|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-12-21
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Defendants in HELIOS case not guilty, says courtFive defendants, accused of manslaughter in connection with a fatal air crash in 2005 in which 121 persons died, have been acquitted by the Assize Court.
The Court ruled by majority (two to one) that there was not sufficient evidence linking the defendants to the air crash and as such they bear no responsibility for the crash.
Judge Nicolas Santis has expressed his dissent with the decision.
The five defendants are Helios as a legal person, Executive Chairman Andreas Drakos, Helios Managing Director Demetris Pantazis, Director of Flight Operations George Kikkides and Helios chief pilot Ianco Stoimenov.
The relatives of the victims expressed their indignation at the court ruling and demanded that a report by a local commission of inquiry (the Kallis Commission) into the air crash be made public.
Attorney General Petros Clerides has told CNA that the Law Office of the Republic is studying the ruling and may appeal against it.
Reading the court decision, President of the Assize Court Charis Solomonides said in light of the evidence before the Court, ``we conclude, without reservation, that no case has been proven prima-facie against all the defendants in all the charges they face and therefore, all the defendants are acquitted and charges are dropped.
The five defendants were facing a total of 1,190 charges, 238 each, including causing the death of 119 passengers of the HELIOS flight because they did not prevent the aircraft to be flown by a captain and his co pilot who are described as inadequate or unsuitable cockpit crew, something that resulted in an unsafe flight.
The fundamental link that connects the chain (of events) is missing, the connection between alleged negligence by the accused with the crash is also missing. Consequently, we conclude that there is no proof that the accused have violated any of their duties and/or that the violation of their duties was the cause of the damage, the court ruling said.
In statements to CNA Nicolas Yiasoumis, President of the Relatives Committee, said ``Unfortunately, our fears have been confirmed through the process as it has evolved. We did not believe they could be convicted on the basis of the argument that they had not employed the appropriate staff.
He added that the charges as brought before the Court by the Attorney General`s Office were different than the findings of the ad hoc Kallis Commission.
He pointed out the responsibilities of civil aviation, which had issued the flying permit, and expressed doubt as to whether all necessary measures have been taken with regard to air safety.
He added that the relatives may appeal to the European Court against the Republic of Cyprus, once all legal procedures are over in the Republic.
On August 14, 2005 121 people were killed when an HELIOS Boeing 737 crashed into the mountainside of Grammatiko, north of the Greek capital, on its way to Prague. Most victims were holiday makers from Cyprus. Five persons were facing charges of manslaughter and causing the death of all 121 people on board by reckless, dangerous and careless action.
 President vows to end Cyprus` divisionA patriotic act is anything which will stop the suffering of all Cypriots and put an end to the countrys continuing occupation by Turkey and its division, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has said. The President and his wife, Elsi, hosted a dinner today at the Presidential Palace for a number of children, who live in the northern Turkish occupied areas.
Addressing the event, the President said he wished he could welcome the children in a reunited Cyprus, but noted that this is unfortunately still not the case. Referring to efforts for a Cyprus solution, President Christofias said that we are trying very sincerely to solve the problem, and reunite our country and our people, adding that as long as this responsibility lies with him, he will continue to fight with consistency towards this goal.
The President said the suffering of the people has to be addressed. Nowadays, he went on, what is considered patriotic, is whatever terminates the suffering of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. He also referred to the continuous occupation of the islands northern third by Turkey and the flow of settlers to this area, noting that the phenomenon is excruciating, first and foremost for the Turkish Cypriots, but also for the rest of the people.
Moreover, he said that the source of the de facto division of the island, of the influx of settles and of all related problems that arise for the enclaved Greek Cypriot population is Turkeys continuous occupation of Cyprus.
 Qatari investment will go ahead, Government saysA proposed multi million joint development project between Qatar and Cyprus, in the capital Nicosia, will go ahead, Minister of Finance Kikis Kazamias has said. Kazamias visited the military barracks at the entrance of Nicosia, which will be demolished as part of the joint venture between the two countries. He said that the Public Works department will present a timeframe concerning the demolition. The land will be sold to Qatar for 50 million euro.
``The final agreement provides for a deposit of 50 million euro,`` Kazamias said, adding that the price may be amended following consultations between the Board of Directors of the venture, comprising representatives of the two countries. ``If there is a change, it will be upwards and not downwards, he added, noting that during the last meeting of the Board it was agreed that they will come to an understanding before of the end of the year on some issues that need to be clarified.
He added that the next visit by the Qatari members of the Board will coincide with the delivery of the proposal of the Public Works department on the demolition of the barracks, so that the Board will proceed with its own planning. Kazamias also revealed that Cyprus has received interest from foreign investors both from the East and the West with regard to development projects. ``Along with my associates we have begun to examine this seriously and soon we will announce similar or much bigger projects throughout Cyprus,`` he said.
 Gas deposits indications expected soonFirst indications on possible deposits of natural gas or oil in block 12 of Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are expected to be announced around Christmas, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Praxoula Antoniadou has said. Antoniadou`s comments came in the wake of press reports suggesting that block 12 natural gas deposits are approximately 8 trillion cubic feet. Houston-based Noble Energy, which began drilling in September in the block, said last month that Block 12 natural gas gross resources are estimated at 3-10 trillion cubic feet (tcf) with a 60% probability of geologic success.
``We will know for sure when the appraisal work concludes. Drilling has reached the targeted depth and appraisal checks are being carried out,`` Antoniadou said replying to questions. Antoniadou added that various minor delays in the three-month drilling process have led to a one week delay in the announcement of the estimates, adding ``we expect to have something more concrete to say around Christmas``.
Asked about the second licensing round, Antoniadou said the Ministry is currently working on the necessary documents to announce the second licensing round. She added the Ministry is working on the contract on the basis of which the agreements will be made, adding that the Ministry plans to improve the contract used in the first licensing round.
Cyprus granted in October 2008 the exploration license for block 12 to US Noble, which began exploratory drilling on September 18 this year. The second licensing round will cover the remaining 12 blocks of Cyprus` EEZ.
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