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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, July 23, 2002


  • [01] Government dismisses flag furore
  • [02] Probe ordered into police brutality claim
  • [03] Violation of human rights? Markides seeks changes on hearsay evidence
  • [04] Market plunges to new low
  • [05] Cypriots march through London in invasion protest

  • [01] Government dismisses flag furore

    By George Psyllides

    THE MINISTRIES of Education and Defence are the only official buildings allowed to fly the Greek flag, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Papapetrou was responding to critics who claimed the government had ordered all Greek flags to be removed from government buildings.

    Papapetrou said that the reactions were expressions of "pseudo-patriotism" and that "real patriotism entails real bolstering of our state entity and religious adherence to the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus".

    "The Republic of Cyprus, is recognised by all countries on the globe, with the exception of the occupying power, and is trying to join the EU," Papapetrou said.

    "This is the way to serve the real interests of Greek Cypriots in Cyprus," he added.

    The issue emerged after Machi claimed on Sunday the government had bowed to pressure from the EU to remove all Greek flags from government buildings.

    The paper claimed the move came after a suggestion by Europe Parliament official Jacques Poos.

    Papapetrou denied this, saying Poos had merely commented about seeing Greek and Cyprus flags flying side by side on buildings.

    According to a senior government official, ministries have always flown the Cypriot flag alone, though Machi did report a recent case of a Greek flag removed from Limassol hospital.

    Machi also claimed its offices had been inundated by phone calls from concerned citizens who were worried the removal of Greek flags would hamper the "peoples' fighting spirit".

    But Papapetrou yesterday quoted articles in the constitution, which define the design of island's flag and the use of both Greek and Turkish flags on public buildings.

    According to Article four, paragraph one, "The Republic shall have its own flag of neutral design and colour, chosen jointly by the President (Greek Cypriot) and the Vice-President (Turkish Cypriot) of the Republic.

    "The authorities of the Republic and any public corporation or public utility body created by or under the laws of the Republic shall fly the flag of the Republic and they shall have the right to fly on holidays together with the flag of the Republic both the Greek and Turkish flags at the same time," paragraph two of the article said.

    According to Papapetrou, there are two exceptions to the rule. The one concerns the Ministry of Education and school buildings, which fell under the authority of the two (Greek and Turkish) communal chambers.

    Education issues were left to the two communities, and since the Education Ministry was effectively the replacement of the Greek Communal Chamber, formed under a special law passed in the wake of inter-communal strife, schools and the ministry fly the Greek flag.

    The second exemption concerned the Ministry of Defence and the National Guard, Papapetrou said.

    He explained that the National Guard had been formed by the Greek Cypriots during the strife, and due to this peculiarity flying the Greek flag was justified.

    He added that the National Guard was acting as the Republic's de facto army.

    According to Article 129 of the constitution, "the Republic should have an army of 2,000 men, of whom 60 per cent should be Greek and 40 per cent Turks".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Probe ordered into police brutality claim

    By George Psyllides

    POLICE have launched an investigation into claims that drug squad officers staking a Nicosia district petrol station beat up a motorist.

    The incident happened on Saturday night at a petrol station in the village of Nisou outside Nicosia.

    Lefteris Georgiou, 29, claimed he had gone to the petrol station to fill his car when he was grabbed and beaten by officers staking out the site in anticipation of a drug sale.

    Drug Squad Chief George Papageorgiou yesterday confirmed there had been an incident, but said Georgiou had tried to flee the place, ignoring police calls to stop.

    Papageorgiou said the officers had tried to stop him, and that was when the incident occured.

    "The man drove into the station, saw the officers and reversed in an attempt to leave.

    "The officers thought he was a suspect and tried to stop him," Papageorgiou said.

    He added that whatever happened next would be the focus of an investigation launched immediately after the incident.

    Papageorgiou admitted no drugs had been found on Georgiou, but defended his officers, adding the main suspect in the case had stopped for a search and that nothing happened to him.

    "The officers had no intention of hitting anyone," Papageorgiou said.

    Georgiou claimed officers beat him on the head with their guns, while his father, who threatened to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, claimed that one officer threatened to shoot his son.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday the government was against any form of violence against citizens, even if they were involved in criminal activities.

