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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-20

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

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


Wednesday, January 20, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Trial looms for disgraced bishop
  • [02] Clerides raps journalists over Ghali ideas
  • [03] Markides drawing up new immigration laws
  • [04] CY to try again on smoking ban
  • [05] CTO's Japan office set to close
  • [06] Reservoir levels remain critically low despite heavy rains
  • [07] Nicosia to get tough on litter-bugs
  • [08] Carrier moors off Cyprus on its way to the Gulf
  • [09] Seasick fishermen rescued by British craft
  • [10] Government can count on majority support ahead of budget debate
  • [11] Woman killed in tragic twist to multiple crash
  • [12] Bus drivers in protest strike

  • [01] Trial looms for disgraced bishop

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FORMER Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos is almost certain to stand trial for allegedly trying to defraud a UK-based investor of $3.7 million, Attorney- general Alecos Markides said yesterday.

    Markides said there was only a five per cent chance that the disgraced bishop, who resigned last November amid growing corruption allegations, would not end up in the dock, as 95 per cent of the investigation was now complete.

    "There needs to be certain supplementary actions, and if the facts of the case do not change considerably from these actions - and if you want a further prediction I don't foresee the situation changing substantially - then it is very possible the case will go to court," Markides told reporters at a news conference in Nicosia.

    The Attorney-general also said the British-based investor was apparently willing to come to Cyprus to give evidence.

    Chrysanthos, who faces over 30 allegations of defrauding investors in multi- million financial scams, has now been blacklisted from leaving the island in view of pending legal proceedings.

    "In the event he attempts to go abroad, investigators will be informed immediately and they will request the necessary warrant preventing a Cypriot citizen leaving the Republic," Markides said.

    The disgraced bishop faces possible charges of conspiracy to defraud and attempting to obtain $3.7 million by deception.

    Among the other cases under investigation, are allegations by two Portuguese investors that they were swindled out of $1.5 million by the former bishop.

    Police investigators have just returned from Spain in connection with the case and others will be sent to Greece and the US shortly, Markides said.

    Scotland Yard detectives have already questioned Chrysanthos in connection with the $3.7 million UK scam during two visits to Cyprus between July and December last year.

    Chrysanthos resigned as bishop last November, just days before he was to go before the Holy Synod to answer an eight-point indictment issued against him.

    A Holy Synod investigation committee drew up the indictment, which charged Chrysanthos with acting out of greed, profiteering through currency speculation, abusing his ecclesiastical position and making dubious financial deals with unsavoury characters.

    The Holy Synod grudgingly accepted his resignation, in what was seen as a damage limitation exercise at the time, but banned him from carrying out church services for two years.

    However, Chrysanthos still remains in the clergy and will be deployed as a church emissary during the ban, according to reports.

    Nevertheless, any criminal conviction would probably see the controversial clergyman kicked out the Church for good.

    This would be a harsh punishment for the former bishop, who is understood to enjoy a 1.000-a-month salary, servants and a plush church residence, despite his fall from grace.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [02] Clerides raps journalists over Ghali ideas

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday reacted angrily to reports that the Ghali 'Set of ideas' had been put back on the agenda by the UN.

    Clerides said the UN's permanent representative to Cyprus, Dame Ann Hercus, had only referred to the 1992 proposal by then UN Secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali because she had been asked to comment on it by journalists waiting outside the Presidential Palace on Monday.

    Hercus's response that the Ghali ideas were "a very useful resource" gave rise to widespread media speculation that the proposal was on the agenda for shuttle talks between Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that Hercus has been conducting since October. The media are being kept in the dark about the content of the talks.

    "I think I would like to be somewhat stern in my statements," Clerides said yesterday when he was asked to comment on the "resurgence" of the Ghali ideas.

    "Mrs Hercus, from the day she arrived here in Cyprus, has not mentioned the words 'Ghali ideas'. It was our journalists who had the bright idea to ask her about the ideas," Clerides said.

    "I believe this was not necessary, the Ghali ideas are not being discussed at this moment."

    Clerides was elected President for the first time 1993 with the rejection of the Ghali 'Set of Ideas' as one of his main campaign slogans. His predecessor, George Vassiliou, had promoted the UN proposal.

