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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, June 15, 2002


  • [01] Crisis at Cyprus University as Rector resigns
  • [02] Church rocked by further land allegations
  • [03] The Cyprus Institute - moving from concept to reality
  • [04] Britain says Hannay did not speak of two states
  • [05] Minister orders investigation into loopholes that allowed land fraud
  • [06] Papadopoulos dismisses new claims linking law firm to Milosevic cash
  • [07] Gunman was not a professional, police say

  • [01] Crisis at Cyprus University as Rector resigns

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE RECTOR of the University of Cyprus, Nicolas Papamichael, handed in his resignation yesterday after the Plenum's decision to grant students 33 per cent representation in department councils. Papamichael condemned this percentage as excessive.

    He described the move as representative of the sentiments of the academic staff and added that he hoped his actions would not affect the running of the University.

    Papamichael said he felt it his duty, "to assume responsibility for the failure of university authorities to persuade the House on the correctness of the positions of the Senate with regard to student representation."

    According to Papamichael's announcement, the Vice-Rector had to be persuaded not to follow suit so as to enable the continued functioning of the university. However, a meeting was called yesterday of all the Heads of Departments, whereby they unanimously expressed their disappointment on the House decision which caused the Rector's resignation and forced the University into a crisis situation.

    The House plenary unanimously adopted legislation giving students 33 per cent representation in each of the university department councils, despite objections raised by academic heads in the House Education Committee.

    "We consider the participation of students in University bodies necessary and constructive provided it is maintained at internationally acceptable levels but the percentage of participation voted by the House is far from these levels," said Papamichael.

    In his letter, he expressed his deep concern over the lack of trust shown by the House on the decisions of the Senate, whose "only aim was to ensure the smooth running of the University, maintain the level of standards and the validity of the degrees."

    He hoped his resignation would convey to the political leadership the critical turning point in the university's development, whose success depended on respect for academic autonomy - not political intervention.

    In response, the Students Union claimed the resignation of the Rector was unnecessary and should be withdrawn for the good of the university, adding, there were no winners and losers from the plenum's decision.

    The department councils were previously composed of academic staff and a fixed number of two student representatives. The councils are responsible for making important decisions regarding the direction of the department, the curriculum it adopts and the staff it will hire.

    One professor at the university found it difficult to believe that students could have one third of the voting power over principal issues, noting the possibility that they could secure a majority over educated professionals when the academics were away from meetings on research projects.

    He highlighted the fact that the USA and UK had no representatives in University governing bodies apart from one or two who had no voting rights in the senate. He also expressed concern that the situation threatened the autonomy of the university through the allegiance of students to political parties.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Church rocked by further land allegations

    By George Psyllides

    THE CHURCH was yesterday faced with new revelations about the plundering of its property, as the Bishop of Paphos admitted the Holy Synod should have looked into the issue years ago.

    Continuing its exposé on the issue, Politis yesterday revealed one more case concerning the Chairman of the Civil Service Committee, Andreas Karageorgis, who this time was alleged to have acquired Church land in the Moniatis area in the Limassol district.

    On Wednesday, Politis revealed that Karageorgis and former land survey department director Andreas Georgiou had acquired coastal Church property for a fraction of its market value. The two were said to have paid £60,000 - £30,000 a piece -- for a 5,200-metre square area valued at £320,000.

    According to yesterday's Politis, Karageorgis, who is Archbishop Chrysostomos' close friend, also acquired a further 5.5 donums - 3,090 square metres -- of land in April 1997, after receiving Chrysostomos' written permission.

    Karageorgis paid £15,000 for the land, which according to two independent surveys is currently worth over £60,000.

    The most conservative estimates put the value of the land at the time of sale in 1997at over £30,000, while much smaller plots of land next to it - 500 to 700 square metres each -- are currently going for £25,000 to £35, 000.

    Politis also hinted there were more irregularities in the matter since an access road, which in reality does not exist, had appeared on land survey department maps.

    The fact that the department has drawn a road on the map meant that if the area were to be developed in the future, the local authorities would have to foot the bill for its construction, the daily said.

