision preventing the Public Works Department from tearing down billboards.

    " Based on the court's decision, we cannot take down any billboards, legal or illegal, unless we have a court order,"Communications and Works Minister, Averoff Neophytou told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    The ruling, made in October, came after a company handling legal billboard placements went to court to seek protection for its hoardings.

    The court not only ruled the government could not pull down properly- licensed billboards, but said it would need a court order to move against any advertising hoardings. The ruling effectively brought the government's nationwide clean-up campaign to a halt.

    Neophytou added that, besides the appeal, the government also planned to submit legislation within the next two weeks that would make the removal of billboards easier.

    The minister had hoped to have the bill before parliament last month.

    The billboards have become an eyesore, with thousands lining the island's roads. Police blame them for up to 20 road deaths a year, claiming drivers are distracted by the posters and fail to concentrate on the road.

    In September, Neophytou asked the Electricity Authority to stop supplying electricity to advertising companies unless they had the necessary permits from all authorities, including the relevant municipality and the Public Works Department.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] School heads instructed to act on failing canteens

    ACCUSATIONS on unsanitary and costly school canteens were yesterday played down by the Education Ministry, which claimed it was doing all it could to enforce controls.

    This week, the Pancyprian Parents' Association charged the Ministry for failing to implement regulations for the proper control of canteens, citing the findings of an annual report suggesting canteens were endangering children's health due to lax hygiene and cost-cutting.

    According to a Ministry announcement issued yesterday, the 2000-2001 school year report had found " some isolated incidents"in a small number of school canteens. The announcement added that the Ministry had instructed school headmasters to " immediately resolve these issues" .

    The report in fact showed that 57 per cent of school canteen staff did not conform to hygiene regulations, while around 14 per cent of establishments did not have valid health certificates. The Pancyprian Parents' Association further suggested lax controls were a result of vested interests, claiming many canteens were owned by school board members.

    The law on controls of canteen health standards was amended last year, with the Education Ministry claiming it was doing all it could to implement the newly-introduced legislation.

    Every year, the Ministry has to compile two reports on the some 500 school canteens nationwide.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Settler in 'savage attack' on old enclaved man

    THE UN yesterday confirmed that an elderly enclaved Greek Cypriot man had accused a Turkish settler of violently beating him and threatening to kill him.

    The 72-year-old man, from Ayia Triada in Yialousa, was treated for multiple injuries all over his body after the vicious attack, which reportedly took place on Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

    Stylianos Papazacharia says a 30-year-old Turkish settler, by the name of Ali, barged into his house and brutally abused him.

    The attacker allegedly threatened to kill him if he didn't leave his house and property.

    Turkish Cypriot 'police' were apparently passing by at the time of the attack and took him to Yialousa hospital for treatment.

    The doctor has submitted a report, along with the man's statement, to 'police' investigating the matter.

    Papazacharia claims Ali has attacked him on previous occasions.

    The suspect was arrested, according to reports from the Karpas Co- ordinating Committee.

    The suspect claims Papazacharia owns valuable property on the coast in Ftohos, and that he wants to transform his village home into a coffee shop and shops.

    Turkish Cypriot authorities have repeated told Papapazacharia to leave the north and move to the south for his personal safety.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Athens offer almost sold out

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) said yesterday that all but 200 of its special-offer 49 fares to Athens for the Christmas period had already sold out.

    " Until noon today, there were only 200 tickets left out of the 1,200 which went on offer,"CY spokesman Tassos Angelis told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    He added that out of the 1,000 special 69 fares to Thessalonika only 400 tickets remained to be sold.

    Those who buy the tickets must leave a couple of days before Christmas and return just after New Year's Day.

    The special Christmas fare, which does not include airport tax, went on sale on Wednesday immediately after CY chairman Haris Loizides announced the move at the House Finance Committee.

    Standard fares for Athens and other short-haul destinations are to come down as part of the company's efforts to counter the effects of the global economic recession on tourism since the September 11 terrorist attack in the US.

    Fares for short-haul flights of less than an hour such as Cairo, Damascus and Beirut have already been reduced.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] George Best in Limassol clinic with stomach virus and fever

    By Jennie Matthew

    FOOTBALL legend George Best was yesterday recovering in Limassol after being rushed to a private clinic on Thursday night while on holiday in Cyprus with his wife.

    His manager Philip Hughes yesterday maintained Best was suffering from a stomach virus.

    Doctors said he was being treated for an infection and high fever, but that his condition was not thought serious.

    The former Manchester United player, aged 55, has been dogged by alcohol- related problems for years and was told last March that another drink would kill him.

    &#147;On George Best&#146;s current trip to Cyprus, he was suddenly taken ill and in order to ensure George Best&#146;s health interest was taken to a clinic where it was confirmed that George had picked up a stomach virus, &#148; Hughes said in a written statement.

    He said the former star striker was &#147;recovering steadily&#148; after a dose of antibiotics, plenty of rest and hot fluids.

    Best was admitted to the private clinic in Limassol on Thursday night. His doctor is cardiologist Andreas Stylianides, who confirmed that his condition was neither serious nor drink-related.

    He said Best would be discharged either today or tomorrow.

    &#147;This present admission has nothing to do with either recent alcohol abuse or any infection other than the aforesaid infection of the gastrointestinal tract,&#148; said Stylianides.

    He said the bug could have been picked up from the air conditioning on the aeroplane.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides, a football fan himself, last night paid an official call on Best.

    Best and his wife on Tuesday checked into the Amathus Beach, a luxury five- star hotel on the Limassol seafront.

    His wife called her husband&#146;s London doctor Professor Roger Williams when he fell feverish on Thursday.

    Williams arranged for Best to be seen by his colleague Stylianides in Limassol.

    The doctor said contracting any infection was dangerous for Best because his liver had been ravaged by decades of heavy drinking.

    &#147;Getting any sort of illness is very dangerous for him because he has this underlying condition. It is a little precarious so any infection is upsetting.

    &#147;He is possibly more prone to get infections because his immune system won&#146;t be as good as other people&#146;s.

    &#147;And contracting an infection is more serious for him so he needs to be treated quickly,&#148; he said.

    &#147;It was all very fortunate because I was able to get him treated by a top consultant within half an hour of getting a call from his wife,&#148; he said.

    &#147;Luckily I happened to know a doctor over there, who is one of Cyprus&#146;s best doctors, and got his phone number and arranged for him to be seen.&#148;

    In March last year, the star was rushed to hospital after collapsing with severe liver damage and doctors told him that one more drink could kill him.

    Some 80 per cent of his liver has been destroyed by heavy drinking over the last 30 years.

    He was given stomach implants -- pellets that will make him violently ill if he drinks.

    Professor Williams, who practises at University College Hospital in London, said he expected Best to return to Britain next week and would arrange an appointment to review his condition.

    A marvel at 16, Best was famous for his dribbling skills and scored some memorable goals for Manchester United.

    In 1968, he was voted European Footballer of the Year. He retired from the game at 26, before making a brief come back for Fulham. He also made 37 appearances for Northern Ireland.

    He now works as a pundit for Sky TV.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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