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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 20, 2002


  • [01] Cyprus denies sending immigrant boat on to Italy
  • [02] News in brief
  • [03] Residents appeal to Europe in anger over foundry
  • [04] Cyprus denies link to cigarette smuggling
  • [05] Man accused of 1.2 million credit card scam
  • [06] Beautiful party or tasteless orgy of excess?
  • [07] Woman pleads with husband to return children to welfare department
  • [08] De Soto to consult Athens and Ankara
  • [09] Morocco arrests four Cypriots 'for child abduction'
  • [10] Actor hurt in car accident

  • [01] Cyprus denies sending immigrant boat on to Italy

    By George Psyllides

    JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis yesterday denied Italian press reports accusing Cyprus of allowing a ship with 1,000 illegal immigrants to sail to Italy.

    Reports said the ship had passed through Cyprus before ending up off the coast of Sicily, where Italian coastguards intercepted it.

    Koshis conceded that the vessel did in fact pass from Cyprus, but at the time it had been empty.

    "It stayed here for five days and then left for Alexandria, where it apparently picked up the immigrants," Koshis said.

    Koshis said the authorities had information about the boat and had taken all necessary measures.

    "It ended up in Italy and now they are accusing us of sending the ship full of immigrants," Koshis added.

    Marine Police Chief Yiannakis Eliades revealed the authorities had information about a ship that was going to pick up people from the coasts of Syria and Lebanon in order to ferry them to Europe.

    "We were given the name of the ship, which had apparently been changed," Eliades said.

    The boat arrived in Larnaca from Beirut on March 3, and officers took down all its details, including the number of crew, Eliades said.

    He added: "There was a crew of five Syrians, but they took two more Syrians from Cyprus aboard and then sailed off."

    Eliades said that all the information had been given to Interpol.

    Meanwhile marine police have been placed on high alert after information that a number of vessels have been spotted near the Suez Canal and appeared destined for the Mediterranean region and Europe.

    Eliades said that patrol boats were checking all vessels entering Cyprus waters, while there was close co-operation with Interpol and other sources of information.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] News in brief

    Nine serious injuries over holiday weekend

    NINE people were seriously injured and 28 others sustained lighter injuries over the holiday weekend, police said yesterday.

    On Monday, a 26-year-old woman from Nicosia lost her right leg after being involved in a crash near the Yermasoyia roundabout in Limassol.

    The accident happened at 4am, when the car in which 26-year-old Erini Macheriotou was a passenger slammed into the protective barricade.

    Macheriotou was rushed to Nicosia hospital where she underwent surgery during which her right leg was amputated. The other three people in the car were lightly injured, police said.

    In a separate accident in Limassol on Sunday night, three people were injured in an accident involving three cars outside the district's traffic police HQ.

    The driver of one car, 55-year-old George Petrou, suffered a broken leg and whiplash.

    His wife, 48, also suffered whiplash, while his 17-year-old daughter sustained light injuries to her head.

    The accident happened at 10pm when a car driven by a 21-year-old slammed into Petrou's vehicle, which went on to hit a third car.

    No one else was injured in the accident.

    Over the three days between March 16 and 18, police recorded 10 serious accidents and 13 lighter ones, compared to seven and 13 for the respective period last year.

    Police said they breathalysed 593 drivers, booking 11 for drink driving.

    Rain spoils the party

    The rainy weather spoiled the party on Monday for many people who took to the fields to observe the first day of lent.

    The Director of the Weather Service, Kyriacos Theophilou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that more showers were expected in the next few days as March traditionally yields around 12 per cent of the island's total rainfall.

    According to Theophilou, March generates around 62 millimetres of rain annually and has been doing so for the past 30 years.

    Until 8am yesterday, the total rainfall for the month was around 8.5 millimetres or 14 per cent of March's normal rainfall.

    The unstable conditions would continue today, with regional clouds and possibility of rains on higher ground.

    No changes are expected for Thursday while on Friday the weather will be fair with some cloud.

    Temperatures in the next couple of days will be normal for the season at around 21 degrees.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Residents appeal to Europe in anger over foundry

    By Alexia Saoulli

    COMMUNITY campaigner Bernadette Charalambous has decided to take her fight against the Nemitsas foundry in Limassol to Europe after years of vain efforts to close the factory.

    She said yesterday she would contact the EU's Environment Commissioner as well as UN Commissioner of Human Rights and former Irish President Mary Robinson in an attempt to ensure action against what she says is unbearable pollution.

    The foundry has for years been a sore subject for residents of the Chiflikoudia suburb of Limassol. The smell and chemical emissions in the area are overpowering and have made the children in the area physically sick.

