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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Thursday, January 07, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bases deny climb-down on Akamas exercises
  • [02] Edek-Diko merger on the cards again
  • [03] Man blinded in crash awarded 178,000
  • [04] Jensen killers could end up serving just 12 years
  • [05] Boy hurt in hunting accident
  • [06] Greece stresses commitment to defence pact
  • [07] 'Astonishing' number of Cypriot students in UK

  • [01] Bases deny climb-down on Akamas exercises

    By Jean Christou

    THE BRITISH Bases authorities said yesterday there has been no climb-down on the issue of today's Akamas military exercises, despite reports to the contrary.

    Reports on Tuesday said that following Cyprus government intervention in the exercises debate, the bases had decided to cut short the manoeuvres from two days to one, and also to reduce the number of troops involved from 200 to just 30.

    "Lots of figures are being bandied about," said bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown. "It's not a case of us backing down in the face of adversity."

    He was referring to reports that environmentalists were claiming victory for causing the claimed reduction in the number of soldiers taking part in the exercises.

    Brown said the commander of the exercises will decide how many men he needs at the time. "If it's 30 men or 200 men it's his business," Brown said. "It's a free-form exercise."

    He also denied reports that government intervention had been responsible for the reported climb-down.

    Brown said there had been reports that the Foreign Minister would try to meet with bases authorities in an attempt to postpone the exercises altogether but that no such meeting had taken place.

    But according to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), bases officials indicated the exercise may be shortened.

    "The exercises are scheduled for January 7-8, but we retain the option to reduce their duration," spokesman Rob Need told CNA.

    He said around 200 soldiers were scheduled to go to Akamas but that the commanding officer would have the final say on how many would participate "which is not rigid and is up to him whether it's 50 or 100 go".

    "We have to give notification to the local police and the Cyprus government about the numbers involved in our exercise so they know how many police officers will have to stand by to control the access to the exercise area," Need said.

    Under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, the British bases are allowed to use the Akamas as a training ground for military exercises for a certain period each year.

    Environmentalists were preparing yesterday for today's expected face-off with the police and the bases.

    They announced yesterday that they would set up camp in Toxeftra last night to monitor the exercises.

    Green Party president George Perdikis said he had no idea how many people would turn out today to protest against the exercises. "We have no idea exactly what is going to happen," he said.

    Environmentalists on Sunday tore down signs and fencing, and damaged mobile toilet units, as part of a campaign to stop the two-day exercises from going ahead.

    A spokesman for the British High Commission said that the bases authorities will seek compensation amounting to 50,000 for the damage caused to British property.

    Cypriot greens believe the exercises have destroyed areas of environmentally sensitive land through fires started on the training grounds, and want the exercises stopped permanently.

    The House of Representatives has already passed a unanimous decision that the exercises should cease and that an alternative site should be found by the government. Discussions have taken place between the bases and the government, but a new site has not yet been agreed.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said on Tuesday the bases have so far rejected the sites proposed by the government.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    [02] Edek-Diko merger on the cards again

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE APPOINTMENT of two Disy-backed cabinet members to replace the Edek ministers who jumped ship on Monday does not mean the "national unity" government is dead, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday.

    The only non-Disy minister currently in President Clerides's cabinet is Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, of the United Democrats (UD).

    On Tuesday, Supreme Court judge Yiannakis Chrysostomis was appointed as Defence Minister and Disy deputy Ouranios Ioannides was appointed Education Minister, replacing Yiannakis Omirou and Lykourgos Kappas respectively. They abandoned the posts they had held since the February presidential elections after their party left the government in protest at President Clerides' decision not to bring the S-300 missiles to Cyprus.

    But Anastassiades insisted the government remained broad-based, as Clerides promised it would be following his election victory. The leader of the governing party also indicated the much-rumoured cabinet reshuffle was indeed on the cards.

    "You don't need members from all political fields to have a broad-based government," he said. "If other parties refuse to join the government, Clerides will appoint people who enjoy general acceptance."

    After the end of its short-lived stint as junior government partner, socialist Edek is now moving towards merging with centre-right party Diko. Diko is also a former member of a Clerides government, having abandoned an alliance with Disy in the run-up to the February elections.

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou and Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides met on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of a merger to form a multi-party socio-democratic movement.

    The two leaders agreed that there was no good reason for the two paries to remain as separate entities. Merger talks are expected to begin next week.

    Previous Edek-led efforts to form a broad-based socio-democratic movement stumbled on Diko's refusal to talk with what it called "small" parties. Edek's merger plans included the United Democrats but also smaller political entities like the Movement for Democratic Renewal and the Movement for Political Renewal.

