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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, July 18, 2002


  • [01] State lab orders destruction of Royal Jelly brands after antibiotic traces found
  • [02] Outgoing US ambassador: settlement is 'within grasp'
  • [03] EAC to spend 800 million in the next decade
  • [04] European court rejects killer's appeal
  • [05] Turkish planes fly over Kaimakli
  • [06] Three remanded over massive telephone scame
  • [07] Question time for the English School
  • [08] Cabinet again puts off decision on EAC's telecoms venture
  • [09] Sad end for Myrtle the turtle

  • [01] State lab orders destruction of Royal Jelly brands after antibiotic traces found

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TRACES of the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol have been found in a specific brand of imported royal jelly, the head of the State lab, Dina Akkelidou, said yesterday.

    Chloramphenicol is used in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria and works by killing bacteria or preventing their growth. But the problem lies in the fact that this particular drug can cause the very serious condition of aplastic anaemia, she said.

    "The manufacture and use of chloramphenicol was prohibited decades ago because of this dangerous side effect. Now, it is only used in very limited cases for serious infections in which other medicines do not work and the patient's doctor closely monitors its dosage," said Akkelidou. "It has even been banned in animals, although some people still use it to prevent specific forms of bacteria from developing in their livestock or to fatten them up."

    The European Union Rapid Alert System had alerted the state lab about the product category royal jelly and capsules of lyophilised royal jelly of the brands Gelle Royale Pure Vrac, Gelle Royale Lyophilisee and Royal Jelly Top 800-Kaps, containing traces of the antibiotic, said Akkelidou.

    "All countries carry out both routine and spot checks on certain products," she said. "However, irrespective of how large or efficient a state laboratory is, it is virtually impossible to investigate every single product on the market. With this in mind, the EU established the Rapid Alert System. When one country finds traces of a potentially harmful substance in one of their products, all other member states are informed and can carry out their own surveys."

    That was why a complete analysis on the particular products was carried out, which confirmed the presence of the potentially lethal antibiotic, she said.

    Akkelidou said that although there were occasional spot checks on products that were least likely to contain harmful substances, the state lab could not test every single foodstuff.

    "Royal jelly is not part of our routine investigation programme, which was why we did not know traces of the antibiotic had been added to it. In fact it was by chance that another EU country found traces of it as well," she said, explaining that it was not a product that was usually investigated.

    Royal jelly is the food secreted by the nurse bees and fed to the growing Queen. It is a very rich source of proteins and contains eight essential amino acids, important fatty acids, sugars, sterols and phosphorous compounds, vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E and folic acid. It also supplies the minerals, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorous, potassium, silicon and sulphur. Although royal jelly has been traditionally known to prolong youthfulness and improve skin beauty, evidence also indicates that the substance increases energy, alleviates anxiety, sleeplessness, moodiness, memory loss, and bolsters the immune system.

    "I do not know if chloramphenicol was administered to the bees themselves or if it was directly added to the royal jelly. Either way it is irrelevant, because the fact remains that an illegal, potentially dangerous substance was present in a product being consumed by the public, and it is our job to see that it is located, removed from the market and destroyed," said Akkelidou.

    So far, no one had showed any signs of suffering from aplastic anaemia. However, it might still be too early to tell as it was not a disease that manifested overnight, she said.

    Patients with aplastic anaemia have a complete failure of production of all types of blood cells. As a result, the bone marrow contains large numbers of fat cells instead of the blood producing cells, which would ordinarily be present, according to the UK Leukaemia Research Fund.

    "The disease in most cases is acquired, and it is thought that the damage to bone marrow stem cells is caused by an auto-immune reaction. This happens when the body's immune cells become confused and start to attack body tissues.

    "In about three quarters of all cases of aplastic anaemia this autoimmune reaction has no clear underlying cause, but there is evidence of exposure to certain drugs, chemicals and diseases that are known to cause damage to bone marrow stem cells," said the Fund. One such antibiotic is chloramphenicol.

    Symptoms include fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath on exertion, rapid heart rate, infections, rashes, unexplained widespread bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and prolonged bleeding. Initial symptoms may appear to be nothing worse than excessive tiredness or a bout of flu.

    Severe aplastic anaemia is a life-threatening condition. Studies have shown that mortality one year after diagnosis is more than 80 per cent for patients with a severe condition of the disease that is not treated aggressively. Non-severe conditions have a better prognosis.

