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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-07-29

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


  • [01] Companies scrutinised over possible pyramid scam
  • [02] Mafia fears after pistol find
  • [03] Soldier injured in collision
  • [04] Hellas Sat ready to go to work
  • [05] Government slams Talat interview
  • [06] Tobacco companies express harmonisation fears
  • [07] Cyprus ratifies EU accession treaty
  • [08] Government report on secret documents fiasco expected today
  • [09] Burglaries hit Limassol
  • [10] Man remanded in horse tampering case
  • [11] DISY leader defies House with Israel visit

  • [01] Companies scrutinised over possible pyramid scam

    By Sofia Kannas

    FOUR COMPANIES are being investigated for defrauding investors, House Finance Committee Chairman Aristos Chrysostomou confirmed yesterday.

    The investigation, launched jointly by the Central Bank, the Attorney- general’s office and the police, will look into four separate cases reportedly relating to three companies in Nicosia and one in Limassol.

    The companies are alleged to have defrauded investors by promising them exceptional interest rates.

    “There are four companies promising 25-30 per cent interest on the money deposited with them. Unfortunately people did not learn from the bad experience of the Cyprus Stock Exchange, they give in and deposit money with these companies,” Chrysostomou said.

    “If someone promises you a 25-30 per cent return, it’s logical to ask where they will get this money from - which company can secure you a 30 per cent profit for two or three years and still cover their expenses?”

    The chairman said the cases came to his attention between February in March this year, after which he informed the Attorney-general’s office.

    Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou was also informed, and an investigation launched.

    Asked how many investors had been defrauded, Chrysostomou said: “It’s impossible to know how many people are involved but it’s a very big number.”

    “Cypriots are involved whatever the outcome,” he added. “People must not give in to such promises - you have to be suspicious of them.”

    The investigation findings are expected to be complete in a month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [02] Mafia fears after pistol find

    By Alex Mita

    THE GOVERNMENT is on high alert over possible arms dealing from the north after the discovery of three pistols in a rubbish bin at the parking lot outside Larnaca hospital on Saturday.

    A 38-year-old tradesman from Limassol was yesterday remanded for eight days after police said he was caught red handed collecting the handguns from the bin.

    According to a police bulletin, members of the Larnaca CID who were on a stakeout at the parking lot after many reports of various thefts became suspicious of a car that kept circling the parking area around the bin.

    In their report, the officers said they saw the man walk up to the bin, remove a metal container and walk back to his car. When the officers carried out a search in the suspect’s car they found three 7.65mm pistols in perfect condition.

    During his questioning, the man was said to have admitted buying the pistols from a Turkish Cypriot restaurateur from the north.

    Speaking at a news conference on the arrest on Sunday, Deputy Police Chief Soteris Charalambous said the suspect met with the Turkish Cypriot on Saturday morning to finalise the deal and sort out the pick-up point for the weapons.

    Charalambous said the suspect was planning to give the pistols to another Turkish Cypriot for a fee of £500 and expressed concern over their possible use in criminal activity.

    He said the suspect was co-operating with the investigators and had signed a confession.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [03] Soldier injured in collision

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 19-YEAR-OLD National Guardsman was seriously injured in a car crash in the early morning hours yesterday, his medical condition described as critical.

    According to the police report, Vasilis Harpas was driving along a Limassol Avenue at around 5am when for he lost control of his vehicle, crashing on the mid-road barrier. The car skidded onto a road sign and then rammed into an electricity pole.

    Witnesses called an ambulance, which sped Harpas to Limassol’s General Hospital.

    Doctors said the youth had suffered head injuries and a broken neck.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [04] Hellas Sat ready to go to work

    By Elias Hazou

    THE HELLAS Sat satellite is scheduled to commence commercial operations this Friday, it was announced yesterday by Greek Telecommunications Corporation, OTE.

