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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-10
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Saturday, August 10, 2002
 It's a very fair system, says EAC, after complaint over estimated billingBy Soteris Charalambous
THE Electricity Authority of Cyprus yesterday rejected reports that the estimated billing system used by the EAC had led to overcharging.
Its spokesman, Costas Gavrielides, described it as "a very fair system," and dismissed as "negligible" the amounts that may be overcharged in an estimated account.
Gavrielides said "the system benefits the customer," claiming that consumers whose bills were estimated were as likely to have been undercharged as overcharged. That was a point conceded as "a likely scenario" by the Consumers Association, who had originally lodged the complaint in a letter to the EAC.
The issue of over-billing arose after the association received a number of complaints from EAC customers who used overnight storage heaters.
Dinos Ioannou, General Manager at the Consumers Association, explained that because of underestimated bills in April and May, some consumers were overcharged the following period because of the subsequent increase in cost of the unit price for electricity. To make up for the under-estimation, the additional units consumed during April and May were added to the bill for June and July, but charged at a higher rate, resulting in consumers being overcharged.
The consumers who complained had been able to monitor the electricity they had used because their supply powered storage heaters which had been turned off as the weather improved around mid-May. The increase in the unit cost had been as a result of the cost of fuel per metric ton.
Ioannou, who penned the letter of complaint to the EAC, conceded that the amounts over-billed were, "probably no more than three pounds", but added: "The point was raised as a matter of principle rather than a matter of economics, underlining the need for continued meter reading."
Gavrielides responded to the complaint by saying that the system employed by the EAC had been adopted from that used throughout Europe, underlining the trend for a move away from continuous meter reading to reduce costs and passing on the savings to the consumer.
"If a consumer receives an estimated bill, the bill for the following period is produced from a meter reading, which provides us with historical data resulting in more accurate estimates," said Gavrielides. "In whichever case, the customer is accurately billed every four months."
He said there were as likely to be as many cases where consumers had been undercharged as overcharged using this system, but maintained that the amounts involved "would be very small, negligible, in most cases 30-40 cents," and nowhere near the three pounds suggested by Ioannou. The amount would be even less over the whole year, he argued..
Asked if more accurate billing could be achieved by asking consumers to submit their own meter readings Gavrielides said: "The facility exists for customers who receive an estimated bill to call, without charge, and provide us with an exact reading."
Gavrielides said he believed the Consumers Association had received no more than three complaints about overcharging and claimed that "beyond minor readjustments, tariffs (for electricity consumption) had not changed for almost 20 years."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Seven cleared after fire arrest threaten to sue papers who named themBy Alex Mita
SEVEN men, who were released without charge after initially being remanded in custody in connection with the devastating fires in the Kourris Dam area last week, yesterday threatened to sue a handful of media outlets unless they apologised for publishing their names and photographs while they were still under suspicion.
The seven were arrested on August 1, after witnesses claimed to have seen them leaving the area at the time the fire had started.
They were rounded up by the Z squad and initially remanded for three days. But the Limassol District court then ruled no evidence had been found to suggest the men had started the fire, and ordered their release.
However, the five are furious that their names and photographs were published by CyBC and Mega television channels andPhileleftheros, Machi and Haravghi newspapers.
Their lawyer, Christos Theofilou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the media had violated his clients' civil rights and had not respected their privacy.
"We believe it is unacceptable for the mass media to publish the names of suspects. For us a suspect is a civilian, who temporarily sacrifices some of his civil rights according to the law, until a police investigation is completed," Theofilou said.
"A suspect is neither guilty nor liable to stand trial, and we don't think it is either newsworthy or legal to publish or transmit a suspect's personal records. Anybody driving on the same road the seven men were on could also be a suspect. But you are innocent until proven guilty."
Asked whether the seven would take legal action against the police, who, they claim had given the seven men's names to the media, Theofilou said he had sent a letter to Attorney-general Alecos Markides, asking that something be done, in order to protect the civil rights of anyone considered to be a suspect. Police deny they gave the names of the suspects to the media.
"We claim that the law and the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus forbids the handing out of anyone's personal information without permission, " Theofilou said.
The lawyer said the seven men would sue the media unless they published an apology.
Theofilou said that on the day of the fire, the men were driving around the Alassa area when they noticed the flames and tried to put them out. However, when they saw a police helicopter over the area, they thought the situation would be taken care of and so they continued their journey.