    The state lab intends to carry out more surveys on other royal jelly products as well as imported shrimps that have been said to contain traces of chloramphenicol. Three years ago, the lab also found traces of the antibiotic in local pork, said Akkelidou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Outgoing US ambassador: settlement is 'within grasp'

    By Jean Christou

    U.S. AMBASSADOR Donald Bandler said yesterday that a political settlement in Cyprus would require compromise and hard decisions but was optimistic that a solution could be reached.

    Speaking to reporters at a farewell news conference, Bandler, who will be leaving the island after three years as ambassador, said the task to find a settlement would not be easy, "but it is within grasp".

    "I am convinced from my encounters with people across the island that Greek and Turkish Cypriots realise they have before them a better opportunity than ever before to reshape a common future," Bandler said.

    "For better or worse, the decisions Cypriots take leading up to the Copenhagen EU summit in December will have an important impact on Cyprus for years to come."

    Urging both sides to work for a settlement, he said: "A settlement is not only a commitment to your own future, it will also make a contribution to the process of Greek-Turkish rapprochement and security in the Mediterranean basin."

    Bandler referred to the co-operation between Cyprus and the US in various fields, including education, and hailed the bicommunal initiatives on the island, which the US supports together with the UN.

    He said good examples of this were the ongoing projects to restore the Apostolos Andreas Monastery in the north and the Hala Sultan Tekke on Larnaca's Salt Lake, building the Nicosia sewerage system and restoring walls and neighbourhoods of old Nicosia.

    "As a result of these efforts, Cypriots from both sides have gotten to know one another and started to work together again," Bandler said. "Their experiences and new links will make a settlement more likely to succeed," he said.

    Bandler also said he wished to thank all Cypriots for their support after September 11 and said his country greatly appreciated Cyprus' support in the war against terrorism.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] EAC to spend 800 million in the next decade

    By George Psyillides

    AROUND 800 million will be spent by the Electricity Authority (EAC) in the next 10 years for the transfer and distribution of power as well as the completion of the new power station at Vasiliko near Limassol, EAC Chairman George Georgiades said yesterday.

    Speaking at a news conference, Georgiades said the authority's budget for 2002 was 247 million, while, between 2002 and 2011, the EAC would spend 792.5 million on projects for the production, transfer and distribution of electricity.

    Of that total, 356 million have been earmarked for the completion of the new power station at Vasiliko.

    According to Georgiades, the EAC's profit after tax for 2001 was 28.3 million, compared to 29.9 million in 2000.

    The income from the sale of electricity in 2001 reached 180.3 million -- 58.7 million for domestic use, 81.6 million for commercial, 33 million for industrial, 4.8 million for agricultural, and 2.7 million for public lighting.

    Georgiades said the authority's strategic goals were the reliable supply of power at the lowest possible price, the efficient operation of the organisation, and taking advantage of market liberalisation to the full.

    The EAC's current maximum output is 988MW, stemming from its three power stations in Dhekelia, Moni, and Vasiliko.

    Georgiades revealed that yesterday's supply of electricity had reached a new record high with 743MW. The previous high was recorded earlier this month with 726MW.

    Cyprus currently holds the fifth place out of 14 European countries for the lowest cost of electricity for domestic use - seven cents per kWh.

    That, however, will soon change with price adjustments that will push Cyprus down to seventh place with 7.26 cents per kWh.

    On the industrial front, Cyprus is the second most expensive country on average - supplying power at 6.05 cents per kWh. However, once adjustments are made to stop the subsidisation of household consumption by industry, Cyprus would move down to fourth most expensive with 4.95 cents per kWh.

    Regarding the organisation's future plans, Georgiades reiterated the desire to acquire a piece of the telecommunications pie by competing for a mobile service licence as part of a consortium.

    Apart from that, the EAC is joining the Hellas Sat telecommunications satellite project with a 25 per cent stake. The satellite is expected to be put into orbit in 2003.

    Hellas Sat is a $250 million satellite consortium between Greek and Cypriot companies, which will help in the transmission of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

    Cypriot firm Avacom Net now owns 43.4 per cent of the venture, Greece' telecoms firm OTE holds 25 per cent and the Cyprus Development Bank 19.6 per cent.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] European court rejects killer's appeal

    THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights has ruled that a Briton convicted of killing his Cypriot wife in 1997 was given a fair trial, the Attorney- general's office said yesterday.

    David Parris, then 31, was jailed for 15 years for murdering his wife Avgoustina in February 1996. The prosecution found that Parris had strangled his wife and then thrown her out of their Nicosia apartment window, eight metres from the ground, after a row about money.

