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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, April 19, 2002


  • [01] Protesters disrupt Israeli reception: police arrest five
  • [02] Shots fired at speedboat 'an attack against tourism'
  • [03] Hospital head: there are problems but don't blame the doctors
  • [04] When does a mistake become negligence
  • [05] Passport crackdown in the north 'opens way for UK asylum'
  • [06] RAF's first woman squadron commander in charge of Akrotiri helicopters
  • [07] £400,000 English School deficit result of five-year plan and lower subsidies
  • [08] 'Serial entrepreneur' Stelios: it's time to move on from easyJet
  • [09] Mayor's fury after police bow to truckers' demands

  • [01] Protesters disrupt Israeli reception: police arrest five

    By George Psyllides

    FIVE demonstrators were arrested last night during a vociferous protest outside the Israeli ambassador's home in Nicosia where a reception was held to mark Israel's 54th anniversary.

    The reception initially was going to be held at the Hilton hotel but the venue had been changed because of security fears culminating from the situation in the Middle East and widespread protests against Israel.

    The area surrounding the ambassador's home in Makedonitissa was swarmed with police while the three roads leading there were blocked with barbed wire.

    Officers in plain clothes along with the embassy's security staff patrolled the area, while members of the antiterrorist squad, armed to the teeth, took positions around the house.

    The approximately 300 demonstrators, led by Green Party deputy George Perdikis and AKEL deputy Eleni Mavrou, had assembled at the Forum hotel nearby and marched to the area chanting slogans against the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the US president George W. Bush.

    The protesters arrived on the scene at around 7.30pm and moved quickly to block the three roads, cutting all access towards the Israeli ambassador's residence.

    Police in riot gear moved to the blocks and stood guard facing the demonstrators who were mostly Cypriots, Kurds, and Palestinians.

    The protesters shouted among others: "Bush-Sharon -- peoples' murderers", "no partying with murderers", "Sharon same as Hitler", and "close the killers' embassy".

    The demonstrators achieved their goal of disrupting the reception -- only around 50 guests, including 20 diplomats, from a list of 150 managed to get through.

    Government and House officials chose to stay away from the function although according to reports, the reception was attended by the Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Michalis Passiardis.

    The situation got tense with police trying to make way for guests who were harassed by the demonstrators.

    One man attacked Nicosia Police Director Nicos Theodorides who was reportedly rushed to Nicosia hospital for treatment.

    The man's arrest signalled the beginning of a tense standoff between the authorities and the protestors who were now joined by DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis.

    At around 8.45pm, and under pressure from the Israeli ambassador who wanted to know why his guests were not arriving, a police officer was heard asking for instructions from his superiors on the radio.

    The officer was heard saying that he could not intervene to disperse the demonstrators because of the presence of the deputies. He requested orders from above.

    Several minutes later police clashed with the protestors leading in a second arrest and Perdikis' intervention to wrestle the arrestee from the hands of the police.

    A lot of pushing, shoving and shouting between the deputy and police followed with the deputy demanding to be allowed to approach the embassy.

    Officers held Peridikis back saying that they had orders not to let him through.

    The shouting match continued for a while until three other demonstrators were arrested.

    AKEL deputy Eleni Mavrou disputed one of the arrests and demanded that the police released the man immediately.

    Police refused and a new shouting match ensued with accusations hurled from all sides.

    The arrested men were led to a guard post next to the ambassador's home were officers kept a close watch over them. One of them had suffered a broken nose while blood was seen on the head of a second one.

    All the demonstrators now moved to one of the blocks and demanded the release of those arrested.

    The move gave the chance to guests to enter the embassy albeit very late.

    Later last night an embassy spokesman expressed his dissatisfaction for the trouble.

    The demonstrators dispersed at around 10.30pm, around half an hour before the end of the reception.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Shots fired at speedboat 'an attack against tourism'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    FAMAGUSTA Police yesterday confirmed that five British tourists, staying at the Capo Maris Hotel in Protaras, had two warning shots fired over their heads while cruising in a speedboat.

