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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-07-30

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


  • [01] Papadolpoulos: Akkelidou partly responsible for secret documents fiasco outlines a picture of ‘irresponsibility and frivolity’
  • [02] PASYDY hill excavations produce more finds
  • [03] Pregnant and working? Know your rights
  • [04] Man held in rape investigation
  • [05] Rubber cheques still being issued despite consequences
  • [06] Feedback boxes heralds new era for prisoners
  • [07] Month-long drink driving crackdown
  • [08] Greek Cypriot and Irish woman arrested on drugs charges
  • [09] Exam results up on last year
  • [10] Catwalk to bridge the Green Line
  • [11] Ambassador investigated after fraud accusation
  • [12] Cypriots are the happiest Europeans

  • [01] Papadolpoulos: Akkelidou partly responsible for secret documents fiasco outlines a picture of ‘irresponsibility and frivolity’

    By George Psyllides

    PRESIDENT Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday gave full protection to the Health Minister, despite apportioning her some of the blame for the mishandling of classified documents found in rubbish bags under a staircase in her department.

    The government yesterday published the findings of a police investigation into the affair, which erupted a week ago after a journalist discovered piles of bin bags full of classified material under a staircase at the Health Ministry.

    In a written statement read by the government spokesman, Tassos Papadopoulos gave minister Dina Akkelidou full protection, while noting some responsibility.

    “I think that before ordering the removal of the documents, the right procedure would have been for the minister to check the type of the material she had asked to be removed,” Papadopoulos said.

    He added that he had refused to accept Akkelidou’s resignation, which was filed after she recognised that it was her job to check the documents’ contents and where they had ended up after her employees had removed them from her office.

    “I assume the part of the political responsibility that reflects on me, on one hand as the result of acts or omissions of members of the cabinet and on the other hand as a consequence of my decision not to accept the Health Minister’s resignation,” Papadopoulos said.

    Following the announcement, Akkelidou said she had immediately submitted her resignation before the President, adding it was up to the people to decide if she got off lightly or was the victim of unfair treatment.

    Asked why only a few days ago she said she would not resign for other people’s mistakes, the minister said she “was not going to do them (the opposition) a favour” to assume responsibility for their mistakes and resign.

    “Their (DISY’s) culpability is great as regards to their lack of procedures - as well as for the way documents of the greatest importance were floating around in a way that conflicted with current legislation” Akkelidou said.

    Opposition DISY slammed the government after the announcement, arguing it had failed to assume its duties.

    “The government not only did not assume its heavy responsibilities but used legalistic excuses to blame the previous administration, the cleaners and the messengers,” DISY deputy chairman Averoff Neophytou said.

    He added: “Unfortunately the government has disappointed people once more and the citizens’ trust towards the state is hurt.”

    Neophytou said such behaviour and mentality could not lead the country forward, adding “when people did not realise the extent of their responsibility at the end of the day they effectively prove inferior”.

    But criticism also came from government partner Green deputy George Perdikis who suggested that the government’s authority and reliability had been irreversibly hurt.

    “This is not repaired by the findings and the stance taken today,” Perdikis said.

    He was quick to add that his party was not planning to leave the government and would continue to strive to give the people what they wanted.

    In his statement Papadopoulos summed up the way the issue had been handled from the moment Akkelidou had ordered the documents to be removed from her office until the story emerged last week.

    “What followed the minister’s instructions to remove the documents, paints a picture of irresponsibility and frivolity, which points to negligence that not only goes against the current law and procedures but constitutes indifference on behalf of the ministry’s officials,” the President said.

    He added that that part of the affair was under the exclusive authority of the Attorney-general who would decide if any criminal or disciplinary action would be taken.

    “Of course I would not be happy if at the end, the consequences of the law touch the cleaners and the messengers who just followed an unacceptable and irregular procedure, which was followed by almost all the ministries for many years,” Papadopoulos said.

    The President slammed the previous administration for failing to apply a uniform method of handling classified documents, despite the existing legislation and established practices, which were either ignored or were not followed uniformly.