    Touted as “the most powerful satellite in Europe”, Hellas Sat 2 was launched into orbit in mid-May, following a succession of delays that dated back the late 1990s when Greece began efforts in earnest to secure their place in earth’s orbit.

    Hellas Sat 2 will be used in telephony networks, radio and TV transmissions, electronic databases, high-speed internet services and closed electronic networks, such as Greek governmental departments.

    In addition its claim of beaming the strongest and most high-definition signal, Hellas Sat also boasts another major advantage over most satellites in its capability to link different geographical coverage areas.

    The Hellas Sat consortium is currently negotiating deals with foreign telecommunications companies. For Greece the highlight will be the satellite’s extensive use in beaming images from the 2004 Athens Olympics around the world.

    The major shareholders in the Greek and Cypriot consortium are the Hellenic Aerospace Industry, OTE, and the Cyprus Development Bank.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [05] Government slams Talat interview

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday hit back at claims by Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat that Greek Cypriot politicians were racist and that President Tassos Papadopoulos, who, he does not recognise, was no better than Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash when it came to the Annan plan.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said Talat, who was interviewed by the Greek-language daily Politis, was “wrong” to compare Papadopoulos to Denktash, because the President had accepted the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem while Denktash has declared it “dead”.

    Chrysostomides said Talat appeared to be contradicting himself throughout the interview “probably due to the forthcoming ‘parliamentary elections’ in the occupied areas”.

    He said it was of no importance if Talat recognised the President or not. “The international community recognises the Republic of Cyprus and the legitimate government, headed by the President,” he said.

    “The Republic of Cyprus, based on judicial body decisions, has the sovereignty of its whole territory, which is however hindered by the Turkish occupation.”

    Chrysostomides said Talat’s comments that the two leaders were the same were

    “unjustified and unfounded”, considering that it was not the Greek Cypriot side that was against negotiating the Annan solution plan.

    “On the contrary, Denktash considers the Annan plan dead and buried”, Chrysostomides said, adding that Talat should have noted this difference.

    In the interview Talat said of the two leaders: “The one is the mirror of other” and that the changes Papadopoulos wants made to the plan were substantial, otherwise he would be ready to sign it as it is.

    “Rauf Denktash said he does not want the Annan plan and Tassos Papadopoulos said that if he signs it as it is it would mean accepting the results of the invasion. Where is the difference with Denktash?” said Talat. “The only difference that exists is that Mr Papadopoulos plays this political game better than Denktash and tries to present himself as better person. However, as a politician that reads behind the statements, I say that he is also this against the plan.”

    Asked if the criticism of Papadopoulos extended to his backers, communist AKEL, with whom in the past the RTP has always had friendly relations, Talat said that Papadopoulos was not AKEL but that it was a reflection of AKEL that it supported Papadopoulos.

    He denied however that relations between his party and AKEL had become “tense”.

    “We do not have problem,” he said. “Naturally we have different opinions on a lot of questions, but our relations with AKEL are not tense. We have good relations, and participate in common events. We have contacts.”

    He did admit that some things were different since AKEL came into power.

    “If for example I accuse the Greek Cypriot bureaucracy in issues concerning the Turkish Cypriots, is could possibly be considered as criticism against AKEL. If I reproach the deportation of the Turkish Cypriot woman from Lebanon, possibly this is also considered as criticism against AKEL. In this way somebody could suggested that we are in conflict with AKEL but this is not so. However certainly AKEL, now that it is in power has a different attitude from when it was in opposition.”

    Talat went on to claim that Greek Cypriot politicians were racist when it came to the issue of Turkish settlers, which he said should be treated in a more humanitarian way by the leadership in the south. He said is his party supported the rights of the settlers as laid out in the Annan plan, which provides that a certain percentage would remain on the island. Talat said the provisions of the plan in this respect were “fair”.