    Attempts to have the foundry shut down or to pressure the government into action have all led to dead ends, she said.

    "I will do what is necessary to see that foundry is closed so that our children have a healthy start in life or to reduce whatever risks they've been exposed to," said Charalambous.

    She said she hoped Robinson would highlight the case, since her own letters to the President, Ministers of Health, Labour, Education and Commerce, the Limassol mayor and municipality, as well as the area's environmental officer had all proved fruitless.

    "I keep making phone calls and ask for something to be done and I get nothing," she said. "All they do is pass the buck on to someone else and say they are not the ones responsible. They just keep on procrastinating. Even the ombudswoman wrote up a report on the foundry and recommended that it be closed down."

    Charalambous said she had even written a letter to the Council of Ministers hoping that someone would sit up and take notice.

    "The stench itself is just disgusting," she said, "and must be harmful to our health. Today I had to race home and give my four-year-old medicine because he's had respiratory problems since he was born, which I believe are in some way related to the foundry.

    "I just feel that a basic human right is that people, particularly children, have clean air to breathe, and in this case our human rights are being violated."

    Although the Health Ministry commissioned a study some time ago, she said, the report was never made public.

    "All I know is they gave the foundry three months to reduce the emissions, which was then extended for another four months, which we are still waiting to expire."

    She added that someone within the Ministry had told her that a recommendation within the report had been to shut it down.

    "But this person will not come forward and say this because it could cost them their job," Charalambous said, adding the authorities were reluctant to pressure the foundry's owner Takis Nemitsas, a former Minister.

    "No one in the area believes anything will be done. We have no faith left in the government machinery to solve the issue. So we are going to a higher authority hoping that they will put pressure on the authorities here to close the foundry down."

    Charalambous added the Ministry said the residents had to prove their health was affected before it took any steps, but she believes the onus should be on proving the foundry is safe.

    "We're just at our wits ends. Our life revolves around the workings of the foundry. Every day I'm looking out which way is the wind blowing so that I know if it is blowing on the school and whether or not I have to remove my children from school so that they're not breathing it in."

    She added that the children at the school directly in line of the foundry's emissions suffered headaches, tummy aches, vomiting, streaming eyes and complained of a bad taste in their mouths. This in itself, said Charalambous, was indication enough that the chemicals being released were not harmless.

    "All I want is some clean air for my children, in their home and where their father grew up. It's so wrong that as a parent I have to go these extremes and waste so much time and energy in trying to get this.

    "Instead of getting on with spending time with them, being a parent and playing out in the garden, I have to lock them in the house or take them off somewhere else when the stench gets so bad"

    She said she has thought about moving, and felt like a refugee in her own country, but that at present it wasn't financially possible, particularly since selling their current home would be a huge problem.

    "Who wants to live here?" she asks, "the smell is just atrocious and whole area's value has been degraded.

    "You really have to smell it to believe it and yet no one in authority has been down to smell it. It's not even that I can prove it smells," she said. "I mean how do you prove something stinks? And when they are smelting the metal you just heave with it. We're not built to throw up, that should tell you something's wrong."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Cyprus denies link to cigarette smuggling

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT insisted yesterday that Cyprus was not in any way involved in cigarette smuggling, but was co-operating closely with international crime fighting units by providing all necessary information.

    Weekend reports claimed Cyprus was being used as a transit point for huge quantities of cigarettes smuggled from the United States and destined for Iraq, in breach of the UN embargo.

    Cyprus was named in a lawsuit filed by the European Union against tobacco manufacturers R.J Reynolds and Philip Morris, who were accused by the EU of breaking the UN imposed embargo on Iraq by smuggling cigarettes through Spain, Cyprus and Turkey.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday explained that the island had signed a mutual co-operation protocol with Olaf, a European organisation that fights smuggling, and that all the information in the EU lawsuit had in fact been given by Cyprus in accordance with the agreement.

    Papapetrou said representatives of the organisation had visited the island around 20 days ago to ask the input of local authorities.

    "The evidence presented in the lawsuit was given by Cypriot authorities," Papapetrou said.

    He added: "We have to clear that there is nothing illegal concerning Cyprus and the movement of cigarettes."

    Papapetrou explained that the cigarettes arrived on the island legally and were then exported legally.

    "If after that, once they are outside the island's jurisdiction, the documents are switched, forged, or replaced, and their destination is changed, then that is something that concerns the countries where the cigarettes are directed to," Papapetrou said.

    "Consequently, Cyprus is not involved in any illegal operations," he added.