    The defence argued that she had fallen from the window and died from her injuries.

    Parris appealed his conviction at the Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of the criminal court. He then took his case to the European Court of Human Rights, which has now ruled that Parris did receive a fair trial.

    According to the announcement from the Attorney-general's office, the European Court ruled that Parris had been given ample opportunity to dispute the testimony of the prosecution during his trial "something which he did".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Turkish planes fly over Kaimakli

    THE DEFENCE Ministry said yesterday that several Turkish military planes had flown over the UN-controlled buffer zone and violated the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR).

    A Defence Ministry official told CyBC that two Turkish F16s and three F4s had violated Cypriot airspace over two Nicosia suburbs, Kaimakli and Vorios Polos, close to the Green Line.

    The planes were running through a rehearsal for Saturday's military parade in the occupied areas to mark the 28th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    A UN official confirmed that several Turkish military planes had flown over the buffer zone.

    "This inability to determine the area of the buffer zone is something that seems to happen on an annual basis at this time of the year," the UN official said.

    It is likely the UN will follow up the issue of the air-space violation with the Turkish Cypriot side, UN sources told the Cyprus Mail - "although the incident was not unexpected," the official added.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash began direct talks on a Cyprus solution in mid-January. The UN-led talks entered their fifth round on Tuesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Three remanded over massive telephone scame

    A NICOSIA court yesterday remanded three men in custody for seven days on suspicion of setting up a telecommunications network that allowed them to bill over 200,000 worth of international calls to a Bank of Cyprus branch, police said.

    The case first came to light when the bank's Telecommunications System mechanic at the Plati branch in Aglandja noted inflated telephone bills that exceeded 215,000 for two of its telephone lines during the months of May and June.

    Police said the employee reported that for the month of May the telephone bill for both lines was over 40,000. When the Telecommunication Authority was alerted, the bank discovered that it had been overcharged a total of 175,000 for the month of June as well. The phone line theft continued on into the first two weeks of July as well, but the amount stolen has not yet been estimated.

    The calls were traced to a Latsia newsagent's, where police found a telephone system that allowed it to divert calls from Europe, Canada and America to various countries in Asia, the Far East and North America and to charge to the bank. Over 700 calls were made in this manner, it was reported.

    The newsagent, as well as another two men, was arrested in connection with the case.

    CyTA general manager Nicos Timotheou explained that the swindle had probably been able to take place due to a weakness in the bank's telephone system that allowed the suspects to connect to it and make outgoing calls.

    Police have alerted Interpol to track down those who used this illegal telephone system and are expected to take 40 statements in connection with the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Question time for the English School

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    QUESTIONS are being asked about the status of the English School in Nicosia, with deputies saying it's time to reform an "outdated and inadequate" structure.

    The questions arose as the school's board of governors faced a barrage of questions on the state of the school's finances, development and accountability during a meeting of the House Education Committee.

    "The unique status of the English School in Nicosia puts it in a position outside the framework of private or public school legislation," the Chairman of the committee, Prodromos Prodromou of DISY, said yesterday.

    "The fact that the school is not accountable to the Education Ministry, given its unique status, gives rise to a number of questions on various issues that deputies want answered," he added.

    A board of management representative, Magda Nicholson, told the Cyprus Mail that the English School was the only state school in Cyprus governed by a special law in the constitution. The Reverend Canon Newham established the school in 1900 and later donated it to the government under the provision that it remained independent and English speaking - a status that was maintained after independence.

    But Prodromou yesterday described the legislation covering regulation of the school as outdated and inadequate. Under existing legislation, the school is governed by a system of internal regulation, making it unaccountable to parliament. The board of governors of the school is appointed by and answerable to the Cabinet and the president. This creates a vacuum in accountability, said Prodromou, given that nobody in the Cabinet can be held politically accountable for the school.

    Deputies also inquired about the internal regulations and procedures governing staff and whether there were motivational incentives for them, said Prodromou.

    One of the issues discussed during the meeting concerned the finances of the school and the question of whether the school was keeping up with changes and standards in the educational arena, in terms of facilities and infrastructure.

    Nicholson said the Cabinet had approved a 1.5 million loan paid by the government to expand the school's infrastructure under a five-year-plan, including new classrooms to reduce the number of students per class, a new science building and a new hall. She maintained the school board followed public school regulations in many areas and was in constant contact with the Ministries of Education and Interior.

    But Prodromou pointed out that the newly appointed Interior Minister, Andreas Panayotou, a retired civil servant, was in a position of conflict of interest, as he also holds the chairmanship of the board. "This makes him accountable to the Council of Ministers, of which he is a member. This situation is unacceptable and needs to be rectified," said Prodromou.