    "Police can only use the required force to the degree where it is absolutely necessary to fulfil its legal duties," Papapetrou said.

    "The beating of any citizen, especially a citizen with no evidence found against him, is totally unacceptable," he added.

    Papapetrou confirmed that police had appointed a senior officer to investigate the incident, adding that the Attorney-general was considering opening a criminal investigation into the case.

    Papapetrou insisted that if the investigation found any wrongdoing, no one should have the slightest doubt that the government would take strict measures to stamp out such behaviour.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Violation of human rights? Markides seeks changes on hearsay evidence

    By Soteris Charalambous

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides has proposed changes to the law of evidence that, if passed, will allow previously inadmissible documentary evidence to be heard in court and introduce hearsay as a convicting tool for the prosecution.

    Markides described the proposed changes as, "a new exception to the rule against hearsay." He described the bill as, "a replica of the (British) Civil Evidence Act of 1995," set to be applied to both criminal and civil law.

    As an example of how changes relating to admissibility of documents would affect the practice of law, Markides described the situation of trying cases of alleged manipulation of stock market prices on the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE). "If I can introduce evidence to the effect that the computer system of the CSE is quite safe, then I will proceed to introduce the results of a search concerning specific acts by particular individuals with respect to shares in particular companies over a period of time. Now I have to prove the sale and the purchase of the shares case by case, which sometimes is virtually impossible." Markides said.

    The Attorney-general also gave an example of how hearsay evidence could be used under the proposed changes. "If I find a case where a famous brand of whisky has been illegally imported into Cyprus, I can take the person to court and will not have to analyse what is in the bottle, if the bottle is sealed and the labelling is clear." Under the present system the defendant can claim that the accusation is hearsay because the contents of bottle have not been proven to be whisky. This results in the bottle being sent for testing to prove that it contains whisky or the case being dismissed on the grounds that the evidence is hearsay.

    Ionas Nicolaou, Deputy Chairman of the Legal affair Committee, said yesterday's meeting of the House Legal Affairs Committee had heard objections from AKEL, who asked that the bill should not be discussed on Thursday at the final meeting of the House Plenum before the summer recess. He also said, "DIKO deputies want a differentiation to be made between Criminal and Civil law concerning its application and were ready to vote on the bill as it would apply to Civil law, although they wanted time to discuss the matter within the party today before their official position would be made to the Plenum." According to Nicolaou, DISY have sent a letter to the President of the House for the issue to be placed on the Plenum agenda on Thursday.

    The proposed bill has split the judges of the Supreme Court. A memo was sent to the House by seven out of 13 of the judges, including its President, voicing disapproval of the proposed changes, and describing the proposals as unconstitutional and unethical. When asked about the judges' memo Markides replied, "That is a matter of opinion."

    According to Phileleftheros, the memo makes specific reference to articles of the constitution and claims that the proposed changes represent a violation of human rights.

    "In that case, it means that the whole of Europe, except Cyprus, is living under unacceptable conditions," Markides said.

    Nicolaou was more forthright. "I disagree with the judges' opinion. The rights they say are being violated are rights which are secured by the European Convention of Human Rights and enforced by the European Courts." In specific reference to the objection of the use of 'hearsay' evidence in the courts, Nicolaou asked, "The European Courts admit hearsay as evidence, are they violating human rights?"

    He added that the proposed changes had arisen "based on the current needs for proving cases, and the need to modernise a legal system, imported from England, that dates back to 1914."

    Nicolaou cited the example of cases involving unpaid cheques to highlight the limitations of the present system. "It is not enough to present a cheque (to the court) stamped by the bank stating that it was unpaid due to insufficient funds. You are required to bring in an employee from the bank to give evidence of when the cheque was represented and when the account did not hold sufficient funds for it to be paid."

    However, Michalis Pelekanos, a leading defence lawyer practicing out of the Pelekanos Evangelos law office in Larnaca, described the bill as a "major disaster for our judicial system if it gets passed." He believed the changes should be applied to civil law but was adamant that their application to criminal law would be a disaster.

    Pelekanos believes the problem lies in the fact that the English system it is proposing to duplicate is based on a system of law with juries, whereas three-man panels of judges decide where to apply the law in Cyprus.

