|Monday, 11 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-06
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Wednesday, November 6, 2002
 AG may appeal against lenient sentence for woman's attackerBy Jean Christou
THE ATTORNEY-general's office may appeal against the leniency of a three- year sentence given to the attacker of a British woman who was brutally assaulted in Ayia Napa in September.
Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides told the Cyprus Mail: "We are considering the possibility but we have not reached a decision yet. But it is being discussed."
The parents of the unnamed British woman yesterday called Cypriot justice "shameful" after their daughter's attacker was jailed for only three years when the maximum for grievous bodily harm in Cyprus is seven years.
The family has vowed to appeal the sentence handed down by the Larnaca Assizes to 26-year old diver Zinonas Mastrou from Liopteri, who pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm.
Speaking to British newspapers, the parents of the 22-year-old victim, who received injuries so severe she required two operations, said she was expected to undergo further surgery in Manchester to reverse a colostomy operation if her internal injuries have healed sufficiently.
State pathologist Eleni Antoniou had described the woman's injuries as the worst she had seen in her six years in the post, but rape and abduction charges against Mastrou were dropped because of a lack of forensic evidence.
The woman's mother also said she feared the emotional scars of her daughter's brutal assault would be with her for the rest of her life and called for a tougher sentence against her attacker. Mastrou could be freed from prison within 18 months, with remission.
The victim's family is now consulting lawyers about an appeal against the sentence, although they have been advised it could be costly and time- consuming, one British newspaper said.
"Three years is nothing for what that man has done to my daughter," her father was quoted as saying. His daughter is now a physical and mental wreck, he added.
The father also said he believed the authorities had not taken enough DNA samples, which meant prosecutors had insufficient evidence to prove rape. "But in my opinion the injuries my daughter sustained are enough to prove rape, and her attacker has got off too leniently," he said.
"The Cypriot authorities have never come across anything like this before and just didn't know what to do. No means no and whatever she was raped with is irrelevant. She will have to live with this for the rest of her life and we will pursue Mastrou until she gets some justice. We are appalled at the outcome of the case and will not let it drop."
The woman's mother said: "Cypriot locals have been horrified by this assault and many have written us letters of support, expressing their disgust and shame as a nation."
The British High Commission in Nicosia told the Cyprus Mail that they are pleased a conviction had been secured. "We can't comment on the sentence as this is a matter for the Republic's judicial system," spokesman Stuart Summers said. "But we will continue to offer every support that we can to the victim and her family if they choose to pursue the matter further."
Summers said that under Cypriot law the prosecution could file an appeal against the sentence within 14 days if they believe it's too lenient. "That information has been passed on by our consular department in London to the family," Summers said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Prepare for another star in the makingBy Soteris Charalambous
BOOSTED by his success at the US Open last month, expectations were naturally high about Marcos Baghdatis' progress at this month's men's satellite tournament in Zurich. National Coach Yiannos Hadjigeorgiou was pleased to report, "He won the tournament and won't have to play any more qualifying matches, but more importantly he qualifies for the Masters tournament (at the end of the month).
"He beat a German player ranked in the top 250 on the ATP men's tour and a French player who had been in the top 150, got injured and was on his way back up, until he met Marcos."
His victory further emphasises the importance of the postponement of military service granted by the Council of Ministers, a fact quickly acknowledged by the President of the Cyprus Tennis Federation (CTF), Philios Christodoulou and Hadjigeorgiou, meeting yesterday to assess the progress of young players on the island.
But the focus of their meeting swiftly moved on, to something seemingly more pressing. Twelve-year-old George Koshis, from Paralimni, has just won the Open Benjamin in Bordeaux, an international tournament where he defeated the French number one and which included the best players from France and Portugal.
Hadjigeorgiou is not prone to overstatement, aware of the pitfalls of over- exposing his young ace. But the outcome of the meeting reveals the level of confidence they have in the player. He is being entered into the Junior Orange Ball competition in Florida, a competition that attracts the best talent in the world for his age group.
Is this too much exposure for the youngster? "No, the level is very similar to the tournament he has just won in France," replied Hadjigeorgiou.
For Cyprus to have produced one tennis talent of the calibre of Marcos Baghdatis is astonishing: for there to be another demonstrating the same potential is almost beyond belief.
"He's another Marcos," enthused Hadjigeorgiou, "He's at the same level that Marcos was at the same age."
Coming from anyone else, this may have sounded a little over-stated, but he is uniquely qualified to pass judgement. In the two and a half years before Marcos left for France, Hadjigeorgiou was his coach and to this day maintains regular contact. Since the beginning of the year he has coached young Koshis.
