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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, July 6, 2002


  • [01] Akamas decision 'is a shambles'
  • [02] Drugs suspects remanded
  • [03] Beer importer charged with changing expiry dates
  • [04] Legionnaire's outbreak in children's home sparks fears
  • [05] Retailers shooting themselves in the foot with their own sales practice
  • [06] Mother, son on sex earnings charges
  • [07] Study gives new insights into male infertility
  • [08] Massive tuna caught off Larnaca coast
  • [09] Fire in the north
  • [10] Gays ruling 'too little, too late'

  • [01] Akamas decision 'is a shambles'

    By Elias Hazou

    MIXED REACTIONS and confusion followed Wednesday's decision by the cabinet on the status of the Akamas peninsula, as some quarters speculated the government's move was aimed at pleasing all.

    The cabinet voted to protect three specific areas in Akamas - Lara, Toxeftra and Fontana Amorosa - but said it would allow "mild and controlled development" in other parts of the peninsula.

    Pressure on the government is coming from private landowners, such as Carlsberg magnate Photos Photiades, who owns property in the designated areas and is pushing for development.

    The Photiades group yesterday issued an announcement saying the Cabinet's decision was "unfair" and discriminatory. The group plan to build a major theme park in the area and other tourist attractions and claim these projects would boost both the island's economy in general, bringing in an estimated 50 million of annual revenue.

    Photiades' statement went on to suggest the government's decision was self- contradictory since its development schemes were environmentally friendly and had been positively reviewed by the EU's salient committee. The group added it would contest this "biased decision."

    Where land designated for protection is in private ownership, the government has offered either to exchange it with government-owned property in the Akamas or financial compensation. The land would be exchanged at today's market value, the minister added. The specifics have yet to be thrashed out and vagueness seems to be the order of the day.

    Residents of the Akamas, who have been seeking development of the environmentally sensitive area, initially welcomed the cabinet decision. But yesterday leader of Imia village. Sophocles Pittokopitis, said that on a closer reading of the decision he realised no concrete guarantees had been given.

    The confusion was shared by environmentalists across the island who say they are unsure of the government's true intentions. The Green Party have reserved judgement saying a lot of issues needed to be clarified.

    "For one thing, it (the decision) did not specify where the Toxeftra and Lara areas begin and end," Greens chairman George Perdikis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. Another issue was defining what "mild and controlled development" means.

    On the whole, Perdikis said, the decision was a slight improvement over the last cabinet decision in 2000, which had given the go-ahead for development in environmentally sensitive areas.

    "Right now, it looks like we're back to the pre-2000 status, but that is no cause for celebration," Perdikis said.

    Among the positive measures proposed were a reforestation programme and a freeze on new "safari" licenses to the Akamas. But critics say these regulations are being violated by entrepreneurs.

    Some quarters also pointed out that the government's vagueness was aimed at keeping both environmentalists and local communities happy as the island gears for elections early next year.

    Antonia Theodosiou, president of the Federation of Environmental Organisations, said Thursday the cabinet decision "insulted people's intelligence" and suggested it was contradictory. This view was shared by Pittokopitis, who said yesterday that "one section of the cabinet document annuls the next; it's a shambles."

    To compound the confusion, no one is certain when deliberations with the government will begin on defining the decision. "We want to talk with the government, but I don't know when that will be," Perdikis said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Drugs suspects remanded

    By a Staff Reporter

    TWO SUSPECTS were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days by a Limassol court on suspicion of growing and selling marijuana.

    Savvas Georgiou, 21, and Rolandos Christodoulou, 54, were caught on Thursday in the act of watering and tending to marijuana plants in a field located between the villages of Korfi and Limnatis. The plantation was being monitored by police since last Wednesday. Police also found plastic bottles and bags in the field.

    The suspects denied the charges, but admitted to police they were drug users.