    "The whole system depends on the exact evidence received by the court. It is easy to trick judges and to falsify evidence. Even under the existing procedures regarding evidence we have innocent people ending up in jail," said Pelekanos. "It is better to have 10 guilty persons found not guilty rather than for one innocent man to be found guilty."

    He explained that under the Cypriot judicial system, police handle the investigation of the case, and then present the evidence to an independent judge, whereas in Europe most prosecution cases are presented by a district attorney. "An investigative judicial system exists in Europe - in Cyprus the system is arbitrary. The judge remains impartial in Cyprus, whereas in Europe the judge is allowed to take part in the proceedings, ask questions and deal with evidence," said Pelekanos.

    He believes the proposed changes in the law would dramatically increase the risk of evidence being falsified because of the enormous increase of powers given to police. "Every lawyer can provide you with evidence of fake evidence being provided by the police," he said.

    Asked about the increased risk of false imprisonment because of the proposed changes, Markides replied, "By changing the law we will introduce common sense (into the legal system) in order for the courts to be able to consider the truth and substance of the matter whether the litigant has proved his case or not."

    Nicolaou echoed the sentiment: " These changes apply to our evidence system and for the correct dispensing of justice. You cannot have criminals walking among us who are simply not condemned because of the (weakness of the) evidence law."

    Nicolaou expressed pessimism about the prospects of the bill being passed because one of the parties had expressed its desire for the hearing of the bill to be postponed - an opinion that seemed at odds with at least one lawyer: "Unfortunately, politics will decide on the changes at the end of the day not the law," said Pelekanos.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Market plunges to new low

    Jean Christou

    THE STOCK market plunged to new depths yesterday, hitting a three-year low after nosediving 2.8 per cent to 86 points, as investors continued the big sell-off.

    Share prices opened at around Friday's 89-point close, but the index went into a steep dive and failed to rally at any point throughout the 90-minute trading session. Volume reached almost 862,000 as investors offloaded both normal and blue-chip stocks.

    Pressure on the FTSE/CySE blue chips index left it at 362 points, a massive four per cent drop, taking the three main banks into the most-active list and leaving them well into the red.

    Bank of Cyprus fell seven cents to close at 1.41, Laiki dropped four cents to 1.16 and Hellenic two cents to 0.71.

    All but one sector ended in the red, banking falling by 4.17 per cent, investment by 1.94 per cent, insurance 3.80 per cent, manufacturing 0.81 per cent, tourism 1.54 per cent, trading 2.74 per cent, construction 1.14 per cent, technology 0.32 per cent, financial 2.27 per cent, hotels 1.24 per cent and other companies 2.62 per cent. Only fish culture companies showed slight gains of 1.81 per cent.

    Only 20 companies recorded any gains compared to 61 decliners and 66 titles that remained unchanged.

    One web analyst called the day's trading a "bloodbath".

    A market observer told the Cyprus Mail that people simply had no money to invest and even if they had money they were not willing to put it on the market any more. "They would rather invest in real estate now," he said. "Why would anyone invest on a falling market? If you invest 100 today by Friday it will be worth 70."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Cypriots march through London in invasion protest

    THOUSANDS of Greek Cypriots living in Britain marched through London on Sunday, demanding freedom and justice for Cyprus and the withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers from the island.

    Chanting slogans and holding Cyprus flags and placards, the demonstrators called on the British government and the international community to work for the restoration of human rights of all Cypriots violated by Turkey for the past 28 years.

    The annual march started from Victoria Embankment and ended at Trafalgar Square, where Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides addressed the crowd.

    Headed by British parliamentarians, mayors of Turkish-occupied municipalities and leaders of the Cypriot community in Britain, the march stopped at the Cenotaph, where Cypriot veterans of World War Two laid flowers.

    A delegation of the marchers headed by Haris Sophoclides, President of the National Federation of Cypriots in Great Britain, went on to 10 Downing Street to hand over a letter addressed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Sophoclides said in his letter that hopes for an agreement in Cyprus by this summer have already vanished, and even the end of the year appears to be an impossible target in view of the political instability that has gripped Turkey.

    He also referred to Britain's role in matters that affect Cyprus and stresses: "As the United States and Britain follow a policy of a fairer and more moral world, so we have great expectations of your government, not only for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus dispute, but also for the future of the European Union and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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