A similar performance in the US, to the one in France, will undoubtedly alert agents to his potential and result in him leaving Cyprus to be coached in another country.
Some parents might buckle under the emotional burden of losing a child before it has reached its teens in pursuit of a tennis career, but it is a sacrifice they are seemingly prepared to make. "Yes, we may lose him as we did Marcos. His family are very focused, but these are the sacrifices of modern tennis. There are hundreds of thousands of players competing out there," said Christodoulou.
The CTF president reluctantly accepts praise for the emergence of the two players from a country with very little tennis background. "They are exceptional talents, with the full backing of their families," he said. But put into an international context the achievement of the CTF is quite remarkable.
Countries like Britain can boast Tim Henman (Greg Rusedski chose to represent Britain after coming through US and Canadian academies), but as highlighted in a special report on Sky Sports there is little talent coming through, despite over £100 million poured into tennis every year. The CTF works with a tiny fraction of that budget.
In fact, its success has been such that in the latest meeting of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) the council voted not to award the CTF any further development funding. Christodoulou's strong opposition eventually reversed the decision, but it reflects the perception within the tennis world that Cyprus has now established itself.
"Making a breakthrough with Marcos was very important," said Christodoulou, "He will be the inspiration for more youngsters." He has already been the inspiration for one - George Koshis.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Papandreou: Greece will stand by Cyprus, even if it rejects planGREEK Foreign Minister George Papandreou has pledged that Greece will support Cyprus, even in "the most extreme" case that Nicosia rejects the proposal for a Cyprus settlement expected to be submitted by UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan.
Papandreou told the NET Greek Television that, "in the most extreme case if Cyprus rejects the Annan proposal, then Athens will support Cyprus and together we will fight until the end for Cyprus' accession to the European Union in December."
The Greek Foreign Minister said he did not believe, however, that Nicosia would reject the plan, as the government would rather negotiate it. "Nicosia will say `let's sit down and discuss' (the plan) and during the negotiations that will follow we will secure improvements."
Papandreou added: "If there is an agreement for a Cyprus settlement, then we must all support the agreement and the solution that will ensue so that Cyprus will become a model for Greco-Turkish co-operation and perhaps friendship."
Speaking on the same programme, the winner of Sunday's Turkish elections, Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said a solution to the Cyprus problem must be found through negotiations, adding: "we have said we support a solution based on the Belgium model," something he said he had already conveyed to the UN Secretary-general.
Erdogan said the "direct talks between Mr. (Glafcos) Clerides and Mr. (Rauf) Denktash" should continue, adding that "if they reach an agreement, then the relations between Greece and Turkey will be improved".
Papandreou said it was the first time a Turkish leader had made reference to a solution based on the Belgian model, "which has proved to be viable and functional after all these years".
He described the Erdogan position as "very important", stressing that if words become actions, "then the Cyprus problem will enter a course based on a viable solution".
Cyprus' Chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou said yesterday that if Erdogan had indeed made such statements, "then we will have a solution".
He pointed out that the solution that Annan would propose must comply with the EU's acquis communautaire.
Papandreou said it was likely the Annan proposal would be submitted in the next couple of weeks because of the uncertainty of the situation in Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's ill health.
Former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, speaking on the same programme, said he would be surprised if a Cyprus solution was achieved before the EU Summit in Copenhagen on December 12.
"If there is not a solution and southern Cyprus accedes to the EU, then I am sure Turkey will be very disappointed," Demirel said.
Meanwhile US State Department Special Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said his government's activity in the process to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem was happening at a "quickening pace".
Speaking after meeting with Annan, Weston said that "there is an urgency to this matter which is recognised and I think it is reflected in the activity of the United States both on the island and in New York."
"We have just come from a meeting with the Secretary-general. I had meetings during the remainder of the day with Alvaro de Soto and others involved in this issue and obviously the pace is quickening," he said.
Sources confirmed to the Cyprus News Agency that the UN Secretary-general did not intend to submit a Cyprus solution plan at least for the next two weeks.
The sources said Annan wanted to be sure about the intentions of the new Turkish government and that Denktash or another Turkish Cypriot interlocutor would be able to negotiate a draft plan.
"The US and Britain insist for a plan to be submitted by the end of this week," but the message sent to them is that assurances have to be given that Ankara would agree on the proposed core issues, the sources said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Population up 14.5 per cent as number of foreigners soarsWOMEN make up over half of the population of 703,500 living in the government controlled areas, according to the results of last year's national census.
