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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-11
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Thursday, July 11, 2002
 The five victims of yesterday's crashBy Soteris Charalambous
LIEUTENANT General Evangelos Florakis, 59, was appointed Commander of the National Guard in May 2000 after retiring from military service in Greece. He was born in 1943 in Arta and entered the Military Cadet Academy in 1962. He graduated four years later and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the infantry. His subsequent training included Infantry School, Unit Commander's School, Paratrooper School and Physical Training School. He was also trained in special weapons and unconventional warfare, and attended the Hellenic Army War College and the Hellenic National Defence College. In 1994 he was promoted to Brigadier General and served as Deputy Commander in the 15th Infantry Division and in the 50th Infantry Brigade as Commander. After promotion to Major General in 1996, Florakis was appointed Commander of the 16th Mechanised Infantry Division and then posted to the Hellenic Army War College. In 1999 he assumed command of B Army Corps. Lt. General Florakis leaves a wife, Athina, and two daughters, Helen, 24, and Stephanie, 20.
Also killed yesterday was Air Force Chief Vassilis Demenagas, 50. Born in 1952 on the island of Kea in the Cyclades, his military career began in flight school in 1970. He graduated in 1974 as a pilot officer.
In 1974 he became a fighter pilot, flying missions for 23 years. He served as a Deputy Commander and then Commander of a squadron rising, to Commander of a Battle Wing. He was also on the general staff of the Greek Air Force, serving as head of operations for air-defence planning.
In July 2001 he assumed command of the Air Force in Cyprus. He leaves a wife, Eleftheria, and two children Frankiskos, 19, and Maria, 17.
Three other officers lost their lives in the crash, Naval Lieutenant Nicos Georgiou, and Flight Lieutenants Paris Athanassiades and Michalis Shiakallis.
Flt. Lt. Athanassiades, 33, was born on March 14, 1969, in Famagusta. He went to flight school in 1987 and graduated on May 30, 1991, as a Flying Officer.
In December 1994 he was promoted to First Lieutenant, and four years later became a helicopter commander. He leaves behind a wife, Maria, and daughters Stella, 9, Egli, 5, and Andrea, 11 months.
Lt. Georgiou, 30, was born in Cameroon on October 12, 1971. He grew up in Cyprus after his family moved to the island when he was three. He went to Navy school in 1988 and graduated in June 1992 as a midshipman. He served in various units and on ships in the Greek Navy rising to the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1999.
From August 1999 he served in Cyprus on patrol boats until being transferred to the office of the National Guard Chief of General Staff in September 2000, where he served as adjutant to General Florakis.
First Lieutenant Michalis Shiakallis, 26, was born on April 5, 1976. He went to flight school in 1994, graduating in 1998 as a Flying Officer. On December 31, 2001 he was promoted to First Lieutenant, and served as a co- pilot in the helicopter division. He was single.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 'We heard a low throbbing noise from the engines before they cut out'By Soteris Charalambous
MIKE Morton witnessed the tragic events of yesterday morning from the veranda of a house less than 300 yards from the site of the crash, and was the first to notify the emergency services.
Morton, a 45-year-old BBC television journalist, is on holiday visiting his father-in-law. He told the Cyprus Mail he was awakened by the sound of the "labouring engine" of the helicopter as it flew directly over his father-in-law's house before crashing.
"It was flying low and awoke my father-in-law who got to the veranda just before me," Morton said. "We heard what sounded like a low throbbing noise from the engines before they cut out, followed by a loud explosion. By the time we got to the veranda the wreck was engulfed in a fireball."
He said the helicopter, which was flying from Nicosia to the Andreas Papandreou air base at Paphos, appeared to be attempting an emergency landing.
"From what I heard it seemed to be circling the area," he said. "Once the engine cut out it plummeted. It was obvious straight away that no-one could have survived."
"First on the scene was the local mayor and policemen with some local farmers about 30 minutes after the crash. The first emergency vehicles arrived about five or ten minutes later, " Morton added.
Six emergency vehicles and three ambulances attended the scene.
The house where Morton is staying is located on a remote escarpment looking down on the Dhiarizos Valley, and is in an area regularly used by military helicopters for exercises.
"Two military helicopters had recently been doing manoeuvres in the area," Morton said. He added that he took pictures of the wreckage at the scene, but that his film was confiscated by police officers investigating the incident.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Envoy recalled as expenses probe beginsBy Soteris Charalambous
CHARALAMBOS Ioannides, the Cyprus ambassador in Moscow, has been recalled from his position by the Foreign Ministry pending an investigation into alleged irregular expense claims made at the embassy.
Christodoulos Pashardis, the ministry's Director-general, is leading the investigation, and confirmed that the ambassador had arrived in Cyprus yesterday morning.
"He was recalled from his post to ensure that he could in no way influence the investigation," Pashardis said.
He also explained that Ambassador Tassos Jonis has been sent to Moscow to gather evidence for the investigation and will interview all staff at the embassy. "According to the regulations he must interview all persons involved or those who can provide evidence or give any information that can aid the investigation," Pashardis said.
Ioannides allegedly made payments of $900 to a fictitious housemaid to mask false claims for expenses.
"It is not the amount, it is the principle," the director-general said.
The alleged financial irregularities are reported to have taken place between October and December last year when expense receipts were submitted claiming salary payments for a second housemaid.
The Foreign Ministry asked the embassy in Moscow for more details about the new employee, and advised that a second housemaid was not required. An internal investigation was undertaken, headed by Pashardis.
