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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Thursday, January 23, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Priceless church antiquities stolen
  • [02] Facelift plan for Paphos centre
  • [03] Limassol man on hunger strike for justice
  • [04] Life prisoners to get personal TVs
  • [05] Investigation into passport scam begins
  • [06] Man drowns at Limassol beach

  • [01] Priceless church antiquities stolen

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE ANTIQUITIES Department said yesterday it was deeply concerned over a recent spate of church lootings. Although the stolen items were of significant financial value, they were also priceless and irreplaceable in an archaeological context, said director Sophoclis Hadjisavva.

    The thefts were first discovered several days ago at two separate churches. The first was Panayia Podithou church in the Troodos district and the second was Ayios Savvas, a small church in the Paphos district.

    "We are naturally very upset and worried about the thefts and have asked the bishoprics' responsible for their upkeep to implement security measures which will prevent this from happening in future," he said.

    The Troodos church was included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) list of world cultural heritage treasures, he said.

    UNESCO encourages the identification, protection and preservation of world cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

    Cultural heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and sites with historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. Natural heritage refers to outstanding physical, biological and geological formations, habitats of threatened species of animals and plants and areas with scientific, conservation or aesthetic value.

    "We have asked that alarm and fire systems are placed in the island's UNESCO churches and are studying other ways of protecting all churches in general," said Hadjisavva.

    There were 10 Byzantine churches in the Troodos Mountains, which were included in the official UNESCO list of cultural heritage, he said. These were: Stavros tou Ayiasmati, Panayia tou Araka, Timiou Stavrou at Pelendri, Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis, Panayia Podithou, Asinou, Ayios loannis Lampadistis, Panayia tou Moutoula, Archangel Michael at Pedhoulas, and Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.

    Although only Panayia Podithou was listed with UNESCO, both lootings were cause for concern. In both churches the thieves stole the Holy Door that joined the iconostasis to the sacrosanct, said Hadjisavva.

    "These items were stolen with the intent to sell them to collectors on the black market," he said. "We can only hope that we will be able to retrieve them because they will not be easy to move. No one in Cyprus will buy them unless they are very disturbed and want to keep them hidden in their home where only they can look at them. The only chance is to find a buyer abroad, and again that will prove difficult, because smuggling them out of the country will not be an easy task."

    The theft was first reported on Tuesday when Panayia Podithou sexton, Andreas Alexandrou, who had a key for the premises, went to open up the church for tourists. Once there he discovered that someone had broken the lock, entered the building and removed the Holy Door - worth around 100, 000. The church had last been inspected on Sunday, where nothing was found to be amiss.

    "It is not about the money," stressed Hadjisavva. "We never consider the monetary loss, but instead take into consideration the archaeological loss. These are doors that are part Cyprus' heritage and history." The door was chiselled and depicted an icon of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Christ and the Archangel Michael; a cross was also placed above it with scattered leaves of gold.

    "Ayios Savvas is a small remote church in Paphos. Although all icons have been removed from such churches, the Holy door could not be taken away for safe-keeping because it was joined on to the iconostasis and would cause complications to the infrastructure if removed," said Hadjisavva. The two wooden Holy doors belonging to the church were taken sometime between now and last December. They dated back to the fourteenth Century.

    Police were investigating both thefts, he said. If found the looters would be charged under an antiquity theft law and pay 1,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] Facelift plan for Paphos centre

    By Sofia Kannas

    A PROPOSAL for improving Paphos commercial centre has been submitted to local shopkeepers.

    The proposal, which was drafted by architects and planners on behalf of Paphos Municipality, provides for the pedestrianisation of certain roads in the centre.

    A spokesperson from the municipality yesterday confirmed a preliminary draft of the proposed changes had been prepared and presented in public to shopkeepers and other businesses affected by the plans.

    "The municipality does not expect everyone to be in agreement with what we propose but on the whole reactions were positive - there were no strong reactions against the proposal from shopkeepers.

    "We are now awaiting comments from those likely to be affected so that the Municipal Council can make evaluations for a final draft."

    Melios Georgiou, Permanent Secretary of shop keepers association POVEK, told the Cyprus Mail, "As an organisation we have discussed the municipality's study, which involves the pedestrianisation of limited areas among other changes, and we are not opposed to the rejuvenation scheme.

    "However the plans are not finalised and we have not reached the stage where we might protest."

    Charidimos Papadopoullos, General Secretary of POVEK in Paphos said the proposal had not been rejected by the centre's shopkeepers, but that plans to pedestrianise certain roads were not currently viewed as being a priority for the area.

    "Pedestrianised roads are not a priority in the centre. First of all we need appropriate lighting, conservation of historic buildings and of course parking in the vicinity.

    "Once we have these things, and more people are coming to the centre, then the pedestrianisation of some roads might follow," he added

    A POVEK district committee will present its views on the plans today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Limassol man on hunger strike for justice

    A 39-YEAR-OLD Limassol man yesterday entered the third day of a hunger strike outside the Presidential Palace in Nicosia.

    Andreas Prodromou Constantinou swore he would stay there until the government paid him 90,000 in compensation after an appeal court overturned his arson conviction several years ago.

    "Even though my case set a precedent for appeals cases receiving compensation, I was told that it (the ruling) was not retroactive and I wouldn't receive a cent," he said.

