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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-30

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

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


Friday, August 30, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Man U to play in Cyprus
  • [02] Syrian jailed for murder of Ukrainian woman
  • [03] BA slashing prices to Cyprus
  • [04] Union positive on bank mediation proposal
  • [05] Central Bank lifts more restrictions on overseas money transfers
  • [06] Auditor general reported CyTA profits 'more than a year ago'
  • [07] AEL players in car crash on way to match
  • [08] Half burned mobile phone found at helicopter crash site
  • [09] First driver loses licence through penalty points
  • [10] Santa Rosa road works almost over, time to move to the next stretch

  • [01] Man U to play in Cyprus

    By Soteris Charalambous

    MANCHESTER United, Greek champions Olympiakos and last year's Champions League runners up Bayer Leverkusen will all be coming to Cyprus in the coming months to play Maccabi Haifa, forced to play their Champions League 'home' ties at Nicosia's GSP stadium.

    The draw for the group stages of this year's competition took place in Monaco yesterday and followed an announcement by UEFA, European football's governing body, that because of security fears, surprise qualifiers Maccabi Haifa would be playing in Nicosia.

    In March, UEFA ruled that home games involving the Israeli national team and the country's clubs in European competitions should not be played in Israel.

    Haifa's last match in the third round qualifying stage for the competition was played in Sofia against Austria's Strum Graz. Maccabi won 5-3 on aggregate, making them the first club from Israel to reach the lucrative group stages of the Champions League. Speculation surrounded the decision to stage the game in Bulgaria, with sources in Israel suggesting that the cost for security and policing an earlier tie in Cyprus, estimated between $100,000 and $300,000, had forced the club to look for an alternative venue.

    The draw is certain to have pleased Manchester United's many followers in Cyprus and should ensure a packed house for all of the games at the GSP, given the following for Olympiakos on the island and the attraction of last year's beaten finalists.

    Officials from the GSP were unavailable for comment on the outcome of the draw, although sources have suggested that ticket prices could exceed the 15 previously charged by the club for European matches.

    Both Manchester Untied and Olympiakos will attract fervent support from Cypriot football fans, making the ties more like an away fixture for the Israeli team. The media in Israel yesterday urged their leading politicians, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katzav to put pressure on UEFA to allow the club to host its home matches in Israel. However, that appears unlikely given UEFA's confirmation of the venue and the continuing violence in the Middle East.

    Manchester United will play Haifa in Cyprus on October 18, while Olympiakos visit on September 24 and Bayer Leverkusen will be playing on October 1.

    And as if the lure of David Beckham and co. was not enough, Cypriot football fans will have a chance to see the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry in live action next week, as defending European champions France kick off their qualifying campaign for Euro 2004 against Cyprus at the GSP next Saturday. The game is the French team's first competitive outing since their humiliating World Cup exit this summer.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Syrian jailed for murder of Ukrainian woman

    By a Staff Reporter

    A SYRIAN man has been jailed for 12 years for the murder of Ukrainian cabaret artiste Ilona Li in June last year.

    Jawad Mandour, 46, strangled Li to death in the bath of her apartment after she told him she was going to marry a Cypriot friend of his.

    Mandour was arrested on the same day after he went to the Nicosia hospital emergency room for treatment for lacerations to his arm and throat.

    The doctor who treated the man asked about his injuries, but after receiving vague replies, he decided to notify the police.

    Mandour is a permanent resident of Cyprus, living in a flat in the suburb of Pallouriotissa with another Syrian man.

    Police escorted the man to his flat on Democritos Street, where they found 22-year-old Ilona Li dead on the bathroom floor.

    He claimed a Greek Cypriot man who was going to marry the Ukrainian had come to his flat that morning and erupted when he saw his future bride naked in the shower.

    Mandour claimed the man had smashed a bottle and injured him on the arm. He claimed he left the flat to go to hospital where he was arrested, and insisted Li was alive when he left.

    Police questioned the 22-year-old Cypriot, but released him after he presented a solid alibi.

    Passing sentence, the Nicosia District Court took into consideration Mandour's previously clean criminal record and his co-operation with the police.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] BA slashing prices to Cyprus

    By Soteris Charalambous

    BRITISH Airways (BA) yesterday announced its final batch of cut-price European offers, making some flights from Larnaca to Heathrow up to 70 cheaper than the equivalent flight with Cyprus Airways, depending on date of departure.

    The British carrier announced that from yesterday prices to Spain, Turkey, Greece, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg and Cyprus would fall by up to 80 per cent. The move completes the launch of BA's year-round low fares on 170 key routes to Europe that started in the spring.

