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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, April 5, 2002


  • [01] New bill aims to scrap grace period for bouncing cheques
  • [02] Delegation to visit Arafat
  • [03] House to debate smoking bill next week
  • [04] Police say Serbian murder suspect left the island
  • [05] Yugoslav handball coach killed by car
  • [06] Abduction arrests
  • [07] Social workers strike for better pay and recongnition
  • [08] We did everything by the book, billboard advertisers insist
  • [09] Boy of eight recovering after school suicide bid
  • [10] House postpones debate on expense allowances
  • [11] Police crack down on suspected electronic gambling ring
  • [12] Leaders urged to find common ground
  • [13] EU subsidy rules cause hitch in golf course plan
  • [14] What was a porpoise doing in the eastern Mediterranean?

  • [01] New bill aims to scrap grace period for bouncing cheques

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE Legal Affairs Committee yesterday discussed a bill aimed at stamping out the practice of issuing bouncing cheques.

    The proposal, submitted by New Horizons deputy Christos Klerides, would make it a criminal offence deliberately to issue a bouncing cheque.

    Klerides yesterday told the Committee that his proposal would abolish the current seven-day notice that an offender is given to clear a bouncing cheque.

    According to the law, if someone clears a bouncing cheque within seven days no criminal charges can be pressed.

    "The way things stand now, the bouncing cheque phenomenon is a serious blow to the economy as a whole," Klerides said.

    The deputy, who is also a prominent lawyer, stressed courts should not give offenders carte blanche when they cite "serious reasons for failing to clear a cheque."

    Several deputies on the Committee, as well as government and bank officials, backed Klerides' proposal.

    Central Co-operative Bank representative Nakis Michaelides said that a monitoring data centre would be established at the Central Bank to enable it take action against offenders.

    "This way, banks will know which accountholder should have a cheque book and which should not," Michaelides explained.

    Maria Kitromilidou of the Banks' Association complained that court cases involving bouncing cheques took forever.

    DISY deputy Christodoulos Taramoundas asked that the proposal include flexible provisions regarding offenders who had suffered losses from the stock market crisis.

    Bank cheques worth a total of 239 million bounced in the past year alone, according to Cyprus Mail sources, while 350,000 bouncing checks are issued every year according to official records.

    The House Finance Committee began looking into ways of dealing with the situation back in 1997.

    A law adopted a few years ago, gives the Central Bank the responsibility to address the problem.

    The manager of the Central Bank's Information Technology (IT) Department, Fotini Frank, has told the Cyprus Mail that a monitoring data centre will be in effect by January next year.

    The Bank of Cyprus charges accountholders 11 if they issue a bouncing cheque.

    No police records are kept about such cases.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Delegation to visit Arafat

    A PARLIAMENTARY delegation will next week visit Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat at his headquarters in Ramallah, the House Plenum decided yesterday.

    The Plenum yesterday unanimously approved a resolution condemning "the genocide carried out by the Sharon government against the Palestinian people."

    The resolution also calls on the Israeli government to withdraw its troops immediately from the Palestinian territory and terminate "the provocative siege" of Arafat.

    After the unanimous approval of the resolution, the Parliament adopted a proposal by KISOS honorary President Vassos Lyssarides to send a delegation to Ramallah to visit Arafat who remains trapped at his headquarters by Israeli forces.

    In his introductory address, House President Demetris Christofias said that the Parliament could not remain indifferent to what is taking place against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leader.

    The resolution condemns the Israeli actions against shrines, expresses support for the Palestinians and describes Arafat as "the indisputable leader of his people who is in danger of physical and political extermination."

    The decision calls for the implementation of Security Council resolutions on the Middle East and supports the founding of a Palestinian state as "the only solution that can bring peace, security and stability in the wider region."

    The House also supports the immediate resumption of the peace process with the clear support of the International Community.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] House to debate smoking bill next week

    THE House Plenum will next Thursday consider a radical anti-smoking bill banning tobacco advertising and smoking in a car with a minor or a pregnant woman.

    The bill would also make smoking illegal in public places such as restaurants, airports, ports and hospitals.

    It provides for a 30 fine for those who are caught smoking either in public places or in a car with someone under 16 or a pregnant woman.

    Those who advertise tobacco products would be fined between 1,000 and 30, 000 or face a prison sentence.

    The House Health Committee, which has launched an anti-smoking crusade to protect public health and bring Cyprus into line with European practices, has discussed the bill thoroughly in the past few months.

    It is not yet clear whether the Plenum will vote on the proposal in next week's session.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Police say Serbian murder suspect left the island

    POLICE said yesterday that 35-year-old Serbian murder suspect wanted since last November had left the island.