    Both Nicholson and Prodromou agreed that many matters were left to discuss in October when the House returns from its summer recess.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Cabinet again puts off decision on EAC's telecoms venture

    By Jean Christou

    FOR the third week running, the Cabinet yesterday postponed a decision on whether to allow the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) to compete in the soon to be liberalised telecommunications sector.

    The proposal ran into trouble three weeks ago, when Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis and Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou clashed over whether the EAC should be eligible to bid for a mobile licence when the market was opened up later this year.

    Neophytou believes the EAC should not participate because it is a semi- government organisation. He said such a bid would not be a liberalisation of the market but a further nationalisation, since one semi-government organisation, CyTA, already holds the monopoly on telecommunications.

    Rolandis, however, says that the EAC should be allowed to bid for a licence because it has the necessary infrastructure to do so. He said it would be unfair for the EAC have to face the liberalisation of its own sector without having he opportunity to diversify and expand into other areas to offset competition in the electricity sector.

    Reports earlier this week said President Glafcos Clerides had been forced to intervene in an effort to have the two ministers reach a compromise before yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

    Rolandis said, however, that the reports were unfounded. Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, he told reporters that the ministers had started discussing the issue but decided not focus on it any further yesterday.

    "The issue will be first on the list next week and the Cabinet will make a decision," he said.

    Commenting on reports that a formula had been found to allow the EAC to compete as part of a bigger consortium, Rolandis said there were some thoughts towards that end, but he did not elaborate.

    He said it was possible that he and Neophytou would have some contact before the next Cabinet meeting.

    EAC chairman George Georgiades said yesterday it was the authority's intention to enter the mobile phone market as part of a consortium.

    "Our intention to enter the telecommunications field is directly linked to the fact that the EAC has unused telecommunications wealth at its disposal, " Georgiades told a news conference in Nicosia. "The authority has substantial infrastructure, like technical knowledge, clientele, service centres, installations, etc, that could help when aligning with a strategic investor."

    The EAC is already discussing potential co-operation with three consortiums and it is aspiring to make a competitive entrance into the field and provide an alternative choice to the public, Georgiades said.

    "We have the technical know-how and infrastructure to expand in telecommunications and we are contesting our right to compete for a licence, " he said.

    The government hopes to open up the mobile phone sector in October and expressions of interest have been received from international companies such as Vodafone, Telestet and Greece's CosmOTE, which are interested in GSM licences. The list also includes other companies from the US, France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Russia.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Sad end for Myrtle the turtle

    By Rachel Chrysostomou

    MYRTLE, the loggerhead turtle found three months ago at Curium beach suffering severe injuries, was pronounced dead yesterday, just days after being returned to seawater for rehabilitation.

    The fisherman who found Myrtle had taken her to the Cyprus Defence Animal Support Centre, where she was nursed back to health by British military vet, Captain Ian Moran, whose only previous contact with turtles had been to perform post mortems on two that had been found already dead. Myrtle's injuries - thought to have been caused by a speedboat - had included a broken jaw, an extremely swollen left eye as well as deep cuts to her head, flippers and shell. Capt Moran grew extremely attached to the turtle, having spent many hours nurturing her, under the advice of Cypriot marine biologist Andreas Demetropoulos and Senior Veterinary Officer Chief Vet at London Zoo, Tony Sainsbury. After a long course of treatment, Myrtle began to thrive in her new environment. And as she seemed well on the road to recovery, Capt Moran decided to hand the Loggerhead over to Sagra Agriculture, a fish hatchery near Paphos, for rehabilitation.

    Myrtle was released into a 40,000-litre seawater tank - her new home, under the charge of Demetropoulos. Though he had 25 years of experience and had successfully rehabilitated turtles in the past, Demetropoulos agreed that the next week would be "crucial", as the turtle had not been eating properly and had lost much muscle mass, thus becoming over-buoyant and finding it difficult to move. Nevertheless, both he and Capt Moran remained optimistic.

    They were sadly proved wrong, however, when Myrtle was found dead, floating upside down in her tank.

    "The report I received yesterday was that she was doing well, diving for food which was obviously fantastic, a positive sign," said Moran. "It is most likely that when diving for food during the night she flipped belly up and because she had lost body weight and was over buoyant she couldn't right herself. I feel gutted. I was going to see her this afternoon. It has rather taken the shine off my week. It really is a bit depressing to say the least."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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