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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, March 28, 2002


  • [01] New York group slams Denktash harassment of journalists
  • [02] Bases to retain Wessex helicopters for another year
  • [03] Tenders for radar system were regular, deputy insists
  • [04] Sigma tops Broadcasting Authority's list of shame
  • [05] Court rules toxic ship must stay off Cyprus
  • [06] Farmers set to converge on key Larnaca interchange in protest
  • [07] Confusion reigns over special prison facility plan
  • [08] Paphos hotels protest over roadworks
  • [09] Police 'called in over sexual harassment claim at CyBC'
  • [10] Car registration deadline extended

  • [01] New York group slams Denktash harassment of journalists

    AN INTERNATIONAL organisation for the protection of journalists has slammed the Denktash regime for its harassment of the media in the occupied areas.

    In its annual report, 'Attacks on the Press 2001', the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) said opposition media outlets in the occupied areas "faced harassment, intimidation, and violence in retaliation for criticising Rauf Denktash, leader of the breakaway northern Cypriot regime".

    The CPJ's report in particular listed systematic harassment of the Avrupa newspaper - "known for its aggressive reporting" of the regime and Turkish military - saying the paper last year "received regular threats and was also the victim of several violent attacks".

    These attacks ranged from straightforward violence - a bomb attack wrecked its printing offices on May 24 - to harassment, confiscation of assets and legal actions aimed at closing the paper down.

    Avrupa ('Europe') has since renamed itself Afrika "to illustrate its contention that 'the law of the jungle' rules in northern Cyprus".

    The paper's editor Sener Levent is now preparing to sue the Turkish government before the European Court of Human Rights for arresting and detaining him on spurious espionage charges in July 2000.

    The association also notes "harassment and intimidation" against a web- journalist working for a "progressive online magazine", saying she was threatened by Turkish Cypriot militants last August.

    It adds that the Turkish Cypriot authorities also barred a group of cartoonists from was crossing to the free areas to attend a joint exhibition with their Greek Cypriot colleagues.

    The CPJ report does not note any cases of media harassment in the government-controlled areas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Bases to retain Wessex helicopters for another year

    THE BRITISH Bases in Cyprus are to retain their four Wessex helicopters until next March, even though the chopper is being retired in the UK after 40 years of service.

    Ten Wessex aircraft were yesterday expected to make their final flight to RAF Shawbury in Shropshire and then put into storage for use as parts for the remaining helicopters in Cyprus. Next year the helicopters will be put up for sale or leased to museums.

    A press release from the British bases yesterday said they would be keeping their Wessex helicopters until the end of March next year. The helicopters are regularly used in fire fighting and search and rescue missions around the island.

    Barrie Neilson, leader of the 84 squadron, which operates the helicopters, said: "We are 2,500 miles away from the UK and we do get a bit forgotten out here."

    Commenting on the Wessex he added: "It is a very nice, rugged, reliable helicopter although it is getting a bit old now. We like it very much and will be sad to lose it."

    Bases spokesman Tony Brumwell told the Cyprus Mail that they didn't yet know what the Wessex would be replaced with.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Tenders for radar system were regular, deputy insists

    By George Psyllides

    THE CHAIRMAN of the House Watchdog Committee said yesterday there had been no irregularities in the tender procedure for the procurement of coastal surveillance radars from Israel.

    The committee had decided to look into the issue after reports that the radars offered by the Israelis did not meet the specifications set by the Republic.

    But last week, the committee was told there were no radars on the market with the specifications demanded by Cyprus.

    This was the main reason that both companies which made the shortlist in the tender procedure provided systems that did not fulfil the conditions, the committee was told.

    In the end, the tender board decided to order the systems from the Israeli company, which cost 8 million less and came with guarantees that it would be able to provide the system with the specifications demanded by the Republic.

    The committee discussed the issue anew yesterday. Expressing his personal opinion, its chairman Christos Pourgourides cleared the procedure, effectively pointing out the direction the committee would follow on the matter.

    The committee will now prepare its report and submit it to the Plenum, which has the final say.

    Pourgourides said the report could not in any way affect the procurement of the radars, adding that it was up to the House Defence Committee to set its own conditions and decide whether it was right to acquire the systems from Israel, considering the country's relations with Turkey.

    Pourgourides, however, stressed that it was the government that formulated foreign policy and it was not up to the House to intervene.

    The committee heard that should the island went ahead to procure the radars from Israel it would be fully assured that if the systems did not comply with the specifications then the company would be obliged to compensate the government.