The total figure was extrapolated from the 689,565 people who registered for the census, taking into account people who were away or could not be tracked down for whatever reason.
The population in 2002 marked a rise of 14.5 per cent compared to the previous census, which took place in 1992.
Last year's was the 13th census on the island since 1881 and covered the whole population - Cypriots and foreign nationals - living in the government controlled areas.
Out of the total registered population, 351,068 - 50.9 per cent -- were women and 338,497 were men.
The 14.5 per cent increase in female population since the 1992 census is attributed to the fact that foreign women living on the island are more than their male counterparts - 56 per cent - and to women's longevity compared to men.
Foreigners living on the island for over a year constitute 9.4 per cent of the registered population, reaching 64,811 compared to 25,506 in 1992 - a rise of 156.9 per cent.
The percentage of foreigners is comparable to that in Austria while foreigners in Germany make up 8.9 per cent of the population.
Switzerland and Luxembourg have large numbers of foreigners - 20 and 37 per cent respectively - while England and Sweden record four and 5.6 per cent respectively.
Greek nationals make up the majority of foreigners in Cyprus at 17,459, followed by the British with 11,870.
The number of Russians living in Cyprus has reached 4,952, Sri Lankans 4, 939, Filipinos 3,245, Bulgarians 2,411, Romanians 1,778, Syrians 1,424, Indians 1,313, Ukrainians 1,259, Yugoslavs 1,190 and 12,971 from other countries.
The survey found that 96.8 per cent of the population were literate, while 22.3 per cent were college or university educated.
The percentage of people over the age of 15 who have no education whatsoever was down to 2.1 per cent from 4.2 per cent in 1992.
The average size of a household in Cyprus has fallen to 3.06 persons compared to 3.23 in 1992, a fact attributed to the plummeting birth rates and the tendency of young people to move out of home.
The census showed that 68.2 per cent of households - 152,535 - live under their own roof while 13.9 per cent live in rented accomodation.
Among Cypriots, 618,455 declared themselves Greek Cypriots, while there were 1,341 Armenians, 3,658 Maronites, 279 Latins and 360 Turkish Cypriots - more than double the number in 1992.
Sixty-eight per cent of the population lived in urban areas.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Young criminals responsible for 160 break-ins last yearBy Alexia Saoulli
MINORS are more inclined to commit crimes of breaking and entering than any other offence, with boys at least 50 times more likely to be the culprits, reports said yesterday.
The Police Research and Development department recorded all petty and serious crimes committed by minors between the years 1998 and 2001. More worrying, said its Head Chief Inspector Giorgios Panayiotou, was that this escalating phenomenon could be pinpointed to pupils in the 14-16-year-old age group who came from nuclear families, and not to children from broken homes or single-parent families.
During 1998, 268 minors were involved in a total of 156 breaking and entering crimes; the following year, 184 boys and one girl were recorded as having been involved in 115 cases; in 2000, the total number of breaking and entering crimes rose again to 138, involving 254 boys and five girls; and last year 246 boys and two girls were arrested in connection with 160 cases of breaking and entering.
Based on the same statistics, minors are less likely to commit crimes of fraud, unlawful damage to property, forgery, accepting stolen goods and illegal possession of stolen goods, injuring third parties and possession of explosive materials, said police.
Last year, 379 minors were involved in what police termed serious crimes, whereas the most `popular' petty crime among minors appeared to be theft.
A police source told Politis that 14-16-year-olds in particular thought it was "cool" to be able to break into a car or someone's property and to steal something. In fact, most car break-ins in the Nicosia district in recent months were committed by under-18s, said police. "The majority of these crimes are committed by minors, who may or may not steal something from the vehicle, but whose main aim is to cause damage or to show that they managed to break into it," said a police source.
Another said he blamed the increasing number of crimes committed by minors on an increasing trend amongst youths to display anti-social behaviour. "However, why this trend has surfaced and escalated over the past few years I cannot say, nor if it is related to increasing drug addiction in younger individuals."
A large number of underage offenders are also involved in traffic violations, according to the Police Research and Development department. In 2001, 522 14-16-year-olds were charged with violating traffic regulations; 36 of the cases involved 14-year-olds. Almost twice as many 16-18-year-olds were involved in traffic offences, with 936 recorded cases.
