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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-22

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Saturday, June 22, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides: state cannot interfere in Church affairs
  • [02] Man hurt in suspected shooting incident
  • [03] Tax reform bill taking shape
  • [04] Animal campaigners press deputies over new bill
  • [05] Leon the Leopard recovering from tumour operation
  • [06] Lukoil grabs a share of Cyprus fuel market
  • [07] Have workmen found the Palace of the Crusader kings of Cyprus?
  • [08] Judge rules plastic penises did not corrupt anyone
  • [09] Senate stands by ex-Rector
  • [10] Suspected lottery fraudsters detained

  • [01] Clerides: state cannot interfere in Church affairs

    By George Psyllides

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday reiterated that the state could not intervene in Church affairs unless an official complaint about a potential criminal offence had been submitted.

    Speaking for the first time since it emerged that several of the Archbishop's relatives and close friends had acquired Church land by allegedly exploiting the primate's ill health, Clerides said the Church had the right to handle its property as it wished.

    Extensive reports in the media, led by Politis, have claimed that Archbishop Chrysostomos' relatives and close friends exploited his memory lapses to transfer huge areas of land to their name, paying well bellow its market value.

    "If they (plots) were sold at unprofitable prices it is a civil law issue and not a public law issue and that's why the Holy Synod should take its own measures, because it's the Synod who decided. At the end of the day it's the Holy Synod who decided for the Church," Clerides said.

    He added: "If it is officially reported to the government that there have been actions constituting a criminal offence then it would be a matter for the Attorney-general."

    But the president also took a shot at the media for the way they had covered the story.

    "There is a tendency in the press to take certain information -- of a defamatory character, concerning various individuals in public places - and publish it without investigating in depth, and without getting the involved person's side of the story," the President said.

    "The existing legislation is for the freedom of the press and the protection of citizens, and I have noticed recently that we see banner headlines, but then when there is an investigation they are not supported by the facts.

    "My opinion is that the responsible press should respect the law," Clerides added.

    The revelations have sparked controversy, especially concerning the Church's ability to manage its huge property.

    But with politicians unwilling to meddle with the powerful Church, which is the biggest landowner on the island, it is now up to the Holy Synod to apply the necessary measures to stop the reported pillage.

    However, in the absence of the Archbishop, who is recovering from a fall in Greece, there is little the Synod can do but suspend transactions until he is fit again to preside.

    To make things worse, it seems unlikely the Archbishop will ever be able fully to resume his duties, with reports suggesting he is suffering from a degenerating disease.

    The Archbishop's failing health is expected to spark a bitter battle for his succession.

    A prime candidate to succeed the Archbishop is Kykkos Bishop Nikiforos, who said yesterday that any dialogue between the Church and the state should be aimed at finding the best system of managing the property, which would also secure transparency.

    "In no way it should be attempted financially to weaken the Church, resulting in its marginalisation," Nikiforos said.

    "History has taught the Church that it can only fulfil its task by being spiritually healthy and financially strong," he added.

    Concerning the fact that many of the Archbishop's relatives were employed at the Archbishopric, Nikiforos said everything had to have a limit.

    "It is not a sin when your driver is your relative and it's not a sin when your cook is your relative; but every bishop should be distinguished by objectiveness and not nepotism," he said.

    He added that bishops should not treat blood relatives differently from other people.

    The Archbishopric's accountant Chrysostomos Phillipou, who is the son of the primate's first cousin, yesterday published a written statement denying the various "defamatory reports" about him.

    He said the whole affair had been instigated by clerics who had picked the moment when the Archbishop was ill and could not react to efforts to hurt his good name, forgetting about his services to Church and country.

    Phillipou has been implicated in the matter, as a partner in a development company with the Archbishop's nephew.

    The company has allegedly acquired Church land for well below its value and made a fortune by subsequently selling it for millions.

    Another man implicated in the affair is the Chairman of the Civil Service Committee, Andreas Karageorgis, a long time friend of the Archbishop's.

    Karageorgis has reportedly acquired Church land in Ayia Napa and Moniatis in the Limassol district and has reportedly paid very little for it.