    In a similar case, a local resident who was having serious problems accessing his plot, was sorted out shortly after referring to Karageorgis' case.

    A land survey official in Limassol allegedly told Politis that the demarcation of the land had been done in that way "after instructions from Nicosia".

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos yesterday said the Synod had been forced to approve the transactions because they had been presented as a de facto.

    "It was a done deal and we approved it," Chrysostomos said.

    He added: "I saw the Archbishop and asked why did you do these things?"

    According to Chrysostomos, the Archbishop told him that Karageorgis had been handling all his English correspondence for the past 25 years while Georgiou had done a lot of work for the Church in his capacity as land survey department director.

    Chrysostomos added, however, that the problem was not only with Karageorgis and Georgiou, but with the broader mismanagement due to the Archbishop's illness and "because some people in his surroundings are not ashamed and never stop".

    Bishop Chrysostomos said the case of the Archbishopric's accountant Chrysostomos Phillipou, who is said to have set up his own real estate company, should also be examined, because "there are millions of pounds at stake and everybody should learn to respect."

    "We are to blame; we should have taken the decision years ago," he added.

    The Holy Synod on Wednesday decided to suspend "any authorisation (he Archbishop has given) to anyone to withdraw money, sign cheques, or make agreements that bind Archbishopric."

    In a written statement issued after the Synod's meeting, Bishop Varnavas of Salamina was named as the only authority that could sign on behalf of the Archbishopric, while a three-member committee had to approve all transactions concerning the transfer of property, long-term leasing and acquisition of land.

    Bishop Chrysostomos yesterday also said that certain people should never have been allowed to have credit cards and withdraw Church money.

    Chrysostomos also confirmed that the Synod was looking into two other suspicious cases concerning the long term leasing of Church land.

    The cases involve a 25-donum coastal area near the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, which had been leased for just £15,000 per year. By way of comparison, Kykkos Monastery had in a similar deal leased 18 donums for £210,000 a year.

    Chrysostomos added that he suspected the person who had leased the Tomb of the Kings land has sold the contract on to someone else for £2 million.

    "If it's true, and it must be, it is scandalous," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] The Cyprus Institute - moving from concept to reality

    By Soteris Charalambous

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides expressed the government's full support for the Cyprus Institute at its inaugural meeting yesterday, announcing through the immediate grant of state land upon which the education and research facilities would be built, thereby moving the project one step closer to reality.

    During the meeting, attended by Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and Chief EU Negotiator George Vassiliou, a sense of speed was added to the momentum gathering behind this project.

    Referring to Cyprus' imminent accession to the European Union, Jeffrey Sachs, Harvard Professor and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-general, spoke of the proposed institute as, "the right project at the right time". Many in attendance nodded in agreement with his assertion, and his description that the meeting represented the moment the Cyprus Institute passed from concept to reality.

    A plethora of the world's finest and most distinguished scholars convened at what was described at the address as the historical crossroad between Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The significance of the meeting being staged at Famagusta Gate, one of the four gateways into the old city of Nicosia, was not lost on the assembled delegates.

    Nobel prize winners, professors from Harvard, MIT and distinguished universities around Europe have been encouraged by the speed at which the project is moving and drawn to the idea that this institution will break the mould of traditional education centres by being built around specific intellectual problems, rather than the established disciplines of Science, Mathematics and the Humanities.

    Andreas Mouskos, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Cyprus Development Bank, said the Cyprus Institute would be "concerned with problem-orientated research of global relevance, with particular importance for Cyprus and the surrounding region."

    Following Mouskos' declaration that the institute would be economically independent and self-supporting, Ioannides said the cost of establishing the Institute would be about half a million euros that would be obtained from the Cyprus Development Bank. Operational expenses are believed to be in excess of 60 million euros a year that will be met through fees and gifts, an idea further expanded by Ernest Moniz, a Professor at MIT and former Under-secretary of the US Department of Energy, who suggested the institute would follow the model of US private elite colleges.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Britain says Hannay did not speak of two states

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN yesterday categorically denied that its special envoy for Cyprus Lord David Hannay had spoken of two sovereign states on the island during an interview with CNN Turk.