    The leader of governing Disy, Nicos Anastassiades, backed up the President. "We are dealing with ghosts of the past rather than the realities of today, " he said.

    He said Disy still opposed the 'Set of ideas'.

    But the vice-president of opposition party Edek, Yiannakis Omirou, said Hercus' comments on the ideas were "worrying."

    Omirou, who earlier this month abandoned his post as Defence minister in protest at Clerides's decision not to bring the S-300 missiles, said it was unclear what the shuttle talks were aimed at. "The impression given is that it is not clear what she (Hercus) is aiming to achieve," he said.

    The former minister called on Clerides to convene the National Council to inform parties of what was going on in the shuttle talks.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides responded that Clerides would be informing party leaders of developments individually and would then call a National Council meeting if it still seemed necessary after this.

    Stylianides also detailed arrangements for the visit on Friday of the British envoy to Cyprus, Sir David Hannay.

    Sir David was not scheduled to pay a visit on Clerides at the Presidential Palace, but the two men would meet at a dinner at the British High Commission on Friday night, Stylianides said.

    He said the government had not been informed whether Sir David would be meeting Denktash or not.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [03] Markides drawing up new immigration laws

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE ISLAND'S recent futile attempt to return a boatload of illegal aliens to Lebanon spurred Attorney-general Alecos Markides to reveal yesterday that his office had drawn up new laws on immigration and political asylum, in harmony with EU law.

    Meanwhile, Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides was expected to head to Beirut in an attempt to sign a bilateral agreement that would ensure Lebanon will in future take back illegal aliens who embark from Lebanese ports and pitch up on Cyprus beaches.

    "One of the very important issues we will have to deal with as part of the entry talks of the European Union are the issues of immigrants and the issues of political asylum," Markides said yesterday.

    This is "because, in the event that we join the EU, the borders of Europe will be here in Cyprus. So they (in the EU) will be particularly interested in ways in which the Cyprus Republic deals with these issues," Markides said.

    EU Chief Negotiator Leopold Maurer, during a weekend visit with an EU delegation, specifically mentioned immigration and veterinary controls as two items high on the EU list of things Cyprus needs to comply maximally with, and soon.

    Maurer took pains to note that, in the current substantive EU-Cyprus negotiations, the Republic is being treated as an "external border country."

    With this in mind, Markides said, his office had updated the island's laws concerning political asylum, with help from the United Nations and Greece.

    He said he hoped to send this revamped asylum law to the Council of Ministers soon, and follow it with "full legislation on alien issues in general."

    A total of 30 boat people, mostly Arabs from the Middle East and Africa, were dumped on the Cyprus coast near Ayia Napa last week. Police apprehended 29 of the aliens quickly, and are hunting for the one remaining at large.

    Meanwhile, Lebanon - for lack of a written bilateral agreement with Cyprus covering such situations - refused to allow a Cyprus Police Boat to return all 29 to Lebanon, from where they claimed to have set sail. Lebanon only admitted six of the illegal aliens, all Egyptians, as only they had proper Lebanese entry documents on them.

    Michaelides has said intelligence reports indicate some 15,000 illegal immigrants are in the Lebanese port of Tripoli, just waiting to set sail for any European port.

    Those apprehended last week said they paid their boat's captain $400-$2,000 each to go to Italy or Greece, but he dumped them on the Cyprus coast instead.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [04] CY to try again on smoking ban

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways' (CY) plans for cigarette-free flights, which were scuppered by unions before Christmas, will finally be put into action next week, the airline said yesterday.

    The original plan to introduce the pilot scheme on flights to Athens and London Heathrow, went up in smoke late last year after cabin crew complained that pilots would be exempted, while they would not.

    At the time, the airline decided to avoid trouble in the busy Christmas period and postponed the trial period.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday the new two-month trial period would begin on the two routes from January 25, running until March 28.

    The decision to ban smoking on the flights was reached after CY ran a questionnaire, in which 90 per cent of passengers said they would prefer non-smoking flights.

    Management wanted to run the scheme among regular passengers in order to obtain feedback on a trial basis before introducing it permanently.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said there were no plans to stop pilots from smoking. "It's the Captain's prerogative to allow smoking in the cockpit, as long as it is locked and isolated," Angelis said.