    The incident occurred late afternoon on Wednesday, when Ian Stanley 45, hired a speedboat and took his partner and their three children on a pleasure cruise. Pamela Strong, 30, was carrying her 18-month old baby Rose when the shots were fired. Fortunately, no one in the party, which also included two girls aged 11 and 6, was injured.

    Police confirmed that the tourists had mistakenly crossed the UN security line and entered into Turkish occupied waters but had already turned the boat around and were heading back when the shots were fired. The frightened party immediately reported the incident to police and UN officials.

    Phili Katsouris, Director of Tourism at the Cyprus Tourist Organisation (CTO) immediately carried out an investigation into the incident. He believed the incursion had occurred because "they were travelling too fast and couldn't stop the boat in time."

    Glafcos Cariolou, Manager of Larnaca Marina, confirmed that the speedboat had been rented from Capo Maris Watersports and said he had been assured by the management that all boats were fitted with a prominent warning on the steering wheel clearly stating that they risked being shot at if they crossed into Turkish controlled waters.

    Katsouris was clearly concerned by the incident, which comes so soon after three incidents of Legionnaires' Disease were reported in Paphos last month. With tourist numbers currently lower than last year's figures and fears expressed about late bookings boosting numbers by the end of the season, this incident is another untimely blow to Cypriot tourism.

    "These shots were not just fired at the tourists but also at Cypriot tourism," added Katsouris.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Hospital head: there are problems but don't blame the doctors

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE HEAD of Limassol Hospital insisted yesterday that no one should question the medical competence of its doctors

    Public health specialist, Dr. Andreas Petevis, who heads the district hospital, was replying to the recent barrage of criticism directed at the hospital and its doctors.

    "There are well-known problems at the hospital," he admitted, "such as the facts that there are not enough beds for all the patients, that there should be more medical facilities and that we do not have all the medical equipment we need.

    "But this is nothing surprising, since it has been presented time and time again on the news."

    As for his staff's medical attention, he said, it could not be faulted and was at the level of what is expected of any doctor.

    However, Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday questioned doctors' attitudes towards patients and their relatives.

    "Doctors are trying to avoid responsibility for their inhumane behaviour, which is the biggest problem we are facing at the moment," he said, pointing out that it didn't take much just to be human to people and their relatives.

    Petevis was quick to answer that there were two sides to every coin.

    "If, when you say attitude and behaviour, you are talking about the odd heated conversation between a doctor and patient/relative, you have to look at the whole picture," he said.

    "I do not condone doctors raising their voices, but it can happen. If a patient or relative is being very difficult and demanding, and you're trying to explain certain rules and regulations to that person but they refuse to understand and be reasonable, then you might raise your voice slightly. It's only human and normal," he said, "particularly if you've worked a really long and hectic shift. I definitely don't accept such behaviour, but I think people should not be so quick to judge doctors and should show some element of understanding."

    Petevis said he believed Limassol hospital was a good one and that it offered the best service and facilities possible within its capabilities.

    "That's not to say we haven't requested that its facilities be upgraded and expanded," he said, "but you will most certainly not die if you are admitted here, as has been portrayed in the press at the moment".

    He said the media had misconstrued things and given the public a false impression of the hospital.

    "You cannot take things out of context," Petevis said, "which is what has been happening. I heard our hospital likened to a cemetery. That is completely false and misleading. You do not die when you come to Limassol hospital. We may not be able to provide immediate neurosurgery if you need it, but we do offer a whole host of other facilities that meet the public's needs. Besides, if we are unable to deal with a particular case, we arrange to have the patient transferred to Nicosia."

    In fact, he said, the hospital was currently lobbying to open its neurosurgery, oncology, radiotherapy and cardiology wards so that in future patients would not have to be transferred to the capital.