    Reports spoke of irregularities in the procedures, prompting Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou to order the directors of the land survey and town planning departments, as well as the Famagusta district officer, to draft detailed reports on the matter.

    The reports concerned allegations that the rules had been bent during the demarcation of the plot in Moniatis and the building of an access road to Karageorgis' land on the Ayia Napa coast.

    On Thursday, Panayiotou said that from his initial examination of the reports he had not found anything improper regarding the involvement of the three officials.

    Nevertheless the reports would be forwarded to the Attorney-general Alecos Markides for further assessment, Panayiotou said.

    The land - 5,200 square metres -- acquired by Karageoris in Ayia Napa is currently worth around 320,000.

    It was split in half with the former head of the land survey department Andreas Georgiou with both men allegedly paying the Archbishopric 30,000 each to acquire it.

    According to the Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos, the land had been given to the two men for services rendered to the Archbishop.

    The Archbishop told Chrysostomos that Karageorgis had been writing all his English correspondence since he was ordained 25 years ago. Georgiou on the other hand had done a lot of work for the Church during his days in the land survey department, according to Chrysostomos.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Man hurt in suspected shooting incident

    A 27-YEAR-old Pontian Greek was yesterday morning injured outside a Limassol disco, with police suspecting the man may have been hit by a stray gunshot.

    According to eyewitness accounts, an incident occurred outside a Yermasoyia disco around 4am The victim reportedly tried to help break up an argument. A gunshot was heard shortly after, and at the same time the man felt a strong sensation of pain on his right cheek.

    As the victim later told police, he was then driven to hospital by an unknown person. Doctors examining the man found a half-centimeter wide gash on the cheek, inside which was what looked like bullet shrapnel. The victim was kept in for treatment, but his condition is not serious.

    Doctors also found other abrasions on the victim's legs and back, but said these were unrelated to Friday morning's incident.

    Limassol police are investigating the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Tax reform bill taking shape

    By Elias Hazou

    THE HOUSE Finance Committee yesterday began examining tax reform bills submitted to the Plenum on Thursday, with the government under pressure to meet a July 1 deadline on raising VAT in line with EU requirements.

    The bills, expected to be passed into law later next week, provide for sweeping changes to consumer taxes, income tax and pensions. The government's stated policy is that lower income groups will receive offset benefits to balance out the price hike on a number of consumer goods.

    Fuel, alcohol, tobacco and high-capacity cars will become more expensive, but the minimum non-taxable annual income will be raised from 6,000 to 9, 000 and the defence levy will be abolished. As one government official put it, the aim is to "tax wealth."

    Luxury items will be most hard-hit by the tax reform law; those who shop for smoked salmon, beer, caviar, champagne and cigars will now have to pay a little extra.

    One change affecting everyone will be the increase in consumer tax for fuel: a five-cent hike for petrol and two cents up for benzene.

    And the cost of living will rise even more as VAT is hiked to 13 per cent, rising to 15 per cent on January 1 2003.

    The price of saloon cars of 1000-1500cc will be slashed by 10 per cent, while vehicles of over 2,500cc will become five per cent more expensive.

    Offset benefits to these hikes include increased allowances for refugees, single-parent families and more lenient terms for university scholarships.

    In addition, in line with EU harmonisation, public utilities can no longer be subsidised. As a result, the price of water and electricity will go up. By 2004, household electricity rates will rise by 22 per cent.

    Yesterday, the House Finance Committee convened to debate the proposed amendments; by the end of the day the committee had approved 90 per cent of the government's proposals. The remaining issues will be straightened out by Thursday, when a House plenum session is set officially to ratify the bill.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Animal campaigners press deputies over new bill

    By Alex Mita

    A BILL aiming to stem the number of stray dogs in Cyprus by putting and end to uncontrolled possession, breeding and abandonment, has sparked outrage among animal rights campaigners, who claim it is cruel and inhumane.

    A small demonstration staged outside the House on Thursday has led the House Agriculture Committee to postpone the discussions on the bill until provisions in question are reviewed.

    CSPCA Chairwoman Toulla Poyadji told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that although most of the provisions on the bill - like the electronic tagging of dogs - were a step in the right direction, others were simply cruel and undemocratic.