    One of the suspects tried to flee a police precinct late Thursday night but was caught by officers.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Beer importer charged with changing expiry dates

    By George Psyllides

    THE HEALTH Services have confiscated 182 crates of beer following reports that the importer had been falsifying the expiration date and supplying them for consumption, a Health Ministry announcement said yesterday.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides confirmed yesterday that authorities had information about the situation and had placed the company under surveillance until they secured a search warrant.

    Police raided Demsola Trading's warehouse, and found 182 cases of Asahi beer, containing 24 bottles each, with the expiry date allegedly falsified by placing a sticker on top indicating April 31, 2003 and March 31, 2003 as the expiry date.

    But removing the sticker revealed that the actual expiry date was April 10, 2002.

    The owner of Demsola, Demetris Charalambides, as well as an employee were charged with falsifying the expiry dates and selling products with an altered date of expiry.

    Police also found "substantial quantities" of Italian fruit drinks - Batik Mango, and Mantarincio and Batic mixed juice - whose expiry date was again allegedly changed from May 2002 to March 31, 2003.

    Authorities also found a large quantity of the same products whose dates indicated that they had expired.

    According to the health services, the drinks were confiscated to be destroyed.

    Savvides explained that authorities tried to keep the case under wraps because they wanted to catch the perpetrators red handed.

    He added that authorities did not know yet how much beer had been sold noting that it was only located in one supermarket while authorities were now checking for other possible outlets.

    Savvides said that he did not think the beer could be harmful apart from the bad taste, adding that the state lab would be testing the drinks.

    The case followed two other consumer-related incidents concerning dangerous ornamental lamps and multi-socket extension leads, both made in China.

    The extensions have been withdrawn though 266 are still in the hands of consumers who could be in danger of electrocution.

    According to the Consumer Protection Service the extensions are not protected by a fuse, have different wire colours, and cannot handle the power load indicated in their specifications.

    The extensions were imported by Jack Man Trading Ltd and can be found with three and four sockets.

    They are rectangular, the top is white and the underside black.

    The brand name ANCHOR, is embossed in small letters on the bottom with a small anchor in a circle.

    On Wednesday the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a warning concerning potentially dangerous ornamental lights that hit the market in May this year and could offer a potential shock hazard because of an inadequately insulated flex.

    The lamps, which come in a variety of shapes and bright colours were imported by PAS Toys Ltd in April.

    The ministry believes that around 700 lamps have been sold mainly in the Nicosia area without ruling out the possibility the products finding their way to other areas as they had been distributed to stall sellers at mini fairs and gambling fun fare stalls.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Legionnaire's outbreak in children's home sparks fears

    By Elias Hazou

    MEDICAL AUTHORITIES have linked the death of a 22-year-old man last Monday to Legionnaires' disease but have assured the public this was an isolated incident

    The authorities were alerted to the outbreak after seven children from the Nea Eleousa hostel came down with pneumonia and other symptoms of legionnaires' disease. The children were treated at the Nicosia General Hospital, where they received a broad-spectrum antibiotic regimen.

    The symptoms appeared around mid-June, and after receiving treatment all the children have been sent home. All the other children at Nea Eleousa, a home for children with special needs, have also received preventative treatment.

    The young man who passed away last Monday was admitted to the Nicosia General Hospital on June 7, but succumbed to a heavy form of pneumonia. Doctors have not confirmed the cause of death as legionnaires' disease, adding that the young man had a history of frail health.

    Health officials visiting the Eleousa home discovered traces of the Legionella bacterium in the water supply. Two of the water tanks were found to be rusty and unclean and were promptly replaced.

    Outbreaks of the disease occur after persons have breathed mists that come from a water source, for example air conditioning cooling towers or showers, contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Legionnaire's disease is not contagious and there is no evidence of people becoming infected from car or household air-conditioning units.

    Legionella organisms can be found in many types of water systems. However, the bacteria reproduces into dangerous numbers in warm stagnant water (30- 50 degrees Celsius), which is often found in certain plumbing systems and hot water tanks.

    Symptoms include fever, chills and a cough and possibly headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and diarrhoea. It is difficult to distinguish Legionnaires' disease from other types of pneumonia by symptoms alone and additional tests are required for diagnosis.