    But, DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis believes that the government is deliberately avoiding upgrading the hospital to protect the interests of private clinics and that Limassol's hospital has the worst emergency waiting queues on the island.

    Petevis was not willing to comment on the outspoken deputy's allegations and refused to compare his hospital to other state hospitals for fear of undermining them and their doctors. He said: "I can't say whether or not this is the worst state hospital on the island, but I can say that we offer satisfactory service according to our capabilities."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] When does a mistake become negligence

    By Alexia Saoulli

    MEDICAL negligence claims seem to be all the rage at the moment, three leading health officials said yesterday.

    The Head of Limassol Hospital, Dr. Andreas Petevis, told the Cyprus Mail that it has definitely become fashionable to cry foul in recent weeks.

    "A patient becomes better and everyone says God made him better, but when a patient dies, the doctor killed him," he said.

    Petevis said mistakes were made in medicine, but that was par for the course for all forms of human activity particularly when it involved peoples' professional lives.

    "Individuals that work hard make mistakes," he said. "It's the ones that don't work that never err.

    "We are not infallible. Mistakes do happen and misdiagnoses do exist, but that does not make it medical negligence," he said. "The crime is when someone deliberately makes a mistake," something he could not believe doctors were capable of.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides also agreed that doctors were human and could make mistakes.

    "We are not investigating whether or not doctors are being negligent in the performance of their duties. That is for a coroner to decide. What we can decide, as public servants, is whether they showed due care and attention about an incident," he said.

    Savvides admitted that reports in the press recently had spurred a lot of cries from people who claimed their relatives had suffered the same treatment.

    "But we are dealing with this phenomenon calmly," he said, "and are evaluating every circumstance that comes our way so that we can decide whether or not it warrants an investigation."

    He said hospitals were getting very bad press in recent weeks and could understand if the public was being put off going to hospital.

    "Unfortunately, this is something we cannot avoid. This whole fiasco was created by the media because it placed so much emphasis on every single medical negligence claim," Savvides said.

    The president of the Medical Disciplinary Board President, Dr. Christodoulos Messis, agreed that all the bad press was a gross generalisation of state doctors and was completely unfair.

    He too said it appeared to be "fashionable" to criticise hospital doctors and claim they were not doing their jobs properly.

    "Obviously this is wrong," he said. "If people have evidence of medical negligence then of course they should bring it forward, but without first making gross generalisations and stating all doctors are not doing their jobs properly."

    As for allegations that doctors do not care about their patients, Messis said this happened worldwide.

    "Obviously in every profession there is a minority who might not be doing their job properly, but in Cyprus I'm sure the majority is doing a good job, " he said.

    Limassol hospital chief Petevis agreed with his colleague's sentiments.

    "We are involved in a difficult profession as it's made up of numerous illnesses and conflicting symptoms and something can be missed or misdiagnosed," he said.

    "For instance, every patient, for the same ailment, reacts differently or the illness itself manifests itself differently. As we say in the medical world, there are patients but not illnesses. In other words, every individual is different and his or her response to being sick could be different. You, for instance, might have tonsillitis and stay in bed for 10 days, whereas I could have it and feel fine going about my work, and be better in three days."

    He said this was down to a number of different factors, including a person's psychological make up and how they handled illnesses.

    Misdiagnosis might exist, but that did not make it medical negligence, nor can it be taken as a deliberate mistake, he said.

    But mistakes can have consequences, explained Disciplinary Board President Messis. He said medical negligence cases were a penal offence and assessed by courts of law.

    "It has nothing to do with us. When someone feels they have been maltreated, they approach a lawyer and sue the doctor in question. From that point on, the only authority to determine whether or not medical negligence has been committed is a civil court.

    "There is also a chance that something will go wrong, even though the doctor may have done the best he could under the circumstances," he said, adding that this was what the courts examined.