    It was not clear yesterday whether Kyprianou had abandoned his objections concerning the other merger candidates.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    Date set for students' murder trial

    TWO CHINESE students accused of murdering two of their compatriots will go on trial before the Limassol Assizes court on February 1.

    Hua Cheng Bu, 22, and his alleged accomplice Wang Yang, 21, pleaded not guilty to murder charges when they appeared before the Limassol District Court on Tuesday. Bu and Yang are accused of strangling fellow student Jiang Ming Xia, and her boyfriend Lou Jian Hui, both 23, at the beginning of December.

    The District court ordered that the two suspects remain in police custody until their trial.

    The bodies of the murdered couple were discovered on December 2 at the bottom of a 100-metre-deep ravine in the Troodos mountains.

    Police say Yang has confessed to the murder and that he has named Bu as the mastermind of the attack. The motive for the vicious attack - which took place in the couple's flat in Limassol - was robbery, police say.

    Yang was arrested two days after the bodies were found. Bu spent eight days on the run before he was apprehended in the cellar of a private clinic in Limassol by an off-duty army officer.

    The alleged attackers and the victims all attended the same Limassol college.

    Forensic evidence suggests the two victims were tortured and sexually abused before being strangled to death. Their bodies were then wrapped in a blanket and taken from Limassol to be dumped in the ravine, about 25 kilometres away, police say.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    [03] Man blinded in crash awarded 178,000

    A PAPHOS Court has awarded a man blinded in a car crash eight years ago more than 178,000 in compensation for his injuries.

    This is the first time a Cyprus court has awarded compensation for a blinding accident.

    Thirty-year-old Sotiris Sotiriou, a Paphos land registry employee, lost his sight after his car was involved in a collision with a vehicle driven by Georgios Tryfonos in Paphos in August 1990. Sotiriou, who also suffered other injuries in the accident, sued Tryfonos for compensation.

    In a decision released yesterday, the Paphos District Court ruled that Tryfonos was two-thirds responsible for the accident because he had indicated to go left and then suddenly swerved right, with the result that Sotiriou drove into him.

    The court ordered that Tryfonos pay Sotiriou 178,130 in compensation, plus interest from the date of the accident.

    The compensation awarded covered all Sotiriou's expenses for the medical treatment he underwent in Britain, Germany and Greece in a vain attempt to regain his sight. Sotiriou was also awarded all his court expenses.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    [04] Jensen killers could end up serving just 12 years

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE THREE British soldiers who killed Danish tour guide Louise Jensen with a shovel in 1994 could - despite their recent sentence reductions - wind up serving their full 25-year prison terms without any remission for good behaviour or presidential pardons.

    This is because neither remission nor a presidential pardon is owed to any of the three by absolute right.

    Instead, they are the respective discretion of the prison director and the president, lawyers and a prison official said.

    Prisoners in Cyprus can get time off for good behaviour as "a matter of right, if they work and have good behaviour," Prison Director George Anastassiades told the Cyprus Mail. The operative word for Anastassiades was "if".

    A presidential pardon - which cuts a sentence by 25 per cent, or even frees a prisoner - is likewise "not a right", he said. "It depends on the decision of the president," and is given as a matter of practice, if at all, after an election.

    Efstathios Efstathiou and Christos Triantafyllides, prominent local criminal lawyers, both agreed with Anastassiades.

    Time off for good behaviour is discretionary, Efstathiou said. He defended the practice, since Cyprus has no provision for convicts to be paroled (released before serving their full terms on a promise of keeping certain conditions of good conduct).

    "If he (a convict) shows good behaviour - which is admittedly a vague term - he earns time off as a right," Triantafyllides said. "It's subsidiary legislation enacted under the criminal law."

    Like Anastassiades, neither Efstathiou nor Triantafyllides accorded convicts any "right" to a presidential pardon. But Efstathiou said a president could not grant a pardon without the Attorney-general's approval, while Triantafyllides said the Attorney-general's opinion was only advisory, not binding.

    The three soldiers' sentence reductions to 25 years, ordered on November 30 by the Supreme Court, sparked criticism in Cyprus and in Britain, as well as among the victim's family.

    Public reaction was heightened by news reports that Alan Ford, 29, Justin Fowler, 30, and Geoff Pernell, 27, could - with remission and possible election-year presidential pardons - actually serve little more than 12 years for their crimes.

    And British MPs were outraged that the three would, despite their convictions, be eligible for their military pensions when they reach the age of 60.

    The trials of the three soldiers cost the British taxpayers some 260,000 Sterling. Their successful Supreme Court appeal will add thousands of pounds to that bill.

    The British public will have to pay what portion of their pensions the three had earned up to the time they were cashiered, said Rob Need, spokesman for the British Sovereign Bases, where the three had been stationed.

