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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, November 28, 2001


  • [01] Pathologist suspended in autopsy controversy
  • [02] New phone rates come into force
  • [03] Deputies allege 'illegalities' at State Orchestra
  • [04] Neophytou hails staff support for CyTA reform plan
  • [05] Turkish security council weighs in on Cyprus
  • [06] Party leaders back Clerides' handling of Denktash offer
  • [07] Parents key to determining if children smoke
  • [08] AIDS figures among lowest in the world
  • [09] BoC: reduced profits 'satisfactory' in the circumstances
  • [10] Supermarket fire finally put out

  • [01] Pathologist suspended in autopsy controversy

    By Jean Christou

    STATE pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous was yesterday suspended pending a disciplinary investigation into an autopsy he carried out on a man who died at the Nicosia General Hospital after a road accident.

    Health Minster Frixos Savvides, who sought the suspension, told the Cyprus Mailthat the Public Services Commission had granted his request yesterday.

    " Mr Sophocleous, as of 3 o'clock this afternoon, was suspended from his duties,"Savvides said.

    The suspension came after the results of a second post mortem on the 44- year old accident victim, by another state pathologist, Eleni Antoniou, contradicted the findings of the first. The victim, Christofis Christofi, died 19 days after the accident.

    The results of histology (tissue) tests released on Monday confirmed the findings of the second post mortem, which established the cause of death as a pulmonary embolism, the Health Ministry said.

    Sophocleous' post mortem on Christofi, which was observed by DIKO deputy and forensic pathologist Marios 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.

    " Choking on his own vomit, which was put chronologically during his transportation 19 days before in the ambulance, was to say at the very least - as one very famous professor of pathology said when I asked him - 'ridiculous',"Savvides said.

    " Nobody can say this medically without support of any analysis."

    Savvides said the cause of death as pulmonary embolism was found during the second autopsy and was confirmed from the histology tests.

    " There is an investigation as to Mr Sophocleous' whole behaviour, before during and after the first autopsy,"Savvides said.

    Commenting on Matsakis' role, the Minster said: " Mr Matsakis does not work for the government. There is a separate police investigation which has been started at the request of the Health Ministry as to the circumstances of the first autopsy."

    Savvides added that he didn't believe the investigation would take very long.

    A brief written statement from Sophocleous, who has remained silent on the issue, yesterday said he stood by the results of his autopsy. He said he had decided to speak out because of the things that had been said over the past days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] New phone rates come into force

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) is officially introducing eight-digit phone numbers on Saturday as part of its new national numbering plan.

    As part of the new plan, all calls from fixed telephones will be charged at the same rate of two cents per two minutes during peak hours and two cents per four minutes off-peak. For mobile phones, all calls will be charged at six cents per minute during peak times and three cents per minute during off peak hours on the normal package.

    The existing and new numbers have been in operation since November 1 and will operate in parallel until June 1, 2002, after which all calls to the old numbers will be forwarded to recorded announcements for a further period of six months.

    Area codes -- 02, 05, 04 etc -- are being replaced by two digits, which are to be added to all phone numbers according to district, with all numbers starting with the digit 2. Nicosia numbers, for example, will start with 22, and Limassol numbers will start with 25. All eight numbers have to be dialled, wherever you are calling from.

    Mobile phone number prefixes have also been changed from 09 to 99.

    People calling from overseas must dial the international code +357 followed by the new eight-digit number.

    The national numbering plan is being implemented so the authority can prepare for competition when other service providers enter the market under European Union liberalisation rules.

    For more information about the number changes, customers can call the toll- free help line on 0800 2001 or visit the CyTA website at

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Deputies allege 'illegalities' at State Orchestra

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE Education Committee yesterday asked the Education Ministry to investigate allegations of misdemeanor at the Cyprus State Orchestra and to come up with a legal framework under which it will operate.

    The Committee charged that the State Orchestra was run by foreigners, some of whom allegedly had an agenda against Cypriot musicians.

    Talking to the Cyprus Mailafter the meeting yesterday, Education Committee chairman Prodromos Prodromou of DISY said: "There are no regulations governing the orchestra's operation.

    "That's why all sorts of illegalities occur," he charged.

    He said that the Committee had asked the Education Ministry to investigate allegations of illegalities in the State Orchestra and to come up with a legal framework in six months' time to govern its operations.

    Prodromou said deputies had received several complaints that senior foreign members of the orchestra routinely rejected Cypriot musicians auditioning to join.

    "They want to run the orchestra and they want no interference from anyone," Prodromou alleged.

    The Committee chairman charged that one foreign musician "used the orchestra to make a solo CD. He has also illegally performed in the occupied areas."

