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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-31

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, May 31, 2002


  • [01] Guns fiasco turns political
  • [02] Smokers face new fines
  • [03] Government slaps 20 cents on a packet of 20
  • [04] Tampering suspects facing huge electricity bills
  • [05] Land survey official held over suspected expropriation scam
  • [06] 'We won't fall for Turkish provocations'
  • [07] Fury over school video equating scouts with freemasons
  • [08] Milk isn't just for children
  • [09] Motorists braced for chaos ahead of road works

  • [01] Guns fiasco turns political

    By George Psyllides

    THE GUN possession fiasco took a political turn yesterday after the names of several politicians with firearms permits were leaked to the media.

    Meanwhile, the man at the centre of the controversy, Chief of Police Andreas Angelides, returned from abroad and assured that he was "strong enough to reply to all the questions".

    The leak infuriated DISY Chief Nicos Anastassiades - also named as a special constable carrying a firearm - who said that it was a flagrant action by "some, unfortunately silly and populist state instruments to pillory specific DISY members."

    Pressed to give names, Anastassiades said he did not want to comment further.

    In a letter to President Glafcos Clerides, Anastassiades urged him to publish the list of all those who carry arms, pledging to return his weapon and its permit.

    The controversy emerged a week ago after customs and European Anti-Fraud (OLAF) officers discovered a gun in the office of businessman, Christophoros Tornaritis, whose tobacco company is being investigated in connection with cigarette smuggling allegations.

    Anastassiades said he was saddened by the matter adding: "There is an unprecedented ridicule of politicians and respectful citizens who were given a gun permit legally or through normal procedures."

    "For once more, state instruments, with their behaviour hurt the government and the dignity of personalities they should have respected," Anastassiades said.

    House President Demetris Christophias yesterday revealed he had a gun, adding however that it was issued by the current government after it had been decided to cut down politicians' personal guards.

    Christophias said the biggest problem was the giving of guns to cabaret owners and other suspicious individuals.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides repeated yesterday that the only way to restore order was to immediately revoke all special constable appointments, which would automatically mean loss of the gun permit and force all those wishing to have one to go through the cabinet or the justice ministry.

    Under the current practice, the respective chief of police can, without informing the justice minister, appoint anyone a special constable allowing them to secure a firearms permit.

    All eyes are now the meeting between Clerides and Angelides where the president is expected to demand an explanation as to why the chief had granted special constable status together with a gun permit to Tornaritis.

    But according to media reports last night, Clerides was not intending to ask for the chief's resignation.

    In Tornaritis' case Angelides would have some explaining to do especially since his son Savvas is on the businessman's payroll.

    It is also expected that Angelides would explain why his other son, Michalis, was also appointed a special constable with a permit to carry a gun, considering that he too was a close associate of Tornaritis.

    Included on the list of special constables with gun permits are: AKEL Spokesman Nicos Katsourides, DISY deputies Christos Pourgourides, Sotiris Sampson, and Rikkos Eortocritou, former DISY chairman Yiannakis Matsis, former DISY deputy Ttimis Efthimiou, the Archbishop's nephew Aris Hadjipanayiotou, media mogul Costis Hadjicostis, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos, AKEL deputy and former deputy chief of police Costas Papacostas, DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis, former interior minister Dinos Michaelides and former interior minister and current Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou.

    The list also includes two employees of the Astra radio station, which is affiliated with AKEL, though the station's director and AKEL deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou, who is thought to be one of them, did not confirm or deny the reports.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides said he was offered a gun but refused, while KISOS Chairman Yiannakis Omirou said he did not need one.

    Former president and Chief Negotiator to the EU George Vasilliou warned that laws should be strictly observed with no exceptions.

    Vasilliou said he did not have a permit and had never asked for one, adding that he never thought a politician in Cyprus would need a gun.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Smokers face new fines

    STARTING today drivers caught by police smoking with a minor on board should expect to pay a 30 fine, according to a law passed by the House yesterday.

    According to the new legislation, which coincides with World No-Smoking day, smoking is prohibited in private vehicles when there are children under 16 on board.

    Violators face a spot fine of 30 or prison under certain conditions.

    The House also expanded the term "smoking-free area" to include more public areas where people work or frequent.

    The law further obliges employers to take protective measures for non- smoking staff while the House Health Committee succeeded in adding a special provision stipulating jail term together with the fine when the law is violated.

    A provision concerning banning smoking in private vehicles with pregnant women on board was removed after long discussions.

    House Health Committee Chairman Antonis Karas urged the government to submit the necessary legislation as soon as possible, which bans pregnant women from smoking as well as imposing spot fines for smoking in public vehicles and areas.