    "The courts usually decide whether a doctor has done whatever he could for a particular case, using all available practical means. If he did that and then something went wrong, then it's not his responsibility. But if he did less than he should have done, then there is a matter of negligence," he said, stressing that only a court had the final say.

    "We only examine doctors' unethical actions or behaviour towards patients or other colleagues," said Messis.

    However, he said the courts could not have a doctor struck off.

    "This is something we can do if a doctor has been found guilty of serious negligence or if unethical behaviour was involved. The government also has the right to ask the medical council - a body that registers doctors - to suspend a doctor from practicing either temporarily or permanently depending on the case."

    But, despite the fact that charges can be pressed against doctors, they themselves have nowhere to turn to, said Limassol's Petevis.

    "There is no organised body that protects doctors as far as I know, nor do we receive insurance coverage the way doctors in other countries do," he said, adding that it was something local medical organisations should probably be examining with respect to the escalating negligence claims being aimed at their profession.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Passport crackdown in the north 'opens way for UK asylum'

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN has reportedly set a precedent where Turkish Cypriot holders of a Cyprus passport can seek asylum in the UK, newspapers in the north reported yesterday.

    Afrika (formerly Avrupa) and Yeniduzen newspapers said the precedent would help Turkish Cypriots who hold Cyprus passports and now face a hefty fine or two years in jail.

    In a front-page article, Afrika said that "the British Government, which so far granted asylum right to bearers of TRNC passports, will now grant settlement and residence rights to the bearers of the Republic of Cyprus passports."

    Britain clamped down on asylum to Turkish Cypriot 'passport' holders three years ago after a flood of applications from residents of the north, and also introduced visa requirements for Turkish Cypriots, which caused a storm of protest.

    This - together with the approaching prospect of EU membership -prompted increasing numbers of Turkish Cypriots born before 1974 to apply for Cyprus Republic passports, outraging Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Now the breakaway regime is pushing through a 'law', which will sentence Turkish Cypriots who hold Cyprus passports to a fine of two billion Turkish lira and/or two years in jail. Voting on the 'passport law' has been postponed until today, Afrika said.

    "If it is passed in the Assembly, Turkish Cypriots who possess such passports will be at risk, with the immediate consequence that they will be granted political asylum rights by the British Government," the paper said, adding that such a law would lead to even more emigration by the Turkish Cypriots.

    The Afrika article was based on a report by the newspaper's London Correspondent, who said it was based on the experience of one Turkish Cypriot in the UK.

    The unnamed person was reported as saying: "I told the British that I did have a Greek Cypriot passport. They told me that if I went to Cyprus with that passport, I would be in trouble. I was really shocked. They advised me to apply for asylum. But the people who advised me were not from the Home Office. It was someone I knew. However, the clerks accepted our argument and I now have a residence permit".

    British High Commission spokesman Jonathan Allen said yesterday they were unaware of the case. He said it was unlikely that an asylum case could have been settled in such a way without first informing the High Commission in Nicosia. Also he said the new 'law' in the north had not yet been passed. "They might have given him an extension to remain or a work permit and perhaps he misunderstood," Allen said. He added that the High Commission would look into the incident with London.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] RAF's first woman squadron commander in charge of Akrotiri helicopters

    Jean Christou

    THE RAF has appointed its first female squadron commander, Squadron Leader Nicky Smith, herself a helicopter pilot.

    Smith, 33 from Lichfield in Staffordshire will now take charge of the Wessex helicopters at 84 Squadron RAF Akrotiri.

    Although the RAF has retired the Wessex in the UK after 40 years of service, the British Bases on the island are retaining their four helicopters for at least another year.

    Smith, who joined the RAF in 1986, graduated from RAF College in 1990 when women were first accepted as air crew, winning a merit for best female student and having until now some 250 rescue missions to her credit. Her last posting was RAF Shawbury in Shropshire where the final Wessex flights took place last month.

    According to an announcement from the British Bases, Smith, who only recently took command of 84 squadron, is excited at the prospect of being in charge of such a high-profile squad.