    Dragan Prulovic, alias 'Killer', is wanted for questioning for the murder of 25-year-old Nicolas Panayiotou on November 20 last year.

    Prulovic, whose real name is thought to be Milorad Zankovic, allegedly shot Nicolaou in the chest with a pistol, after the two exchanged angry words in a nightclub in Limassol. He has since vanished.

    However, police now think the Serb left Cyprus with a rented Lebanese boat 10 days ago, and cast off from Paphos to an unknown destination. The Yugoslav branch of Interpol have given the suspect's real identity to the local authorities and have informed the police that he is an extremely dangerous man involved in other criminal activities in Yugoslavia, and is known to his friends as 'Big Niki'.

    The suspect is thought to be travelling with two separate passports with different names. A warrant has also been issued for his girlfriend Anna Kostic who seems to have fled the island with him.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Yugoslav handball coach killed by car

    A 57-YEAR-old Yugoslav man was killed by a car as he was cycling in Nicosia on Wednesday night, police said yesterday.

    Alexandar Pavlovic, coach of the Strovolos Co-op handball team, was riding his bicycle at 10.40pm on Strovolos Avenue near the Kantaras- Alexandroupoleos crossroads, when he was knocked over by an oncoming car.

    Pavlovic was taken to Nicosia General Hospital and declared dead on arrival by the duty doctor.

    Police said the driver of the car had lost control of his vehicle, and after hitting Pavlovic, slammed into another parked car and water fountain. He was taken to hospital for minor injuries and kept in for observation.

    The driver was breathalysed, but tested clear, police said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Abduction arrests

    A MAN and two women from Nicosia were yesterday arrested in connection with the abduction of a woman on Wednesday night.

    Police said the 31-year-old man was at a Larnaca pub on Wednesday at around 8.30 pm when he tried to talk a 26-year-old barwoman into following him to his car.

    According to witnesses, when the woman refused the suspect grabbed her by the hair, drugged her outside the pub and forced her into his car before driving away together with two other women.

    According to the police, the woman shouted for help and was later found at the man's apartment in Nicosia with minor head injuries. She was treated at hospital and then released.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Social workers strike for better pay and recongnition

    By Alexia Saoulli

    OVER 500 social welfare department employees were on strike yesterday, calling for pay increases as well as extra staffing within the service, the Secretary of the Social Welfare Department of the Trade Union PASYDY, Panicos Pengas, said yesterday.

    "Around 220 social workers called a 48-hour strike on Wednesday and another 300 social welfare institution employees, such as old age home carers and child care centre employees, went on a 24-hour strike on Thursday," he said.

    The employees met at the PASYDY amphitheatre and proceeded to march towards the Ministries of Labour and Finance, as well as the House, demanding to be heard.

    Pengas said the social welfare department wanted equal status and pay to those of teachers and to be recognised as a scientific institution.

    "We want all social workers to hold University degrees," he said, "and to start with entry level scale salaries equal to teachers." Pengas added that until now, anyone with less than a four-year degree as offered at some technical education institutions in Greece, was not considered to be a degree holder and so started on 500 a month, instead of 650.

    "This is not fair, since all the employees work very hard and should be recognised for the time and effort they put into the department."

    But, he stressed, this was not a money issue. It was about the standard of the social service department and that it should be appreciated as the scientific body that it is, with academic professionals.

    Pengas said that, although some people held University degrees, they still received in-service training when joining the social welfare department so that they could learn how handle cases and carry out interviews with families.

    Another grievance the civil service union put to the House was the fact that it had carried out a study and planned to employ a further 70 social workers.

    "We asked for this study to be carried out," said Pengas, "and instead of discussing it with us and its outcome, we were merely informed that more employees would be hired. We should have been consulted, since it concerns us."

    Other complaints include the lack of insurance for social workers dealing with violent clients and a pending entry level social worker scheme, he said.

    Pengas added the social workers would be discussing the likelihood of extending their strike measures indefinitely, or suspending this strike temporarily, then intensifying their measures in the near future, if they were not taken seriously.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] We did everything by the book, billboard advertisers insist

    By Soteris Charalambous

    INTERNATIONAL billboard advertisers AdBoard yesterday hit back at reports suggesting they had acted illegally in erecting two giant billboards on a field rented as farmland close to Archangelos Avenue near the Makarios stadium in Nicosia.

    AdBoard stated they had been granted the necessary licence and obtained the landowners permission.

    Suggestions that erection of the billboards had been an overnight operation were also strongly refuted. Manager Michael Kyriakides'told the Cyprus Mail: "The concrete bases for the billboards have been in the ground for five months now. The boards only went up yesterday because we only obtained the licence from the governing municipality yesterday."