    But officials said it was still too early to make a direct connection between the cases at Eleousa and legionnaires' disease. The blood samples taken from the children are being analysed, and the results will be out early next week.

    According to Head of Medical Services Kostas Mallis, legionnaires' disease is treatable and rarely fatal; those at high-risk are the elderly and people with chronic health problems. Mallis told the Cyprus Mail that the 22-year-old who had died had a history of respiratory problems.

    However, the Health Ministry reserved confirmation or not of whether the Eleousa children were infected by the disease until the lab results came out.

    Only isolated incidents of legionnaires' occur on the island. The last case involved two tourists in Paphos a few months ago.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Retailers shooting themselves in the foot with their own sales practice

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    SHOPKEEPERS are destroying their trade by manipulating the sale period while their union insists on maintaining ineffective sale laws, according to a Commerce Ministry official.

    Michalakis Yeroudis, Head of the Competition and Consumer Protection service, said yesterday that all shopkeepers - large, medium or small - were breaking the rules, which only allow selling various products at a discount during the sale period, while at the same time submitting complaints against their competitors for doing so. He said the legislation on violators was ineffective, non-productive in enforcement, and went against both consumer protection laws and European Union legislation.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday Permanent secretary of the Pancyprian Shopkeepers Association (POVEK), Melios Georghiou said "the authorities should not just charge violators for pre-sale discounts but force them to comply by imposing a high enough penalty."

    However, Yeroudis highlighted the fact that charging violators not only conflicted with competition rules but proved virtually impossible given that rules of evidence required proof of sale for the violation; a mission no consumer or rival shopkeeper is willing to undertake.

    He explained that the general problem in Cyprus was the plethora of shops combined with the need for high business acumen to deal with such competition.

    The trend in the last couple of years has been to raise prices during the year only to make great slashes during the sale period. The result, said Yeroudis, is that merchants suffer a slump in sales through the year because everybody waits for the big sales. Consumers are not deterred from waiting because shopkeepers keep a full stock to sell during the sales as opposed to the leftover merchandise. The biggest problem is in clothing, he said, adding that shopkeepers by doing this are failing to protect their own interests.

    He suggested all shopkeepers maintain logical prices throughout the year and then experience ordinary sales, aimed at getting rid of old stock, instead of ordering more during the sale and keeping high prices throughout the year and making major slashes in the sales.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Mother, son on sex earnings charges

    By a Staff Reporter

    POLICE arrested a mother and son on charges of living off the earnings of prostitution, along with two Chinese women and one Philippines woman who worked at their massage parlour in Nicosia.

    Yiorgoulla Derlidou and her son Marios Patsalides were accused of hiring foreign women and instructing them to offer sexual pleasure to their clients. A Nicosia court remanded all five accused for eight days yesterday.

    Police said they are seeking a fourth woman who was also employed at the massage parlour in Stasandrou Street, Nicosia.

    Officers kept the establishment under surveillance for four days before raiding the parlour. Reports state that clients were charged up to 40 for sex. Police said they will question 31 people from Nicosia and Ayia Napa who were clients of the massage parlour.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Study gives new insights into male infertility

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    NEW STUDIES have proven for the first time infertility may not be the only consequence of passing on a Y chromosome with genetic shortcomings. Dr Philipos Patsalis from the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia revealed yesterday that passing on a defective Y chromosome through infertility treatment could also result in serious genetic conditions.

    In the study, presented at the ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) conference in Vienna this week, Patsalis linked the Y chromosome deletions (missing genes) to the risk of other serious conditions, including Turner's syndrome, mixed gonadal dysgenesis, male pseudohermarphroditism and ambiguous genitalia.

    Patsalis said that fifteen per cent of couples wanting to have children faced problems of infertility with over half the cases attributed to low male sperm counts. He said recent research had proved 15 per cent of cases in Cyprus of mis-shapen or immobile sperm cells were the result of genetic defect.

    Advances in treating male infertility have made it possible for men who make even the tiniest amount of sperm to become a father, using methods such as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).