    Prodromou claimed that decision-making bodies at auditions were sometimes "unfit to take such decisions".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Neophytou hails staff support for CyTA reform plan

    By Melina Demetriou

    COMMUNICATIONS minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday described as " an unprecedented phenomenon"the fact that the vast majority of employees at the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) backed a plan to make the Authority a public company.

    But opposition DIKO and AKEL remain opposed to the scheme, fearing it could lead to higher call rates and jeopardise employees' rights.

    Neophytou earlier this year submitted a bill to Parliament aimed at turning CyTA into a public company with the state as its main shareholder. The proposal suggests the government should own 94 per cent of the Authority's shares and CyTA employees and retired staff should buy the remaining six per cent.

    " The fact that 90 per cent of CyTA employees are in favour of the bill is an unprecedented phenomenon. I have never heard of anything like this before: A company going public and at the same time keeping its employees happy,"a jubilant Neophytou said yesterday after a meeting of the House Communications Committee convening on the matter.

    DIKO and AKEL deputies, however, used the session to voice their opposition to the plan, insisting that it would gradually lead to a sell off of CyTA to the private sector.

    Zacharias Koulias of DIKO argued that CyTA's call rates were currently the cheapest in Europe.

    " How do we know that rates won't hit the roof as happened in Greece after a similar plan was implemented there?"he asked.

    George Hadjigeorgiou of AKEL charged that, under the proposed status, CyTA could not guarantee high quality services.

    Committee chairman Nicos Pittokopitis of DIKO added CyTA employees' benefits would not be safeguarded under the new status, as staff would no longer be protected by collective contracts having personal contracts instead. Pittokopitis said AKEL had already tabled a counterproposal before the Committee, suggesting ways to modernise the authority without making it a public company.

    The minister, however, was categorical that " there is no way CyTA can survive as it is in the competitive European environment we are about to enter. The Authority is efficient right now because there are no competitors."

    Neophytou noted that the costs of telecommunications services in Europe had plummeted because of competition.

    " CyTA is like a lion chained to bureaucracy and public justice. It needs many years to implement a decision, whereas a private company takes just a few days because it is flexible,"he stressed.

    " We can't change global realities in little Cyprus,"Neophytou said, noting that the plan would not privatise the Authority but simply give it a different status.

    The minister also dismissed the argument that call rates would increase, explaining that CyTA would be accountable to a Telecommunications Regulator to be appointed soon.

    " The Authority would have to justify its plans to either decrease or increase rates."

    Neophytou said he was willing to discuss the provisions of the state bill with the Committee and find ways to ensure that everyone would continue to enjoy high quality services and that employees would maintain their benefits.

    Apart from AKEL and DIKO, who together could secure enough votes to block the plan, the other parties have not positioned themselves on the bill yet.

    Most trade unions have reacted favourably to the plan to make CyTA a public company. Left-wing Sidikek PEO, however, argues the move would gradually privatise CyTA.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Turkish security council weighs in on Cyprus

    TURKEY'S powerful National Security Council (MGK) said yesterday it supported next month's meeting of Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders but would not accept any settlement that endangered its national security.

    Ankara has hardened its stance on Cyprus in recent weeks, saying it could annex the territories it occupies in Cyprus if the European Union admits the island without a settlement.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are due to meet on December 4 for their first face-to-face talks in four years.

    Diplomatic efforts to resolve the decades-long imbroglio have picked up as Cyprus, a front-running EU candidate, looks to join the western European bloc in 2004.

    "Turkey will continue to support with good intentions the search for a solution both sides can accept," the military- dominated MGK said in a statement after its monthly meeting. "Within this understanding Turkey supports Mr Denktash's call (on Clerides) for a meeting."

    "Turkey will not accept a settlement that violates international agreements, threatens Turkey's and the TRNC's security and forces Turkish Cypriots beneath Greek Cypriot domination," the MGK statement said.

    The EU, which Turkey aspires to join, has said Ankara must support UN- brokered peace talks on Cyprus to begin its own accession talks. UN efforts stalled late last year.

    The MGK also said it had discussed the EU's annual progress report released earlier this month and steps Turkey would now take to meet membership criteria.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Party leaders back Clerides' handling of Denktash offer

    After a three-hour long meeting, the National Council yesterday unanimously welcomed President Glafcos Clerides` decision to accept Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's invitation for face-to-face talks in Nicosia on December 4.

    Speaking after the council meeting, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said decisions had been taken in view of next week's encounter between the two leaders, but he did not elaborate.

    The council outlined the positions and tactics that the Greek Cypriot side would follow at the meeting and exchanged views on general policy with regard to the Cyprus question, he said.