    How is time off a prison sentence calculated? It depends on the sentence, Prison Governor Anastassiades explained: "For the first two years, they earn six days a month. After two years and up to five years, it's eight days a month. After five years and up to eight years, it's 10 days a month. From eight years to 12 years, it rises to 12 days a month. And after 12 years in prison, convicts can get 14 days a month" cut from their terms.

    At this rate, if the squaddies earn the maximum remission - six years and six months in their cases - but get no presidential pardon, they would serve only 15 years and three months in prison.

    If, however, they get a 25 per cent presidential pardon and earn the maximum remission, they could serve as little as 12 years and three months for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Jensen with a shovel.

    The Supreme Court granted the squaddies' appeals of their original life sentences on grounds that the penalty was too harsh for manslaughter. The original charges of murder were reduced to manslaughter in their trial, at which the three were found guilty.

    The Supreme Court also held in mitigation the fact that the soldiers were young and drunk and had no criminal records prior to stripping naked and beating to death 23-year-old Louise Jensen with 15 shovel blows after kidnapping her from her boyfriend's motorcycle at a filling station.

    Kikis Talarides, a top local defence lawyer, was palpably disgusted at the sentence reductions: "In this case, I think they shouldn't do anything less than 25 years... Even if they were drunk - this is a horrible, horrible crime," he said.

    "Twenty-five years should be the minimum. Twelve years will not be sufficient deterrent, I think. Somebody can commit a murder and get away in 12 years' time - that will be insufficient," Talarides said.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    [05] Boy hurt in hunting accident

    A 13-year-old boy was seriously injured in a hunting accident in the Larnaca area yesterday when his father's shotgun misfired.

    Police said Miltos Apostolou was rushed to hospital following the accident near Kalavasos village at around 8.30am.

    Miltos, who lives in Mari village, just down the road from Kalavasos, had emergency surgery at Larnaca hospital for abdominal injuries.

    His condition was later described as serious.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    [06] Greece stresses commitment to defence pact

    By Andrew Adamides

    ATHENS calls the negative reaction in Cyprus to the non-deployment of the S- 300 missiles understandable, but there is no reason to question Greek commitment to the joint defence pact, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Kyriakos Rodusakis said yesterday.

    In a CyBC interview, he said that in order to honour its defence commitment to Cyprus, Greek weapons purchases also take into account the possible need to defend Cyprus as well.

    "It would be naive for Greece not to adjust its planning throughout the Aegean and the wider region," he said, adding that the two countries are working together "to make the best use of all possibilities and recent developments relating to the Cyprus problem and the reduction of tension and military equipment".

    Rodusakis said he believes the momentum created in the Cyprus problem by recent events should be exploited to the full, and he expressed belief in the "sincere disposition" of "various international circles" to pressure Turkey to reduce its military presence on the island.

    Asked about the S-300 missiles and their possible deployment on Crete, Rodusakis would only say that this was a "possible option". Athens had said the missiles would be deployed in Greece, he pointed out, and a decision on the specific location was up to the military general command.

    "Are we going to repeat the mistake made in Cyprus and tell everybody where each weapon will be placed?" he asked.

    Meanwhile, the Russian daily Segodnya reported yesterday that Cyprus may be considering the purchase of Russian Tor M-1 short range anti-aircraft missiles in place of the S-300s.

    The paper said that although Russian officials had said Cyprus had not yet officially asked to buy the missiles,

    it was possible that Moscow had suggested the deal as it was unsatisfied with the outcome of the S-300 debacle.

    Had the S-300s been deployed on Cyprus, the newspaper said, it would have been an "unfading advert" for the system, which Russia is pushing as superior to its American counterpart the Patriot.

    Thursday, January 07, 1999

    [07] 'Astonishing' number of Cypriot students in UK

    CYPRIOTS outnumber students from India, China, Taiwan, Canada and Turkey in British higher education institutions, making them the 13th largest market for UK higher education, the British Council said yesterday.

    This is "an astonishing statistic, considering the population of the island" - over 752,000 in the Republic alone - said the Council, which is based in Manchester.

    The number of Cypriots studying in Britain has risen nearly 50 per cent in four years - from 2,295 in 1994/95 to 3,253 in 1997/98. The increase has been in all areas. Undergraduate numbers increased from 1,473 to 2,101. Postgraduate students rose from 584 to 835.

    Overall, the European Union is the largest source of students to Britain, accounting for 45 per cent of the total of foreign students enroled there.

    Cyprus is the sixth-largest non-EU provider of students to Britain, behind Malaysia, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, a fact the Council called "an even more impressive statistic" considering the population differences.

    British universities are preferred by 62 per cent of Cypriot students, over institutions in the United States and Australia, the Council said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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