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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-03

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

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


Saturday, August 3, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Councillor murdered in Kilani village shooting: man held
  • [02] Tourist hurt fighting off muggers in Ayia Napa
  • [03] Belmondo at the Anassa
  • [04] Seven remanded as fires re-ignite
  • [05] Picking up the pieces
  • [06] De Soto still has hope
  • [07] Confusion over Cherokee recall
  • [08] Desalination standoff threatens to spill over
  • [09] Guard who claimed attack arrested
  • [10] Cyprus taking stock of its expat population
  • [11] Why aren't we getting any water?

  • [01] Councillor murdered in Kilani village shooting: man held

    By George Psyllides

    POLICE have detained a 39-year-old man in connection with the murder of a community councillor who was gunned down early yesterday morning at the village of Kilani in the Limassol district.

    Police said Demetris Demetriou, 39, was shot dead at 7.25am by a hooded man who fled the scene on foot. According to police, Demetriou was shot twice with a military issue 7.62mm G3 automatic.

    Reports said Demetriou had just got into his car when he was shot in the shoulder by a person who apparently lay in wait behind the wall around an abandoned house.

    Eye-witnesses who heard the shot and rushed to the scene told police that Demetriou managed to get out of the car and was calling for help. Police say that the gunman then jumped the wall, approached Demetriou and shot him in the head from point-blank range in front of at least four witnesses.

    Costas Sophocleous, who said he spoke to Demetriou just moments before the incident, said he was in the church courtyard filling a bucket with water when he heard a loud crack.

    "I didn't know what it was but seconds later I heard Demetris' voice calling for help," Sophocleous said. "I thought it was a burst tyre and it had hit him; I run towards him and saw the blood on his chest.

    "I run to the coffee shop and asked for help; I didn't know he had been shot," Sophocleous said.

    Sophocleous said he returned to the scene with several other people and saw the hooded gunman, who was wearing dark blue overalls, jump the wall, stand on top of Demetriou and shoot him on the head. "He turned the gun on us and then fled," Sophocleous said.

    A few hours later police arrested a suspect who had allegedly threatened to hurt Demetriou a week ago. Reports said Demetriou, a father of two, had told off the man in a village coffee shop.

    Police have also seized a weapon that was taken for examination.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Tourist hurt fighting off muggers in Ayia Napa

    AYIA NAPA police were yesterday investigating a mugging attempt against a British tourist who was injured trying to fight off her two attackers.

    Kathleen Crossland, 39, told police she had been walking on Katalimaton Street with her three-year-old son when two unknown individuals, possibly foreigners, approached her and demanded her money.

    Crossland refused and one of the men allegedly grabbed her arms while the other one pulled out a sharp object and injured her on the throat, cheek, and hand.

    The two men fled on a scooter after they were startled by a car approaching the area, reports said.

    According to Crossland, the driver of the scooter was white, around 1.78 metres tall, with short black hair, aged between 20 and 23, and muscular.

    During the attack, he was wearing dark shorts and a black Adidas t-shirt.

    The second suspect was white, around 1.80 metres tall with short black hair, aged between 20 and 23 and of normal build.

    He was wearing black shorts and t-shirt.

    Both suspects wore white trainers.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Belmondo at the Anassa

    1960s French movie star Jean-Paul Belmondo has been enjoying the Cyprus sun, beach and cuisine over the past week at the Latsi area in Paphos.

    According to reports, Belmondo is staying at the lavish Anassa hotel that has in the past hosted world-famous actors and celebrities.

    A manager at a nearby restaurant said Belmondo was a big fan of meze, having visited the place twice along with his personal photographer, another escort and his favourite canine who goes by the name of Atila.

    The 69-year-old Frenchman was a sex symbol in the 1960s, usually cast in the role of a macho cop or gumshoe or a likeable conman. He last appeared in the 1996 movie Désiré.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Seven remanded as fires re-ignite

    By Alex Mita

    SEVEN men were remanded in custody yesterday on suspicion of starting Thursday's devastating fires, which were still blazing out of control last night.

    Yesterday morning, the Fire Service reported that the fires had been contained, but the blaze was re-ignited around midday as strong winds swept the area.

    The flames soon raged out of control putting the villages of Saittas, Paramytha and Apesha in immediate danger. Helicopters continued dumping water over the fires until nightfall, but the rough terrain prevented the Fire Service from using the fire engines to put out the fire.

    Electricity Authority personnel, who had worked through the night after the main line supplying the Troodos area and parts of Paphos burned down, managed to restore power later in the day, but remained on alert due to the severity of the blaze.