    "I have no difficulty to state right away that Lord Hannay did not speak of an independent, sovereign state in the north," a Foreign Office spokesman in London said.

    Hannay's alleged comment raised hackles after it was reported in the mainland Turkish Daily News (TDN) on Thursday that the British envoy had indicated that the 'TRNC' would be "a sovereign state when a solution was reached on the island".

    Hannay was also reported to have said that the Greek Cypriot side should not consider EU membership "a piece of cake'.

    "Lord Hannay said lots of things about central and component states as per the UN language but nothing that would suggest an independent sovereign state in the north," said a British High Commission spokesman.

    The government yesterday expressed strong disagreement with some of Hannay's remarks, but welcomed others. Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said there was no question of making representations to Britain over the interview.

    Papapetrou said Hannay's reference to a central state and two component states fully met the provisions of UN resolutions and "our objectives".

    He also welcomed the reference to signs of "genuine flexibility" by the Greek Cypriot side and said the government was pleased with Hannay's expression of disappointment with the Turkish Cypriot side "at various moments in recent weeks."

    However, Papapetrou said that while the government said yes to a new constitution it was not saying yes to a new state.

    According to a transcript of the interview sent to TDN ahead of transmission, Hannay told CNN Turk that a new state, quite different from the old one would be created. He said the central state would have "rather limited responsibilities", a comment which ruffled the government's feathers.

    "The new constitution will replace the existing one and the new constitutional arrangement could be very different to what applied in the past, but we do not agree with the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus and the creation of a new state," Papapetrou said.

    Creating a new state, he explained, meant that all relevant agreements of 1960 would be abolished.

    Commenting on Hannay's statement about "limited responsibilities of the central government", Papapetrou said: "It is necessary that these responsibilities are such that would secure the unity of the state and its proper functioning as a state within the EU."

    Meanwhile direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continued yesterday on security issues.

    Sources told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the issue of security might be wrapped up at their next meeting.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Minister orders investigation into loopholes that allowed land fraud

    THE ACCOUNTANT-general and the Land Survey Department are to study land appropriation procedures in order to spot the weak points and avoid future irregularities, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday.

    The decision comes in the wake of the arrests of three people, suspected of forging government documents registering compensation paid by the state to the owners of appropriated land, and swindling around £350,000 in cash.

    The three were yesterday re-remanded in custody for seven days.

    The matter was discussed yesterday during a meeting chaired by Panayiotou.

    After the meeting, Panayiotou said that from the first moment the irregularity had been discovered he had called the Auditor-general and the state's accountant to help in solving the case.

    "It has been decided that the Accountant-general together with the land survey department will look into the current system from the moment the land was appropriated until the cheque was issued to the owner," Panayiotou said.

    The two departments would present their findings within 15 days, identifying the loopholes in the system that had enabled people to issue state cheques for hundreds of thousands of pounds without being noticed.

    The minister said their suggestions would be submitted to the Internal Audit Board that would take all necessary decisions to wipe out the weaknesses cleverly exploited by these people to embezzle huge amounts of cash from the state.

    "With the existing system, some officials were given the authority to issue orders in lieu of cheques. The orders were then conveyed to the Accountant- general, who issued the cheques," Panayiotou said.

    "It is at this point that we spotted several irregularities concerning the order; the controls on the system seem to be deficient.

    "In an effort to speed up procedures, controls over the orders were restricted, resulting in these unscrupulous individuals exploiting the procedures to defraud the state," Panayiotou said.

    The minister said that according to the irregularities discovered until now, the amount embezzled had reached £350,000.

    He said the investigation into the case went as far back as 1992, stressing that the people whose land had been appropriated have been compensated and the irregularities concerned bogus orders for the issue of cheques.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Papadopoulos dismisses new claims linking law firm to Milosevic cash

    DIKO chairman Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday denied any links to Borislav Milosevic, brother of the former Yugoslav president and genocide suspect Slobodan Milosevic, attributing recent local media reports to a deliberate campaign aimed at smearing his image ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

    Speculation on Cypriot involvement in the transfer of millions of dollars out of Serbia into foreign banks has raged for years. An International War Crimes Tribunal probe headed by Morten Torkildsen has found that the funds siphoned out of Serbia were used for financing Bosnian Serb militias. Torkildsen reported that the money had been sent to accounts managed by the offshore branch offices of the Belgrade-based Beogradska Banka in Cyprus.

