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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-04
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Thursday, April 4, 2002
 We've got to crack down on hooligansBy Melina Demetriou
THE JUSTICE Ministry's general director Lazaros Savvides suggested yesterday that troublemakers arrested at football matches should be imprisoned for the weekend to address the growing problem of hooliganism.
Savvides told the House Education Committee convening yesterday that the police had made 100 arrests in connection with 72 violent incidents during matches in 2000.
A representative of the police Rapid Reaction Force, Iakovos Papacostas, said that for a policeman, "football and bad experiences go hand in hand."
"Whenever there is a match we are always on hold waiting to hear how many fans end up at police stations and how many end up in hospital," he said.
Savvides proposed that hooligans should not be arrested, charged and then released as usually happens.
"Troublemakers are always arrested on Saturdays or Sundays when football games take place so they should be put in jail for the whole weekend," he suggested.
The general director of the Cyprus Sports Organisation, Costas Papacostas, reported to the Committee that hooliganism was also on the rise when it came to basketball games.
"In 1999, there were three such cases, in 2000 there were 11 and in 2001 there were 35," he said.
Papacostas referred to one case in which a game was delayed by 45 minutes as the players had been surrounded by hooligans.
Policemen at the meeting charged that during a game between AEL and Keravnos on Tuesday, troublemakers had stoned police patrol cars and smashed their windscreens.
Cyprus Trainers' Organisation representative Costakis Koutsokoumnis said hooliganism was a general social problem which only came to light during matches, admitting at the same time that it had intensified in the past years.
"The Education Ministry should be responsible for the prevention of those events by fostering a culture of respect and fair play among youngsters," he said.
"When a 14-year-old or a 17-year-old is arrested for violent behaviour, it means he needs to be taught a couple of things," Koutsokoumnis added.
The trainers' representative also supported that the police should impose much stronger penalties than they currently do.
"If someone is caught throwing stones at the referee they should be deprived of his driving licence for two years," he said.
Koutsokoumnis went on charging that municipalities were not doing their best to combat hooliganism as they failed to attend general meetings on the problem.
"They make money from matches but they don't help very much. They don't even care to clean the fields around the stadium after a game," he said.
The chairman of the sports commentators' union, Panayiotis Felloukas, advised deputies and politicians in general to avoid interfering in cases of hooliganism.
"Sometimes high ranking officials use their power to help release someone who has been arrested because 'the poor kid does not deserve to be in detention just because he got carried away once and threw a few stones at someone'."
Felloukas also critisised trainers and other sports figures for "stirring trouble with their public statements before and after games."
AKEL deputy Nicos Katsourides suggested that referees were partly responsible for the rise in hooliganism.
"They often have an offensive way of sending players off or towards fans because they think that in this way they will show who is in charge," said Katsourides.
The Committee continues its discussion next Tuesday.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Greece forces reality shows past midnight, Cyprus still thinkingBy Alexia Saoulli
THE CYPRUS Broadcasting Authority has not yet decided whether or not to delay screening times for the controversial reality shows Big Brother and To Bar, an authority spokeswoman said yesterday.
The question arose after the Greek Broadcasting Authority voted, by seven to two, to have the shows postponed to half past midnight. Their decision has been sent to the Greek Press Minister for approval by the end of this week.
The Greek Board also decided that video cameras should not be placed in the toilets or showers in either shows, and that trailers should be suitable for minors, the Cyprus News Agency reported yesterday.
But according to the Cyprus Broadcasting Authority, Cyprus is not legally bound to follow Greece's lead.
"Just because they have chosen to screen the shows half an hour after midnight, it does not mean we have to comply as well. Our legislations differ."
However, the spokeswoman did admit that the Cyprus Broadcasting Authority had also received numerous complaints on the general content of the shows, broadcast on the Antenna and Mega private channels. This was why the Authority had decided to examine the possibility of later screening times as well.
"No formal decision has been made just yet. We are still in the process of assessing all the complaints before we reach a conclusion. When one has been made, we will obviously inform the public. For the time being, however, the viewing times for both shows will remain as they are".
A Mega channel spokesman, Costas Valanides, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that in light of recent complaints, the channel had decided to delay To Bar until 11pm every night.
"I really don't think anyone can complain about us showing it at that time. In fact, in my opinion, some of things that children watch on the news, which is set at an earlier time, are even worse than anything they will ever see on this show," he said.
"You might see the odd kiss, but other than that there is nothing indecent or sexual about it. We don't even have cameras in the toilets or showers, unlike other shows," Valanides said. And even in those cases, he pointed out, the scenes were only showed on satellite channels and not on terrestrial channels.
"I really don't think our Authority Board will change our viewing times. I think the fact that Greece is planning to delay screening until after midnight is just plain irrational," he said. "It's far too late, and could affect ratings. As far as we're concerned here, I'm confident that we will not be forced to follow suit, particularly since we've changed our viewing times."
Besides, he said, the channel had not received that many complaints about the show's content.
"People usually phone to complain if, for extenuating circumstances, such as a late football match, we have to air the show earlier than planned and they end up missing their evening soaps," said Valanides.