    “Certainly the Greek Cypriot leadership has the right to negotiate the percentage of settlers that will remain. However they should not forget that the problem is not the people but the policies,” he said. “The people that have lived on this island for many years should not be object of bargaining. “On the one hand I understand the Greek Cypriot view but from the other I believe that these persons also have rights. I understand the Greek Cypriot view, however I believe that their approach, many Greek Cypriot policies in the south are a little racist. I don’t like saying that but unfortunately, deliberately or not, it is a racist approach. They are innocent people who were transported here for a lot of reasons, but they cannot be blamed for causing the Cyprus problem.”

    Calling for a compromise on that issue, Talat also went on to criticise the government’s measures for the Turkish Cypriots, saying they appeared to be limited to the issue of passports and birth certificates. He also said that in these cases Greek Cypriot bureaucrats “behave in a way that humiliates the Turkish Cypriots”, not because of the delays in issuing the documents, but by their behaviour. He said he had complained several times to the Greek Cypriot leadership but nothing had changed.

    Talat said that while Interior Minister Andreas Christou was above reproach, he could not personally check the behaviour of each and every government official. “The behaviour of bureaucrats angers the Turkish Cypriots. “Possibly they are nationalists, possibly they hate the Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

    Referring to Talat's allegations of racism said the issue of settlers was considered a “provocation and violation of every humanitarian law principle”, adding that there were more serious examples of the violation of human rights in Cyprus, such as the refugees situation, “which in fact is a clear method of ethnic cleansing”.

    The spokesman also said that the government was ready to go to great lengths to help the Turkish Cypriots in the context of internal trade on the island “but only to the extent that it will leave itself exposed before the EU”.

    “The laws and regulations of the Republic of Cyprus must be observed,” he said adding that there were some problems regarding the Turkish Cypriot side's demand but did not elaborate.

    Commenting on the elections in the north in December, Talat believes that his party with the support of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and its members, will take 50 per cent of the vote. He also said he believed that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would support the opposition and not Denktash.

    “This Turkey is not the same Turkey,” he said. “Now it supports the solution in Cyprus. The main obstacle for the accession of Turkey to the EU is the Cyprus question and because of this they want they solve it. I do not believe they will support Denktash either openly or in secret.”

    Talat admitted that Denktash would likely have the continued support of the Turkish military and part of the Foreign Ministry but he said he did not believe they would intervene in the elections.

    After December he said Denktash could probably stay on as ‘President’ but that he would be removed as negotiator, leaving the way open for the opposition to negotiate a settlement based on the Annan plan before Cyprus joins the EU next May.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [06] Tobacco companies express harmonisation fears

    CYPRUS’ LARGEST tobacco distributor, British American Tobacco (BAT) has informed the government it may be unable to harmonise with an EU tobacco directive by next May, a Health Ministry source said yesterday.

    The Tobacco Products Directive of 2001 details laws and regulations regarding tobacco for EU member states, and should be implemented in Cyprus by May 1, 2004, when the island becomes a full member state.

    It sets out rules relating to issues such as additives, addictive substances, health warnings and misleading claims.

    An administrative officer at the Health Ministry said BAT should have informed the government that more time was needed to implement the necessary changes.

    “They have had a year to carry out the changes and we have to harmonise by May 2004. They should have told us before now.”

    But one industry source stressed yesterday that the tobacco industry could not proceed with changes demanded in the directive before the House of Representatives had passed the necessary bill in Cyprus.

    “We have been waiting for a year for the law to be passed in Parliament so we can begin effecting the necessary changes,” the source told the Cyprus Mail.

    “Turkey have begun effecting changes already - and they are still at the negotiating stage - yet they will ready in January 2004.”

    The source said the directive was “very complex” and involved the government’s own decisions with regard to certain articles of the law, such as which precise health warnings were to be used on cigarette packaging.

    “You cannot print new labels and warnings before the law is passed - what if something changes? Any minor decision change by the government means the whole packet will need to be changed. We need this information in advance. We cannot pre-empt the state and make the decision for them.”

