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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-03-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, March 18, 2003


  • [01] Three held over Pakistani refugee's murder
  • [02] Three held after ecstasy seizure
  • [03] Three killed in high speed crash in Nicosia
  • [04] Man plunges down nightclub lift shaft
  • [05] UN helicopters land in Cyprus after leaving Iraq
  • [06] Grim outlook for economy as Cyprus braces for war
  • [07] Government insists Cyprus not a high-risk zone
  • [08] Officials preparing guidelines on killer flu
  • [09] Government hits back at critics over ministers' assets
  • [10] Donor drive yields 14,000 samples

  • [01] Three held over Pakistani refugee's murder

    By a Staff Reporter

    TWO Pakistani men and a Sri Lankan woman have been detained in connection with the premeditated murder of a 48-year-old Pakistani man, police said yesterday.

    The man, a political refugee living on the island for the past two years, was found dead in his hotel room at around 11.20pm on Sunday.

    Police said Badar Mohiuddin Jlani had multiple knife wounds on his body.

    He was found in his room in a hotel at the centre of Nicosia.

    Investigators from the onset turned their attention to the victim's immediate environment, questioning numerous foreigners staying at the same hotel and other dwellings nearby.

    Yesterday morning, they arrested one Pakistani man who is currently in custody at the Nicosia general hospital due to injuries he had on various parts of his body.

    A second Pakistani and a Sri Lankan woman were arrested later in the afternoon.

    Investigators said they could not speculate on the motive behind the crime as the investigation was ongoing.

    They also refused to reveal whether the hotel's security cameras had recorded the victim going to his room with one of the suspects.

    But according to reports, police found bloodstains near a car parked in the vicinity, which could mean that the man was stabbed outside the hotel but managed to drag himself to his room where he died.

    The woman and the man were arrested in the afternoon and will appear before a Nicosia court today.

    Police said the first suspect's remand hearing would probably take place in hospital.

    Authorities believe they have solved the case, though more details concerning the motive are expected to be disclosed in court today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [02] Three held after ecstasy seizure

    By a Staff Reporter

    LIMASSOL police yesterday arrested a man believed to be the provider of 750 ecstasy tablets allegedly found in the possession of two youths in Yermasoyia on Saturday night.

    The two youths, 20-year-old Spyros Paphitis and Syrian Jup Muhammad, 19, have been remanded in custody for eight days.

    Police said they were also looking for a fourth man who was also present at the scene and is thought to have been the prospective buyer of the drugs.

    The alleged provider was arrested late yesterday afternoon, but denied any involvement in the case.

    The other two suspects detained are believed to have acted as 'mules'.

    The area where the deal was due to happen had been placed under surveillance with the two suspects arriving on the scene first.

    They were seen talking to a third, unknown individual until a second car arrived.

    The 20-year-old approached the car and allegedly picked up four plastic bags containing 750 tablets, thought to be ecstasy.

    He returned to his car and tried to leave, but was intercepted by drug squad officers.

    The alleged provider of the drugs managed to escape, crashing into two police cars in the process.

    The buyer also escaped on a motorcycle, which had been parked nearby.

    The two youths have allegedly told police that one had been promised £200 and the other five ecstasy tablets to carry out the transaction.

    Police later searched Paphitis' home and allegedly found 30 grams of cannabis.

    The latest suspect is due to appear in court today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [03] Three killed in high speed crash in Nicosia

    By a Staff Reporter

    THREE people were killed when a speeding car careered through a safety barrier and hit an oncoming vehicle in downtown Nicosia early on Sunday morning.

    The Honda Integra was driven by Costas Marathovouniotis, 25, an electrician from Strovolos, and had one passenger, Ioannis Koupepides, a 23 year-old police constable. At 4.50am, Marathovouniotis lost control of the car as he was driving down Griva Digenis Avenue towards Santa Rosa Avenue. The car smashed the barrier into the oncoming lane, where it crashed into a Honda CRV driven by beautician Christiana Christophidou, 27 from Ayioi Trimithias.

    The impact was so violent that the cars were reduced to a mass of crumpled metal and the victims had to be cut out. All three were taken to Nicosia General Hospital, but were declared dead on arrival.

    Marathovouniotis and Koupepides were wearing seatbelts, but Christophidou was not.

    Police say that for the car to have broken through the barrier, it must have been going extremely fast. They are still investigating the exact circumstances of the crash. The Integra's speedometer was jammed on 170 km/h after the crash and reports said the car had been weaving through traffic.