    Constantinou said his furniture factory Prodromou and Andreas Constantinou Ltd. burned down several years ago and he was wrongly accused of the crime. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment, but only served one year after which an appeal court overturned the ruling. Since then he alleges he has had to work three jobs in order to pay back expenses he incurred during his prison sentence: lawyer fees for his appeal, doctors fees to treat burns obtained from the fire and interest rates on loans he could not pay back while in jail.

    The father of a 14-year-old boy has now stopped paying back his debts and said he planned to hand in his election book. He sleeps in his car at night and said he would starve himself to death if necessary.

    "I don't think anyone will listen to me. I cannot deprive my son every time he asks me for money to pay for extra lessons and so I have stopped paying my debts. If I don't starve to death I'll be jailed again anyway, so I don't really have much of a choice."

    Last night Constantinou expected supporters to gather outside the Presidential Palace with him. Citizens would also be asked to sign a petition demanding "immediate justice" for Constantinou, which he intended to hand to the President tomorrow.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Life prisoners to get personal TVs

    PRISONERS SERVING life sentences will be given personal televisions, reports said yesterday.

    Twelve central prison inmates live in their own private rooms, already "enjoyed" the benefits of the prison services, according to Simerini newspaper. And now, prison management has plans to acquire personal television sets for each life sentence prisoner following budget approval.

    The prison also planned to have its entire electromechanical system changed and to add heating, said the report, because the existing system was not capable of covering all prisoners' needs when they wanted.

    According to prison governor Panicos Kyriakou every inmate costs the state 36 daily. This does not include emergency expenses such as illness, he told the paper. He said a number of prisoners, mainly foreigners, had health problems and needed medical care.

    Kyriakou added that although life prisoners and prison staff had good relations, inmates hoped that in light of Cyprus' EU accession course, life imprisonment sentences would change and that they would be given a set time for their imprisonment.

    Meanwhile in an effort to upgrade and modernise the Central Prison, guards are being sent on training programmes. Ten guards are expected to have completed their training by the rapid reaction unit in security, weapons handling and organisation matters by tomorrow and a further 10 guards would soon be sent on a five-month training course on legal matters.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Investigation into passport scam begins

    By George Psyllides

    NO EVIDENCE has been found concerning reports about the existence of criminal rings forcing Turkish Cypriots to pay hefty fees to secure passports from the Republic, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday.

    Press reports on Tuesday claimed Turkish Cypriots who wanted to acquire Republic of Cyprus passports were forced to pay as high as a 1,000 to Turkish Cypriot 'Mafiosi' and their associates in the government controlled areas.

    Panayiotou said yesterday that although no evidence has been found by police against anyone - Turkish or Greek Cypriot - he would continue investigating the claims.

    "Any Turkish Cypriot citizen has the right and is free to apply to any Interior Ministry service, the district administrations or the Immigration Department, for any document, whether that is a birth certificate or an identity card or passport," Panayiotou said.

    He said in 2001 the ministry had processed 1,192 passport applications from Turkish Cypriots and 1,521 for 2002.

    Passports were issued in all cases, Panayiotou said.

    The minister revealed that around 150 Turkish Cypriots visit the Interior Ministry every month with 200 passport applications still pending until the applicants' declarations have been investigated.

    The minister said there are people "known to the Immigration Department, which accompany the Turkish Cypriots in the free areas for passport applications, but there was nothing secret or irregular".

    Panayiotou said these people claim they do not get paid for their services and added that he did not know whether the Turkish Cypriots paid a small fee for transport.

    "There is no indication concerning a ring or people who exploit Turkish Cypriots," the minister said.

    Concerning a specific complaint about a man who allegedly took money to secure passports, Panayiotou said it involved a Turkish Cypriot who could have been taking money albeit nothing incriminating was found against him.

    He added that orders have been given for Turkish Cypriots to be served directly and not through middlemen and the ministry would soon publish instructions concerning passport applications in the Turkish language.

    Panayiotou said there has been a substantial increase in Turkish Cypriot applications compared to 2001 adding that the "occupying regime was not happy with Turkish Cypriots wanting to obtain Republic of Cyprus passports and (in one year) European Union passports".

    He said although the government was concerned about the possibility of mass flight from the north to the south if a solution was not found, there was no information or any indications concerning such an eventuality.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] Man drowns at Limassol beach

    A 20-YEAR-OLD Egyptian man drowned and his compatriot remains in a critical condition after an afternoon swim on the Limassol coast came to a tragic end.

    Alla Ibrahim Rezu and Salamh Ehad, also 20, were enjoying an afternoon walk on a beach opposite Frankoklisia with friends Qaladh Saamer, 38, and Salama Ragient Soliman, 26, when the two 20-year-olds decided to have a swim.

    At 2.50pm Rezu and Ehad jumped into the water but were unable to stay afloat due to the rough sea. Soliman and Saamer tried to rescue their two friends but were unable to.

    Passers-by called the police after they heard cries for help.

    The 20-year-olds were rescued by a police patrol boat and taken to Limassol General Hospital where Rezu was pronounced dead on arrival and Ehad is in intensive care.

    Police enquiries revealed that 38-year-old Saamer is staying in Cyprus illegally.

    Limassol CID are investigating the circumstances surrounding Rezu's death.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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