    The source noted that as Cyprus has two official languages, cigarette packets would have to be printed in Turkish and Greek.

    “Is it up to the tobacco industry to translate this into Turkish?

    “We have tried to contact the relevant ministry but these attempts have been unsuccessful, so we have approached the legal service.”

    The source also warned that Cyprus could be penalised by the European Commission if the tobacco directive was not enforced in the time stipulated.

    “The EU will take action against Cyprus, as they have warned other countries.”

    An EU press release dated July 14, 2003 warned Austria, Italy and Luxembourg about their “failure to implement the Tobacco Products Directive, ” as part of EU treaty “infringement proceedings”.

    “If the Member States still do not implement the Directive the next step for the Commission will be to lodge cases against them with the European Court of Justice,” the press release states.

    Yiannis Fasouliotis, a consultant at tobacco importer CTC Argosy also stressed that the harmonisation process could be lengthy.

    “From the day this new legislation is passed by the House of Representatives, you need at least nine months from that date to harmonise.”

    The directive states that a health warning must cover at least 30 per cent of the front of a cigarette packet and 40 per cent of the back.

    Cigarettes sold or manufactured must also conform to EU standards: 10 mg per cigarette for tar, 1 mg for nicotine and 10 mg for carbon monoxide.

    Manufacturers and importers must list all ingredients used in their various brands and terms such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ will be banned as they suggest a particular tobacco product may be less harmful than others.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [07] Cyprus ratifies EU accession treaty

    PRESIDENT TASSOS Papadopoulos yesterday reaffirmed the Greek Cypriot side’s commitment to continue to work towards a viable solution of the Cyprus problem based on a United Nations plan.

    Speaking during the signing of the ratification of the European Union Accession Treaty, Papadopoulos, said Cyprus was now entering the final stage before completing the accession procedure in May next year.

    The President reiterated the Greek Cypriot side’s willingness to work on a UN plan towards a solution of the Cyprus problem that will secure the rights of Turkish Cypriots and allow them to enjoy the advantages from a reunified island joining the Union.

    Papadopoulos noted the long and arduous effort for accession, paying tribute to all previous governments, the parliament, parties, the negotiating team and in general the sacrifices and perseverance of the Cypriot people.

    He assured that despite its small size, as an active partner, Cyprus would adhere to the common fate of the members of the European structure.

    As one of the bloc’s external borders, Cyprus could become a financial, political and cultural bridge, which connects the coasts of the Mediterranean, Papadopoulos said.

    The President assured that in the ten months left until the accession, Cyprus would adjust to the necessary institutions and activate the necessary mechanisms that would allow the island to join the EU without financial turbulence and damaging society.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [08] Government report on secret documents fiasco expected today

    By George Psyllides

    THE PRESIDENT’S decision concerning the top-secret documents found under a health ministry staircase is expected today, though reports said no resignations were expected.

    The issue emerged last week after daily Phileleftheros reported one of its journalists had discovered a large number of rubbish bags full of top- secret documents under a stairwell in the health ministry.

    The government immediately launched an investigation into the affair, though it had been clear from the onset that the documents, left behind by the previous minister, were thrown away on the orders of current minister Dina Akkelidou.

    Despite constant opposition fire, Akkelidou repeatedly said she was not going to resign over the affair.

    The findings of the investigation were handed over to President Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday but the government has remained tight-lipped, despite its pledge to make them public.

    Asked about the issue yesterday, Papadopoulos said: “I have given the solution, you will find out tomorrow (today).”

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the matter was exclusively in the President’s hands who was in contact with the Attorney-general.

    Chrysostomides said he disagreed with suggestions that the government was delaying the publication of the findings to let the issue die down, adding that he did not know if the Attorney-general had finished his assessment of the findings.

    Over the past week, the government has been trying to turn attention away from the actual blunder by accusing its predecessors of not having any policy concerning the handling of classified documents.

    The same line of defence continued yesterday.