    "I'm delighted to be in charge of a squadron," she said. "Most squadrons are commanded by Wing Commanders, which is a rank higher than mine. So it's a fantastic opportunity to be able to do it at my age and rank. It's a particular privilege to be given command of a squadron with such a long and distinguished history as 84 squadron."

    Smith said she had wanted to be a helicopter pilot for as long as she could remember. "I'm one of those lucky people to have actually achieved my childhood dream. Being a woman has not made any difference. I've always been treated the same way as the men. Women have been flying all kinds of aircraft in the RAF - fast jets and large transporters as well as helicopters - for more than a decade now so there's nothing new in that."

    In Cyprus, the Wessex helicopters are regularly used in fire fighting and search and rescue missions around the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] £400,000 English School deficit result of five-year plan and lower subsidies

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE ENGLISH School in Nicosia yesterday dismissed suggestions that a £400, 000 budget deficit was an issue of pressing concern.

    "It's not a sudden development," said Dr Andreas Panayiotou, Chairman of the Board of Management at the school, saying the situation resulted from the school's five-year plan to improve levels of education.

    "Half of the existing deficit resulted from the reduction of the bi-annual Government contributions in 1998 from £140,000 to £50,000," explained Panayiotou.

    Recently appointed Finance Controller Costas Fasiddis confirmed that the deficit related to the operational budget and did not reflect the school's overall financial position. Fassides justified the additional outlay as being part of a five-year plan, initiated in 2000, designed to reduce class sizes and increase the number of teachers and additional staff to accommodate the greater number of teaching periods introduced in the week.

    "The situation has arisen," explained Fasiddis "because the government restricts increases to tuition fees, to six per cent per annum, while teacher salaries have increased in line with inflation."

    Panayiotou confirmed that the plan incorporated investment in information technology and the infrastructure of the school but that they hoped the deficit would have been reduced to zero within four years. He also confirmed that the main objective of the plan was already being realised. "Student results have already improved over the last two years." Panayiotou stated proudly.

    The school is fee-paying establishment teaching the British curriculum. Its board is appointed by the Cabinet.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] 'Serial entrepreneur' Stelios: it's time to move on from easyJet

    By Jean Christou

    EASYJET tycoon Stelios Haji-Ioannou is to step down as chairman of the no- frills airline he set up in 1995, he announced in the UK yesterday.

    The 35-year old Greek-born son of Cypriot parents, Haji-Ioannou said he would resign as easyJet chairman next year but would retain a significant stake in the Luton-based airline "for a very long time".

    Haji-Ioannou, who regularly appears on Britain's 'Rich List', said his strengths lay in being a "serial entrepreneur" rather than the chairman of a public company.

    "Starting a company requires a very different skills set to those needed to chair a major Plc and I consider my strengths are in the former," he said.

    "I am a serial entrepreneur. The history of the city is littered with entrepreneurs who hold on to their creations for too long, failing to recognise the changing needs of the company, its business and its shareholders."

    Haji-Ioannou also said that his decision was partly to do with the fact that

    institutional investors had expressed concern about his role as chairman.

    He will be replaced by Sir Colin Chandler, currently chairman of Rolls Royce subsidiary Vickers Defence Systems, and deputy chairman of the engineering group Smiths.

    Sir Colin will join easyJet as deputy chairman and will take over at next year's annual general meeting.

    Haji-Ioannou said he was delighted that Sir Colin was joining the board. "It's a sign of maturity in a young company to have a chairman who is independent from the controlling shareholders," he said.

    Haji-Ioannou set up easyJet in 1995 after borrowing £5 million from his father. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2000. It was worth £860 million when it floated, and had given Haji-Ioannou a personal fortune of £280 million.

    Since the success of easyJet, Haji-Ioannou has started up a chain of Internet cafés in London and New York, and a car rental company, all under the 'easy' brand.