    In the same way he said there was no uniform policy in the handing over of ministries, with some ministers taking home all classified documents, others taking home some and leaving some in the office and others destroying documents.

    Papadopoulos stressed that it was illegal for ministers to remove from the ministry or possess as their own property any state document, which according to the law is part of the public archive.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [02] PASYDY hill excavations produce more finds

    By Geoffrey Stevens

    THE DEPARTMENT of Antiquities has just completed its tenth excavation season on the hill of Agios Georgios (PASYDY). The dig focused on defining the exact position of the archaeological remains so plans can be made for the location of the new House of Representatives Building.

    Under the direction of Dr Despo Pilides, the dig lasted two months and the archaeological team found some surprisingly well-preserved artefacts.

    Sixteen graves were discovered in this phase of the excavation, bringing the total number of burials discovered to 201. The remains of the bodies were sent to the Weiner Laboratory in Athens for further study. The burials were poorly preserved, but Pilides believes that the study of further evidence will yield important new data for the burial customs of the period, as well as the health status of the graves’ inhabitants.

    “We were also pleasantly surprised to find a large cistern that was very big and well kept”, said Pilides.

    Due to its great depth and time restrictions, only a small part of it was excavated. The fill surrounding the cistern consisted of stones, earth, tiles, cooking pot shards of the Late Roman mediaeval period and glazed ceramics from the 14th-16th centuries - confirming that at least part of the site continued to be used up until the 16th century.

    According to Pilides, the archaeological team was able to date all of the finds that ranged from the Late Roman period to the beginning of the Ottoman period.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [03] Pregnant and working? Know your rights

    By Sofia Kannas

    CHAIRMAN OF the House Labour Committee Sotiroulla Charalambous yesterday urged the Labour Ministry to do more to inform pregnant women of their rights within the workplace.

    “It’s clear that pregnant women need more information about their rights,” she said. “It’s obvious that they don’t know them and it’s the duty of the Labour Ministry to find ways to inform them better.”

    Charalambous’ comments follow the publication of a recent survey which showed that about a quarter of women employees in Cyprus were sacked due to pregnancy.

    The survey was conducted on behalf of Employees’ Union SEK by poll company Cypronetwork earlier this year and was based on the responses of women employees who did not belong to trade unions.

    Charalambous, who is also Secretary of the Women’s Department of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour, said the survey showed the need for existing legislation regarding pregnant women in the workplace to be tightened.

    “The labour inspection system must be strengthened in order to avoid such situations,” she told the Cyprus Mail, adding the penalty system for employers must be re-thought.

    “We had an incident where a pregnant woman was fired and her employer was only fined £180 - which is nothing. We must re-examine the existing legislation and especially think about strengthening penalties that are put down for such cases.

    “When the Labour Committee meets in September, I would like to go back to this survey and examine what other measures can be taken.

    Legislation dating from 1987 makes it illegal for an employer to fire a pregnant woman until six months after she returns to her job, but the woman must by law inform her employer of her pregnancy through a certificate.

    “Some women do not see the need to give their employer a certificate of pregnancy because it’s obvious they are pregnant, but certain employers will use this as an excuse to fire them. This happens to women who are new to a job and don’t know the law very well,” Charalambous said.

    She added that pregnant women who did not belong to unions appeared to be more vulnerable, as they were less well informed of their rights.

    “From my experience we have such incidents especially among women who aren’t unionised. The substance of the survey shows that despite the fact that it is illegal to fire a pregnant woman, there are such incidents. We have to take steps to stop this.”

    Her concerns were echoed by Secretary of the SEK Women’s Department, Despina Isiah, who urged the government to step up information campaigns.

    “The survey shows that just eight per cent of respondents were well acquainted with motherhood rights in the workplace,” she said. “And 14 per cent were knew nothing about their rights, which is more worrying.”

    She stressed that unionised women were much better informed of their rights within the workplace, as findings show 77 per cent of female union members across Cyprus knew the laws relating to women in employment.

    Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation OEV yesterday dismissed the survey’s findings as “incorrect”, and called on the Labour Ministry to issue “official statistics”.