    "I asked to see the bill and when I read it I was shocked," Poyadji said. "They decided to charge 100 for dog licences for some breeds and cross breeds considered to be dangerous."

    "When I asked the Veterinary Services how they would be able to tell that a dog was a cross breed with, say a pit bull, they suggested the ridiculous idea of carrying out DNA tests to find out," Poyadji said.

    The CSPCA also claimed the bill had included cruel and inhumane measures. According to Poyadji, a provision in the bill - which the Agriculture Committee has apparently promised to remove - read that if a dog owner had his licence revoked, he would be ordered "immediately to hand in his pet to the local authorities, who would put it down."

    If the owner refused to surrender his dog, then the local authorities, backed by police, would storm the owner's house and take the dog by force, she said.

    Poyadji admitted the House Agriculture Committee had promised to strike out that provision, but said there was still the issue of the putting down of dogs by people without any veterinary or even medical experience.

    "They want to allow 'authorised' people to put down stray dogs, but when they say authorised they mean people who are employed by the local municipality," she said.

    "This is unacceptable. European Union directives demand the experience of a registered veterinarian, when it comes to putting a dog to sleep, not someone who an hour before was cleaning the streets and is then called to administer a lethal injection to an animal.

    "By stopping the bill from going to the Plenum, we have achieved an important victory," Poyadji said, adding the CSPCA would keep in close contact with the Committee and monitor every move they made.

    "We want a proper bill to be passed to the House, that would deal with the problem of strays and over breeding, but the CSPCA will in no way accept the inhumane treatment of dogs."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Leon the Leopard recovering from tumour operation

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A 15-YEAR-old leopard that underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour last week is recovering satisfactorily, Limassol Zoo Head Lambros Lambrou said yesterday.

    Keepers first spotted Leon's chest tumour over a month ago, the senior vet told the Cyprus Mail.

    "I was called in to examine the leopard after I had been informed of a small lump on his chest," he said. "Leon was drugged so that I could take a closer look at the malformation and I determined that it was a tumour rather than an abscess. Then last Thursday, with the aid of an assistant, I removed the lump."

    Lambrou said the procedure took 45 minutes and was carried out within the wild animal's cage for convenience's sake.

    "It was considered easier to perform the operation in Leon's cage rather than to remove him and have to put him back afterwards. The tumour we removed was the size of an orange, but thankfully I can say it was a very successful operation and we managed to cut it all out."

    Once Leon was stitched up, the tumour was sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results said Leon had a grade one fibrosarcoma. In other words cancer, said Lambrou.

    "Although the tumour was found to be malignant, Leon's prognosis is good because it was only a very mild degree of malignancy and caught in its early stages. As of yet we do not know whether or not it may have metastasised, nor is there any way of determining that. We can just wait and see and hope that it will not reappear anywhere else," he said.

    A tumour the size of an orange is rather large, admitted Lambrou.

    "Tumours that grow at such a rapid rate are normally malignant and this one must have grown very quickly because we noticed it from one day to the next. We give all the animals daily health checks you see and the keepers only noticed it about a month ago. By that time it was already large," he said.

    Lambrou added that anything and everything connected to the zoo had to be reported back to him every day. Whether an animal had skipped a meal or had diarrhoea, an ostrich had hatched an egg, a donkey had given birth, a cage was broken, the grass was not green enough, he had to be informed in writing by the trained head keepers who were responsible for the zoo's separate sections.

    "This is common practice in all zoos," he said. "I also check the animals daily and give them health checks, but I don't necessarily enter all the cages. That is the keepers' role and since they actually enter the cages and have a lot more physical contact with the animals they are in charge of, they are better equipped to inform me of their condition. That was how we spotted Leon's tumour."

    Such tumours are common in older animals, he said. At 15 Leon is considered to be just that, since a leopard's average lifespan is only 20 years.

    Unlike dogs, no studies have been carried out on leopards to determine the equivalent of one of their life years in human years.

    "They say one human year, is seven in dog years. Even though no one has calculated leopard years, you could say it's about six years to every one of ours," he said. Therefore Leon would be the equivalent of 90 years old.

