|Sunday, 13 October 2019|
Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation: News in English, 03-12-08
From: The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation at <http://www.cybc.com.cy/>
 HEADLINES-- A Greek court today convicted two men as the chief assassin and the mastermind of the November 17 guerrilla group, which murdered prominent Greeks as well as U.S., British and Turkish diplomats in a 27-year reign of fear.
-- Russian President Vladimir Putin's allies won an overwhelming electoral victory today, crushing Communist and liberal opponents and giving nationalists and bureaucrats a stranglehold over parliament.
--Palestinian ceasefire talks ended in failure yesterday as militant groups rejected a comprehensive truce seen as crucial to reviving a U.S.-backed peace road map.
And --Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that by 1st May 2004 the Annan Plan should be discussed in order for the Cyprus problem to be resolved.
 GREECE NOVEMBERA Greek court today convicted two men as the chief assassin and the mastermind of the November 17 guerrilla group, which murdered prominent Greeks as well as U.S., British and Turkish diplomats in a 27-year reign of fear.
Three judges delivered the verdicts at the end of a marathon trial involving 19 accused members of November 17. There was no jury because terrorism charges were involved.
Four of the 19 defendants were found not guilty including the only woman, the wife of the convicted chief assassin.
The convictions and cracking the group's network removed a major security concern ahead of next summer's Olympic Games in Athens.
The mastermind, Alexandros Giotopoulos, 59, was found guilty of plotting several murders, including the last killing, a drive-by shooting of British military attache Stephen Saunders in 2000.
Giotopoulos is a mathematician who was a student in Paris in the 1960's and is the son of Greece's most prominent Trotskyite.
As he was led from the court after being convicted of nearly 1,000 charges, he smiled, wave to spectators and shouted: "Today's Greece is a modern colony of the United States."
The court found beekeeper Dimitris Koufodinas, the main hitman, guilty of Saunders' murder. It was one of 253 charges against the killer known as "Poison Hand" for his close-up murders with a pistol.
Koufodinas shouted to the court, "We are not interested in this decision. This verdict does not concern us, we are only interested in the judgement of history and of the Greek people."
November 17, a radical Marxist group, was named after the date of a 1973 student uprising which was crushed with tanks by Greece's then ruling military.
The group claimed responsibility for murdering 23 Greeks as well as British, U.S. and Turkish diplomats that began with the 1975 killing of Athens CIA station chief Richard Welch.
Sentences will be passed later this week.
For years the group staged rocket attacks, bombings, shootings and bank robberies in central Athens, and taunted authorities in letters to the media.
They eluded authorities until a botched bombing attempt last year led to the first capture and set off a hunt that led to all the arrests.
Among those in court for today;s verdicts was Athens Mayor and Olympic Games host Dora Bakoyiannis, whose parliamentarian husband Pavlos Bakoyiannis was gunned down by the gang in 1989.
She said "Greek justice spoke today. Its decisions are respected by all.
 RUSSIA PUTIN- President Vladimir Putin's allies won an overwhelming electoral victory today, crushing Communist and liberal opponents and giving nationalists and bureaucrats a stranglehold over parliament.
The fourth such poll since the Soviet Union's collapse also effectively guaranteed Mr. Putin a second term in next spring's presidential election and could give him enough votes to change the constitution so he can run for a third term.
Mr. Putin's supporters say a pro-Kremlin majority would hand the ex-KGB spy more power to push economic reform and fight corruption. But critics fear the death of democracy in the the vast nation after liberal parties were all but wiped out.
The rouble rose against the dollar but stocks opened down on concerns about liberal parties' poor showing, which could push key reformists off powerful parliament committees.
United Russia, created by the Kremlin for the last election in 1999 to help secure Mr. Putin's rise to power, won 36.8 percent of the vote for the State Duma lower house, latest results showed. Its main slogan was "Together with the President".
Ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party -- which backs the Kremlin on key issues -- won 11.8 percent and Motherland, seen by many as a Kremlin creation to draw off votes from the communists, had nine percent.
The Communist Party -- which had only 12.8 percent, well down from the 24 percent they garnered in 1999 -- called yesterday's polls a farce and accused the Kremlin of fraud.
Liberal party leaders said the vote concentrated too much power in the hands of United Russia and of nationalists.
 RUSSIA CHECHNYAFour Russian soldiers were killed and another four wounded when they stumbled into a rebel ambush in a volatile mountainous region of Chechnya.
Voting in parliamentary elections in Chechnya had been largely quiet during the day but was marred overnight when gunmen shot dead an election commission member in Gudermes.
He was also a member of United Russia, a party loyal to President Vladimir Putin that headed for an overwhelming victory in the election and would spell no change to Moscow's efforts to crush separatists in the rebel region.
Four soldiers were killed and one was taken hostage after a gun battle between the two sides," a spokesman for the regional Interior Ministry said, adding the group was ambushed in Chechnya's notorious mountainous region of Itum Kale.
"They had gone there to check out an explosion at the school."
About 60,000 Russian servicemen remain subject to daily attacks in the Kremlin's second post-Soviet drive to crush the separatists.
 MIDEASTPalestinian ceasefire talks ended in failure yesterday as militant groups rejected a comprehensive truce seen as crucial to reviving a U.S.-backed peace road map.
"The meetings have ended without agreement", a senior official from the militant Islamic group Hamas told Reuters.
Egypt had been pushing the 13 factions attending the talks to accept a comprehensive ceasefire that would involve halting attacks against all Israelis, but Hamas and four other factions said they would only stop attacks against civilians in Israel.
Israeli officials expressed disappointment at the breakdown of the talks, seen as key to underpinning the road map that sets out steps to end three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2005.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin said that by scuttling a ceasefire they are undermining, or delaying the process in which the Palestinians can reach statehood.
Israel called the offer to observe a limited truce a "halfway measure" that was unacceptable as Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and soldiers would still be subject to attack by Palestinian militants.
 ZIMBABWE STRAWBritish Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said today Zimbabwe would come to regret its decision to quit the Commonwealth, but voiced confidence that it would eventually rejoin under a democratic government.
President Zimbabwe quit the 54-nation group of mainly former British colonies yesterday after the organisation said it was extending a suspension of the country on grounds that President Robert Mugabe rigged his re-election and persecuted his opponents.
 GUL CYPRUSTurkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that by 1st May 2004 the Annan Plan should be discussed in order for the Cyprus problem to be resolved.
Mr. Gul said that the solution should be based on a mutually acceptable agreement which will safeguard the interests of the Turkish Cypriot community.
He also said the issue of property should be resolved in an agreement adding that any future appeals should have to be undertaken by the so called court which was set up in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.
 DENKTASHTurkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said Turkey and the illegal regime are preparing new plans on Cyprus and will ask the UN Secretary-General to resume the proximity talks.
In an interview with Turkish Milliyet newspaper, Mr. Denktash said that the two plans will be combined in one which will contain the fundamental principles of two states with two sovereignties which will be represented as one internationally.
 TASSOS RETURNSCyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos returns this afternoon from Nigeria where he participated at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Cybc's 1 radio channel will link up with Larnaca airport at ten to seven this afternoon for a live coverage of the President's return and the statements he will make.
 WEATHERIt will be partly cloudy this afternoon with local rain. Winds will be southerly to south-westerly moderate to strong, four to five beaufort and on the south coast, very strong, reaching six beaufort. The sea will be moderate to rough. Temperatures will reach 20 C inland and on the coasts and ten over the mountains.
Tonight, local cloud will give some rain over the coasts. Winds will be southerly light to moderate, reaching five beaufort and the sea will be moderate to rough. Temperatures will fall to 11 C inland, 14 on the coasts and five over the mountains.