    The plenum also decided by majority vote, after a long discussion, to ban the advertising of tobacco products on billboards and the printed press.

    The provision however would take effect on June 1, 2003, giving ample time for current contracts to expire and the press to make their own arrangements based on the new developments.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Government slaps 20 cents on a packet of 20

    By George Psyllides

    IN A lightning move, the government yesterday slapped unsuspecting smokers with a 20-cent increase on a packet of cigarettes, introducing the first in a series of tax increases ahead of EU membership.

    The hike, which took immediate effect, had been decided during yesterday morning's Cabinet meeting.

    It was unanimously endorsed by the House plenum in the afternoon, thus shooting down smokers' last hope of not having to pay the extra 20 cents.

    Though the increase took effect immediately after the Cabinet's decision, prices would have returned to previous levels had the House voted against the rise.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides said that the government had chosen to introduce the increase in this manner to prevent profiteering.

    The government also submitted to parliament two other fiscal bills, concerning VAT and company taxation. Discussion on those is expected to kick off on Monday before the House Finance Committee.

    The VAT bill provides an increase on July 1 from the current 10 per cent to 13 per cent, rising to 15 per cent on January 1 2003, in line with European Union practice.

    The bill concerning company taxation provides a common tax of 10 per cent for local and offshore companies.

    The EU has demanded that the government eliminate preferential tax rates for foreign companies as a condition for membership.

    Overseas companies are currently taxed at 4.25 per cent while local companies pay a 20 to 25 per cent corporate tax.

    Klerides said legislation was expected to be approved by the House before the end of June.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Tampering suspects facing huge electricity bills

    By George Psyllides

    THE Electricity Authority (EAC) yesterday confirmed it has slapped a businessman whose meters were allegedly found to have been tampered with a 200,000 bill for unpaid electricity.

    EAC Chairman Giorgos Georgiades told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the authority was in the final stages of issuing around 100 bills to people whose meters were found to have been altered to indicate lower readings.

    Georgiades, however, declined to name the businessman billed.

    The matter emerged in December last year, after police arrested a 71-year- old retired EAC technician on suspicion of tampering with electricity meters, for a fee, and adjusting them to show lower readings.

    The case sparked controversy after reports that a number of prominent individuals and businesses were allegedly involved, paying Masouras to adjust their meters so they would pay less on electricity bills.

    Accused of trying to cover up the affair, the government published a list of the names of those whose meters had signs of tampering. Their alleged involvement was discovered after police found the suspect's notebook with the names and details of all his clients.

    Georgiades said people had already started paying their dues, though it would now be up to the legal services to take further action.

    He added those billed appeared willing to pay up their dues.

    "From one or two big bills we've had there is good response and willingness to pay off their dues in full," Georgiades said.

    The amount due to the authority is understood to be well over 1 million. Reports yesterday said many people involved were eager to settle their bills in order to use it as a mitigating factor if criminal charges were brought.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Land survey official held over suspected expropriation scam

    By Alex Mita

    A LAND Survey Department official and a businessman, both from Nicosia, were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with a suspected land expropriation scam.

    The 50-year old Land Survey official is thought to have masterminded an operation, which saw the government paying twice for expropriated land, by altering dates of payment in Land Survey Department records, aided by his suspected accomplice, the 58-year old businessman.

    The scam was foiled after a landowner reported that he had been compensated for his expropriated land in 1992, and not in 1998 as was stated on his title deed. The department employee dealing with the case reported the incident to his superiors, who in turn notified CID.

    Further investigation showed that the records had been tippexed over. The department immediately suspended the official believed to be responsible, who was later arrested and yesterday remanded in custody together with his accomplice.

    In a statement yesterday, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said irregularities had been found after an investigation carried out in Land Survey Department records.

    "An internal audit was carried out yesterday in which certain irregularities were discovered at the District Land Registry Department," Panayiotou said, adding that files had not been updated and unauthorised payments had been ordered.

    "Certain book numbers were altered, which had to do with compensation regarding expropriated land," he said.

    "For instance, when an estimate was given for compensation due to expropriation, five years later another cheque was issued for the same estimate."

    Panayiotou said the embezzled amount was approximately 4,000, adding there seemed to be further cases that he would not comment on before further investigation was carried out.

    The Interior Minister did not rule out the possibility that more people might be involved in the scam.

    "We just do not have evidence that will allow us to suspend other officials, " he said.

    Asked if such a scam could have been avoided had there been a computerised booking system in the Land Survey Department, Panayiotou agreed computer records were essential, adding hastened discussions were being carried out in order to have the Land Survey Department computerised by 2005.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] 'We won't fall for Turkish provocations'

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday it would protest a decision by the Turkish Cypriot regime to extend its 'territorial waters' from three to 12 nautical miles.

