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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>

Thursday, February 19, 1998


  • [01] Briton dies in hotel inferno
  • [02] Clerides calls on party leaders to join him
  • [03] Lyssarides: Diko and Akel members might join government
  • [04] Envoys line up for the big push
  • [05] Denktash won't budge on Ledra Palace 'visas'
  • [06] Government seeks clarifications on 1974 atrocity claim
  • [07] 'Our people just love guns'
  • [08] Islamic party plan raises Denktash ire
  • [09] Caterpillars helping pines survive drought
  • [10] Thousands of rabbits burned alive
  • [11] Man held for death threats
  • [12] Local drug company accused of piracy
  • [13] Beware dud welfare officers

  • [01] Briton dies in hotel inferno

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A BRITISH tourist suffered a fatal heart attack in Paphos yesterday morning as a fire raged in the hotel room next to his.

    Sixty-six-year-old John Woodward Farwell was staying at the three-star Phaethon hotel with his wife Mary when a fire broke out on the first floor at around 8.20am yesterday.

    Police say the fire started in two rooms next to Farwell's; they believe the shock of seeing the fire triggered off the fatal attack. The victim had a history of heart trouble.

    "It seems the tourist was not injured physically by the fire but suffered acute shock when realising the danger he was in," a police source told the Cyprus Mail.

    John Farwell is understood to have lost consciousness soon after evacuating his hotel room. He was rushed to Paphos general hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

    His wife told police that her husband had suffered from serious heart problems for the past three years.

    The couple from Newbury in Berkshire arrived in Cyprus on February 4.

    As soon as the fire alarm was raised, the 450 tourists staying at the Phaethon - many of them British - were safely evacuated while four fire engines contained the blaze within an hour.

    One person was taken to hospital with respiratory problems and released after receiving treatment.

    "Afterwards all the tourists were happy to return to the hotel and continue their holiday," a hotel spokesman said.

    Two hotel rooms were gutted by the fire, but the cost of the damage has not yet been calculated.

    The fire services said first indications suggested the blaze had been started by an electrical appliance accidentally left on in one of the rooms vacated earlier by tourists.

    A fire brigade official said the hotel was in compliance with fire safety procedures.

    [02] Clerides calls on party leaders to join him

    By Aline Davidian

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday sent written invitations to all political party leaders and to rebel Diko deputy Alexis Galanos, calling on them to take part in a government of national unity.

    The move was announced by government spokesman Manolis Christofides, who added that if the invitations drew no response by the end of the week, Clerides would form a cabinet of "widest possible approval".

    "A response to the letters is expected from all parties and there will be discussions... on any issue or detail needing clarification," the spokesman said.

    He pointed out that parties had to provide Clerides with a list of members nominated for ministerial posts, adding that party leaders would meet with the president to discuss the composition of the new cabinet.

    He also denied rumours on what ministries might be given to members of different parties.

    Meanwhile, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said his party's participation in the new government would be substantial.

    Speaking after a senior party meeting yesterday, Anastassiades also said past misunderstandings between Disy and the government were to be avoided in light of the new leadership of the party.

    In future, he added, the party would continue its co-operation with the government through contact with Clerides and ministers representing Disy.

    "This is not to kowtow to the government but to achieve a common understanding of problems," he said.

    He also said the meeting had unanimously declared that the Disy contribution to Clerides' re-election campaign and victory were "impeccable".

    Asked to comment on allegations by other parties that Disy had infringed on their territory during the campaign, Anastassiades said self-criticism was most easily averted by targeting others.

    He pointed out that blame for certain parties' under-performance in the elections lay with the leadership of the parties themselves.

    "Does Disy really have such sway over half the voters of the Democratic Party?" he queried, "or could (the under-performance of Diko) be due to the wrong decisions adopted by the leadership from the very beginning?"

    [03] Lyssarides: Diko and Akel members might join government

    By Aline Davidian

    SOCIALIST party Edek said yesterday there were indications that both Diko and Akel party members might be persuaded to join a new all-party government.

    Right-wing Diko and Communist Akel have so far refused to join president Clerides' call for a government of national unity.

    In a protracted meeting yesterday, the Edek executive body discussed the party's response to Clerides' written invitation for participation in the new government. Edek's decision is expected to be announced today.

    Earlier in the day, party leader Vassos Lyssarides had said every effort to secure a comprehensive all-party government would have to be exhausted before the party could decide on its own representation.

    Responding to Akel and Diko party refusals to join the government, Lyssarides said there were indications that members from both or at least one party would lend their presence in the government-to-be.

    Garnering a surprise 10.6 per cent in the first round of the presidential elections, Lyssarides chose to sit on the fence during the second round after both Clerides and contender George Iacovou accepted the terms of Edek support, including a call for a government of national unity.