    Papapetrou noted that neither Clerides` or Denktash's aides would be present at the meeting. Only the two politicians and the UN Secretary- General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto - who arrives on the island December 2 - would attend, he added.

    The spokesman said the National Council would convene again on December 18 and 19, when members would be briefed on the outcome of the meeting. In response to questions, Papapetrou said that Turkish threats to annex the north of the island, should Cyprus join the EU prior to a political settlement, had also discussed at yesterday's meeting and would be raised again.

    Commenting on next week's visit to Ankara by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, Papapetrou said according to Turkish sources, the Cyprus problem would be raised with Turkish officials. " All these discussions on Cyprus at various levels, involving UN, American and EU officials, show that what we have been pursuing has put the Cyprus problem on the international agenda and is now yielding results,"Papapetrou said.

    US Ambassador, Bandler during a visit to the Cyprus Workers' Confederation (SEK) yesterday, echoed Papapetrou's views with regard to the December 4 meeting.

    " It is our hope that the two leaders will use this meeting to overcome existing differences and to find ways to accommodate one another's concerns to advance the possibility of a settlement that will bring economic, political and security benefits all across the island of Cyprus,"he said, adding that the US was working very closely with the UN to find a solution in Cyprus.

    The December 4 meeting will be the first face-to-face meeting between Clerides and Denktash since August 1997. They were both engaged in UN proximity talks from December 1999 to November last year, when Denktash, backed by Ankara, withdrew from the negotiations.

    In September, Denktash turned down an invitation from UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan to resume the stalled talks on the Cyprus problem, reiterating his demand for recognition. Clerides accepted the invitation and expressed his readiness to work for a comprehensive settlement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Parents key to determining if children smoke

    By Alexia Saoulli

    ONE in 10 Cypriot children is a regular smoker before the age of 13, with 32 per cent of pupils trying cigarettes before puberty, according to the President of the Cyprus Heart Foundation, Christos Mavrellis.

    The Cyprus Heart Foundation has released the results of a nationwide study it had carried out looking at underage smokers. The announcement of the figures coincides with a special awareness week on heart disease and the young.

    The statistics show alarming levels of smoking among school children - with over half of children attending technical schools admitting that they are regular smokers.

    But some children are smoking as early as primary school, with 3.6 per cent of pupils doing so; at secondary level, 16 per cent of gymnasium pupils smoke, 32.8 per cent of those attending Lyceums, while in technical schools the figure rises to a shocking 54.8 per cent. Some 31.7 per cent at University students admitted to the habit.

    The survey found that one in two underage smokers had a father who smoked and one in three a mother. If both parents smoke, 65 per cent of their children are likely to become smokers.

    According to biology teacher Fotis Mylonas, these results mirror the results of three separate studies carried out at the Pancyprian Gymnasium in Nicosia where he currently teaches.

    " Unfortunately, I'm not surprised by the results,"Mylonas said yesterday, adding that in his experience pupils often become regular smokers no later than at the age of 14.

    " I think the basic motive behind underage smoking today is image and peer pressure.

    " Kids think it's cool to light up a cigarette when they're out with their friends, and before you know it they're all trying to impress each other, "he said.

    " It's not even as if they like the taste initially.

    " In fact, the actual habit takes some effort on their part, but then before they know it, they're addicted."

    Based on the gymnasium's studies, social background and education have nothing to do with who smokes and who doesn't, said Mylonas. Not even the fear of dying an early, painful death frightens them at this age, or the statistics that every cigarette reduces life by 5.5 minutes - a packet of 20 a day reduces your lifespan by over five years -and that one person dies from smoking somewhere in the world every nine seconds.

    " Children think they are invincible and that death will not come knocking at their door.

    " The fact that their parents smoke only compounds the problem, because a) they look at their parents and believe them to be healthy and well, so look to them as role models and b) they know they won't be told off because it's something their parents indulge in as well, and shockingly, some parents even accept their children smoking at such a young age,"he said.

    Mylonas did suggest that unattractive images of smoking that affected physical appearance, such as bad breath, stained fingers or yellow teeth might be ways of convincing young people that smoking is " not in" .

    He did maintain that students should still be made aware of the dangers of smoking and that, " if we manage to convince the leaders of the group that smoking is bad, then maybe they will be able to influence their peers" .

    He said he felt this could be done by gaining students' trust and reason, not by hounding them with facts.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] AIDS figures among lowest in the world

    By Rita Kyriakides

    CYPRUS has one of the lowest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, the government said yesterday.

