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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-09-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, September 28, 2002


  • [01] Falklands war hero sent home in disgrace over UNFICYP office affair
  • [02] Savvides orders 'limited visits' for archbishop's relatives
  • [03] Transport officials remanded over car scam
  • [04] Patched together cars could be fatal
  • [05] CyTA strike averted
  • [06] Government to clamp down on supermarkets
  • [07] Transsexuals will not be allowed to marry in Cyprus, deputy insists

  • [01] Falklands war hero sent home in disgrace over UNFICYP office affair

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A SENIOR British Army officer has been sent home from his United Nations post in Nicosia after confessing to an affair with a Danish UN official who worked at the same office, according to The Sun.

    The love affair blossomed after Lieutenant Colonel Greg Butt, 43, met the Danish beauty, a 40-year-old divorcee, at his new station in Cyprus, the tabloid reported.

    The father of three, a Falklands War hero, kept the affair secret for as long as possible, but failed to avoid gossip spreading through military circles.

    Colonel Butt subsequently went voluntarily to his superiors and confessed the liaison. He was immediately removed from his Commanding Officer's post in 16 Regiment Royal Artillery and is currently awaiting instruction from his superiors.

    His family were stationed at army quarters in east London during the six- month posting. His wife is reportedly devastated, while a close friend of Butt's told The Sun that the affair was no ordinary fling but a meaningful affair of the heart.

    Regiment spokesperson, Dee Holden, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that Butt's presence would be sorely missed by the men and women of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery. His replacement, Lieutenant Colonel David Scouller, took over the reins last weekend, while the unit has continued to perform its functions and duties.

    An army source explained that workplace affairs were not forbidden per se, but that a Values and Standards Paper gave employees strict guidelines on behaviour. Butt would have passed through the service testing procedure, which, in effect, asks whether the regiment's operational effectiveness or his commitment to the regiment were affected by his actions.

    A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said Butt's military future would be determined pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the affair. If his position as a commanding officer was deemed untenable, he could be asked to resign his commission, thereby ending his career.

    The official explained that army rules obliged officers to conduct themselves in a manner that would maintain their credibility among soldiers who very often have left wives and husbands behind to go out on an operational tour.

    The Sandhurst-educated officer received the MBE and also led a Rapier missile unit in the Falklands which downed seven enemy aircraft, said The Sun.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Savvides orders 'limited visits' for archbishop's relatives

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos celebrated his 75th birthday at the Archbishopric yesterday, where he was paid a short visit by President Glafcos Clerides.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides, the Bishop of Kitium, Chrysostomos, and close relatives were also present to wish the primate well and a speedy recovery.

    The President left the Archbishop within 30 minutes of arrival, making no statements before his departure.

    Savvides said after the visit that Chrysostomos was in good spirits, adding that as time passed, the decision to bring him to Cyprus would be further justified. He gave strong recommendations to the Archbishop's medical staff to limit visiting time to a few minutes, especially from his relatives, whose demands, he noted, often had an "oppressive influence" on his state of mind.

    "The more stress we give him, the more we delay his recovery. When he feels pressured, he refuses to co-operate with physiotherapists, speech therapists and others. He must remain in a relaxed environment to get better," he said.

    The minister said the signs of recovery were hopeful, but added that anyone suffering from health problems would not likely be rushed into returning to work.

    Savvides will appoint a medical council to decide on the state of the archbishop's health and his chances of recovery, but not on whether he should return to his duties. "That is a question for the Holy Synod to decide," he said.

    He likened the Archbishop's transfer, undertaken by his relatives, from the Athens Evangelismos state hospital, to the Igeia private clinic, to a kidnapping. "I can honestly say that during the last three months his progress at the clinic was a big secret to me. No reports or updates reached the Health Ministry during that time," said Savvides.

    Regarding the decision for him to be appointed to oversee the Archbishop's recovery, the minister pointed out that three conditions had had to be met: the Holy Synod had unanimously to agree to his appointment, to the primate's return to Cyprus, and to giving Savvides 'carte blanche' in his duties.

    Meanwhile, the Bishop of Kitium yesterday described Chrysostomos' condition as very good, saying he was able to walk around the verandas of the Archbishopric unassisted. He refused to comment on a possible meeting of the Holy Synod, maintaining that it was a matter that would be considered at a later date.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Transport officials remanded over car scam

    By Elias Hazou

    FOUR more persons were yesterday remanded in custody in connection with the snowballing car assembly scam, which has so far implicated police officers and public officials in a week which has seen the resignation of the chief of police and the Justice Minister.