    Minister of Commerce Nicos Rolandis yesterday praised the efforts of EAC personnel, saying they had dealt with yesterday's blackouts diligently and efficiently.

    Thursday's fires gutted 10 square kilometres of shrub, vineyards, almond and olive trees, and was described as the worst ecological disaster ever to hit the area.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous visited the area, and conferred with directors of the Agricultural Services as well as the Fire and Gaming Service to assess the extent of the damages.

    The minister assured farmers that the government would assist them in replanting their crops.

    "The initial assessment, because the fires have re-ignited, is that approximately 10 square kilometres of farm land has been destroyed," he said. Thursday's fire burned the areas around Lania, Ayios Georgios, Silikou and Monagri in the Kourris valley.

    "This has been a huge ecological and economic disaster, but the government will stand by the stricken farmers and help them replant their crops."

    He did not have further detail on the extent of the financial compensation the farmers might expect.

    Police believe the blaze was started by seven men from Limassol. Witnesses claim they saw the suspects on motorcycles starting the fire around the Alassa-Ayios Georgios area. The police were called and the suspects were rounded up by the Z squad to be led to the Lania police station for questioning.

    Yesterday, the seven men appeared before the Limassol District Court, which ordered them remanded for three days.

    A Fire Department spokesman told the Cyprus Mail last night that the blaze was being fought on two fronts with the help of the National Guard and helicopters.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Picking up the pieces

    By Alex Mita

    THE MOOD yesterday at Alassa, the village worst hit by Thursday's devastating fires, was sombre. Residents silently assessed the charred remains of their orchards, olive trees and animals.

    At the top of the hill, the owner of the burned Alassa restaurant, Despina Charalambous, stood among melted glasses on the ash covered floor of her establishment, wondering what she would do now that her livelihood was lost.

    Charalambous came to Cyprus from the UK only this year, with the dream of opening a restaurant. She found a place that suited her in Alassa, and after putting all of her money into getting it operational, she started business in June. Six weeks later, her investment was reduced to a smouldering heap of melted glass, plastic and cutlery.

    "We were only open for six weeks," she told the Cyprus Mail, with a look of utter disbelief.

    "We came over to rent the restaurant for five years. We were closed for a week. I didn't know anything until very late last night so I went to the police when I did hear about it. They told me to come and check out the damage and report back to them.

    "The owner insured the place for theft and fire, but all the equipment, tables and everything that went up is ours and I don't know if it was insured.

    "I lost my livelihood at the moment, I just came over from the UK and I have years of the rent paid up in full."

    Opposite the village, the gutted cardboard box factory was still smoking. The machinery, worth over a million pounds, is now useless. The fact that the factory was insured did not make things easier for owners Pambos Christofi and Panicos Hadjihambis.

    "The insurance only covers part of the damage, but it's not only the value of the machinery but the value of the factory as a whole," Hadjihambis said.

    "As you can see, we are not able to produce anything at the moment.

    "We started today to assess the cost of the damage with the insurance company. We can tell you its over a million pounds. Everything is ruined, our stock, our shares, everything."

    The partners were nevertheless hopeful that some sort of help would come from the government, as it would for stricken farmers.

    "We hope that the government will throw a lifeline and help us get started again."

    The fire burned everything except the office building, where the two men sat with their advisers, taking inventory of their burned machinery and paper.

    Outside, an old man looked inside his burned car for anything useful.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] De Soto still has hope

    By Michele Kambas

    UNITED Nations envoy Alvaro de Soto said yesterday he was optimistic a breakthrough could still be reached, despite slow progress in peace talks so far.

    De Soto said negotiations remained an excellent opportunity to crack the problem and allow both communities to reap the benefits of Cyprus joining the European Union.

    "I am optimistic because I think it's feasible... I believe it is in everybody's interest (for there to be a settlement) not just on the island but in the region as a whole," the Peruvian diplomat told Reuters.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday held their last meeting before a three-week summer break.

    They return to negotiations on August 27, and on September 6 they will meet UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan in Paris.

    Little progress has been made in the present round.

    Each side admits they have deeply diverse views on a host of issues ranging from territorial trade-offs to the future status of a reunified state.

    "Things aren't going as they should be," De Soto said of the talks. He declined to elaborate further.

    Turkey has warned it may annex the north if the island joins Europe without a settlement, a move which would bury its own EU aspirations.

    But Brussels also has to contend with warnings from EU member Greece that it will not ratify an expansion that does not include Cyprus.

    Asked if he was disappointed with the outcome so far, De Soto said: "Yes. Disappointed but I haven't lost hope."

    Earlier yesterday, Denktash said that views on the island's future were diametrically opposed.