    After his surgery last week, Leon was treated with antibiotics.

    "No pain killers were necessary, just the antibiotics. Thankfully, he is also eating healthily again, which is a good sign," he said. His diet is made up of raw chicken and beef, a menu that did not have to be altered in any way following his operation.

    "Yesterday he took his last dose of antibiotics and I checked his wound, which I can happily say is healing beautifully. There is no trace of an infection and with the tumour entirely removed, I'd say his survival chances are good."

    This was the first time one of the Zoo's animals displayed an ailment that needed surgical intervention, but would not the last, said Lambrou.

    "One of our monkeys, 16-year-old Demas, has a small lump on his hand which we will also remove shortly," he said.

    "We've also had a sick Zebra recently. I don't know how, but somehow the 12- year-old managed to trap himself in his fencing, leaving his body wounded and him temporarily blind. We secluded him for a period for treatment and now thank goodness he is back to normal. However, we are investigating how it was possible for him to lodge himself in his fence in the first place."

    Despite Lambrou's affection for the animals, he knows they will not be housed at this zoo for much longer.

    "The animals have always been in good condition and their health excellent. But the enclosures they are kept in are too small. Even though we have tried to expand certain areas and enlarge the cages, there is only so much you can do when you have limited space. That is why it's been decided to open another, new zoo. All I know is it will be in Limassol, but we don't yet know where," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Lukoil grabs a share of Cyprus fuel market

    By Soteris Charalambous

    RUSSIAN petroleum giant Lukoil has signed an agreement with BP Cyprus Ltd and Exxon-Mobil Cyprus Inc for the acquisition from the two companies of 16 petrol stations, across the island for $12 million after winning a tenders' competition.

    The sale of the stations followed the Cabinet's agreement for the sale of 22 Mobil petrol stations to BP, a deal facilitating the Esso-Mobil merger, and was granted on condition that 16 other pump stops be made available to another company. The decision was advised by the competition protection commission and was aimed at aimed at reducing the merged company's 50 per cent market share, thus reducing its leading position in the local market and avoiding a monopoly.

    The condition of the deal was that the stations should be offered to a company that wasn't currently operating in Cyprus and that they had to be located in more than two separate districts island.

    Other companies thought to have bid included US petroleum giant Texaco and Cypoil. However, it is Lukoil, who were reported to have won the tender at the end of May by Russian media, who will eventually own 25 per cent of the market in Cyprus.

    Lukoil is Russia's largest oil producer and recently announced ambitious restructuring plans aimed at doubling oil and gas output, reducing production costs, boosting exports and improving management - a plan estimated to require an investment of $12 billion over the next decade and to increase international production more than four times to as much as 400, 000 barrels per day.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Have workmen found the Palace of the Crusader kings of Cyprus?

    By Michele Kambas

    WORKMEN breaking ground for Nicosia's new town hall have stumbled across what are believed to be the 800-year-old remains of a medieval Lusignan palace in Cyprus, whose exact whereabouts were a mystery for centuries.

    The discovery, in the heart of old Nicosia, is a boon for archaeologists who enjoy a rich amount of literature from the chequered history of mediaeval Cyprus, but very little in the way of tangible evidence on the ground.

    The Lusignans were a French noble family, which ruled Cyprus from 1192 to 1489. They built three palaces in Nicosia. Only small parts of the third and last palace still stand in Turkish-occupied northern Nicosia.

    "I suppose that yes, we have found some foundations of the palace, which was the first of the Lusignan palaces," said Pavlos Flourenzos, curator at the Cyprus Museum and deputy director of the department of antiquities.

    The first palace was completed in 1211 and destroyed about 1373 in clashes with Genoese forces for control of the city.

    Stone walls more than a metre thick and more than three metres high in places have been found at the site, along with fragments of pottery and wall paintings.

    Little is known about the size or structure of the palace, which Flourenzos said was likely to have been built like a fortress and made of stone.

    The area, roughly just larger than a football pitch and for decades used as an open-air vegetable market on Saturdays, revealed what appeared to be artefacts when workmen began to dig for an underground car park to be built under the new Nicosia town hall.