    The suspects arrested in a sweep operation on Thursday night are all employed with the Transport Department. During their arraignment yesterday, the court heard that all four were acquainted and had links to senior police officer Yiannakis Panayiotou. They were remanded in custody for eight days on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, illegal registration of motor vehicles and violation of customs laws. One of the four suspects had been arrested last week but later released due to insufficient evidence.

    Panayiotou is under investigation on suspicion of using a car importers dealership registered in his daughter's name to assemble parts of luxury cars, including Mercedes and BMWs. On Thursday night, Panayiotou was also re-arrested, after his eight-day remand expired.

    According to police investigators, Panayiotou and a car mechanic from Nicosia kept a joint bank account from which they paid for the purchase of a damaged car from Germany, which was subsequently sold for 24,000 to another individual from Famagusta. Police said that the state was owed duties amounting to 31,000 pounds just on that vehicle.

    Meanwhile police and customs officers yesterday stepped up investigations at car yards and bonded warehouses, confiscating three BMWs (two convertibles and a 318). So far, authorities have confiscated over 30 vehicles, but only a handful of cars have been found to be illegally assembled, as deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides conceded yesterday.

    "We are doing everything we can; investigations are being intensified," said Clerides on a live radio news show. He went on to distinguish between the spare parts assembly scam and mere import duty evasion. "These are two different cases, and we are looking into both of them."

    Clerides confirmed press reports that customers of illegally assembled cars included a number of unwary police officers. He told of one officer from Paralimni who suspected something amiss and brought in his car to be checked.

    Twenty-five testimonies have been gathered so far, and police expect to take another 80 statements from relatives and acquaintances of the detainees.

    Communications and Transport Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday welcomed the progress in investigations, but added that the car scam ring had not yet been fully rooted out. Neophytou also reiterated that the fraud could not have been perpetrated without help from the inside, meaning the civil service.

    But the minister also rushed to refute claims that the administration was not doing enough to unearth the affair. The accusations were levelled mostly from main opposition party AKEL, which has spoken of corruption, corrosion and decay in government. Last week, police mounted what many described a botched operation, when valuable documents and evidence were destroyed by suspects as police officers stood by.

    The Justice Minister and the chief of police resigned later this week, although neither public official has provided a reason for quitting.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Patched together cars could be fatal

    By Alex Mita

    BUYING a car assembled in Cyprus by a non-qualified person could prove fatal, a mechanic warned yesterday.

    He was speaking in the wake of the luxury car assembly scandal, in which suspects are accused of importing cars as spare parts - thus evading duty - and assembling them in Cyprus before selling them on.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, the mechanic said that welding a chassis should be done only by qualified professionals, otherwise the car could disintegrate in a heavy accident.

    "Car manufacturers are the only people capable of spot-welding parts of a car together," he said.

    "But if an unqualified mechanic attempts to spot-weld a chassis, or any part of a car, that could prove fatal in a heavy impact. The car would simply fall apart."

    However, the man said that a car assembled by a qualified mechanic would be very safe, as he would use specifications from the manufacturer.

    "A qualified mechanic would not spot-weld the chassis like the manufacturer would. He would use specifications from the manufacturer and he would weld the part or the chassis through and through."

    The mechanic warned that it was difficult to notice whether a car had been welded together, and urged buyers to make sure they took a professional mechanic with them when they wanted to buy a car.

    BMW importer Harris Pilakoutas told the Cyprus Mail that the German car giant would not recommend or authorise the assembly of cars by anyone, for safety reasons.

    "It depends how or what part you want to assemble or weld together," he said.

    If a car sustains damage in the front, then we ask the manufacturer whether we can replace the damaged part of the body with a new one, under company specs. But BMW would never issue a safety certificate for a car, whose chassis was cut in half and welded together with another chassis."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] CyTA strike averted

    By Soteris Charalambous

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averoff Neophytou declared yesterday that the threatened strike by CyTA employees would not take place, a pledge followed later in the evening by an announcement by the unions that a compromise agreement had been reached.

    Speaking after a meeting attended by representatives of all three telecommunications workers unions, CyTA management and the Finance Ministry, Neophytou confidently announced, "Under no circumstances will any form of industrial action take place on Monday."