    While legislation regulating billboards proposed by Minister of Communications Averoff Neophytou awaits a hearing in the House, advertisers like AdBoards have been accused of taking advantage of the current uncertainty that surrounds billboard advertising. The billboards in question earn an estimated 220 per month per billboard.

    The news that the land is being rented by a farmer was a surprise to AdBoard, who obtained permission to use the land from Chryseleousa church in good faith.

    The farmer's reported angry reaction on seeing the billboards was more to do with damage sustained to the wheat crops by the erection equipment that left visible tracks through the field.

    AdBoards said they regretted the damage caused to crops, but acted in the belief they had obtained the necessary permissions. Concerned about the harm to the farmer's livelihood, Kyriakides did not rule out possible compensation for the farmer, regardless of the fact that they acted within the law.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Boy of eight recovering after school suicide bid

    By Alexia Saoulli

    AN EIGHT-year-old boy tried to hang himself from a schoolyard tree on Wednesday, police said yesterday.

    The child was found hanging from a pine tree, with a noose tied around his neck, at his Limassol village primary school.

    He was transported to Limassol General Hospital, where he has been kept in for observation.

    "His condition is stable and he is improving. There are a few marks on his neck, but these will heal over time," Head of Limassol Hospital, Dr. Andreas Petevis, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "His family is with him and he has already been assessed by our staff psychiatrist," he said, not commenting on what the finding had been, but only that the boy would be receiving psychiatric support from the hospital.

    Petevis said the boy's family had been under the care of the Social Services for some time, but that he didn't know if any problems there might have led the boy to try and take his own life.

    "I am not even sure whether or not a child of that age even fully understands the consequences of his actions," he said.

    Petevis added that he had been "emotionally affected" by the event.

    Another staff doctor said yesterday that she too had been very shocked by the news.

    "In my experience, in Cyprus, I've never come across a boy trying to do this to himself," she said. "Aren't you shocked? I think everyone that has heard about it is."

    Police are investigating what drove the eight-year-old to it.

    No social workers were by the boy's side yesterday, due to a 48-hour strike the welfare department called on Wednesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] House postpones debate on expense allowances

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE yesterday postponed discussion of a state proposal to raise senior state officials' expense budgets as most deputies opposed the bill.

    House Chairman and AKEL leader Demetris Christofias charged that the proposal was the result of a deal between the government and party leaders.

    The bill calls for the President's expenses budget to go up to 12,000 from 5,000 a year and the House President's to stand at 10,000.

    The proposal also aims to increase ministers' and judges' expenses, as well as the pension of former deputies who served in the early years of the Republic and only get 250 a month.

    The President of the Republic's salary is 52,000 a year while the judges of the Supreme Court earn 55,000.

    The House President makes 47,000 a year while a deputy's salary stands at 29,600.

    Ministers get 42,800 each.

    Christofias yesterday announced that the discussion of the bill that was expected to be held yesterday would be postponed because many deputies opposed the proposal.

    "The bill has resulted from an agreement between the government and party leaders," Christofias said.

    "The situation sort of leaves the Parliament exposed," he added.

    DISY deputy Demetris Syllouris argued the House should debate the bill regardless of any previous deal.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Police crack down on suspected electronic gambling ring

    By Alex Mita

    POLICE yesterday intensified their clampdown on a suspected illegal electronic gambling network, following the arrest on Tuesday night of Costas Eftichiou, 38, on charges of handling, modifying and controlling gambling machines, and for possession of a cross bow without a licence.

    Police said yesterday more arrests had been made in Larnaca in connection with the case, and investigations were continuing.

    On Tuesday, CID officers acting on a tip-off placed the A&C Eftichiou Betting Palace in Nicosia under strict surveillance and visited the betting shop on several occasions, posing as customers. On the night of Eftichiou's arrest, one of the officers paid 20 to use the casino machines that were kept on the first floor of the premises behind a code protected locked door.

    Half an hour later, the officers arrested Eftichiou and a young secretary, and confiscated 20 PCs as well as other gambling machines.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, the officer in charge of the bust, Ioannis Mavrohannas said Eftichiou had allegedly been downloading casino games from the Internet and using a special system that would install points.

    The customers would then pay a certain amount of money, which would be then turned into points on the machine they were using, he said.

    "The internet casino games are legal, when used in the privacy of one's home," Mavrohannas said. "But when it is downloaded and cracked from the Internet in order to profit from it, it is illegal.

    The police officer said the machines that were used for gambling, apart from the computers, were also illegal because Eftichiou had not applied for a licence.