    The move is clearly aimed at reclaiming some of the market share lost to no- frills airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair. "We are the first airline to offer a full service at no frills prices on almost 6,500 flights a week, putting us firmly back on the agenda for air travel to Europe," said BA's marketing director Martin George.

    A BA representative in the Nicosia sales office said, "The prices are geared to encourage people to make their reservations earlier. The sooner they book the better price they will get."

    Before yesterday's reductions, the best price offered by BA for a September flight from Larnaca to London was 210 plus taxes. The equivalent flight is currently available at 150 plus taxes.

    The BA sales representative said, "There are some conditions with these prices: once booked these flights are non-changeable and non-refundable with payment required seven days before departure. The minimum stay is for three days and maximum stay is for one year. However, this offer is available mid-week with no Saturday stopover."

    Cyprus Airways offers the equivalent flight at just under 300, including all taxes, although on other dates the price differential was as low as 10. Asked if the airline were about to launch any special offers in light of the move by BA, the sales representative said, "Cyprus Airways have not announced anything at the moment. These decisions are made by the committee."

    In response to the announcement of BA's price cuts, Tassos Angeli, Spokesman for Cyprus Airways said, "You must be certain that you are comparing like with like, there are 14 different classes of service." But he added: "We are considering the issue and will come out with our offers soon, and we might even surprise a few people."

    Angeli claimed that in addition to any special reductions that may be announced in the future, Cyprus Airways was already offering 50 per cent discount on family fares and for Senior Citizens, adding, "We are the market leaders in Cyprus, and we have always been cheaper than British Airways."

    Asked if the likely price reductions were being made in anticipation of the liberalisation of air routes into Cyprus scheduled for the January 2003, Angeli responded, "They have nothing to do with that."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Union positive on bank mediation proposal

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE BANK employees' union ETYK yesterday accepted the Labour Minister's proposal aimed at resolving the month-old dispute over the renewal of their collective agreements.

    During a meeting yesterday morning, the union decided unanimously to propose the approval of the proposal to the general assembly.

    Earlier on, ETYK Secretary-general Loizos Hadjicostis said the union was satisfied with the proposal, which fully covered the targets set by ETYK from the start of the dispute.

    Hadjicostis said it was his belief that his organisation would respond positively to the minister's proposal.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said that in preparing the proposal he had kept in mind two EU guidelines concerning flexibility and functionality of businesses and securing employees and their rights.

    ETYK and the banks have one week to respond to the proposal, which is non- negotiable.

    Reports said the proposal includes an extension of customer service time by half an hour and the right for the banks to employ seasonal staff from May 15 until September 15.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Central Bank lifts more restrictions on overseas money transfers

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CENTRAL Bank yesterday announced the adoption of new simplified arrangements for the payment of imports of goods and services as well as capital transfers.

    The arrangements will come into effect on September 1, and are part of the Central Bank's policy of harmonisation with the European acquis communautaire, a written statement said.

    As from September 1, the EC2 form will be scrapped and payments for commodity imports will be made directly through commercial banks upon the presentation of invoices and other supporting documents.

    Exports of goods will from now on be carried out without the completion of the ?E1 form upon loading the merchandise nor at the time of importing the proceeds from exports.

    These arrangements, however, do not relieve exporters from the obligation of transferring the income from their exports to Cyprus, within six months from the day they were loaded, the Central Bank said.

    Foreign exchange issued by commercial banks for the provision of services by non-residents would be increased from 100,000 to 500,000 without notifying the Central Bank, though for any such payment all the necessary supporting documents should be presented to the bank.

    Students studying abroad would now be able to receive up to 12,000 at any time during the academic year to cover their living expenses and would also be allowed an additional amount to pay their fees as well as other incidental expenses, albeit with the presentation of all supporting documents.

    All restrictions concerning the issue of foreign exchange for medical treatment abroad have been lifted, though commercial banks can only issue up to 50,000.

    Any amount over that will have to be authorised by the Central Bank, the statement said.

    The amount anyone over 18 can export towards portfolio investments and deposits to foreign banks has increased from 20,000 to 50,000 annually.

    The Central Bank said all restrictions for residents of Cyprus securing loans for financing their overseas investments were abolished.

    Borrowing by non-residents, both legal and physical persons, from local banks for financing operations in Cyprus was also free.

    Funds acquired by non-residents through gifts may be transferred abroad with a minimum amount of 1 million annually or one third of the total, whichever is higher.

    The remaining amount could be exported over the next two years with an annual minimum amount of 1 million.