    DIKO deputy chairman Nicos Kleanthous assured responsibility would be assigned without ruling out the previous administration.

    “Of course responsibility will be assigned; it might not be one but many, it might be former and current,” Kleanthous said.

    He said there was specific legislation on the matter since 2000, which provided that the ministries’ permanent secretaries were responsible for safeguarding sensitive documents.

    “Nothing was followed and everyone is talking about the findings and political responsibility but they are not speaking about the laws we have but never apply,” Kleanthous said.

    At the same time the government is attempting to open a new front in relation to lost documents by charging that a considerable number of documents was missing from the government spokesman’s archives.

    Clearly targeting the previous administration, Chrysostomides announced that a search into the archives found many documents missing mainly from 1997, 1998, 1999, some from 2001 and the minutes of 30 meetings in 2002.

    The claim sparked a bitter reaction from former spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, who denied taking any documents with him when he left and said everything had been stored in boxes.

    Chrysostomides said he did not claim the former spokesman had taken the documents home and invited Papapetrou over to the Public Information Office to point out where the boxes where.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [09] Burglaries hit Limassol

    By a Staff Reporter

    A SPATE of burglaries took place in Limassol over the weekend, with perpetrators breaking into offices and shops across the town.

    Judging from the criminals’ modus operandi, police suspect the perpetrators are the same gang that recently wrought mayhem in the Larnaca and Famagusta districts.

    In total, there were nine burglaries in Limassol this weekend. The thieves broke into the offices of shipping companies and travel agents, cracking open the safes and stealing cash. They also took a large amount of goods from a souvenir shop in the Yermasoyeia area.

    Police describe the perpetrators as a highly professional crew and in particular are baffled by the ease with which the thieves can crack safes. A forensic team is trying to find any clues that might lead police on their trail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [10] Man remanded in horse tampering case

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 23-YEAR-OLD assistant horse trainer was yesterday ordered to be remanded for two days by a Nicosia Court for allegedly sticking a safety pin in a racehorse’s hindquarters to make it run faster in Saturday’s sixth race.

    The horse, ‘Kokkalaetos’ won the race but a jockey noticed it had a safety pin stuck on its hindquarters and notified the stewards.

    After examining a pre-race video, the organisers saw the assistant trainer make a “suspicious hand movement, like he was pinning something,” when he was asked by the organisers to help the horse into the start box.

    The horse was stripped of its win and the trainer was fined £1,000 by the Nicosia Race Club. The 23-year-old was arrested after the CID was called to investigate the case. The man denies having anything to do with the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    [11] DISY leader defies House with Israel visit

    By Amalia Macris

    A LEADER of a political party decides his own politics and that of his party, declared Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, when asked to comment on the visit of DISY leader, Nicos Anastassiades, to Israel.

    The invitation was extended a few months ago in order to rekindle relations between Cyprus and Israel. Relations had suffered during a visit by members of the House of Representatives Committee in April last year, when the Israeli government prevented them from meeting with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

    This time, Israel invited the Cypriot House Foreign Affairs Committee to visit on the proviso there still would be no meeting with Yasser Arafat and they could only meet with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The majority of the parties (AKEL, DIKO and EDEK) did not accept this condition and the invitation was declined.

    In a recent conference of party leaders in the office of the Director of the House of Representatives, AKEL, DIKO and EDEK declared that the Cypriot House of Representatives rejected the invitation because they should not contribute to the politics of isolation of Yasser Arafat, adopted by the USA and promoted by Israel.

    Defying his colleagues’ example, Anastassiades decided to go as leader of the party and arrived in Tel Aviv yesterday. DISY believes the relations with the neighbouring country should be smoothed out, independent of whether he is allowed to meet with Arafat.

    Anastassiades will meet with the Head of the Israeli Parliament, the Head of the Labor Party Shimon Peres, the Head of Security and Foreign Affairs Committee of Knesset and other officials.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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