    He also started the shipping company Stelmar under the Cyprus flag and planned to list the company on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, but pulled out in disgust when the government delayed on establishing criteria for the listing of shipping firms. Stelmar was last year listed on the New York Stock Exchange and was one of the few companies to make a profit last year, despite the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US. Haji-Ioannou was also awarded recognition for his company from renowned shipping publication Lloyds List for his contribution to the industry.

    Haji-Ioannou often travels on his own planes and introduces himself to passengers. He also reportedly makes surprise night-time visits to mechanics at Luton when he is not on the go, 15 hours a day, travelling between Luton, London, Monaco and Athens.

    "When British Airways launched its low-cost competitor GO, Haji-Ioannou booked himself and some employees all dressed in their orange uniforms on to the inaugural flight," the Press Association said.

    Haji-Ioannou said he would be returning to the public eye with more new projects in the future.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Mayor's fury after police bow to truckers' demands

    By Alex Mita

    LIMASSOL Mayor Demitris Kontides is furious with police chief Andreas Angelides for lifting a ban imposed by the Limassol Municipality on lorry drivers using certain roads in Zakaki.

    Kontides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the police chief had acted without consulting the city council.

    Kontides said Angelides' decision to suspend the ban in the mornings would simply cause more problems as furious residents were now planning to block Paros Street on Monday, in retaliation.

    There are three schools on the road, which leads to the Ypsonas industrial area, and locals fear that lorries will put their children in danger.

    On Wednesday, Angelides agreed to truckers' demands to use the roads between 9am and midday, when children would be at school.

    "This turn of events has complicated things. We have done everything within our power to find a solution to the problem created between the two sides," Kontides said.

    "But due to the intervention of certain individuals who have no direct involvement with the problem, and I mean the Chief of police who lifted the ban, I believe this will further complicate things."

    The Mayor said he had no idea the Chief would act the way he did and was furious that he had not been advised as the local authority in the city.

    "He came here, lifted the ban, up to this minute he has not even informed us on what is happening and we are the local authority.

    It is unconstitutional," the Mayor said.

    The Mayor said that if it wasn't for his efforts, the Zakaki community would have never agreed to allow access to one of the key routes, Serifos Street, even though the offer was promptly rejected by the truck drivers, who insisted they wanted all the roads opened.

    Kontides said he would now have to start all over again.

    "We had the drivers protesting and now we have the Zakaki people protesting, because their children are in danger. Any clear sighted man would see these things coming, so we had to insist on a solution that would be beneficial to both sides."

    According to Kontides, the roads are not able to sustain continuous use by heavy goods vehicles because they are narrow and they are not paved.

    The mayor said it was the government's fault that the two sides were fighting today, and blamed the lack of proper roads to and from the port on bad management and bad planning.

    "The crime was committed by the government. The Port was built 30 years ago, but plans to build a four-lane road to accommodate traffic have been shelved. This road should have been built then. There is only one road leading to the harbour," Kontides said.

    "The answer to the problem is peaceful negotiations," he added, "not the arbitrary lifting of an order of the city council by the Chief of Police without our consent."

    But Comminications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou said his department had nothing to do with the problem.

    Neophytou said he was not the Justice Minister and local problems were expected to be solved by local authorities.

    "Let him (the mayor) solve it. Are Mayors there only for the sake of being elected? We promised them that the roads would be ready in 14 months," Neophytou said.

    The minister said Mayor Kontides should act for his municipality.

    "He, as the local authority, should sort the problem out with the truckers and the locals," Neophytou said.

    Residents plan to block Paros Street in protest on Monday. They will open it again on Tuesday as the House will be discussing the issue, but Bambos Charalambous said that they would block it indefinitely on Wednesday should there be dead end in the talks.

    "We are worried about the safety of our children, and we do not appreciate the fact that the Chief of Police just decided to cancel a city council order, without our consent", he told the Cyprus Mail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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