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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-09-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, September 17, 2002


  • [01] Four held over immigrant airport scam
  • [02] Minister pledges action to avoid repeat of airport security breach
  • [03] Markides orders criminal investigation into police car scam claims
  • [04] Bases status under the microscope at Brussels talks
  • [05] European Comission discussion time announcement
  • [06] Call for reform on treatment of juveniles
  • [07] Clerides briefs National Council on talks progress

  • [01] Four held over immigrant airport scam

    By a Staff Reporter

    FOUR men were remanded in custody for eight days yesterday, suspected of involvement in a scam in which an airport worker allegedly took money to smuggle asylum seekers past immigration controls.

    The Larnaca District court yesterday ordered the remand of the four - three Syrians and a Lebanese, all Greek-speaking. One was suspected of being the leader of the ring, another - a Lebanese permanent resident of Cyprus - was employed by a travel agency at the airport and had unrestricted access to all areas at the premises, and the last two had allegedly paid to be helped through.

    The officer in charge of the case told the court the alleged ringleader would charge his clients 2,000 each, from which he paid the airport worker a 600 commission.

    Acting on a tip-off, members of CID placed the travel agency employee under surveillance. On Sunday, he was seen leading an immigrant out of the staff exit and into a taxi. Police followed the taxi to Larnaca, and arrested the two when they alighted.

    The suspected ringleader and another man who came to the scene were also arrested. After searching the immigrant, police found $2,000, which, he said, he was due to pay for having got through customs.

    Further investigation revealed that the man allegedly leading the scam and the suspect accompanying him were also illegal immigrants.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Minister pledges action to avoid repeat of airport security breach

    By a Staff Reporter

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday that security at Larnaca airport had been seriously compromised after an illegal immigrant evaded passport control with the assistance of an airport worker and casually walked into the country through a staff exit.

    Speaking at a news conference after the incident, Neophytou said the state was entirely to blame for what had happened.

    "This is a state issue and we take full responsibility," he said.

    Neophytou said the relevant parties would wait for the results of a police investigation into the security breach.

    "Our primary objective at the moment is to take the necessary steps so that our country is never again marred by a similar case," he said, warning that similar actions by any airport staff would not be tolerated.

    Neophytou admitted that a recent study on airport security showed there were some gaps.

    "We were under the impression that with the added security measures we would not come across cases like this one," he said.

    "But when a system is based on the human factor, when someone wants to turn a blind eye, the damage will be done."

    Asked whether heads would roll after the security breach, Neophytou said the government would not point the finger at anyone without first giving them the chance to explain themselves.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Markides orders criminal investigation into police car scam claims

    By George Psyllides

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday asked the police to appoint criminal investigators to look into a case allegedly involving officers from the force evading duty by importing luxury cars in spare parts before illegally assembling them and selling them on in Cyprus.

    The case has gathered momentum since customs officers on Sunday seized two luxury vehicles belonging to a company linked to a senior officer serving at the police academy. Yesterday, it emerged that the son of Police Chief Andreas Angelides had acquired a car from the same company.

    Civil servants are not allowed to have a second job or operate a company.

    In this case, the company under investigation, ANE Cars, is, according to Politis, registered to the police officer's daughter. She, however, is still a student studying abroad.

    The officer at the centre of the allegations, Yiannakis Panayiotou, has denied the claims, claiming all duties had been paid for the two cars seized from his home on Saturday.

    "No one has the right to tarnish the name of an honest officer," Panayiotou said.

    Politis claimed one of the cars seized had been imported as scrap, but according to Panayiotou it had been examined by a three-member committee who judged that it could be repaired.

    For the second car, Panayiotou said he paid 6,000 import duty, adding: "I wonder why customs issued the permits if the cars were scrap".

    Angelides yesterday rubbished Politis' reports that his son had in any way been involved in any illegality and wondered why the newspaper chose to report on the matter under a banner headline when his son was just one on a long list of people who bought cars from the company.

    "I leave it to the peoples' judgement to draw their own conclusions," Angelides said.

    He added he had already drawn his conclusions, and had nothing to fear as he had done nothing wrong.

    But Angelides said the CID would, in conjunction with the Customs Department, investigate the case, and assured that the force would consider suspending the officer if it emerged in the course of the investigation that he had done wrong.

    The Police Chief insisted no other police officer was involved in the alleged scam.

    Markides said yesterday that if customs law had been violated, there would also be a criminal case to answer.

    Speaking after a meeting with Customs Department Director Zeta Emilianidou and Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Andys Tryfonides, Markides said no one else was involved in the case apart from a specific senior officer. However, he warned that old files of similar cases, which had been closed due to the lack of evidence, could be re-opened.

    Emilianidou said that at this stage customs were investigating whether the legal duties on the two cars seized from Panayiotou had been paid to the state.

    She added, however, that customs officials were also being investigated.

    Emilianidou rejected reports that the Customs Department and the police had been at loggerheads over the case because of suspicions of the involvement of police officers.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday also revealed there was an ongoing internal investigation by the Transport Department into how the cars had found their way to the streets.

    Neophytou said the state was responsible the for the situation from the moment it could not prevent such things from happening, pointing out that such offences could not have been perpetrated without inside help.