    But while the House was trying to clear things, police have launched a criminal investigation in connection with leaks of top secret defence issues to the press and allegations that an arms dealer had tried to influence people involved in tender procedures concerning arms procurement.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday confirmed the investigation, revealing that deputies on the House Defence Committee would probably be asked to testify.

    Reports said the leaks concerned government plans for acquiring unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Sigma tops Broadcasting Authority's list of shame

    By George Psyllides

    THE BROADCASTING Authority last year examined 236 cases involving 1,599 violations of broadcasting laws and regulations, it announced yesterday.

    The Chairman of the authority, Alecos Evangelou, told a news conference yesterday that fines imposed by the body in 41 of the cases amounted to 192,750. In 45 other instances, the violators received warnings.

    Evangelou said the response from radio and television stations had not yet reached a satisfactory level, although it had improved considerably from the past.

    "Reactions were different from one station to another," Evangelou said.

    He added: "Even in cases concerning the same station, their stance could differ depending on the issue under investigation."

    Evangelou said that, in many cases, stations showed the right approach towards complying with the laws and regulations.

    "Some, however, unfortunately chose to either overlook or ignore the sanctions and obligations stemming from the legislation," Evangelou said.

    The Director of the Broadcasting Authority, Neophytos Epaminondas, told the Cyprus Mail that around 50 to 60 per cent of the fines had been settled, adding that those who chose to ignore the sanctions could soon be facing court.

    The fines imposed by the authority ranged from 200 to a hefty 32,000, Epaminondas said.

    First place in violations was held by Sigma television, with 38 out of the 80 cases that the authority had investigated against the station.

    Eighteen cases are still pending.

    In second place came Antenna, with 21 violations out of 72, with 21 cases pending.

    Last came the Church-owned television Logos, or Mega, with 17 infringements out of 42 and nine pending.

    State-owned CyBC was not even on the list, denoting it had not even been investigated once.

    Most of the violations - 1,195 - concerned advertising.

    Epaminondas said most of these took place in the run-up to Christmas when stations showed toy advertisements at inappropriate hours.

    The authority further recorded 78 human rights violations, 81 cases of inappropriate language, 55 cases of violent content, and 136 cases of shows unsuitable for minors being shown during the family zone or not carrying the proper rating warning.

    Evangelou said that peoples' expectations concerning the quality of aired programmes had risen with the creation of the authority, with the public constantly expecting the authority to intervene.

    "As a result of this approach, there have been cases where the authority is heavily censured, charged with not doing anything, or not daring," Evangelou said.

    He explained that the authority could not act as a preventive force but could take escalating measures, starting from warnings, against those who were found to be breaking the law.

    Evangelou said the authority needed more staff, adding that right now they could only monitor 24 minutes per channel per day - two per cent of all broadcasts by national television stations, one per cent of local television stations, and one per cent of national radio stations.

    All stations - national and local - put together air around 1,000 hours of programmes a day, Evangelou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Court rules toxic ship must stay off Cyprus

    A SHIP docked off the coast of Limassol with a highly toxic cargo must remain in Cyprus until a financial dispute is resolved, the Supreme Court has ruled.

    The Supreme Court ruled that a lower court, which decided it was not responsible to try the case of the Lady Doris, had been wrong. However, it withheld its decision on whether the issue should revert back to the same court.

    The Belize-flagged Lady Doris arrived off Cyprus last November, but was detained by the Ports Authority following a financial dispute between the ship owners and the cargo owners.

    It emerged at a recent House Environment Committee meeting that the Lady Doris was carrying 2,700 tonnes of acetylene, which when mixed with water could cause a massive explosion. The Shipping Department admitted the vessel posed a threat to public safety but that all precautions had been taken to minimise the risk of accident.

    The Ports Authority wants the arrest lifted so that the ship can leave Cyprus waters and head on for her original destination of India.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Farmers set to converge on key Larnaca interchange in protest

    HUNDREDS of farmers plan to express their frustration with the government by blocking the Rizoelia roundabout outside Larnaca today.

    The demonstrators are meeting at the Rizoelia roundabout that connects the motorways to Paralimni, Nicosia and the airport at 9am. By yesterday afternoon 200 tractors had already gathered in Ormidhia in preparation for today's march, which organisers hope will attract up to 800 vehicles.

    DISY deputy and regional secretary of the farmers' association, Giorgos Tassou, said yesterday the government had to deal with farmers' demands, which he deemed fair.

    Tassou said the government would have to negotiate with the farmers and reach a solution to the on-going problem of seasonal foreign workers.

    He said the demonstration was not meant to be a hindrance to the general public, but instead to highlight the severity of the problems the agricultural sector faces.