    But Isiah said: “If OEV want to conduct their survey they can do so.”

    The survey was conducted between January 10 and February 6 this year and was based on the responses of 400 women aged between 21-44 from across the island. None of the respondents were union members.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [04] Man held in rape investigation

    A 71-YEAR-OLD Nicosia man is being held in police custody in connection with the alleged rape of his 31-year-old Chinese maid, police said.

    According to a police bulletin, the Chinese woman was rushed to hospital at noon yesterday where she had her stomach pumped after swallowing a large number of pills. Her doctors noticed she had bruising on her hands.

    When the 31-year-old regained consciousness, she told police that the suspect drove her to his country home and raped her.

    The 71-year-old also filed a counter-complaint against the Chinese woman saying she bit him in various parts of his body in the course of consensual sex.

    The man was examined by a state physician who found he had bruising on his body.

    The man was arrested at around 7pm and is being held in custody pending an investigation into the allegations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [05] Rubber cheques still being issued despite consequences

    By Alex Mita

    OVER £2 million worth of invalid cheques have been issued since the Central Information Database of Issuers of Bounced Cheques (CIDIBC) went into operation in February, it was revealed yesterday.

    The CIDIBC’s managing committee said yesterday 4,473 bounced cheques worth £2,575,825 have been issued leading to the blacklisting of 1,743 people and 385 companies.

    The organisation warned the database consists of two catalogues, the primary list and the main archive.

    “All cheques that have not been honoured within 15 days from the time they were presented due to the issuer’s lack of funds are entered into the primary list,” a statement read.

    “Individuals that have issued rubber cheques are then automatically transferred to the main archive if they have issued more than three bounced cheques - regardless of the amount - or if they have issued bounced cheques over £1,000.”

    Out of the 2,128 people added on the primary list, 684 have been transferred to the main archive and faced having their current accounts frozen.

    However, the committee also said the number of bounced cheques issued in the last two months had decreased.

    “The value of cheques were registered in the database in the last two months comes to £680,180 compared to £1,895,697 issued in the first four months since February, which shows a small reduction,” the committee announced.

    The group also warned that from October 1, banks and Co-ops would be able to cash post-dated cheques regardless of the date written on the cheque and urged people to have their accounts in order or face being blacklisted.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [06] Feedback boxes heralds new era for prisoners

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE ISLAND’S first prisoner complaint boxes were unveiled at the Central Prisons yesterday, during a visit by Members of the Cyprus National Institution for the Protection of Human Rights.

    Law Commissioner and Institution President Lida Koursoumba said the installation of the five complaint boxes was “a big step forward” in introducing a new frame of mind towards prisoner treatment.

    “These are special boxes where prisoners can put any suggestions or complaints regarding prison treatment - accessible from all prison wings, so everyone can use them,” she said.

    “We have the only keys so we can open the boxes. They will be examined by us and treated accordingly. They will not be censored or scrutinised by the prison authorities.”

    Koursoumba said the boxes were one of prisoner issues discussed at a visit to the Central Prisons by Institution members earlier this month, where the topic of life imprisonment terms was also tabled.

    “We have agreed we will review the whole theory of the term ‘life imprisonment’. Recent legal theorists see life imprisonment as a specified term, which is not always for life.”

    She said other countries had a mechanism to review life imprisonment cases, adding, “Society’s purpose is to rehabilitate these people, not to lock them away unconditionally.

    “The government and the Minister of Justice agree with us that this should be examined. As Law Commissioner, I will prepare a draft for Parliament.”

    She said cases involving individuals serving life sentences and requiring medical treatment abroad should also be reviewed.

    “If such a person goes abroad for treatment, does this time away count as part of his sentence, for example?”

    She also stressed that debtors should not be imprisoned for their inability to pay debts - new Attorney-general Solon Nikitas ruled in May that individuals convicted for debt offences could no longer have their prison sentences suspended. Nikitas’ interpretation put an end to the practise of his predecessor Alecos Markides who suspended prison sentences for debtors through Presidential pardons.

    “Imprisonment should not be an option for such debtors - this is another issue we will promote,” she said.

    Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Alvaro Gil-Robles singled out overcrowding as one of the major flaws at the Nicosia Central Prisons on a visit to Cyprus last month.

    But Kouroumbas stressed that the problem had been greatly relieved since Gil-Robles’ visit.

    “Overcrowding is not as pressing an issue now due to the opening of the new prison wing.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [07] Month-long drink driving crackdown

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE POLICE yesterday announced the launch of an island-wide one-month campaign to crack down on drunk driving.

    According to a police bulletin, drivers should expect regular Alco-tests by officers during August, since there is a higher risk of traffic accidents during the summer holidays and increased traffic during night hours.

    Police warned that drunk driving was still the number one cause of fatal accidents on the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [08] Greek Cypriot and Irish woman arrested on drugs charges

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 36-YEAR-OLD man from Ormidia in Larnaca was yesterday arrested in connection with the possession and trafficking of two kilos of cannabis, police said.

    According to a police bulletin, members of the Larnaca Drug Squad placed an area under surveillance after a tip-off that drugs were being exchanged there.

    Police said the suspect arrived in the area at around 12.30pm and met with another man on a motorcycle without number plates. The officers intervened and after searching the suspect’s car they found two kilos of what was believed to be cannabis wrapped in Turkish Cypriot newspapers. The man on the motorcycle managed to get away and is wanted for questioning.

    The man is expected to appear before a Larnaca court today for a remand hearing.

    Meanwhile, a 23-year-old Irish tourist was also arrested early yesterday morning by the Famagusta Drug Squad, in connection with the possession of cannabis, police said. She was later released pending an investigation into the case.

    According to a police bulletin, police searched the tourist after a tip-off at an Ayia Napa nightclub and found what is believed to be cannabis wrapped in a handkerchief.

    A further search took place at the suspect’s house where police found more traces of the drug.

    During her questioning, the 23-year-old said she had purchased the cannabis from an unknown person in Ayia Napa.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [09] Exam results up on last year

    By Amalia Macris

    THE MINISTER of Education and Culture, Pefkios Georgiades announced yesterday the names of the 14 Cypriot candidates with the highest departmental scores in this year’s entry exams for Higher Education institutions in Cyprus and Greece on the same day that thousands of students across the island learned their fate.

    This year the results were also sent to candidates by text message through CyTA’s Cybee service. They are also available on the Ministry of Education’s website. A detailed bulletin with a break down and analysis of results will also be mailed to students.

    This year’s results were better than those for 2002. Of the 5,982 available places, about 300 remained free. These will be allocated to students in a second round offers. Georgiades said 26,305 students completed their exam in the 27 study cycles and 7,228 completed their exam in at least one cycle.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [10] Catwalk to bridge the Green Line

    By Sofia Kannas

    GREEK AND Turkish Cypriot models will join forces on the catwalk next week in a bi-communal fashion show - the first to be held on the island since 1974.

    The Summer Fashion Show will be held in occupied Nicosia on Monday and will feature models from Greek Cypriot Model Agency, Regina, and the Turkish Cypriot Gunkut Model Agency, the largest in the north.

    Constantinos Argyrou, a member of Regina’s management team, told the Cyprus Mail the show was the first of many bi-communal fashion events the two agencies hoped to hold this year.

    “Regina made contact with the agency on the other side and it was our initiative to hold a fashion show as soon as possible,” he said. “We are planning a series of autumn winter fashion shows together - we plan to hold a fashion show in the free areas in Larnaca in September and a charity show also.

    “This first show will be in an open-air beer garden and the female models - three Greek Cypriot girls and four Turkish Cypriot girls - will be showing off swimming gear, sports wear and evening gowns.

    “There will also be some Turkish Cypriot men showcasing men’s wear.”

    Argyrou said peace tokens would also be exchanged at the event.

    “It’s the first time ever that we have had a bi-communal fashion show since 1974 and this event is for peace between the Greeks and Turks of Cyprus,” he said.

    “Beauty and fashion have no border lines -- we have a nation of beautiful people and we want to show this together.”