    But CY's biggest union Cynika, to which cabin crew belong, say non-smoking flights with the exception of the cockpit are not fair.

    Cynika chief Costas Demetriou vowed yesterday to keep fighting the scheme until all staff received equal treatment.

    "We consider it to be a form of discrimination," he said. "They can't allow some people to smoke and not others," he said, adding that British Airways flights were completely non-smoking.

    Angelis said management has informed Cynika and discussed the issue with the union "more than once".

    Cynika has written to the Labour Ministry, asking it to intervene in the dispute.

    Today, the union will itself meet to see what action they can take, though Demetriou said the situation did not warrant strike action.

    "There are other ways to face this situation," he said.

    Two months ago, the union said they may still refuse to accept the non- smoking package, even if pilots were included in the ban.

    Cynika already plans a four-hour strike on January 28 over pay rises. CY has called on them not to go ahead in the best interests of the company.

    The union wants 4.5 per cent in pay rises and other benefits. It says members have not had a pay rise in over two years as part of a comprise agreement to help the airline, arguing that, now that CY is returning to profitability, they feel entitled to salary increases.

    "We sent a letter to the Labour Ministry today informing him of our strike action," Demetriou said. He said they had had no contact with management.

    Asked about the strike threat, Angelis simply said: "We still have ten days."

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [05] CTO's Japan office set to close

    THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) may have to close its Tokyo office for lack of interest, it was revealed yesterday.

    A CTO spokesman said the tourism body has commissioned a report on 12 of its 17 overseas offices, which would determine their continued viability. The report is likely to be ready next month.

    The 12 offices under scrutiny are the UK, France, Russia, Greece, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, the US, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Japan. The five escaping detection are Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Israel.

    The CTO also has representatives in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

    "The final report will be very important to us on how we are going to proceed in 1999," the CTO spokesman said.

    However, he said the only overseas office which might have to close, would be Tokyo, which was established only three years ago.

    The spokesman said an expected increase in Japanese tourists had failed to materialise. He said the number of tourists from Japan had reached a plateau at some 15,000.

    "It is not increasing and so we have to consider all the aspects as far as Japan is concerned," he said.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [06] Reservoir levels remain critically low despite heavy rains

    By Anthony O. Miller

    DESPITE greater rainfall this year than last, reservoir levels are still lower than last winter's, raising questions about government delays in picking builders for two emergency mobile desalination plants, and its second permanent plant.

    An average of 256 millimetres of precipitation - 10mm in the last 24 hours - has fallen throughout Cyprus since October 1, 1998, the start of the meteorological year, Dr. Cleanthis Philaniotis, Meteorological Service director, said yesterday.

    This is 87 per cent of normal (294mm) for the period in question, he said. Rainfall in the 1997-1998 meteorological year was only 75 per cent of normal.

    Most of the rain has fallen in the central and western plains, Philaniotis said, adding that snow had accumulated in the mountains, both in Troodos and occupied Pentadactylos.

    The Troodos snowline starts at about 600 feet above sea level, he said, adding the island can expect "very low temperatures - two to three degrees below normal."

    Last night's temperatures were expected to fall to 4 degrees Celsius in low- lying areas and -4 in the Troodos mountains, with more of the same expected today and tomorrow.

    Philaniotis said there were 10 centimetres of snow in Troodos Square, and 15cm on Mount Olympus.

    Runoff behind the island's dams from this year's rains has totalled 15.33 million cubic metres, Water Development Department (WDD) senior water engineer Nicodemos Nicodemou said yesterday.

    Most of last year's runoff did not flow into the rivers that feed the reservoirs, WDD sources have said, helping account for the record low dam levels as the island enters its fourth straight year of drought.

    Reservoirs yesterday held only 27.3 million cubic metres of water (they were 90 per cent empty), compared with slightly less - 26.2 million cubic metres - a month ago. Last January 19, 1998, there were 31.3 million cubic metres of water behind the dams.

    Main Tender Board Accountant-general Leontis Savvides confirmed yesterday that no bidders had been picked to build either the 'mobile' or the permanent desalination plants - billed as "emergency" measures in a government "crash" program to get the island through the coming summer. He added he could not say when any selection might take place.