"Traffic violations can vary depending on the age group. If the offender is under 17 then he or she is not even legal to have a licence. However, 17- year-olds are allowed to drive mopeds and so they might be found guilty of not wearing a helmet, carrying a passenger who is not wearing a helmet, modifying the bike's engine to go faster or to add an exhaust that makes a lot noise, or driving without insurance," a police press officer told the Cyprus Mail.
The punishment imposed on each minor depended on the court and was not up to the police, she said. "Each case is different and each offence, its severity and why and how it happened also differs, which ultimately affects the final court outcome."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 New restrictions planned in effort to save dwindling fish stocksBy Alex Mita
FALLING fish populations and heavy criticism from the European Union have prompted the government to consider the introduction of new measures to help the recovery of fish stocks.
Fisheries Department Director Gabriel Gabrielides has warned that fish reserves are critically low and that measures are being discussed to guarantee their protection and recovery.
"The situation is critical," he was quoted as saying yesterday.
"The matter was discussed at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg and we decided that drastic measures should be taken in order to replenish fish populations around Cyprus by the year 2015."
One of the measures would see local fish banned from the Cyprus market for two years and the import of fish from abroad to meet the demands of the population, while at the same time the government would attempt to expand the fish farming industry.
The government would under strict EU surveillance reduce the amount of nets used by professional fishermen and ban their use by amateurs.
Fishing with trawlers is also set to be banned as the nets used in this method are dragged on the seabed, causing extensive damage to it.
Gabrielides warned the new measures would outrage amateur fishermen since they would no longer be allowed to fish using nets.
"Europe has put pressure on us to remove people from the sea and instead of removing them we tripled them," he said.
"When I said in Brussels that we allow amateurs to set up to 1,000 metres of net, they laughed and wondered what the difference was between them and professional fishermen."
Gabrielides stressed the EU was trying completely to ban the use of professional fishing equipment by amateurs, except fishing rods, but noted the banning of trawlers would have a dire effect on the island's economy.
"We expect the market to suffer if all the new directives are implemented because imported fish and fish from fish farming would not meet demand," he said.
"However, we are hopeful that fish populations will recover so that the few professional fishermen left could practice their trade with profit, something that is not happening today."
A law forbidding fishing with torches and spear guns has already been passed by the Department of Fisheries and offenders now face a fine of up to £120.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 US concern over American-made artillery in National GuardBy George Psyllides
THE UNITED States have raised a legal problem over American-made weapons transferred from Greece to Cyprus, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday.
Speaking after meeting US Ambassador Michael Klosson yesterday, Hasikos said there were ways of handling the matter without problems.
The Defence Minister said the weapons systems had not been the main issue of discussion and that during the meeting he had briefed the ambassador about the Cyprus problem and the island's EU accession course.
He added, however, that the Americans had a "legal problem" with the arms being in the service of the National Guard.
"There is no logic in the confrontation, considering what (American weapons) the occupying forces have and what we have," Hasikos said.
An American arms embargo has been in place on Cyprus since the 1970s.
Despite the US banning its arms from being used in aggressive actions, the bulk of weapons - tanks and artillery -- maintained by the Turkish occupying troops in the north are American made.
The minister said it was absurd to make a big fuss over four old self- propelled guns, noting that the matter would be settled against Cyprus, if it became a headline in the press.
The US-made M-107 175mm self propelled guns were demonstrated for the first time on the October 1 independence parade.
The guns were acquired from Greece and despite their long range - around 30 kilometres - they have become obsolete in almost all the countries that used them in the past.
The M-107 was first developed in the 1950s and saw extensive combat service in Vietnam.
According to reports, the gun was phased out in the mid 1980s.
The minister declined to say whether the National Guard would consider replacing the guns as a goodwill gesture, arguing that he did not want to discuss arms procurement, especially in a period when the mild climate should be maintained in anticipation of the possibility that a solution plan would be submitted.
"It is an issue that I will handle with the American ambassador and will have a good outcome," Hasikos said.
"There are ways to resolve the matter with the ambassador without any problem."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Don't just blame the fans for rising delinquency, sports chief pleadsBy Alexia Saoulli
THE HOUSE Crime Committee yesterday met to discuss the apparent rise in juvenile delinquency as the government announced plans for a large-scale research project analysing the problem.
Deputies, police officers, educationalists, psychologists, parent and student bodies, as well as Cyprus Sports Association representatives, yesterday met to discuss ways to deals with the phenomenon, spurned by recent hooliganism outbreaks at football matches.
Facing a barrage of recent media criticism, Cyprus Sports Association President Andreas Papacharalambous said it was unfair to label sports fans as lawbreakers, as similar crimes were committed by people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, "50,000 fans flock to stadiums to watch a match and only one per cent of that number take part in criminal activities," he said.