    The fashion show will be held on Monday August 4 between 9-10pm in the Z1 Beer Garden in occupied Nicosia. Entrance is free.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [11] Ambassador investigated after fraud accusation

    By Amalia Macris

    A CYPRIOT ambassador serving in a European capital is being investigated after a housekeeper working in his home accused him of misappropriating funds.

    The woman claims the ambassador asked her to sign a receipt for more money than her actual salary. She alleges the practice took place for six months, during which time she was threatened with deportation if she told anyone. She finally confessed the entire story to other embassy staff.

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou yesterday said “a person is innocent until proven guilty” and waiting to hear from the Attorney-general before commenting further.

    “An investigation was carried out and a report has been sent to the Attorney-general,” Iacovou said.

    “He is the one who will decide whether or not there is a case and which charges, if any, will stand.”

    The woman also alleges she was forced to work from 7am until 11pm. She accused the ambassador of threatening to send her back to her country so that she will not be able to testify in court.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    [12] Cypriots are the happiest Europeans

    By Amalia Macris

    ALL COMPLAINTS aside, deep down Cypriots believe life is treating them well. In recent Eurobarometer public opinion survey conducted on behalf of the European Commission, Cypriots declared themselves happier with their lives compared to most other citizens of the European Union. When asked about their future, Cypriots rank third in optimism.

    Sociologist Nicos Peristianis attributes Cypriot contentment to four main factors:

    “The economy has been doing well for the past few years and the standard of living has been improving. The island has also been doing well politically and has benefited from continuous peace since 1974.” The two other contributing factors are “that Cyprus has a low crime rate and that there are few ill effects of development, for example less pollution.”

    The study quizzed citizens of all EU member states, as well as 13 acceding countries (10 entering in 2004, the other three being Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey), on their quality of life.

    The first question in the survey was: “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” Respondents were asked to choose whether they were “very satisfied”, “satisfied”, “moderately satisfied” or ” not at all satisfied”. The rate of those who were “very satisfied” and “satisfied” in the 15 member states is at 80 per cent and in the 10 acceding countries it is at 64 per cent.

    Cyprus exceeds the above percentages, with the number of Cypriots respondents claiming to be “very satisfied” and “satisfied” at 84 per cent. The percentage of Cypriots who claimed to be “moderately satisfied” was 13 per cent, which is lower than the average of the 10 acceding countries (an average of 25 per cent) and lower than that in the 15 member states (19 per cent).

    It must also be noted Peristianis added, “that Cyprus lacks the impersonality and anonymity of big cities, people here are overall friendly and relations are warm and humane.”

    There are a number of theories that may explain why Cypriots say they are happy psychologist Stavros Stavrou said. One of them being “a person who is actually unhappy may claim to be happy in an effort to convince himself.”

    Only two per cent of Cypriots claimed to be “not at all satisfied” with their life, which is the lowest percentage of all the countries, which participated in the survey.

    Peristianis also referred to the ideal of democracy of the ancient Greeks having been based on a “democracy of small scale” and that direct participation of the people in a democratic society is easier when the society is small. “Politicians are a part of our daily lives and people do not feel isolated from political institutions.”

    As for the proverb ‘money doesn’t buy you happiness’, this is confirmed with 65 per cent of the Turkish population claiming to be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with an average income is of 5,900 euros per capita. They ranked being of countries like Hungary or Slovakia whose average income is 11,500 and 10,800 euros respectively.

    “If a person has fulfilled the goals they have set they may feel happy,” Stavros added. Cypriots also declared that their life has improved over the past five years by 43 per cent - once again the highest figure in Europe. While in member states of the EU, 41 per cent claimed that their life has gotten worse in the past five years, and 33 per cent declared they saw no change.

    As for the future, when asked if within the next five years they expect their condition to “improve”, “remain the same” or “get worse,” 50 per cent of the Maltese believe their lives will improve, followed by the Turks (47 per cent) and Cypriots third (46 per cent). Thirteen per cent of Cypriots believe that their condition will worsen within the next five years and 23 per cent believe it will not change at all.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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