    The bids for the permanent desalting plant, slated for Larnaca, were vetted months ago in Washington by the US Bureau of Reclamation, the federal dam building agency, before being sent back to the WDD for further evaluation, and forwarding to the Tender Board.

    Cyprus officials have said they expect the permanent plant, the island's second, to be on-line in June 2000, but sources close to the bidding process scoff at this, insisting its first potable water will not flow before sometime into 2001.

    Likewise with the two 'mobile' plants: both have already been vetted by the WDD, and Savvides could not account for the delay in selecting a contractor. The bids call for the first water to flow from them 22 weeks after a bidder is selected.

    The government first sought tenders for the permanent desalination plant in November 1997 - 14 months ago. It went to bid last September for the two mobile desalting plants.

    Cyprus gets some 80 per cent of its water from aquifers. All of them are dangerously overpumped, some are bone dry and others are too salty from seawater intrusion for crop or human use.

    The current maximum output of the Dhekelia desalination plant is 40,000 cubic metres of water per day - about the daily needs of Nicosia. The balance of the island's water comes from the dams.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [07] Nicosia to get tough on litter-bugs

    NICOSIA municipality is to get tough with litter bugs, imposing a hefty 20 fine on persons caught in the act.

    "We should no longer tolerate living in a dirty capital. It is high time the polluter paid," Nicosia mayor Lellos Demetriades said at a news conference yesterday.

    As from March 1, all municipal employees will be empowered to dish out 20 tickets to anyone they see dropping litter in a public place. The fines will be payable at the Town Hall and dodgers can expect a court summons, the mayor warned.

    "We will be pretty strict," Demetriades stated.

    And trash offenders can expect to get a taste of what awaits them come Spring-time as from today, Demetriades said, with municipality workers handing out "warning" tickets. These tickets won't actually carry a fine, but aim at getting people used to the idea that littering will cost them dearly, the mayor said. "We all need to change our attitude: we Cypriots keep our homes clean and throw whatever trash we have out into the streets."

    The get tough campaign is sponsored by tissue manufacturers Kleenex, Demetriades said. He said the Town Hall was doing its bit by buying 50 new trash cans and six new garbage trucks.

    The mayor said the municipality also hoped to do something about in-town pollution from vehicle exhausts, though he did not elaborate.

    He said previous studies, carried out in conjunction with central government, had ended up "gathering dust on ministry shelves."

    "But I see that there is more sensitivity now, and we as a municipality can take the initiative, even though we don't posses the wherewithal," Demetriades said - once more bemoaning the sad state of the Town Hall's finances.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [08] Carrier moors off Cyprus on its way to the Gulf

    By Hamza Hendawi, aboard HMS Invincible

    BRITISH aircraft carrier HMS Invincible anchored off Cyprus yesterday to take on men and supplies before sailing on to the Gulf to beef up Western forces arrayed against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

    One of only three British aircraft carriers, the 20,000-ton Invincible ended its last Gulf deployment in March 1998. Accompanied by the destroyer HMS Newcastle and two supply vessels, it is scheduled to transit the Suez Canal later this week and enter the Gulf around January 28.

    Sea Harrier fighter-Jets from the carrier will join other British and US aircraft in enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, according to Invincible Captain James Burnell-Nugent.

    Speaking to reporters aboard the carrier, he said Royal Air Force Harrier bombers were on standby to join the seven Sea Harriers already on the carrier if the need arose.

    "This is a very strong political statement and expression of our resolve in that part of the world," said Rear Admiral Ian Forbes, who heads the Invincible task force. "We are prepared to see action should it be necessary."

    Forbes spoke over the deafening noise of helicopters approaching the carrier with supplies from the nearby British air base at Akrotiri near Limassol.

    Invincible, which can carry up to 16 of the British-made Harriers and six Sea King helicopters, is heading for the Gulf with tension still high after last month's four-day US and British air and missile strikes on Iraq.

    A series of confrontations over no-fly zones declared by Western allies in 1991 to protect Kurdish Iraqis in the north of the country and Marsh Arabs and Shiite Muslims in the south has added to the friction.

    "At the end of the day we are going to an area where tension was heightened in the past three or four weeks. Our people are focused because they know that the area saw combat action only last month," said Forbes.

    "Invincible's deployment is not an escalation," he said. "We are basically going there to help in enforcing the no-fly zone."