    His announcement came following acceptance of the new agreement by the largest union (EPOET), and was later followed by announcement of acceptance of the new deal by PASE-ATYK and SYDYKEK-PEO.

    At the meeting, the Finance Ministry tabled a compromise proposal on the issue of unification of the pay scales agreement reached by the unions with CyTA management and the Communications Ministry. Rather than a unification of the scales, the unions have accepted the government's proposal to maintain the existing scales but with an extension allowing for two further increments that would enable pay increases on three of the scales. An industry insider said the new deal was likely to cost CyTA an additional 3 million year, but had allowed the government to avoid a situation where other government and semi-government organisations would also demand a unified pay scale and a sharp rise in labour costs.

    It is understood the Finance Ministry backed down on the other three issues it was concerned about. The provision raising the retirement age to 63 in order to allow staff who had joined CyTA later in their careers to accrue the 33 years of service necessary for a full pension has been accepted on condition that it receives parliamentary approval, as it touches on pension regulations. The addition of the two extra days on the holiday calendar (Christmas Eve and Easter Tuesday) as well as the addition of one day to the holiday entitlement was accepted as the alternative for taking public holidays that fell on the weekend on the following Monday. The incentive scheme initiative, costing around 250,000 annually, was also agreed to, without affecting the 30 million annual budget.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Government to clamp down on supermarkets

    By Alex Mita

    THE GOVERNMENT looks set to put an end to uncontrolled building of supermarkets by restricting the number of town planning permits issued.

    A member of the Town Planning Council, Stefanos Papanikolaou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that there were too many supermarkets.

    "The government is re-evaluating its policy regarding issuing further town planning permits for the construction of supermarkets," he said.

    "The reason is that the number of supermarkets exceeds the needs of the people living around them."

    Papanikolaou said the government would decide on the size of the supermarket according to the number of people living around it and the number of potential shoppers.

    "We will have stricter criteria regarding their position in urban areas; for example, we don't want people building their supermarkets next to one another, we don't want them to shut each other down," he said.

    "If we think the number of supermarkets are sufficient for one specific area, we will not issue town planning permits for the construction of new ones."

    Papanikolaou said the new policy would also help family-run businesses, which have been affected by the construction of huge shopping malls around the island.

    A shopping mall representative told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the decision to stop issuing building permits would be beneficial for both large chains and small businesses.

    Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday a decision on the issue would be taken by the Cabinet next month. Panayiotou said existing supermarkets would not be included in the policy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Transsexuals will not be allowed to marry in Cyprus, deputy insists

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TRANSSEXUALS will not be allowed to marry in Cyprus, a member of the House Legal Affairs Committee insisted yesterday.

    Following EU harmonisation directives, the committee was asked to examine and regulate the law on civil marriages before the end of the year, AKEL deputy Akis Agapiou said yesterday.

    According to reports, the committee was faced with a dilemma concerning civil marriages between transsexuals. Specifically, the deputies discussed to what extent a person born of one sex, but undergoing surgery to become another, could then marry. Agapiou said they could not.

    How is the civil wedding defined in Cyprus? "It is a marriage between a man and woman as we know them today," said Agapiou. In other words, the legal binding between two individuals of the opposite sex, that were born that way, he said.

    What if the couple did not mention one of the partners had had a sex change?

    "In order to get married, the couple must produce documentation proving who they are, including birth certificates. If they decide to give false papers - which is illegal - with the intention of duping the courts, then that is up to them. We will not be able to do anything about it, because we will not know. However, it is not something we will accept," he said.

    As for homosexual civil weddings, they will not be taking place for quite some time, although Agapiou said he hoped homosexual groups on the island wouldn't pose a problem to the contrary.

    "We have to take things one day at a time. Change takes place over time and very slowly, not overnight. Most European countries do not yet accept marriages between same sex couples and they are considered far more forward thinking than Cypriot society is," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    "Nothing is going to change concerning civil marriages. The law is merely being regulated in order to meet European Union stipulations. They will still be carried out at municipality registry offices as they always have. Only a few, minor technicalities will be amended in order to iron out the law completely," he said.

    But the fact remains that there are cases when individuals undergo sex change for biological reasons. Sometimes they are born with a hormone imbalance that may give them a male sex organ and yet they 'feel' like a woman. Moreover before they undergo surgery, they are psychologically assessed to determine whether or not the surgery is appropriate. Would a refusal to permit them to marry not be an impingement on their human rights?

    "I think we have more serious matters than that to discuss," Agapiou replied.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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