    The minister said the findings of the investigation were expected before the end of this week and stressed that ways would be found to prevent a repeat of such phenomena.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Bases status under the microscope at Brussels talks

    By Jean Christou

    A THREE-DAY conference on the status of the British Bases after Cyprus' accession to the EU will begin in Brussels today with the participation of government, the bases, the British Foreign Office and EU officials.

    The meeting, part of an ongoing series, is being held to discuss how the bases can continue to exist inside a member state, and how accession would affect Greek Cypriots living inside sovereign bases territory. The meetings are reportedly in the final stages, but it is likely that others will be held before a final agreement is reached.

    Britain, a guarantor power of Cyprus Independence, maintains two bases on the island under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, one at Episkopi and one at Dhekelia, both of which cover 99 square miles of the island. The bases are sovereign, but are not considered to be part of Britain and therefore not part of the EU.

    "The whole purpose of having these discussions is to make sure that Cypriots on the bases don't lose out when Cyprus joins the EU," an official at the British High Commission said yesterday. "This is in line with our policy that we've always followed that the bases mirror as close as possible what happens in the Republic. It's just a continuation of that."

    He said that if Cyprus joined the EU without any sort of reciprocal measures taken on the part of the bases, then people living on the bases could lose out. "There are all sorts of ways that they might, so that's the whole purpose of the talks to make sure they don't," he added.

    The Brussels talks will be attended by at least one person from the bases, along with British officials from London. Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou will head the island's team in Brussels but members of the legal services and the Foreign Ministry will also participate.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] European Comission discussion time announcement

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE EUROPEAN Commission yesterday announced it would issue its enlargement progress report earlier than planned, on October 9, in order to give EU Member States more time to discuss it.

    The initiative to speed up the publication of the enlargement report came from the Dutch government who wanted more time to study it, an announcement from the EU delegation in Nicosia said yesterday.

    "The Dutch Government requested additional time to judge the candidates individually and discuss the report in Parliament," the announcement said. The report was originally due to be issued by the Commission on October 16, and then adopted by the 15 EU Heads of State at their Brussels Summit on October 24 and 25.

    The Commission will make an assessment in its Report which of the 12 candidate countries have fulfilled the conditions to conclude accession negotiations by the end of 2002 and join the EU in 2004.

    Based on the Commission's recommendation, the Heads of State will make a decision at the Brussels Summit. Accession negotiations are expected to be concluded at the Copenhagen Summit on December 12 and 13, and the successful candidates are to join the EU by the end of 2004.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Call for reform on treatment of juveniles

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE Deputy Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, Ionas Nicolaou, has written to Justice Minister Nicos Koshis to complain about the overnight detention of a 13-year old by police in Limassol on September 5 and the need for a change to the law concerning juveniles.

    In his letter, he states how the 13-year-old was arrested in the late afternoon and subsequently detained until 6am the following morning following accusations of an act of vandalism - in this instance a stone thrown that smashed the window of a car.

    Nicolaou believes the present judicial system does not adequately cater for juvenile delinquency and the needs of today's society.

    "The law has a lot of problems. Present legislation doesn't differentiate between offences committed by juveniles and adults."

    As a result, Nicolaou has prepared a proposal for a change in the law to bring Cyprus into line with European legislation regarding juveniles that takes into account the rights enjoyed by youths in the European Union. Nicolaou also sees the need for the creation of juvenile courts and detention centres.

    According to Nicolaou, the response from the Justice Ministry was that the incident would be investigated and that statistics would be studied to determine the extent of the need to change the law.

    Asked if the need for a change in the law was a reflection of changes in society, Nicolaou replied, "Yes. We have a major problem with young offenders in Cyprus. The role of parents must come into question, for example when we learn of incidents of kids setting fires to schools at 2am. We have to ask: What were children doing out of their home at that time?

    "But we also have to look at other changes in our society. Why was the incident (of the car window being broken) reported to the police and not to the parents of the child so that it could be dealt with that way?"

    According to Nicolaou, it is a reality that for too long people have not been prepared to admit existed, "We have made so many other changes in line with Europe, it is time we dealt with the problem in the correct way, and I believe the changes (to the law) proposed will be made."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Clerides briefs National Council on talks progress

    By a Staff Reporter

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday briefed the National Council on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said that among the topics discussed were the recent visits by US and British envoys and the meeting in Paris on September 6 between Clerides, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan.

    Also discussed, Papapetrou said, were all the possible reactions by Turkey to Cyprus' EU accession ahead of a solution.

    "Many views were expressed and many questions were raised," Papapetrou said.

    He also said that any proposal that may be submitted to the negotiating table on the Cyprus problem would be judged by its content.

    "The aim, as far as we know, is that when such a document is agreed, it will leave nothing for further negotiation, all issues will have been closed," he said.

    Asked to comment on press reports concerning documents from the Greek government setting out the scenarios with Turkey, Papapetrou said no such documents had been submitted and that he was not in a position to confirm any such publication.

    "All I can say is that the National Council has before it all the possible scenarios of a possible reaction," he said. "Nothing can reverse our EU accession course."

    Papapetrou said that the National Council would meet again before Clerides travels to New York on October 3 and 4 for further talks with Annan. The council would also review the latest round of direct talks between the President and Denktash, which began in January this year, and which will end between September 26 and October 1, the spokesman said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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