    "If it's taken into account that talks have continued for so many weeks, it can be assumed that both sides have their expectations. These expectations and visions are 180 degrees on opposite sides," Denktash told reporters.

    "We have to bring these expectations together," he said.

    "Possibly both sides will bring forward something more substantive (after the break)."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Confusion over Cherokee recall

    By George Psyllides

    THOUSANDS of Jeep off-road vehicles are being recalled in Europe because of a possible brake problem, though the island's dealer said the recall does not apply to Cyprus.

    DaimlerChrysler is asking owners of around 177,000 Cherokees and Grand Cherokees across Europe to have the brakes checked.

    "We have identified that there is a small possibility of a problem due to possible corrosion of the front brake rotor which could cause it to separate from the central hub section of the wheel," a DaimlerChrysler spokesman told the Press Association (PA).

    He added: "If the problem did occur it would result in a reduction in brake efficiency."

    The Cherokees involved are all models made between 1993 and 1999.

    The Grand Cherokees involved were made between 1995 and 1998.

    Owners are being asked to take their vehicles to their local dealer where checks, and if necessary, repairs will be carried out, the PA report said.

    Chrysler's European customer service representative in Berlin, Andreas Becker, yesterday confirmed the recall, adding that it was worldwide.

    "Normally it should concern the whole world, not only northern countries," Becker told the Cyprus Mail.

    He added that all dealers were normally notified by the company HQ in the United States.

    The Chrysler dealer in Cyprus, however, said the recall concerned "vehicles sold or currently registered in 'salt belt' countries - where large amounts of road salt are used for snow and ice removal".

    "We don't have such a problem," Chief Engineer Christos Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail.

    Demetriou said the recall concerned the UK, Finland, Germany, Russia, Norway, Sweden, and such countries.

    Demetriou explained that the rotors in question had been manufactured using a different alloy, which was not salt resistant, instead of steel.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Desalination standoff threatens to spill over

    By Elias Hazou

    A STANDOFF between employees at the Larnaca desalination plant and management is threatening to spread to other facilities, potentially slashing the water supply to three districts.

    The 17 Cypriot employees at the plant went on strike four days ago, demanding the company sign collective agreements with them and respect their trade-union rights; the company insists that employees be hired on the basis of individual contracts.

    Pelagos Desalination Services Ltd, the Israeli corporation that owns the plant near Larnaca airport, has so far refused to renegotiate the employees' status. As a result, the plant is now operating well under capacity. Normally the plant churns out around 50,000 cubic meters of water per day.

    Papayiotis Frangou, general manager of OVIEK-SEK (Industrial Workers Federation), described the Israeli company's behaviour as unacceptable, adding it violated Cyprus law by refusing to sign collective agreements and recognise employees' right to be part of a trade union.

    According to Frangou, when the plant went operational almost two years ago, the company had been pressured into agreeing to sign collective agreements. Then late last year management changed the status of its Cypriot employees, forcing them to sign individual contracts. Frangou claims that despite promising to maintain employee rights under the new regimen, the company gradually changed its tune, refusing to grant employees minimum vacation days, health coverage, etc.

    "This is in violation of the Cyprus constitution," said Frangou, adding that no other foreign company on the island had refused these rights to their Cypriot employees.

    "They need to respect our laws and customs," warned Frangou, "otherwise we will do whatever we can to put them out of business."

    One of the ways SEK will "escalate" its measures might involve urging employees at the Water Department to also go on strike, meaning that the Larnaca plant will not be able to sell water to the government.

    Frangou insists that the public will not suffer if the Larnaca plant is disrupted, although Nicosia, Larnaca and the Famagusta district are fed significant amounts of water. He says that water from the dams will be sufficient for all the island's consumers, following heavy rainfall over the past winter season.

    According to Frangou, on Thursday night the company attempted to bring in five technicians from Israel to restore a malfunction and get the facility to normal production levels. The five Israelis, who had no work permit, says Frangou, were spotted by the strikers. The police were notified and arrived at the site later, escorting the technicians back to their hotel.

    So far, the mediating Labour Ministry has failed to break the deadlock.

    On Monday, SEK and PEO delegations will be meeting to discuss possible further action.

    "We will not stop until the Israelis are forced to agree to our demands," Frangou said. "The strike will go on indefinitely."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Guard who claimed attack arrested

    A GUARD at the US monitoring station in Nicosia who told police he had been attacked by two Arabs has been arrested and charged with filing a false report, police said yesterday.

    Sixty-three-year-old Charalambos Iacovou had said he had been assaulted by two men wielding knives as he patrolled the compound of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) on Thursday morning.

    "He was charged with public mischief. There were too many holes in his story," a police spokesman said yesterday.