    The Turkish Cypriot 'cabinet' voted late on Wednesday to send the 'assembly' a draft law extending territorial waters to 12 miles from the present three miles, spokesman Salih Miroglu said.

    The 'assembly' is expected to vote on the bill this week.

    But Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday the Greek Cypriot side would not be drawn into any moves that could facilitate the games played by the Turkish side at a time when peace talks were under way.

    Protest would be made to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, the five permanent members of the Security Council and to international organisations dealing with shipping and air transport, Papapetrou said.

    "It is contradictory for the Turkish side to be provoking in this way at a time when peace talks are taking place," said Papapetrou, accusing the Turkish Cypriots of "trying to facilitate tensions instead".

    Athens said the law would be illegal and an impediment to talks on reuniting the island.

    "It is an illegal act by an illegal government to extend the territorial waters," Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis told reporters in Athens. "This decision essentially aims at undermining the face to face-to- face talks."

    Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have repeatedly warned of a crisis as Cyprus edges closer to European Union membership, with Ankara threatening to annex the north if Cyprus joins without a solution.

    Enver Yetkili, head of the harbours department of the Turkish Cypriot administration, yesterday called the decision "overdue".

    Cyprus expanded its territorial waters to 12 miles in 1964 after it won independence from former colonial ruler Britain.

    "This decision will extend the area we are responsible for, in turn expanding our sovereignty. The extension of our territorial waters will expand the area of responsibility for sea and air rescues, the coast guard, police and customs," Yetkili said.

    The British Bases recently handed over sea and air rescue operations to the Cyprus government.

    Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots have bristled at Greek Cypriot control of sea and air rescue operations. Earlier this month the Turkish military staged rescue exercises off the northern coast.

    The latest move comes in the same week as a Turkish research vessel, the Sismik, docked in the occupied areas.

    The stakes have been raised in recent months by reports of offshore natural gas reserves between Cyprus and Egypt. The Turkish Cypriot side has said it is entitled to a share of any resources that are found.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Fury over school video equating scouts with freemasons

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    PARENTS at a Nicosia school are reported to be up in arms over a video presentation linking the scouts to freemasonry.

    According to yesterday's Politis, children at a Nicosia high school were shown a video entitled Freemasons 666: Chariot of the Antichrist in their religious education lesson, causing distress for some of the pupils who were scouts. The topic was part of a wider lesson on 'anti-Christian' sects and religious groups.

    The video is produced by Greek clerics from the 'Orthodox Press' and dates back to the 1980s. It projects the producers' views on freemasonry and, by citing similarities in handshakes and symbols, claims the scouts are a universal association under the thumb of freemasonry. According to Politis, the music and images used in the presentation acted more to provoke fear than inform on the subject matter.

    The Education Ministry, in line with modern teaching methods, encourages multimedia presentations in the classroom. But it is unclear whether teachers are handed a catalogue of video programmes to choose from, given a list of possible themes and appropriate subject matter, or simply given autonomy to choose.

    Education Ministry Religious Inspector Christos Christou, who was quoted as saying scouts abroad came under the freemasons, yesterday refused to comment on the matter.

    But the President of the Parents' Association, Elias Demetriou, said yesterday that just as teachers were given bibliographies, the same supervision should be applied to multimedia presentations, adding, those using unlisted material should be sent before a disciplinary committee.

    Asked to comment on the report, the District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Cyprus, Freddie Eleftheriades, emphatically told the Cyprus Mail: "There is no connection whatsoever between the scouts and freemasons." He said it was not uncommon for people to confuse freemasonry with other organisation such as the Lions, Rotarians or the scouts, but that they operated on a different basis.

    General Commissioner for the Cyprus Scouts Association, George Tsikos also denied the association had any connection with freemasonry. He claimed it was not the first time schools had made such a connection.

    No records exist linking the founder of the scout movement, Lord Baden- Powell, with any freemason lodge. The fact that many of his contemporaries were members of the fraternity has prompted claims that the values of scouting are closely parallel to those of freemasonry.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Milk isn't just for children

    By Alexia Saoulli

    PEOPLE need to take calcium throughout their lives and not just in their early years, as many people falsely believe, a leading nutritionist said yesterday.

    "You need a lot of calcium during your growth years to build strong bones, a bit less during the middle years to keep your bones strong, and much more later in life to prevent bone loss," said Eleni Andreou, President of the Cyrus Dietetics Association.

    "Recent research has shown that people who take calcium throughout their lives have greater bone density and are less likely to develop the crippling bone disease osteoporosis."