    A statement said there were 374 recorded cases of AIDS on the island up to October this year - 219 affecting Cypriots, and 155 foreigners - accounting for less than 0.1 per cent of the population. The proportion of sufferers is very low by international standards, the statement added.

    Of the 219 Cypriots, 189 were men and 30 women, a rate of six men to one woman.

    Ninety per cent of sufferers said they were infected through sexual intercourse, 44 per cent of them heterosexual and 47 per cent of them homosexual.

    Another 3.2 per cent were infected through blood transplants, which all took place in other countries before 1987 and 1.8 per cent admitted that they were drug users and were infected because they shared needles.

    There was only one case of a pregnant woman transmitting the disease to her baby.

    The statement said 76 per cent of patients were between the ages of 20 and 40 when they were diagnosed.

    One hundred and thirty-seven of the patients have developed full-blown AIDS, of whom 53 have died.

    The statistics show an average of 23 new cases every year, 14 Cypriots and nine foreigners.

    A steady increase was recorded until 1994 followed by a small decrease up to 1998, while in 1999 and 2000, there was a small increase, most of which concerned Cypriots suffering from AIDS returning from abroad.

    The report called for the continuation of precautionary measures against the virus, with emphasis on those who are most at risk, such as those with dangerous sexual habits, homosexuals and drug users who share needles.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] BoC: reduced profits 'satisfactory' in the circumstances

    THE BANK of Cyprus Group yesterday released its results for the first nine months of the year announcing pre-tax profits of 61.1 million ( 106 . 5 million) compared to 67 million for the same period last year, a decrease of 8.8 per cent.

    Profit after tax reached 41.2 million compared to 45.9 million for the same period in 2000, a 10.2 per cent drop.

    The bank nevertheless said the results were considered " satisfactory"in the light of conditions prevailing in the Cypriot and Greek banking sectors, and were comparable with results announced by the other Greek banks.

    " The interest rate cuts coupled with the September 11 terrorist attack and the events, which followed, have changed the financial environment. These exogenous factors have adversely affected the results of the period,"the announcement said.

    The bank said the 8.8 per cent fall in the Group's pre-tax profit was mainly due to the successive interest rate cuts both in local and in foreign currency, as well as the drop in commissions from foreign currency exchange and in profits from foreign currency trading resulting from the introduction of the euro in Greece.

    In addition, the continuing decline in the Cypriot and Greek stock markets and the international recession also had an adverse effect on the Group's profitability, a statement said, especially following September 11. In addition, the Group's results were negatively impacted by the initial set- up costs of its subsidiary bank in Australia and of a significant number of new branches in Greece.

    " The results of the whole year of 2001 will depend to a large extent on the developments in the international markets; in any case, though, it is expected that the results will remain to be satisfactory under the conditions prevailing,"the bank said.

    The Group's total assets as of September 30 2001 reached 7.3 billion, recording an increase of 1.0 billion or 16.2 per cent since the beginning of the year. A similar increase (16.6 per cent) was recorded on the Group customer deposits.

    " Of particular importance is the increase in customer deposits in Greece, which reached 1.4 billion as of 30 September 2001, compared to 0.8 billion at December 31, 2000, recording a 73 per cent increase,"the announcement added.

    The bank's branch network in Greece now comprises 50 branches, compared to 31 at the beginning of the year. The network is expected to increase to 60 branches by the end of 2001. The Group added to its capital base 200 million from share capital issued in Greece in October 2000 and275 million from the issue of subordinated loan stock qualifying as Tier II capital in June 2001.

    " The Group's 360 million stronger capital base places the Group in an advantageous position regarding its efforts to achieve its strategic targets, to face the adverse environment prevailing in the market and to grasp the opportunities that may arise,"the bank said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Supermarket fire finally put out

    A FIRE which devastated the Chris Cash & Carry in Paphos on Monday night, was finally extinguished in the early hours of yesterday, police said.

    Some fire fighters remained in the area yesterday morning in case flames broke out again in the basement of the supermarket where the fire began at around 6pm on Monday evening.

    The head of the national fire service, George Hadjigeorgiou, said yesterday they had begun an in-depth investigation into the cause of the fire, but it was still too early to speculate.

    The fire devastated the basement of the supermarket, which was used as a storeroom. Hadjigeorgiou added that most of the damage caused to the upper two floors was a result of the thick smoke which filtered through the building. Police said it did not appear that the fire had been started maliciously.

    The owner of the supermarket, Andreas Andreou, paid tribute to the fire brigade for its efforts in fighting the blaze. On Monday, one of his security chiefs had criticised fire fighters for allegedly taking 25 minutes to reach the scene.

    Dozens of shoppers and employees were evacuated from the building after huge fire broke out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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