    Police are also investigating whether or not the barrier was too low to prevent such a collision.

    The collision is the second multiple fatality on the roads in six days after two Britons and a local man were killed on the Paphos to Polis road last Monday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [04] Man plunges down nightclub lift shaft

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A 26-YEAR-old man was critically injured when he plunged down an elevator shaft at a Nicosia nightclub, police said yesterday.

    Early on Sunday morning, Kypros Xenofondos called for the lift at a popular nightclub in the island's capital. Initial reports said that when the elevator doors opened, he walked through and plunged to the ground because the lift was not there. The Fire Department had to be called to the scene to free the youth and he was rushed to Nicosia general hospital.

    However, an inside source told the Cyprus Mail the youth had prised open the elevator doors when the lift failed to stop at the third floor.

    “The lift never opened for him because it had gone up to the fourth floor before stopping at the third floor. He decided, for some reason, to open the doors and it seems he fell to the ground. His friend quickly rushed downstairs and informed us that he'd fallen down the shaft,” said the source. “When we called out to him, he said he was OK. After a while, however, he said he felt unwell and that he couldn't stand. It's not surprising since he fell four and a half storeys down to the basement.”

    The nightclub carries out weekly elevator checks, said the source, and had its last one carried out last Wednesday. “The club cannot operate if we don't carry out these checks. Experts checked it out today and the elevator company confirmed that the doors do not open on their own, unless the lift is in place.”

    Xenofondos is currently being kept in the hospital's surgical ward. Both his legs were broken, his kidney was ruptured and he suffered internal bleeding. Hospital staff would not comment on his condition.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [05] UN helicopters land in Cyprus after leaving Iraq

    By Jean Christou

    FIVE of the eight helicopters used by the Iraq-based UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) arrived yesterday at Larnaca Airport as the UN operation geared up for a complete pullout in the face of a US-led attack on Baghdad.

    The helicopters, minus UN inspectors, were flown in from Damascus in Syria where they had landed on Sunday following their departure from Iraq after the insurance firm they were using cancelled its coverage.

    The 10 pilots aboard the US-made Bell 212 helicopters will stay at the Flamingo Hotel in Larnaca, where UNMOVIC has set up a centre. Three other helicopters, the Russian-made MI-8s, which are insured by an eastern European company have not been affected.

    UN officials said yesterday the chief inspectors would tell the UN Security Council later in the day that their teams would leave Iraq within 24 hours.

    Although 30 inspectors have left Baghdad in the past few days, according to reports in the British press, the UN said they were on leave or awaiting rotation. The reports said these inspectors had been advised to return to headquarters in Vienna.

    At any given time, there are 90 UNMOVIC inspectors working in Iraq.

    Key UN aid workers in Baghdad arrived on the island last week to check on preparations for a possible major humanitarian effort for Iraq.

    About a dozen administration staff landed in Larnaca to visit a humanitarian co-ordination centre that is being set up in the town in the event of a war.

    The main focus of the aid workers' efforts would be handling relief for thousands of Iraqi refugees expected to flee into the countryside from Baghdad in the event of bombing raids, as well as refugees who might seek to leave the country altogether.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [06] Grim outlook for economy as Cyprus braces for war

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS' economy would suffer a major impact from a possible war in Iraq, Finance Minister Marcos Kyprianou told the House Finance Committee yesterday.

    The committee convened to discuss the current state of the economy and its outlook in the event of another war in the Persian Gulf.

    Kyprianou warned that the island's already sluggish economy, heavily dependent on tourism, might not meet the Maastricht criteria if the war was drawn-out.

    He described as “alarming” the fact that in the year 2002 the public deficit reached 3.5 per cent of GDP, while the national debt rose to 57.65 per cent of GDP.

    The rate of inflation could shoot up to five per cent in 2003, mostly due to the expected rise in oil prices, although structural inflation would remain at two per cent.

    The Finance Ministry's predictions for this year painted a grim picture; the economy would grow at a rate of 2-2.5 per cent instead of the initial 4 per cent forecast, with unemployment reaching 3.5 per cent instead of 3.1 per cent.

    Kyprianou explained that a war in Iraq would compound Cyprus' existing economic problems as a result of the global slow-down, rising oil prices and a general tightening of consumer spending. More and more tourists were seeking less expensive destinations in the Mediterranean, said Kyprianou.

    Moreover, any negative consequences on the EU's economy would also impact Cyprus; for example, the rising price of the euro compared to sterling would adversely affect Cypriot exports and the inflow of tourists.