    The Governor of the Yugoslav Central Bank believes four billion dollars in various currencies left Yugoslavia between 1992 and 1994. For his part, Torkildsen has described Cyprus as the centre of the alleged money- laundering network directed by the former Yugoslav head of state.

    Local TV channel Ant1 recently featured a story on Neocom Trading Ltd, an offshore company named in Torkildsen's report. The TV station had followed up on an article appearing in Belgian newspaper Le Soir. According to Ant1, a number of Papadopoulos' associates were sitting on Neocom's board of directors for some time.

    On Thursday, Papadopoulos' law office issued a statement saying that in October 1997 it had been asked by Borislav Milosevic to make arrangements for setting up Neocom as an offshore company in Cyprus. Other than that, the announcement read, the law firm had nothing to do with the company's activities, Milosevic's brother or any of his associates. All of its associates had withdrawn from Neocom's board as soon as that company was set up, it said.

    A spokesman for Tassos Papadopoulos & Co said yesterday the firm had followed all legal procedures, adding that it could not be held responsible for any possible subsequent suspect activities by the offshore company.

    The law firm went on to describe Ant1's news bulletin story as a "fabrication", evidently suggesting this was part of a smear campaign against Papadopoulos, slated as one of the candidates for the next presidential elections.

    Neocom was set up as an offshore company on the island two years after the United Nations imposed an embargo against Yugoslavia. The Republic of Cyprus officially adopted the embargo from the outset.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Gunman was not a professional, police say

    By Elias Hazou

    INVESTIGATIONS into Thursday morning's shooting outside a Nicosia nightclub had yesterday still produced no concrete leads, as police continued piecing together eyewitness accounts amid concerns of a possible wave of gangland violence.

    Two men were injured in the incident that occurred a little after 3am outside the Elysée cabaret. Ioannis Kouyialis, 43, and Andreas Polycarpou, 34 were leaving the cabaret when an unknown assailant fired six to seven shots using a pistol. Both Kouyialis and Polycarpou suffered a gunshot each in the pelvis. They were rushed to the General Hospital, where they are still being kept under observation. Their condition is non critical.

    Police believe that the assailant's target was Kouyialis, co-owner of the Elysée. Police yesterday confirmed that Kouyialis had been brought in for questioning on a number of occasions in the past in connection with various cases, but that nothing incriminating had come up.

    The gunman's modus operandi during the incident has led police investigators to conclude he was not a professional hitman and that Kouyialis was targeted for personal reasons or business disagreements. The attacker has been described as slender, about 1.80m tall, aged around 25 and was not wearing a mask at the time.

    According to eyewitnesses, the suspect, who is still at large, shot Kouyialis and then chased him down, as the victim sought refuge back in the cabaret. A third person coming out of the nightclub together with Kouyialis and Polycarpou was unhurt and fled the scene. Forensics officers also found a stray bullet jammed inside a car parked near the crime scene.

    CID officer Panayiotis Pelayias, who is in charge of the case, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that "nothing new" had come up from investigations, adding there were no leads as to the assailant's identity.

    Polycarpou, an Akaki village resident, is a special policeman and works at a weighing station, and is an employee of the Road Transport Department. He also works as a taxi driver in Nicosia, servicing one of the city's main hotels.

    A senior administrative officer at the Road Transport Department explained yesterday that Polycarpou worked part-time (paid by the hour) and that this status did not prevent him from having another job. Permanent government employees are not allowed to work elsewhere. And CID officer Pelayias clarified that Polycarpou was not on the police's payroll, but on that of the Communications Ministry. The term "special policeman" was merely used to describe Road Transport personnel authorised to carry out checks on vehicles, he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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