    The method, a technical advance on in vitro fertilisation, involves the direct injection of a single sperm to an egg in a dish in order to fertilise it, instead of adding many millions of sperm that would normally be required.

    The sperm of some of these men, however, may contain small deletions (missing genes) in the Y (male) chromosome resulting in the male child itself being infertile. Now, the research team led by Patsalis has warned that infertility may not be the only consequence of passing on a Y chromosome with genetic defects.

    Patsalis and his research team have discovered that men with shortcomings in their Y chromosome, experience to greater extent depletions in their blood and sperm cells. When these depletions, which cause low sperm count, are transferred from one generation to the next by father to son, the Y chromosome may become unstable and even be lost. This in turn may result in genetic defects such as congenital disorder or ambiguous genitalia.

    The research team tested 12 patients with such genetic defects and found that 33 per cent had the same Y chromosome depletions as those found in misshapen or immobile sperm cells.

    Patsalis said, "These results highlight for the first time worldwide that the passing of Y chromosome depletions from one generation to the next may result, not just in infertility, but in other possible genetic defects, such as, Turner's syndrome, mixed gonadal dysgenesis, hermarphroditism and ambiguous genetalia," adding, "These results highlight a potential risk for children born to fathers carrying Y chromosome microdiletions and treated by ICSI."

    The results of the research will be published in the scientific journal Lancet.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Massive tuna caught off Larnaca coast

    A Cypriot fisherman landed a tuna fish weighing between 300-400kg yesterday morning off the coast of Larnaca. The fish, the largest ever caught on the island, took four hours to reel in. It was caught by the captain of the Real Love, Costas Constantinos from Rizokarpaso. On arrival in Larnaca, the fish was taken to Nicosia for weighing.

    It will be stuffed and eventually displayed at the Ayia Napa Marine Life Museum, a task the fish's taxidermist says will take him about 20 days to complete.

    In the Japanese market tuna of such a quality can reel in up to $180 per kilo.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Fire in the north

    By a Staff Reporter

    FLAMES engulfed the old Nicosia General Hospital in the Turkish-Cypriot part of the capital; the building, now used as a storage warehouse for medicines and pharmaceuticals, was completely destroyed. The cause of the fire is still being investigated but authorities in the breakaway regime speculate it may have been inadvertently started by people burning rubbish nearby. The fire was extinguished by noon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Gays ruling 'too little, too late'

    By George Psyllides

    GAY ACTIVIST Alecos Modinos yesterday censured the House for the way it treated the matter of reducing the age of consent of homosexual males from 18 to 16 in line with European Union human rights provisions.

    The House on Thursday decided to discuss the issue next week despite an attempt from House Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Panayiotis Demetriou to convince the plenum to treat the matters as urgent and vote on it immediately.

    The sudden urgency of the matter is certainly linked to the island's European accession course as the EU has clearly stressed that it would not tolerate inequalities between the treatment of homosexuals and heterosexuals.

    Cyprus only decriminalised homosexuality in 1998, five years after Modinos won his battle at the European Court of Human Rights, and is now coming under pressure on issues such as age of consent and even gay partnership rights.

    But despite the 'favourable' development, Modinos said it was "sad that the Legal Affairs Committee brought the issue up for the third time and all politicians insist that it is an obligation when they should have stressed that legislation should be changed because sexual orientation is a human right".

    He added: "I believe it's not a good step at all considering that no politician has dared to say that it is a human right and should be respected as such with actions and not words."

    Modinos said that Cyprus should have modernised its legislation since 1993 when it was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for violating his rights and not bring up the issue all of a sudden and try to pass it.

    "This is the third time and they have not right to ridicule Cyprus like that," Modinos said.

    Gay activists want to be treated equally and have the same rights as heterosexual people though judging from the government's and the legislature's track-record it would be a long and uphill struggle.

    Even after passing the law decriminalising homosexuality the parliament managed to further insult gays by leaving in a reference to "unnatural licentiousness", which the gay community strongly objected to.

    It took two years for the House to change the offending phrase to "intercourse between men".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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