    According to Kyprianou, the Finance and Commerce ministries are working out alternative ways of counteracting the negative consequences of an Iraq war, depending on whether it is brief or drawn out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [07] Government insists Cyprus not a high-risk zone

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Kikis Kazamias was at pains to stress yesterday that Cyprus was not a high-risk zone on the eve of war in Iraq, despite intensified military activity in the island's air space.

    He wanted the whole world to know that “Cyprus is considered a safe haven by many”. Kazamias added various airline companies had requested additional landing permits, which the government had decided to grant. He stressed that Cyprus was still a safe destination, which was why many had chosen the island as the first safe haven to stop off after evacuating high-risk areas.

    Regarding the large movement of US warplanes in the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR), the minister said, “Under no circumstances has the island's national airspace been harmed,” adding, “So far, the situation is under control.”

    After meeting with Civil Aviation officers, Kazamias told reporters that up to now, intensified movements in the Nicosia FIR were at a safe level, highlighting that the situation was being monitored closely.

    He specified that Civil Aviation was in direct contact with European and international organisations to exchange views and experiences, while contact with American military personnel was being undertaken by the Foreign Ministry. Kazamias added the government was working to improve the level of information exchange and co-operation on the American side.

    Foreign Minister George Iakovou met with US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson yesterday to discuss the massive presence of US warplanes in the Nicosia FIR coming from aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean.

    According to Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, the two discussed measures to provide greater co-ordination between the two in an effort to secure the safety of civil aviation and the airports. He added that the US warplanes were flying at an altitude that did not affect civil aviation.

    In further developments regarding the build up to war, Chrysostomides said the government is fully aware of what was going on in the British bases. He confirmed that there was military mobility in the bases but did not know precise details.

    Asked if the US and their allies were using Cypriot ports and airports as well as the British bases, since they were given cabinet permission after September 11, the spokesman replied that he did not believe those conditions still applied under current circumstances, adding it was a matter for the Foreign Ministry to deal with.

    Meanwhile, the British bases issued a statement saying operations to support the deployment of coalition forces in the region were continuing apace from RAF Akrotiri. The report maintains that “activities remain support-oriented and involve the movement of a large amount of logistic traffic in and out of the base”, adding that one of the principal activities was the supply of fuel to aircraft, which involves many tanker aircraft using the airfield facilities.

    Also part of the preparations is the improvement of the runway and fuel storage facilities in order to meet increased demand and capacity. Other supplies have been arriving via Limassol port since the beginning of the year. Temporary accommodation and training of troops in transit by the SBAs has been supported by the posting of additional personnel from the UK. Also, the bases hospital has been rehearsing its existing capability to provide an aero-medical service back to the UK, according to the statement.

    ''All of these are well-established practices that the bases have been conducting for many years. The only aspect that has changed is the frequency and volume in which they are now occurring,'' the British Bases press release concludes.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [08] Officials preparing guidelines on killer flu

    By Alexia Saoulli

    HEALTH Ministry officials said yesterday they were not worried about a powerful strain of pneumonia that has killed at least nine people and sparked a World Health Organisation warning.

    Nevertheless, Medical Services head Dr Constantinos Mallis said the Ministry was preparing a series of contingency plans in case the disease, called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), made an appearance on the island. A list of recommendations and guidelines were also being drawn up, and would be made public shortly, he said.

    “We are preparing advice for what people should and shouldn't do, as well as symptoms to look out for,” Mallis said.

    The illness appears to spread from person to person, through coughing and sneezing, and is typical of any flu-like illness, according to the US Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).

    In addition to the respiratory symptoms, signs of the illness can include initial rapid onset of high fever (over 38 degrees) followed by muscle aches, headache and sore throat. Muscle stiffness, loss of appetite, malaise, confusion, rash and diarrhoea are also common symptoms.

    A press release issued by the WHO said over 150 incidences of SARS had been reported in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO Director General, said: “This syndrome, SARS, is now a worldwide health threat. The world needs to work together to find its cause, cure the sick, and stop its spread.”

    The rapid spread of the disease has prompted the organisation to issue emergency guidance for travellers and airlines, putting the latter on alert for cases of suspected pneumonia among passengers. However, there is currently no recommendation for people to restrict travel to any destination.

    “I don't think we will be stopping people flying to and from China,” said Mallis. “Perhaps we could suggest that people postpone plans to fly to the region unless it's extremely necessary. However, this is only a thought and not yet a recommendation, because not even international bodies have restricted travel to any destination.”