Police arrested them shortly after witnesses claimed they saw the seven men leave at the same time the fires had started to appear.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Fury at jailing of journalists in the northBy Alex Mita
A 'COURT' decision in the north this week to jail the chief editor and a journalist of opposition newspaper Afrika has sparked outraged among Greek and Turkish Cypriot press.
The two men, Sener Levent and Memduh Ener, were arrested after publishing an article that the Denktash regime branded as "carrying a risk of harming the presidential authority."
The court also fined Afrika (formerly known as Avrupa) five billion Lira, which they will be forced to pay should they ever repeat their 'offences' against the regime in the future.
The governing body of the Cyprus Journalists union yesterday condemned the decision, saying it was an escalation of "fascist measures" by the Denktash regime to "gag and strangle every free anti-occupational voice" of the Turkish Cypriot people.
In a news release, the union said it would lobby the United Nations and the European Union to take the necessary steps that would ensure the two journalists were released and to stop the gagging of the paper.
The Human Rights Committee yesterday slammed the decision, saying it had taken all necessary steps with international organisations against the regime.
Journalists Without Frontiers (RSF), called for the immediate release of the two journalists. In a letter to Denktash, RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard expressed his exasperation at the convictions, and asked for the immediate release and the end of the persecution of the men.
"To have jailed these two journalists is worthy of the worst regimes," Ménard said in a letter to the Turkish Cypriot leader. Ménard recalled that "attacks, death threats, confiscation of equipment and fines had failed to silence Afrika, which has never hesitated to criticise the policies implemented by the Turkish authorities of Northern Cyprus."
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, an Afrika spokesman, Turgut Afsharoglou, said that putting Levent and Ener in jail was a violation of theirs and the paper's right of freedom of expression.
"We are trying to publish a newspaper and all of a sudden, because of an article, they sentence our friends to six months in jail," Afsharoglou said.
"The article was asking a simple question. Denktash was saying there were 3, 000 people in the North who are traitors because they want peace. So the article was asking if there are 3,000 traitors in this country, who is the number one traitor?"
The article says that men and women are being beaten up and killed because they deal with Greek Cypriots, and because they speak Greek.
"Dear readers, please tell us who is the number one traitor. Is it the woman who bought parsley from a Greek Cypriot? Is it Turkish Cypriots who can't speak Turkish? Is it the man who bought goods from a Greek Cypriot? Is it lawyers who stood against CIA plots and supported Democracy? Or is it Denktash who today holds the presidential chair?" the article says.
Afsharoglou said that the paper was now constantly in danger of being shut.
"There are a lot of cases in court at the moment against us and we feel that they will send us to jail for every one of them," he said.
Afsharoglou said there was no way to appeal the decision in Turkey, because the government there called the shots on how issues were dealt with in the North. The two men are expected to appeal the decision.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 French banking giant plans to open network of branchesBy George Psyllides
THE CENTRAL Bank confirmed yesterday that one of the biggest banks in France and Europe had begun operating in Cyprus as a local commercial bank.
Deputy Director of the Central Bank's Bank Services Supervising Department Lenia Georgiadou said Société Générale had already been issued with a licence to operate as a local commercial bank, though it was currently operating only in Nicosia.
"Another player enters the banking game, increasing competition, providing another choice to the public, and widening the choices the public has in the products offered," Georgiadou told the Cyprus News Agency yesterday.
She said the French bank had started operating around a month ago, but they were not ready for a dynamic entrance into the market because they wanted to set up their branches in other towns and not just in Nicosia.
A Société Générale spokesman told the Cyprus Mail that an official announcement would be issued some time in autumn.
Société Générale is the second largest bank in France and the fourth largest in Europe, with branches in 80 countries.
The bank started operations in Cyprus as an offshore unit a few years ago but according to reports, the island's imminent accession to the EU and the company's expansion policy brought about the decision to start operations on the local market.
The services the bank will provide will be similar to those of other local banks and the company has already moved to hire personnel to staff its branches as well as its offshore operations.
Reports said the bank was planning to open branches across the island, starting with two branches in Nicosia and Limassol.
The first branches are expected to open within the year, while three more in Famagusta, Paphos and Larnaca will be opening in 2003.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Free tests for sexually-transmitted diseasesBy Stefanos Evripidou
DERMATOLOGISTS across the island are offering free medical examinations to patients who fear they might have contracted sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) over the long, hot summer.