    A total of 1,200 men and women operate Invincible.

    Maintenance crews were busy yesterday checking and painting several Sea King helicopters on a 130-metre-long hangar aboard the carrier.

    But bad weather prevented pilots from flying the Harriers on the training missions they have flown since sailing from Britain on January 9. Instead, the pilots, clad in olive-green overalls, stood beside their jets ready to field reporters' questions.

    Their answers were typically guarded, and they declined to identify themselves or their hometowns.

    "We are looking forward to doing a job as well as we could," is all a 29- year-old pilot would say when asked if he anticipated combat action in enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [09] Seasick fishermen rescued by British craft

    TWO SEASICK fishermen who were caught adrift in choppy seas were rescued by British servicemen yesterday after calling for help on a mobile phone.

    Soldiers from Akrotiri were asked to provide assistance when the unnamed fishermen called the Cyprus police to report their predicament.

    Their boat was adrift off the Princess Mary hospital in Akrotiri. The fishermen said they had bene unable to start their engine and were caught in strong winds.

    "The British Forces rescue Control centre contacted the men to find out how precarious their position was," a British bases announcement said. "Although they were not in immediate danger they were however feeling nauseous."

    A bases patrol boat was sent to the area while a rescue craft was launched which towed them to shore. A crew from 84 squadron provided air cover. The two fishermen were landed at Akrotiri and taken to the medical centre for a check up before being allowed home.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [10] Government can count on majority support ahead of budget debate

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE GOVERNMENT can count on majority support for its 1999 spending programme, despite an Edek pledge to abstain from the House vote on the budget debate, which starts today.

    Main opposition party, Akel, was keeping its cards close to it chest yesterday, but did say it would vote in favour of the budgets, give or take a few items.

    The budget debate will start at the House today, with party leaders allowed a 45-minute speech on the state of the economy and a chance to attack or defend the government's record.

    According to state forecasts, growth is expected to reach four per cent this year, with inflation contained at 2.5 per cent, and unemployment expected to drop to three per cent.

    The government only needs a simple majority of the 56 deputies to get its budget approved.

    Ruling party Disy, which has the largest number of deputies, the United Democrats and Diko have all said they will vote for the budget.

    However, Diko, along with Akel and Edek, will seek to amend certain budget provisions. Defence and education are not likely to be on their hit list.

    This year's budget provides for a deficit of 508.8 million, five per cent more than last year.

    Expenditure is set at 1.68 billion, with revenues projected at 1.1 million.

    The budget vote is scheduled to take place on Friday.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [11] Woman killed in tragic twist to multiple crash

    A 57-YEAR-OLD woman was killed yesterday after a bizarre multiple pile-up.

    At 7.45am, a truck went out of control under a flyover on the Aradippou to Kalochorio highway in the Larnaca district, hit the embankment at the side of the road and came to rest in the middle of the road. The driver was unhurt.

    A car coming from the opposite direction, driven by Trainee National Guard Officer Lenos Thomas managed to stop in time to avoid hitting the truck. However, the car behind Thomas, driven by Kyriakos Xeni, was unable to brake, and went into the back of Thomas' car.

    Thomas was taken to hospital for first aid.

    Alerted that her husband had been involved in the smash, Kyriacos Xeni's wife, Xeni, rushed to the scene with their son and another woman, Adriani Kyriacou, 57.

    They were standing by the roadside, when another truck came down the road, swerved to avoid the crashed vehicles and ran over Adriani Kyriacou, killing her instantly.

    It then ploughed into another two cars. Kyriacou, a refugee, was living in Dromolaxia.

    An alcotest on the driver of the second truck, 24-year-old Antonis Kyriacou, proved negative, but he was nevertheless taken into custody to help police with their enquiries.

    Wednesday, January 20, 1999

    [12] Bus drivers in protest strike

    RURAL busses stopped running for two hours yesterday morning, as drivers protested over their working conditions. Drivers in rural areas of the Nicosia district disrupted services between 9 and 11am, demanding measures to ensure better safety measures on their routes.

    The drivers, members of workers' unions Peo and Sek, have sent a petition to the Ministries of Communications and Works and of Justice calling for roundabouts and special bus lanes to be constructed.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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