    The farmers believe they should not be made to pay their foreign workers' social insurance, particularly since the workers' themselves never benefit from it. Instead, Tassou believes the government should subsidise this sum, leaving the farmers with a small amount to pay monthly.

    But Farmers;' Association representative, Takis Mandzoukkos, said yesterday the march was not just about foreign workers' social insurance schemes.

    He said this was a demonstration in protest at years of frustration and financial burden in the farming community.

    Mandzoukkos cited the lack of farming pensions, of farming diesel rights equivalent to those in Europe and the lack of cash flow to renew farming equipment as just some of the problems faced by the local farming industry today.

    Police are warning motorists of a build-up of traffic on the Nicosia to Larnaca motorway as a result of the protest.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Confusion reigns over special prison facility plan

    By George Psyllides

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday insisted the government would make a decision on the location of a special holding centre for convicts suffering from psychological problems by the end of April.

    The House Human Rights Committee on Tuesday rapped the government for its continued indifference towards the needs of prison inmates suffering from mental problems.

    The two ministries involved - Health and Justice - promised on Tuesday to iron out their differences and come up with a solution to the problem by the end of April.

    The main problem seems to be the location of the facility. Savvides says his ministry is ready to staff the centre whenever it is up and running.

    "The government should decide on where to set up the centre by the end of April, so we'll sit down and find the location," Savvides said.

    He added the staff were ready and promised that his ministry would provide additional personnel should the need arise.

    "We are ready to do it immediately," Savvides said.

    But the problem seems to lie at the Justice Ministry, which does not want the centre located within the Nicosia prison compound.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said there were two positions concerning the location.

    One side said it should be set up in the prison while the other suggested that it would be better for the centre to be located on the site of the psychiatric hospital in Athalassa in Nicosia.

    Yesterday, Koshis said that his ministry did not want the facility within the compound.

    "We say it shouldn't be in the prison," Koshis said.

    But speaking before the committee on Tuesday, Koshis had said his ministry would have no objection on the centre being located in the prison compound.

    The Cyprus Mail has also learned that the two ministries had initially agreed to site the facility in the prison compound, but then the Justice Ministry apparently dropped the ball with no further explanation.

    Cyprus has twice been criticised - in 1993 and 1996 - by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture for failing to provide adequate health services to inmates suffering from mental problems within specially built and staffed facilities.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Paphos hotels protest over roadworks

    SEVEN Paphos hotels yesterday staged a one-hour work stoppage to protest against continuing road works in Yeroskipou.

    The work stoppage, which included all staff and administration of the hotels, took place from 11am to 12 noon. The works, which have been going on for months have affected tourism in the area and hoteliers want the job finished before the end of April.

    An agreement had been reached that the bulk of the work would be completed by the end of next month and the remainder by the end of June.

    But hoteliers now say they want all of the work done by the end of April

    Andreas Constantinou, the representative of the Hoteliers Association in Paphos, told journalists that the April 30 deadline was supposed to mark completion of the first phase of around 1,000 metres, while the second phase of 450 metres was to be finished by the end of June.

    "We and our workers do not agree with this and we are warning that if they continue to work in front of the hotels later than April 30, we might as well forget the summer season and this means a loss of jobs for our staff," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Police 'called in over sexual harassment claim at CyBC'

    POLICE are investigating allegations of actual bodily harm and sexual harassment reported at the CyBC, it was revealed yesterday.

    Newspapers reported that a programme presenter had been suspended pending the police investigation that they said was being carried out at the CyBC.

    According to the reports, the accused, who was named in at least two newspapers, allegedly bit the ear of female colleague on Sunday after she tried to fend off his sexual advances.

    The presenter in question has already been suspended by the CyBC, whose board will discuss the issue when the police investigation is completed.

    Phileleftheros said the incident happened on Sunday when the female employee went to wish the man a happy birthday in his office. She claims that "after making sure no one was watching" he tried to kiss her and after she resisted he grabbed her by the nape of the neck and bit her on the ear.

    The woman immediately went to the first aid department at the Nicosia General Hospital and obtained a doctor's report, which allegedly confirmed she had been assaulted. She then reported the matter to police.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Car registration deadline extended

    The road transport authority yesterday decided to extend the car registration deadline until April 8.

    This is the longest extension that has ever been given and was decided on the basis that not everyone had received notification of their overdue car registration fees.

    A road transport authority spokesman said yesterday that 3,540 people had not received notification, because post offices around the island had not been able to locate them.

    Anyone who has not paid their car registration for the year should do so at the road transport authority central office or one of its district offices before April 8.

    After that police will start fining anyone in violation of the deadline, the spokesman said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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