The President of the Cyprus Dermatologists Association (CDA), Dr. Costandinos Demetriou, said yesterday that many people were reluctant to visit a dermatologist when they experienced skin problems in intimate areas, attempting instead to administer their own treatment. But this only exacerbated the problem, he warned, as very often the symptoms would disappear while the disease grew stronger.
"It is very important to diagnose from an early stage whether we are dealing with skin problems or venereal diseases. This is why we are offering people free clinical tests, to distinguish between the two and give the patient the chance to get proper treatment," said Demetriou.
Dates for the free check-ups have yet to be released, but the CDA president expects them to begin some time in September, after the summer has ended. "Summer is the season when people are more loose, less serious. The mood is different, making the chances of catching venereal diseases much higher," said Demetriou.
The type of STDs that dermatologists generally look out for include: herpes, venereal warts, fungal infections, scabies, lice, growths, syphilis and gonorrhoea.
Demetriou warned that the symptoms to be wary of were: burning sensations while urinating, excretions from the urethra or vagina, redness and itching in the groin area, sores and blisters, cysts and rashes on the genitalia and itching on the whole body. The quicker such conditions are treated, the less serious the consequences, said Demetriou.
He added that advisable methods of protecting against skin and venereal diseases included, "Carefully choosing your sexual partner, using a condom, keeping a personal hygiene regime, changing wet swimsuits, keeping clean sheets and using clean towels." Most important of all, he ended, was a regular check up with your dermatologist.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Bishop of Paphos insists a Synod should be calledTHE BISHOP of Paphos yesterday insisted that it would not be against Church rules for the Holy Synod to convene in the absence of the ailing Archbishop and repeated his allegations that fifth columnists were operating in the Church of Cyprus.
The charges come a day after a medical council ruled that the primate should continue treatment in an Athens clinic for one more month because his condition showed a small but stable improvement.
The Archbishop has been receiving treatment in Athens for the past three months after a fall in which he suffered head and back injuries.
It is thought, however, though no official statement has ever been made, that the Archbishop is also suffering from Alzheimer's, and it would be doubtful that he could ever return to his duties.
Trimithounta Bishop Vassilios, who is currently in Athens, said yesterday that the team of 10 doctors had examined the Archbishop individually and judged that he had shown small but significant improvement and that was why they decided that an immediate change in his environment or therapy would not be appropriate at this point.
Vassilios said it was a unanimous decision and the Archbishop's condition would be reassessed after one month.
The Bishop of Kiti, who opposed calling a Holy Synod meeting without the Archbishop, said he was especially glad of the council's diagnosis, not because he had been vindicated but because it had confirmed that the primate's health had shown small but stable improvement.
Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos said his position, as well as that of most bishops, was to give the Archbishop time to see how his health would go, but to avoid leaving loose ends in the Church.
Chrysostomos is pushing for a Synod meeting that would decide measures concerning allegations that the Archbishop's relatives exploited his condition to plunder Church property.
The move towards a Synod meeting, however, has been blocked by the Bishops of Limassol and Kiti, who said that they should wait for the medical council's report and then make any decisions.
But Thursday's decision by the doctors effectively blocked the path to a Holy Synod.
Chrysostomos of Paphos said yesterday a lot would depend on the behaviour of the Archbishop's relatives and the Archbishopric's senior employees, whose behaviour so far had "not been proper".
"If everyone does whatever they want, I would say enough and let's take the big decisions," Chrysostomos said.
He said the position of the majority of bishops was that they could not ask for the primate's removal while he was in hospital and since they could not convene to discuss Church problems they would give the matter some more time.
"Personally I think we can convene," he said.
He urged his opponents to keep quite and not provoke public feelings, but warned that there could come a day when he would not take anyone into consideration and would go ahead with the "necessary decisions".
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Acid leak at Limassol portAN ACID leak at the Limassol port yesterday scrambled the hazardous materials unit for the second time in just 24 hours.
According to reports, around 30 litres of acid, stored in a container together with raw materials for making biscuits, leaked, causing distress in the port for the second time in 24 hours.
A Labour Ministry inspector said it was wrong to pack chemicals with foodstuffs, adding that there were 15 70-litre acid containers in the same load.
He said the ports authority, together with merchant shipping agents and importers, would be looking into the matter.
Fire Service Superintendent George Makariou said his service was worried about the incidents, though small incidents like this were bound to happen in a port where thousands of tonnes of dangerous chemicals were moved around.
On Thursday, an electrical transformer, which was being unloaded, was accidentally knocked, resulting in the leak of around five tonnes of oil, which, according to experts and electricity authority technicians, did not pose any health risks.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002