The move in Greece will not affect Cyprus' footage of the show either, he said, since they could obtain it earlier by satellite. The same went for Big Brother, he said.
An Antenna spokeswoman was not willing to comment on the possibility of screening time changes.
"So far the Cyprus Authority Board has not changed the times. That is all I can say for now," she said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Government seeks rise in petrol pricesTHE GOVERNMENT is to begin discussions with parliament this week to increase the price of petrol by up to four cents per litre, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.
Speaking after yesterday's cabinet meeting Rolandis said that the price of crude oil had risen to $27 per barrel in the past few weeks.
"Two months ago it was $19.5 per barrel," he said. "The difference has placed a huge burden on public finances and we have to begin consultations to raise the price by around four cents per litre."
Rolandis said the government was aware that the price hike was quite large but said that in other countries, because the system was automated, prices fluctuated more often, which meant motorists were not caught out by large increases in the same way as in Cyprus. "We have an older system," he said adding that the last adjustment in petrol prices had been a reduction at the beginning of February.
The minister said his ministry was working on a study with a view to liberalise the price of petrol and enable petrol stations owners to determine the price of the oil products they are selling.
A litre of unleaded petrol currently retails at 41 cents a litre.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Mideast violence sparks tourism fearsTOURISM Minister Nicos Rolandis warned yesterday the island's tourism could be affected by the current violence in the Middle East.
Speaking after yesterday's meeting of the Council of Ministers, Rolandis said the situation in the Middle East was a double-edged sword for the island's tourism.
"On the one hand, we have tourists from Western Europe who will not come because of the island's perceived proximity to the Middle East," he said. "On the other hand, there will be tourists who will come to Cyprus instead travelling to the Arab countries."
Because of this Rolandis said the government was not in a position to calculate which way the situation would go.
Rolandis, who had just returned from the London, Berlin and Moscow tourism fairs, said that on a points' table, Cyprus was scoring 100 while other countries in the region were scoring only 60-70 points. "Turkey is really low," he said.
Cyprus expects a 15 per cent increase in tourism from Russia this year and reports suggest the island will also be popular with the Irish, Hungarians and Poles. Rolandis said at the weekend that positive feedback was also being received from the UK, the island's biggest market, accounting for over half of all tourist arrivals.
Rolandis said tourists coming to Cyprus wanted more on offer such as theme parks and golf courses. Referring to the government's plans to open a gigantic Aphrodite theme park off the Paphos coastline, he said the Cabinet had discussed the issue yesterday but had not reached a final decision. He said the theme park would be financed by private enterprise and not public funds.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 DISY spells out 'fairer' tax reform planBy Melina Demetriou
DISY yesterday made a renewed tax reform proposal calling for a fairer distribution of wealth as well as for measures to bring Cyprus' tax system into line with EU demands.
In a news conference at the House yesterday, DISY spokesman Prodromos Prodromou handed the proposal to journalists and briefed them on its provisions.
He said his party's proposal had been updated since it was initially made last month to stress the need for a fairer distribution of wealth to support low-income groups.
The proposal calls for a new tax-free allowance of £10,404 a year, up from the current £6,000 limit, to compensate for the rise in VAT from 10 to 15 per cent.
DISY suggests that those earning over £10,404 and up to £20,808 should be taxed at 20 per cent on their income.
Those earning a bigger salary should be taxed at 30 per cent, DISY proposes.
They also call for maternity leave to be limited to 16 weeks from the current 18 and provides for an additional four weeks of half paid leave covered by the state plus six unpaid weeks.
According to another provision of the proposal, those entitled to state benefit should get £200 instead of the £150 that they do now.
But the proposal also aims to support young people, offering secondary and high school students that subscribe to the Internet £100.
Foreign postgraduate students at the Cyprus University should have the right to apply for a scholarship, the ruling party adds.
DISY deems that car taxes are too high and suggests they should be cut by around 15 per cent gradually.
The government, which has tabled a £9,000 tax-free limit, up from the current £6,000, is being pressured by the EU harmonisation process to hike VAT and reform the island's taxation system as soon as possible.
The Finance ministry is expected to study DISY's proposal as well as the one tabled by the three opposition parties and position itself on them soon.
EU chief negotiator George Vassiliou last week said that proposals aimed at a fairer distribution of wealth were not in contradiction with EU demands.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Man jailed for stock market crimeA 40-YEAR-old man was jailed for 10 months for stock market related crimes yesterday.
Panicos Laperta from Vassiliko, owner of 'Lapertas Fishering', was found guilty on two counts, for failing to act ethically and appropriately when listing his company on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
This is the first time a Larnaca court has sentenced someone over the CSE.
The charges against Laperta were brought against him by two family members, police said.
Despo Laperta and Giorgos Iordanous said they had bought shares in the accused's company when he promised them it would be listed on the CSE, but it never was.
Despo Laperta gave the accused £35,000 and Iordanous gave him £4,000, for 87,500 and 10,000 shares respectively.
When the accused did not list his company on the CSE, the plaintiffs demanded their money back and reported him to the police.
The court also fined the company £7,000 and £4,000 for each charge. The court told Laperta to return both parties' money, at a six per cent interest starting from the day they paid him.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002