    Police also found four ISDN lines that connected the betting shops with others in Nicosia and in the Larnaca district.

    Mavrohannas said that following further investigations, more arrests were made in the Larnaca district, but did not wish to comment further on the issue for operational reasons.

    The latest suspects were charged and released after admitting to their offences, he said.

    As to the crossbow found in the betting shop, Eftichiou allegedly claimed it had belonged to his late brother. Eftichiou has been remanded in custody for four days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [12] Leaders urged to find common ground

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE U.N. Security Council yesterday urged President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to focus on narrowing their differences regarding the Cyprus problem in order to reach an agreement based on relevant UN resolutions.

    UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto yesterday briefed the members of the Council in New York on the outcome of the second round of talks between Clerides and Denktash.

    According to diplomatic sources, de Soto told the Security Council that Clerides was making efforts towards finding common ground with Denktash while the Turkish Cypriot leader was uncooperative.

    In a statement after the meeting, Council President Sergey Lavrov said the members of the body had called upon the two leaders to cooperate fully with the Secretary General and his Special Adviser and to look to them for assistance in order to move forward on the substance.

    "They should focus without delay on narrowing the differences between them on all issues that must be resolved as part of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, taking into full consideration all relevant Council resolutions and treaties.

    "In that context, the Council urged the leaders to intensify their negotiations in the period ahead and to bring to them the urgency, political determination, flexibility and spirit of give and take needed for their differences to be resolved," he added.

    Lavrov said that the Council continued to give its full support to the negotiating process undertaken by Clerides and Denktash and to the spirit of cooperation shown by their involvement in the process.

    He noted however that the Council had expressed concern that progress was slow and that a great deal of ground remained to be covered for the June target date for agreement which the body strongly endorsed to be met.

    Lavrov said the members of the Council had taken note that yesterday's briefing was part of the Secretary General's review at approximately the halfway point between the opening of the face-to-face negotiations in January and the target date for a settlement.

    Denktash yesterday repeated Turkish threats to annex northern Cyprus.

    He also said that he aimed at "a sovereign Cyprus with one head and two legs firmly planted on the ground but separate and independent."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [13] EU subsidy rules cause hitch in golf course plan

    PROBLEMS have arisen with four of the eight golf courses planned by the government to upgrade the tourist product, Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting on the issue, Rolandis said that four of the golf courses in the Paphos area were either in operation or about to operate.

    "We have two in operation, one under construction near Petra tou Romiou and a fourth in Paphos in the process of final negotiations," Rolandis said.

    "Another three in Ayia Napa-Protaras, Larnaca and Limassol have a common problem," he added.

    He said the rent that that the government would have to charge would be higher than what was estimated originally due to an EU ban on state aid.

    "The EU does not allow us to charge a low rent, and golf courses are classed as infrastructure and don't make real profit," he said. He said the problem with the fourth golf course near Fassouri, west of Limassol, was that a special permit for an alternation in the use of the land would be needed.

    Rolandis said a special meeting would be held and a report issued to see what could be done so that investors would be able to bear the cost involved.

    "We need to have at least eight golf courses," Rolandis said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [14] What was a porpoise doing in the eastern Mediterranean?

    By Jean Christou

    MARINE experts said yesterday that what had been believed to be a dolphin, washed up on the coast off Toxeftra near Akamas on Wednesday night, was in fact a porpoise.

    An official at the Fisheries Department told the Cyprus Mail that the appearance of a porpoise in the Mediterranean was a very rare occurrence.

    "They are not common in Cyprus and it may have entered the Mediterranean through Gibraltar," he said.

    However, his Ministry will not have a chance to examine the porpoise because the Municipality of Peyia had already buried it, the official said.

    "I don't know why they did this," the official said, adding that the only evidence remaining were some photographs taken by a vet in the area that works with the Ministry of Agriculture.

    Reports on Wednesday said what was then believed to be a dolphin washed up on Toxeftra beach and that tourists and locals had tried to put it back into the water without success. The official said that it was unusual for either dolphins or porpoises to swim so close to shore.

    "They don't come near the coast so something must have happened to it," the official said. "Either it was hit by a boat or something else."

    Porpoises are very rare in the western Mediterranean, where it is an occasional visitor from the North Atlantic. Research shows that no reports exist from the eastern Mediterranean, although two strandings apparently occurred in the Black Sea in 1880 and 1926.

    Over 20 different species of whales and dolphins have been recorded at one time or another in the Mediterranean Sea. About half of these are sporadic sightings of individuals, which have strayed through the Straits of Gibraltar from the Atlantic or even from the Red Sea.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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