    Papapetrou said Cyprus gave every possible information on cargoes moved through the island so interested parties would be able to follow their course.

    He added that the authorities had no proof of Cypriot involvement in cigarette smuggling.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis yesterday also denied that the island was used as a transit point for cigarette smuggling.

    Koshis said that he would hold discussions on the issue with the Italian Interior Minister.

    "We reject the charges but it would be good to discuss them and clear things out," Koshis said.

    Italy has accused Cyprus on several occasions of being a transit point for cigarette smuggling.

    Meanwhile, reports yesterday said an English Cypriot man was wanted as one of the suspected brains behind a cigarette smuggling ring recently busted in Greece.

    Greek police have made nine arrests, and are looking for six other suspects, including the Cypriot.

    The reports said the ring had allegedly set up front companies exporting fruit, leather and frozen products but illegally imported tax-free tobacco from Bulgaria and Cyprus, which they stored in warehouses in Aspropyrgos in the Attiki area.

    The gang then bought other merchandise, stuffed it with the cigarettes and moved them on to Europe in fridge trucks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Man accused of 1.2 million credit card scam

    A 64-YEAR-old man was yesterday remanded in custody for two days on suspicion of attempting to scam around 1.2 million using 12 credit cards. Shipping agent George Georgiades from Famagusta was arrested on Monday after the credit card management company (JCC) noticed that several suspicious transactions had been carried out through the suspect's terminal.

    The suspect had initially been given a terminal for his office that could handle transactions of up to 9,999, but he returned it and got one that could handle transactions up to 99,999, police said.

    The court heard that in just one day, on March 15, the suspect had carried out 94 transactions involving the return of cash from the alleged purchase of two ships in England.

    JCC, however, found out that there were no previous transactions to justify the 1.2 million involved being returned to the suspect.

    Police told the court that if the transaction had gone through, Georgiades could have gone to any ATM, withdrawn the cash and charged the account of the person whose card he was using.

    Police said the suspect had allegedly used 12 credit cards of people from the USA, Britain, Spain, Bulgaria, and Lebanon.

    The investigator told the court that the specific credit cards had also been used by other people in other countries, including Greece, to extract money in the same way.

    Police said they were contacting Greek police in an effort to resolve the case, adding that they did not know whether the cards were real, stolen or forged.

    Georgiades claims he does not know anything about what he is being accused of.

    The court remanded the suspect in two-day custody despite a police request for eight days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Beautiful party or tasteless orgy of excess?

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS had slid back off the celebrity map by yesterday morning, following the departure of billionaire reveller Philip Green and his 200 guests from the luxurious Anassa Hotel near Paphos where the BHS tycoon held a lavish three-day 50th birthday bash.

    But the British papers were still buzzing with the notion that someone could splash out 5 million on what one described as "an astonishing display of tasteless ostentation".

    The party, which began on Thursday night and ended in the early hours of Sunday, included a secret celebrity guest list, entertainment by Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, George Benson, Demis Roussos, and Earth Wind and Fire, and a troupe of male strippers, a twenties-style black-tie dinner and a Greco-Roman toga party.

    Tens of thousands of pounds were also spent on caviar, champagne and flowers for the 200 guests that Green and his wife Tina, 52, flew to Cyprus on a specially chartered plane from Luton in the UK.

    Asked by one journalist on Saturday night if he was having a good time, Green said: "'Terrible. It's been really tough.'

    As he and his guests gathered at Paphos Airport on Sunday, Green spoke to reporters "a tad defensively", according to the Independent, which said he appeared irritated by the reference in some papers to an "orgy of excess. "It wasn't gaudy or horrible or ugly," Green said.

    "The party was beautifully done and a fabulous success. It was a lot of fun. I am just feeling a little bit tired and my guests are recuperating."

    The Independent said that Green, said to have made the fastest 1bn in British corporate history, had chosen to take on the character of Nero himself during Saturday's party "although it was unclear whether his wife had opted to portray the fiddling Emperor's first wife, Octavia, or second, Poppaea."

    The Times said the grande finale party on Saturday had been slated as "a night to remember". The dress code was "compulsory: white or flesh underwear, no other clothes required, we'll supply the rest!"

    "So the high and the not so mighty - including the organisers - dutifully stripped down to the bare essentials at a party where money was no object," the Times said. "As the sun set over their hotel hideaway in Cyprus, the guests, decked out in crowns and garlands, entered an 'amphitheatre' that Green had had built next to the hotel."