    "We knew from before that there might be something there somewhere, but we did not exactly know where," said Flourenzos, adding that tombs dating from 800 BC had also been excavated there in the past.

    The site, in an otherwise run-down area of the old city abandoned by its original residents and now a hub of workshops during the day and bars at night, was fenced off yesterday.

    "Work has stopped for two weeks for excavations. We will have to assess what we have found so far," said Flourenzos.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Judge rules plastic penises did not corrupt anyone

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A NICOSIA court acquitted two men of corruption and depravity after the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove the contrary, police said yesterday.

    The Owner of 'EXPORAMA Ltd', Nicholas Giorgallides, 32, from Engomi, and Lambros Livitzis, 35, from Acropolis had been accused of displaying obscenities at Giorgallides' shop in Nicosia's Capital Centre, where Livitizis was an employee.

    The charge was brought after complaints about plastic penises in the store's window. The offending objects were seized by police in December three years ago.

    Charges were brought against the company, its owner and employee. But all three charges were dropped and the accused acquitted this week due to a lack of testimonial evidence against them.

    The judge, Michalis Papamichael, said that as defined by the law: "something is considered obscene if the effect it has leads to the depravity and corruption of people who are likely to see it, read it or use it." He said the prosecution's failure to produce a Cypriot citizen that would testify to having been depraved or corrupted by the plastic penises was fatal to the case's outcome.

    Furthermore, Papamichael pointed out that although the actual objects had been presented as material evidence, they could not be said to have depraved or corrupted anyone present in court.

    An "obscene sight" is a current social perception in a given period of time and specific location, the judge said.

    "Not even Cypriot legislature has defined what is constituted as 'obscene' in this particular case, in other words publicising plastic objects shaped like penises. Not even a relevant sexual act, or the material evidence alone can be considered to lead to deprivation and corruption," he said.

    "In fact there is a cable television channel that projects images of sexual acts, sexual violence and perversion, without anyone considering they are corrupting viewers. The same happens on the Internet, a medium absolutely anyone has access to, even minors, and something that can be said might leads to corruption. Consequently it is society's responsibility to develop self-defence mechanisms that protect against a rapidly increasing explosion of moral obscenities that the pornographic industry is trying to impose on every home leading to degeneracy," said Papamichael.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Senate stands by ex-Rector

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE UNIVERSITY of Cyprus senate yesterday expressed its undivided support for departing Rector Nicolas Papamichael and fully endorsed his reasons for resigning.

    The body of academics unanimously agreed that parliament's decision to give students greater representation in university bodies exceeded the boundaries that prevailed internationally. In a statement given to the press yesterday, they condemned the government's actions as jeopardising the autonomy of the university and creating obstacles to its objectives.

    The senate agreed to step up its efforts to tackle the provisions of the new law within legal limits and work towards reaching "generally accepted positions" within the academic community.

    It was also decided it was in the best interests of all involved for the graduation ceremony to take place as planned. But the senate promised a no frills event as a demonstration of its dissatisfaction with the parliament's decision.

    A date for the election of a new Rector will be set at the senate's next meeting on July 3. Until then, the senate plans to begin an enlightenment campaign to give wider information to the public and the politicians on university affairs.

    The rector resigned a week ago following parliament's decision to grant students 33 per cent representation rights in department councils. A percentage deemed by the Rector as giving too much power to non-experts in a professional body. In new developments yesterday, Professor Christos Schizas also handed in his resignation from the senate due to the current state of affairs.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Suspected lottery fraudsters detained

    NICOSIA POLICE detained Yiorgos Rossides, 56, from Nicosia on Thursday night and two other unnamed men yesterday on suspicion of involvement in a lottery ticket scam.

    Rossides was arrested and charged with forgery, circulation of counterfeit lottery tickets and attempting to procure money under false pretences.

    Commenting on the investigation Nicosia CID Chief, Panayiotis Pelayias, admitted the scam is believed to be far bigger than previously expected. He also said the investigations may extend overseas, given the high probability that the lottery tickets were printed abroad.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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