"We are obliged to file a report to the Attorney-general's office within 40 days. During his absence the chargé d'affaires will carry out the Ambassador's duties."
Once the report has been filed a copy will be sent to the Auditor-general's office and the Attorney-general before any decision is taken. Pashardis said that if the allegations against Ioannides are proven, "the ambassador will be asked to resign his position immediately".
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Age of consent compromise 'had to be done'By Jean Christou
A MEMBER of the House Legal Affairs Committee yesterday defended its decision to raise the age of consent for heterosexuals to 17 as a way of not having to reduce the age for homosexuals to 16.
Both the state legal services and deputies were unable to say what the implications of raising the legal age of consent for heterosexuals would be, however, since it will make it illegal for anyone under 17 to have sex.
Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides said 17 had been the age put forward by deputies and that he didn't know what "they were thinking".
The government was forced to reduce -- against its will -- the age of consent for homosexuals to 16, to bring the law into line with that on heterosexuals to appease Europe.
But the House compromise of raising the age of consent for heterosexuals could cause legal problems.
In essence it means that anyone having sexual relations with a 16-year-old will be committing a criminal offence. Even though this is currently legal, next week it won't be.
Legal Affairs Committee member DISY deputy Ionas Nicolaou confirmed to the Cyprus Mail yesterday that this was indeed the case. But it is likely that under the new law, in most cases involving underage consenting sex such as between teenagers, the authorities would probably turn as blind eye, as is sometimes the case now with girls over 15.
Nicolaou also said that deputies had inserted a provision in the new law to permit marriage between heterosexuals, with parental consent, at the age of 16. But sex between such couples will still be illegal until after the wedding.
"We don't think the new situation will cause any big problems in changing the age for girls from 16 to 17," Nicolaou said. "I believe that the authorities will not be so strict about that."
Nicolaou admitted that the only reason the law was changed was because the government was under pressure from Europe to equalise all laws relating to heterosexuals and homosexuals. "It's something we had to do," he said.
Nicolaou said parliament believed that Cypriot society was not ready to accept a drop in the age of consent for homosexuals to 16.
"I'm not very happy because we changed the age, but we have to do something that comes from Europe and the only way that we can do this is to change the age, because otherwise we would have a problem with the other side" (the gay lobby).
The new law had been due to go before parliament today, but the session has been cancelled after yesterday's National Guard helicopter crash.
Several Euro MPs warned late last year that they would vote against the island's EU accession unless changes in the consent laws were made as soon as possible. Each member state is allowed to set its own age of consent, as long as equality exists for all citizens, homosexual or heterosexual.
In 1993 gay architect Alecos Modinos won his battle at the European Court of Human Rights forcing Cyprus to decriminalise homosexuality. The law was changed in 1998.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Near-miss over Kornos? Rubbish, says ministerBy Jean Christou
REPORTS that two airliners came within 50 seconds of colliding over Kornos on Monday were criticised by Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday.
According to Politis newspaper, the incident involved a Cyprus Airways Airbus A320 (Flight 205 from Warsaw) with 138 passengers on board and a British Airways Boeing 757 (Flight 663 to London Heathrow, with 180 passengers).
The BA flight had just left Larnaca Airport and was on a collision course with the CY jet when disaster was averted by the quick action of Nicosia Air Traffic Control, the paper said. Monday afternoon's incident left the two planes within 50 seconds and six miles of colliding, Politis added.
The paper said the blunder should have been spotted by the control tower at Larnaca, but said that despite having top-of-the-range radar equipment, staff there have not been trained to use it because of internal labour disputes on training and promotions.
Neophytou denied that a near-miss had occurred. He said that the BA pilot went briefly off course, but that even if he had ignored instructions from Nicosia to resume the correct course no collision would have taken place.
Yesterday morning he and the Civil Aviation Department reviewed the entire incident, examining video tapes, voice recordings and other data.
"Even without adjusting his course, at the alleged point of collision the vertical distance between the two planes would have been 1,000 feet and the (horizontal) separation would have been three kilometres," Neophytou said.
A spokesman for British Airways in Nicosia said none of its aircraft was involved in anything like a near-miss over Cyprus on Monday.
"We can confirm that the captain of flight BA663 from Larnaca to London on July 8 went slightly off course after take-off for less than 20 seconds," the spokesman said. "He was alerted by air traffic control and took corrective action immediately. During the incident the flight passed another aircraft coming in to land. This is not regarded as a near miss and the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) did not activate on either flight. Our pilot filed a report which will be investigated."
All modern aircraft are fitted with TCAS, which gives pilots around 48 seconds to take corrective action if the alarm sounds.
Defending the allegation that Larnaca didn't spot the BA pilot's mistake, Neophytou said the important thing was that Air Traffic Control did -- and alerted the captain accordingly.
"We have a very modern system and experienced controllers," he said. "This was a case of congratulating the controllers, not blaming them and the system. What's the difference who spotted the mistake? The system and the good controllers noticed the fault of the pilot and gave instructions to correct his course."
Neophytou also denied the reports that Larnaca controllers did not know how to use the new radar equipment.
"It's not true that no one knows how to use it," he said. "It's really a pity that in the case of some other countries because of the fault of controllers people lost their lives. In Cyprus because of the controllers we save lives, and it upsets us greatly the way this incident has been presented. It was a great opportunity to say good things about the people and the modern system, but they presented it like a catastrophe."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002