    He added the Ministry was in constant contact with the WHO, as well as other international health organisations, including Greece's CDC.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [09] Government hits back at critics over ministers' assets

    By George Psyllides

    THE government said yesterday that attempts to ridicule the publication of ministers' assets were “bad and negative”, suggesting the gesture should have been appreciated as it was the first time in the history of Cyprus that ministers' finances were made public.

    On Saturday, President Tassos Papadopoulos and his cabinet, as well as the government spokesman and the undersecretary to the president, published their finances, fulfilling a pledge made by Papadopoulos on assuming office.

    But the move, though groundbreaking, has drawn considerable criticism from those who believe ministers should have declared their wives' finances too.

    The declarations also faced criticism for only stating the cost of the land and not its actual value.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday the move should have been appreciated, as it was the first time that ministers' finances had been made public.

    Asked whether there were second thoughts on the publication of the spouses' finances as well as the issue of current market values of land, Chrysostomides said: “If at this point there are gaps, they will be filled in.”

    Chrysostomides said the price stated was usually the cost price of the property, adding that the issue was not the minister's property value but what property they currently owned and what they would own when they left office.

    “I think it is a pioneering initiative, which should be made complete with the necessary legislation issued or voted by the House in order to have rules and directions concerning the publication of the finances of state officials,” Chrysostomides said.

    And he added that attempts to debase the importance of this action were bad and negative and that everyone had acted in good faith and given the information asked from them.

    The spokesman reminded that the bill making the declaration of assets compulsory had not been passed by the House, due to constitutional obstacles and the protection of individuals' private life.

    Opposition DISY deputy Prodromos Prodromou said the publication of only the ministers' personal finances was a mockery.

    He charged that the government was trying to create false impressions and wondered why there was no information published concerning family enterprises, spouses' property and foreign accounts.

    Prodromou warned that the opposition would be forced to make revelations if ministers were not forthcoming about their spouses' finances.

    Trade and Industry Minister George Lillikas, who was a prime target, said that he would table the issue in the next Cabinet meeting.

    Speaking yesterday, Lillikas said his wife owned 70 per cent of the Marketway group of companies, which was valued at around £4.8 million and had a turnover of several million pounds a year.

    He also disclosed that his wife owned a couple of acres of land outside Nicosia and a House in Yeri.

    Lillikas dismissed the criticism as gossip aimed at damaging the government's credibility.

    Interior Minister Andreas Christou said he had already submitted his wife's finances and it was up to the Cabinet's secretariat to publish them after instructions from the President.

    Communications Minister Kikis Kazamias said his wife owned a plot of land in Limassol worth £35,000 and one-fifth of other land estimated at £100, 000.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003

    [10] Donor drive yields 14,000 samples

    By Alexia Saoulli

    NEARLY 14,000 blood samples were collected in the search to find a bone marrow match for five-year-old Turkish Cypriot leukaemia sufferer Jale Sakaoglu.

    The 11-day donor drive, which ended on Sunday, resulted in 13,460 samples from both sides of the Green Line, said a very satisfied Bicommunal Forum representative, Marios Ioannides. The first 5,000 samples' results should be ready by next week, organisers said.

    “The figures exceeded our wildest dreams. It was more than we could have thought, imagined or calculated,” he said.

    The campaign, which had originally been scheduled to last five days, started on Thursday, March 6. Following increasing support from both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the deadline was twice extended, finally ending on Sunday.

    “If we could have, we'd have continued it further,” said a clearly exhausted Ioannides. This was the second such donor campaign on the island; it was organised by the Bi-communal Forum, Doctors of the World, Karaiskakio Foundation, the United Nations and the Kemal Saracoglu Foundation.

    The clock has now started ticking, as doctors have said the girl does not have long to live without a transplant. The Karaiskakio Foundation (the Cyprus bone marrow registry) is working against the clock to find a tissue match before it is too late.

    Doctors of the World added that three Greek Cypriot leukaemia sufferers, also in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, could also benefit from the extra surge in donors.

    But also significant was the fact that Greek and Turkish Cypriots were able to set their differences aside and come together in support of a humanitarian effort.

    “This campaign started before The Hague and yet people continued to come and donate samples of blood (after the effort had collapsed),” he said. “This is the people's referendum and the sample is their blood. The results say that everyone is in a position to work together and save the life of a compatriot. If they can perform this vast humanitarian act, they are in a position to live alongside each other and co-operate together. The buffer zone was revived and people came together and showed the superiority of their humanity.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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