    The paper said that Green, in his gold-trimmed toga, greeted his wife with the words: "Here's the Queen. Wonderful." Tina was thrilled. "Have you ever seen anything like this in your whole life?" she asked. "Probably not," the Times said.

    The Sunday Telegraph also jumped on the bandwagon. "It was as Tom Jones sang 'It's Not Unusual' that the 196 guests dissolved in mirth. "Not unusual?" spluttered one. "If I lived to 10,000 I'll never experience anything more unusual than this."

    "An unsurprisingly self-satisfied Green told The Sunday Telegraph: 'Most people are saying that it's the best weekend of their lives,'" the paper said.

    British restaurant critic Michael Winner, in a column in the Daily Mail on Monday, said he had been invited to the party but had refused and set about explaining why. The bottom line was that he hated being a guest and "everyone should be glad I spurned a 5m three-day party"

    The Evening Standard decided to take a dig at Cyprus rather than Green's extravagance. Commenting on how the Greens did not tell their guests where the party was being held, the paper said. "Disappointingly for some perhaps, the destination turned out to be the lager lout capital of the Mediterranean: Cyprus."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Woman pleads with husband to return children to welfare department

    By Alexia Saoulli

    POLICE are looking for a father who has taken two of his children into hiding, despite a court order to return them to the Social Services.

    The children are two of the minors involved in January's child neglect case, when five siblings had to be taken from their homes to the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia.

    The children were aged between five years old and four months, and had been left without food or care for three days until the Social Welfare Department was informed of the case and promptly removed the two boys and three girls from the home.

    Reports said the children were found in a decrepit state, with severe nappy rash, dirty laundry on the floor, broken cots, toys in disarray, mice running around, and a sink filled with dirty dishes.

    Originally the children were placed into foster care, but then a family court awarded custody of all five to their father.

    But reports say the mother took the decision badly and took three of them away.

    The verdict awarding custody to the father was then appealed by the social services and overturned by the courts. All five children are therefore now supposed to be under the State's wing.

    With the new court order in place, the young mother returned the three children she had taken to the social welfare department so that they might be placed into care until she was deemed fit to look after them.

    But her remaining two children have been missing for a nearly a week now, she said.

    She told Antenna television that she had not spoken to her husband in days and pleaded with him to return her children to the welfare department.

    Police have started a national search for the father, but so far in vain.

    A Nicosia police spokesman said yesterday: "We haven't found them yet. We are looking everywhere, but so far he has not turned up. Rest assured we will send out a bulletin once he is found."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] De Soto to consult Athens and Ankara

    UNITED Nations special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will travel to Ankara and Athens next week for talks about the divided island, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday.

    A UN spokesman in Nicosia confirmed that De Soto would travel to the two capitals next Thursday. He is also expected to go to UN headquarters in New York.

    The announcement came after Clerides and Denktash met as part of the ongoing talks process yesterday. The two leaders, accompanied by their advisors, met for approximately one and a half hours in the presence of De Soto.

    This was the fifth meeting of the second round of the UN-sponsored direct talks, which started in mid January. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Morocco arrests four Cypriots 'for child abduction'

    THE CYPRIOT mother of a five-year-old Moroccan boy and three companions have been arrested in Morocco for allegedly attempting to abduct the child, a senior security official in Rabat said yesterday.

    He said one of two private detectives in the group had attacked a maid accompanying the boy to school with a tear-gas spray and tried to get him into a car by force.

    "Four Cypriots including two male private detectives were arrested on March 8 while attempting to kidnap a boy of Moroccan nationality in the city of Sale," the official said.

    The boy's father, dental surgeon Hicham Ibourk, told police that he and his wife, named as Sophia Soucratous, had met while they were students in Russia. After getting married, they spent a few years in Cyprus before moving to Morocco.

    "They apparently had differences over the religion of the boy. Hicham wanted to educate his son in Morocco in the Islamic faith, while the mother wanted her son to be Christian," the official added.

    He was unable to say if the couple were still married.

    The four accused, who include a friend of the mother's, face up to five years in jail if found guilty of kidnapping. They are being held in prison in Sale awaiting trial.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Actor hurt in car accident

    WELL-KNOWN Cypriot actor Stavros Louras was injured yesterday in a car accident, police said last night.

    The 50-year-old and his wife Yiota were on the Limassol to Nicosia highway at around noon when their vehicle was in collision with a car driven by 23- year-old Marios Miltiadous from Nicosia.

    All three of them were taken to Nicosia General Hospital.

    Louras and Miltiadous were kept in overnight for observation, while Louras' wife was given first aid and released.

    Police are investigating the cause of the accident.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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