    Police suspect scratch wounds found on the guard were self-inflicted, the spokesman said.

    The guard, working for a private firm, stirred another security alert in January when he claimed an intruder attempted to scale the walls of the compound with a ladder at night. The publicly-funded FBIS monitors media worldwide for the US government.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Cyprus taking stock of its expat population

    A CENSUS of Cypriot expatriates and repatriates is gathering momentum ahead of an Expats Congress to be held later this month.

    The project has been long in coming, however. About a year ago, the government committed to carrying out the census, the first of its kind, which is hoped will help strengthen relations between expats and the homeland.

    Last year's Expats Congress voiced complaints that they felt cut off from Cyprus.

    Expatriates' Commissioner Manolis Christofides has already instructed municipalities across the island to gear up for the census, which is expected to get under way in early October. The census will draw on the data from the 2001 general-population census, while a web site will be set up on the Internet allowing expats to fill in forms with their personal information and submit them online.

    The census will be among the issues to be discussed at the upcoming Expats Congress. One of the event's highlights will be the establishment of a youth congress that will be attended by around 100 second and third- generation Cypriot youths.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Why aren't we getting any water?

    By Soteris Charalambous

    RESIDENTS of Peyia near Paphos are claiming their homes are being left without water for up to 10 days, something that municipality officials say is an exaggeration of a problem that has now been rectified.

    Ido Bakker, 49 from Holland, has lived in Peyia since 1997 with his wife and two children. As summer approaches, Bakker and his family are in the habit of leaving Cyprus because the water shortages make life extremely difficult for his family.

    "I believe the situation is turning into a health hazard. (To save water) we only flush the toilet once a day, sometimes once every two days."

    According to Bakker, since 1997, between July and September water supply has been interrupted for up to four days at a time, returning for a few hours, then ending again.

    The annual problem appeared to reach a peak in 1999 when things got "very bad", resulting in periods of up to 10 days without water. The following year the problem returned to it's "normal" levels until this year when the loss of supply matched the intolerable levels of 1999.

    "This is not something you expect to suffer in a developed country like Cyprus, I haven't been able to have a shower for four days," he said.

    According to Bakker he is not alone, a further 10 to 15 houses experience similar problems, some far worse. He puts the problem down to the fact that the houses are higher up than those of most other residents. He also believes the developers who built their houses didn't take into account the capabilities of the pumping facilities available to the area and the difficulty in supplying adequate water.

    "When the tank is full, we get some pressure and we get water, but after it drops below a certain level it cannot support us any more," he said.

    He accepts that in the past water shortages in Cyprus were not an uncommon problem, but said the Paphos region should have more than enough water from 2000 since the introduction of the desalination plants supplying water to Nicosia and Larnaca.

    But it appears the problem returned with a vengeance in July this year, which prompted Bakker to seek out the Mayor of Peyia in an effort to resolve the problem.

    "The Mayor was surprised by the situation and immediately called in the people responsible for the water supply in the area," Bakker said. Within five hours the water supply had been restored to his home, and continued for seven days without interruption. However, the supply again ended, resulting in a period of eight days without water for the family.

    He and other residents staged a peaceful protest at the municipality on Monday and were given assurances that a new source had been found and that a normal supply would be returned to their homes.

    However, Bakker believes the problem will get worse. "Every year they build around 200-300 new houses around here and Coral Bay, and this year they opened the new hotel, which coincided with this year's shortages."

    But Andreas Socratos, Head of Water Supply at the municipality, said: "Water shortages lasting 10 days are not true; there are interruptions to the water supply but not for longer than three days." He added he was hopeful that a solution to the problem had been found. However, he conceded that when water pressure drops, houses in higher areas did suffer more than others.

    Marios Matthew, the general secretary of the municipality, also admitted that the water supply during the summer months was interrupted for up to three days at a time but denied that residents had to endure longer periods without water.

    He also conceded that the new 600-room hotel and the high level of development in the area had magnified the problem for houses higher up in the Peyia area. Matthew said, "In a few days the problem will be resolved. We have bored and in the last week a new water (supply) was found which will be added to our water tanks."

    He seemed certain that the new supply would sufficiently ease the problem, and ruled out any possibility of raising the level of the water storage tanks in order to create greater pressure for residents in the most elevated area.

    "These people should check all these things before buying their houses because these developers just sell houses. They do not know where the houses are and when they come to the place they are confronted with the reality," he added.

    He placed responsibility for the problems on the developers, who, he suggested, "should have checked these things." But when asked why building permission had been granted by the municipality to developers to build on higher ground, he replied, "The supply (of water) exists for houses, it was up to the engineers to decide and find the best solutions for their customers."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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