    The transfer of income belonging to non-residents such as rent, dividends, interest, etc, is already free and would be made through commercial banks upon the presentation of the proper documents.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Auditor general reported CyTA profits 'more than a year ago'

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    AUDITOR GENERAL, Chrystalla Yiorkadji, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that more than a year ago her office reported that CyTA has been making super profits for the last ten years, while the law states their charges should be set at a level to cover costs and plans for expansion.

    The statement came after the Competition Commission announced on Tuesday it was imposing a penalty of 20 million on the semi-governmental telecoms monopoly, CyTA, for abusing their dominant position, raking in 64 million in net profit for 2000 alone.

    "Regardless of the laws on competition, a prudent and sensible provision exists under Article 19 of the Inland Telecommunications Law which states that all charges should be set at such levels as to cover the expenses of CyTA and to allow for any extensions and depreciations," said Yorkadji.

    "And we agreed that organisations like CyTA need to make investments, but our point was that for the last ten years CyTA was making surpluses: they were making huge investments while still having aside something like 200 million," she said.

    Yorkadji maintained that CyTA should return to the consumers any surpluses made in the form of a reduction in charges, noting that the Audit Office has been making this point for the last four years but got very little attention for it.

    "But we are glad that our view has been verified. If CyTA decides at anytime to review the charges they can use the money made to finance that decision," she added.

    However, Yorkadji acknowledged that the demand for services, especially of mobile phones, has increased tremendously, far beyond the estimates of CyTA.

    But not all profits were from the sale of telecommunications services, as the Competition Commission claims, she said, adding that, last year, a large amount of surplus came from the sale of investments abroad.

    House Trade Committee chairman, Lefteris Christoforou, said yesterday that CyTA should deal with the essence and not the legality of the decision, which was that CyTA was overcharging consumers.

    A source told the Cyprus Mail that CyTA's response was that the rates they applied were voted and approved by parliament earlier this year, where they had figures of previous years in front of them, and knew or ought to have known that CyTA had these surpluses.

    Yiorkadji noted that the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) came under a similar legal provision but that they were making investments of a greater volume than their surpluses.

    President of the Pancyprian Association of Retail Telecom Companies (PARTC), Ioannis Diakos, charged deputies with failing to do their job, by not holding CyTA to account while approving their budget. The PARTC is taking the Competition Commission to the Supreme Court for delaying the decision to impose a penalty, given that the association approached it back in December 2000.

    "CyTA was allowed to make inflated profits as a non-profit organisation and enter into the business of selling mobile phones, using their dominant position in the market to take over the retail market," said Diakos.

    "How can we compete when they open up a retail shop in the customer service office, allow customers to pay through their existing account and send out advertising leaflets to all their customers?" he asked.

    Diakos said that the penalty has come after PARTC applied pressure on the government through the European Union not to close the 28th chapter on competition until this was settled. "We need to clarify and define the role and responsibilities of deputies, the Auditor general, the Competition Commission and the Telecoms Regulator in order to maintain a proper check on competition in the market," said Diakos.

    Permanent Secretary of the Consumers Association, Dinos Ioannou, hailed the decision to fine CyTA, demanding its implementation immediately and that consumers be reimbursed for overcharging over the years. "We are not sure how consumers will benefit directly from the 20 million penalty but we shall insist that consumers receive the amount they have been overcharged," said Ioannou.

    The 20 million fine, if not overturned, will go to the consolidated fund of the government, an official term meaning it gets added to the state revenue bucket.

    "If CyTA had paid necessary attention to what was said then they would have given back through consumer services the surpluses they had made, now the benefit goes straight to the state," said Yiorkadji.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] AEL players in car crash on way to match

    By a Staff Reporter

    FOUR AEL Limassol players were injured last night when their car overturned on the way to their UEFA Cup match with Hungarian team Ferencvaros at Limassol's Tsireon stadium.

    The accident happened on Nicodimos Mylonas Street after the players' car collided with another car with three women passengers.

    The four players, captain Rikkos Christofi, goalkeeper Demetris Leonis, Marios Christodoulou, and George Constantis were all rushed to a private clinic.

    Christofi was injured on the head and Leoni suffered concussion. Neither was said to be in a serious condition.

    Christodoulou and Constanti were slightly injured and were discharged after receiving treatment.

    AEL went on to win last night's match 2-1 but Ferencvaros goes through on aggregate (5-2).

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Half burned mobile phone found at helicopter crash site

    By a Staff Reporter

    DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday confirmed a mobile phone had been found near the site of the helicopter crash which killed the Commander of the National Guard and four other officers near Paphos on July 10.