Papacharalambous said that in order to avoid violence moving from the stadiums to other areas, sports authorities were assessing how to limit the transportation of fans in large groups, including forbidding them from going to games by bus. Issuing fewer tickets to away team fans and introducing special cameras around and within the stadium would also help limit acts of violence, he added.
DISY deputy Nicos Tornaritis suggested stamping out hooliganism by banning disruptive and violent fans from future matches, excluding football teams from European competitions, introducing closed matches for teams that were involved in clashes, pressing charges against culprits and imposing hefty fines.
But according to Police Research and Development department head, Chief Inspector Giorgios Panayiotou, criminal offences carried out by minors were on the increase in general and not exclusive to football stadiums. He added that research showed that more and more 14-16-year-olds were involved in breaking and entering and that these were not from disruptive family backgrounds.
Referring to the broader phenomenon of juvenile delinquency, the chairman of the National Confederation of Middle Education Parents, Elias Demetriou, strongly criticised the Education Ministry and Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides, blaming the government for failing to take preventive measures to tackle the growing problem.
National Student Co-ordination Committee President, Marios Loizides, also blamed the government for shortfalls in the educational system, but alos pointed the finger at society as a whole and the media for projecting negative role models at today's youth.
Loizides suggested banning the sale of alcohol to anyone under 18 and introducing a series of lectures within schools physical education curriculum that were aimed at cultivating an Olympic athletic spirit. This in turn would help students, particularly athletes, behave themselves both within and outside stadiums, he said.
Meanwhile, Education Ministry psychologist Michalis Ioannou said more educational psychologists were needed to meet growing student needs. "At the moment, we only have one psychologist per 9,000 students, when we should have at least one per 3,000 students," he said, pointing out that in most European countries the number of students per state educational psychologist was even smaller, with one for every 2,000 students. At present the Ministry has 19 Educational Psychologists on its staff, with another 23 places to be opened shortly, said Ioannou.
The House Committee did not finish discussing the matter yesterday and its Chairman, AKEL deputy Costas Papacostas, said it would continue when they next convened, giving other experts a chance to speak.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Investors cash in on week of gainsSHARE prices took a 4.07 per cent dive yesterday as profit takers swept over the trading floor, cashing on week-long uninterrupted gains of over 20 per cent.
The all-share index opened at around 117 points, hit 118 and then flatlined, apparently unsure which direction to take until the last half an hour when it fell back to close at 107 points.
Blue chips were the focus of the sellers' attention, dragging the FTSE/CySE index down 4.71 per cent to 413 points and accounting for over 50 per cent of the day's £9.87 million volume.
Analysts were not surprised that after five bull runs, some profit taking had taken place, and suggested there was no need for investors to worry as long as the index bounced back.
All sectors lost significantly, on average around four per cent. The only gaining sector was financial services companies, which gained 1.29 per cent. Bank of Cyprus lost nine cents to £1.71. Laiki dropped three cents to £1.32 and Hellenic four cents to 84 cents.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Soldier held after `trying to strangle girlfriend'A NICOSIA court has remanded an 18-year-old man in custody for five days after he tried to strangle his girlfriend, reports said yesterday.
The 18-year-old National Guardsman had been in a four-year relationship with his girlfriend, also 18, when she allegedly told him she wanted to break up on Saturday night. An argument allegedly ensued and the boy drove to Latsia in the Nicosia district, where he pulled a knife on her, causing a minor cut, and proceeded to beat her face and body repeatedly, causing her nose to bleed.
Following the beating, the 18-year-old drove his girlfriend back home, pushed her onto her bed and allegedly started to strangle her, initially using his bare hands and then using a shoelace. According to CyBC, the girl lost consciousness, and the youth, thinking he'd killed her, went home, and confessed everything to his father.
His parents immediately contacted her parents and were told their son had not managed to kill their daughter, but that the incident had been reported to police. Meanwhile the young man was taken to Nicosia General Hospital and treated for hysteria.
On Sunday, he was arrested and confessed to his actions in a police statement. On Monday, he was taken before a Nicosia district court and the prosecution lawyer asked for his eight-day remand on attempted murder charges.
The boy's defence lawyer objected to the prosecution's claims and called the incident a "lover's quarrel". He also pointed out that the girl and her family had dropped all charges against his client and did not want criminal proceedings to go ahead. But the judge said the crime committed by the young man was extremely serious and that he should be remanded in custody for at least five days.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002