    Osteoporosis is a condition whereby bones become fragile and have a tendency to break or fracture, she said. The most common osteoporosis fracture sites are the vertebrae, wrists, upper arms, pelvis and hips.

    Research maintains that calcium is a mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth and that 99 per cent of this mineral is stored there. The remaining one per cent is found in your blood and soft tissue and is essential for life and health. "Without this one per cent of calcium, your muscles would not contract correctly, your blood would not clot and your nerves would not be able to carry messages to and from your brain efficiently," said Andreou.

    It is mainly the calcium in your diet that spares, or protects, the calcium in your bones, according to GlaxoSmithKline - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.

    That is why, if you do not take enough calcium in the food you eat, your body will take what it needs from the stores in your body. However, over a long period of time, this calcium depletion from peoples' bones and teeth is likely to lead to osteoporosis.

    Both the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommend adequate calcium and Vitamin D intake, regular aerobic exercise, no smoking and reduced alcohol consumption as ways of preventing osteoporosis.

    They said: "The most concentrated calcium sources are dairy products, which sometimes contain vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in egg yolks, salt water fish, liver, and most importantly, Vitamin D fortified milk."

    Andreou agreed with these findings: "Even though you can take in calcium through other food sources, you normally have to eat a lot more in quantity for the same amount found in milk."

    A new study of dietary calcium, carried out by researchers at Sheffield University, suggests that calcium benefits from milk simply cannot be gained from other methods such as calcium supplements, because in the latter case bone density increase disappeared as soon as the supplements were no longer being taken.

    "Rather than truly increasing bone density, the calcium supplements likely suppress bone remodelling," whereas previous research suggests that bone density obtained from calcium in milk is maintained over time.

    Therefore, according to Richard Eastell, chairman of National Osteoporosis Society: "This underlines the need for children and teenagers to take plenty of milk in their diet if they are to build bone strong enough to last a lifetime."

    That is why the introduction of Calcium Plus milk on the Cypriot market is a positive option for people who want to take in their calcium recommended daily allowance (RDA) of around 1200mg, but do not necessarily like drinking a lot of milk.

    "With only two glasses of Calcium Plus," Eve Lanitis, director of Lanitis Bros Ltd, "you fulfil 105 per cent of your calcium RDA".

    Lanitis' Calcium Plus - launched yesterday - is fresh, semi-skimmed milk fortified with 40 per cent more calcium and enriched with magnesium and Vitamin D, which ensures that the calcium is efficiently absorbed.

    Although some doctors believe you should avoid milk because of the extra calories and saturated fat content, Calcium Plus only contains 1.5 grams of fat and 52 calories per 100 millilitres.

    According to Andreou, Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and helps deposit them in bones and teeth.

    "That is why Vitamin D's presence in milk is very important," she said. "In fact, in the United States, statistics showed a 15 per cent reduction in osteoporosis in children who drink vitamin D fortified milk."

    Although vitamin D is found in sunlight, it is not efficiently absorbed by children and elderly individuals and also poses skin cancer risks, Andreou pointed out.

    "I believe that the most effective form of vitamin D intake and the way it best serves as a calcium absorber is in milk," she said.

    "Milk is a fundamental part of anyone's diet," stressed Andreou. "Whatever the age everyone needs a sufficient daily intake of at least two to three glasses of milk so as to ensure calcium levels do not drop and promote bone density growth and maintenance."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Motorists braced for chaos ahead of road works

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    NICOSIA Municipality has suggested a number of alternative car parks in preparation for the beginning of works on Byron Avenue on June 3. Plans to widen the road and make it a main artery from the town centre to Grivas Dighenis Avenue have caused outcry among commuters who only last year experienced major construction work and delays on the road. As things stand, parking -- double and triple - by employees and visitors of government offices often narrow the avenue from a potential four lanes to two.

    Municipal Engineer Fedonas Nicolaou yesterday suggested 13 alternative parking places while construction is under way. The locations are spread out in the area around the old Public Records Department, but not close enough for many motorists, who will have to park a certain distance if they want to get near government buildings in the area.

    Nicolaou would not accept that the alternatives given were already pushed to the limit, claiming that the car park opposite the old Stock Exchange building on Grivas Dighenis Avenue was always empty.

    Another of the sites is the land opposite the Greek Embassy. However, this will be unoperational when works on the new central bus station begin.

    A police official declared four to five police and traffic wardens would be monitoring the avenue all day to prevent anybody from parking illegally.

    The avenue will be transformed into a four-lane road near Grivas Dighenis Avenue and then three lanes with pavements all the way to the General Hospital.

    The construction work will last for a year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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