    The phone was found by a shepherd near the ravine where the helicopter crashed just outside the village of Kouklia.

    Hasikos said the authorities had not yet determined who the owner of the phone was.

    "It is possible that it belongs to a stranger," he said.

    He added that the fact that it had been found near the crash site did not necessarily mean that it belonged to one of the helicopter's passengers.

    Hasikos did reveal, however, that the phone was half burnt, but was quick to add the find was not considered very important. He did not rule out more personal items emerging from the area.

    The Defence Minister said that four other mobile phones had been found at the site.

    The finding of the mobile 50 days after the crash has raised questions concerning the efficiency of the search in the area for clues regarding the accident.

    An investigation into the accident has concluded it was caused by a fire, though the causes of the fire could not be determined by the experts.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] First driver loses licence through penalty points

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A MAN from Oroklini has become the first driver to have his driving licence suspended after accumulating more than the maximum 12 points for driving offences. Larnaca District Court fined the driver 50 and suspended his licence for two months after he amassed 14 points, two over the 12-point ceiling.

    Traffic police official Yiannakis Kelepeshis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that many other drivers had also reached the limit but were awaiting a court appearance.

    The new points system came into operation on January 1, 2001 as part of a police campaign to cut down the island's woeful road accident rate - at the time the third worst in Europe.

    Traffic Police have warned drivers and their employers in the past that once a driver's licence is suspended, they are no longer under insurance and put themselves at great risk if they continue to drive.

    Drivers are liable to be fined and have penalty points added on for specific traffic violations. An accumulated total of 12 points gives a court the discretion to suspend a driver's licence for a period of up to six months, said Kelepeshis.

    There are two gradations for penalty point administration: maximum and minimum. Police can only impose the minimum number of points, but offenders contesting the penalty in court could end up with maximum points if they lose their appeal. Penalty points expire two years after the date on which the last offence was committed.

    According to Phileleftheros, around 70,000 drivers have already received points on their licence, while 5,000 of those are in the danger zone with over eight points.

    Offenders face the following range of points:

    Breaking the speed limit by 25 to 50 per cent: minimum 2, maximum 4. Breaking the speed limit by 50 per cent or more: min 3, max 6. Thoughtless or dangerous driving: min3, max 6. Careless driving: min 2, max 4. Driving under the influence of alcohol: min 3, max 6. Ignoring traffic light signals: min 2, max 4. Causing death due to unreasonable, thoughtless or dangerous action: min 5, max 10. Motorcyclists not wearing a helmet: min 1, max 2 in built-up areas; min 2, max 4 outside built-up areas.

    Not wearing seatbelt outside built-up areas: min 2, max 4.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Santa Rosa road works almost over, time to move to the next stretch

    By Sofia Kannas

    INSTALLATION work by the Cyprus Electricity Authority (EAC) on Nicosia's Santa Rosa Avenue should end soon, to the relief of frustrated residents and motorists.

    Santa Rosa, which has been in a state of chaos since July 8 2002, should be in normal operation by September 3, according to EAC spokesman Tassos Roussos.

    The work is part of a 2 million project to install underground cables linking two Nicosia substations together.

    "This scheme is absolutely vital. The two substations are being interconnected so that either substation can supply electricity in the case that the other fails," he explained.

    "This project has long been overdue, as it was delayed by various factors for a number of years.

    "Had the scheme been completed earlier, the blackout Nicosia experienced two years ago could have been avoided, " he added.

    Roussos also expressed his regret that the work had disrupted the use of Santa Rosa, a main artery into Nicosia.

    "Of course we are aware of the inconvenience caused by the partial closure of Santa Rosa, but this is often the case with projects designed for public benefit.

    "We did our best to undertake the bulk of the work during the August holiday period, when most people were away."

    The bad news is that once Santa Rosa is re-opened, disruption to other roads in the area will follow.

    "The project will continue towards Pallouriotissa. Dighenis Akritas will be the next section to be done," Roussos confirmed.

    However, Roussos was anxious to emphasise that the inconvenience caused by the installations was a necessary if temporary evil, and one that would have a positive impact overall.

    "As a Cypriot citizen, I am very glad the work is finally under way. It can only benefit Nicosia's residents in the long-term."

    The completion date for the whole project is set for the end of February 2003.

    Users of Byron Avenue, meanwhile, will have to wait rather longer for a return to normality.

    A Municipality source yesterday confirmed the road works there would be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

    "Chapo, the contractors, are under a one year contract. We therefore expect the completion of the whole project next July.

    "The first section of Byron Avenue should be open in a month's time. The rest of the project will be completed in sections, each lasting about three months," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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