    Meanwhile, rebel Diko deputy Alexis Galanos attributed his party's disunity to the Diko leadership, which he said had acted contrary to the wishes of the party's rank and file and had misjudged the political mood of the time.

    In a statement issued yesterday, Galanos said he would continue his struggle to restore the Democratic party's determining role as representative of the right of centre.

    He called on Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou and all other party members to realise the crisis facing the party and to "put aside bitterness, selfishness and hostility to restore Diko unity".

    Galanos and other leading members of Diko have been expelled from the party for opposing the Diko leadership's decision to support George Iacovou's candidacy in the elections.

    [04] Envoys line up for the big push

    By Jean Christou

    AN ORGY of diplomatic activity on the Cyprus problem begins next week with the arrival of Britain's special envoy, Sir David Hannay.

    As promised, the international community is coming out in force to launch its biggest ever push to solve the Cyprus problem in an effort to being President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash together again in face-to-face talks.

    Sir David's visit will be followed by a visit by EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek in the first week of March, government spokesman Manolis Christofides said yesterday.

    Sir David will visit in his dual capacity as Britain's special envoy and as the British EU presidency's representative for Cyprus.

    Diego Cordovez, the UN Secretary-general's special envoy, is also expected on the island in March.

    Van den Broek's trip will come ahead of the opening of accession talks between Cyprus and the EU, due to begin after March 31.

    "This is part of the usual tour of contacts concerning the accession negotiations for Cyprus," a spokesman for the EU delegation in Nicosia explained yesterday.

    Van den Broek is expected to meet President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash during his two-day visit.

    One of the thorny issues the EU commissioner is expected to tackle is how to involve the Turkish Cypriots in the government's delegation to the EU.

    The Greek Cypriot side says they are welcome as part of the Republic delegation, but the Turkish Cypriot side refuses to recognise the Cyprus government as its representative.

    Commenting on the issue yesterday, US ambassador Kenneth brill said: "Obviously it is better for the accession process to start with a unified island rather than otherwise."

    Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides, Brill said the US would take advantage of the opportunities that arise this year in order to reach a solution. The US "is very serious" about this, Brill added.

    [05] Denktash won't budge on Ledra Palace 'visas'

    By Jean Christou

    HUMANITARIAN Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos said yesterday that pressure by foreign diplomats on Rauf Denktash to withdraw Ledra Palace "crossing charges" had failed.

    Christopoulos said that both UN permanent representative Gustave Feissel and US ambassador Kenneth Brill had met with Denktash in the past few days and had raised the issue.

    "They both agreed that the imposition of the charges was ridiculous and should not have happened," Christopoulos said. "But it seems there's nothing we can do for now."

    The Greek Cypriot side is worried that enclaved persons, who usually cross once a week on Fridays, may be forced to pay the charges which for them, as permanent residents of the occupied areas, amount to 10 sterling per month.

    A group of 64 Greek Cypriots who crossed last weekend to attend a funeral in the Ayia Triada enclave were the first victims of the new measures. Each had to pay 15 sterling to cross to the north to bury the village priest who had died in the free areas.

    The new charges, which came into effect last Friday afternoon, were imposed by the Denktash regime in retaliation for the EU's December Luxembourg decision to open accession talks with Cyprus at the end of next month, and for visa restrictions that Britain had recently introduced on Turkish Cypriots travelling to the UK.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris yesterday quoted Deputy British High Commissioner John Buck as reiterating that the visa requirements had been introduced to stop the unprecedented flood of asylum seekers into Britain from the north.

    Under the regime's counter-measures, Greek Cypriots and Greek nationals who want to enter the north through the Ledra Palace checkpoint will be required to produced passports or identity documents. They will also have to obtain visas, costing 15 sterling.

    People travelling from the north to the free areas will be asked to pay 4 sterling, while third country tourists will also be asked to pay 4 when crossing to the north.

    Unficyp and British bases and diplomatic personnel are exempt, but persons accompanying bases personnel will have to pay the 4 entry charge.

    A UN spokesman said yesterday they were still speaking to the Turkish Cypriot side about the issue.

    "There has been no substantial progress yet," he said.

    [06] Government seeks clarifications on 1974 atrocity claim

    AN OFFICIAL has cast doubt on claims by a former Turkish army captain that he witnessed atrocities committed against Greek Cypriots during the 1974 invasion.

    Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos said yesterday his department had requested all the information from Antenna TV, which broadcast the story on Monday and Tuesday.

    "However, from what we know so far, the information does not tally with what we have," Christopoulos said.

    According to Antenna, a Turkish army captain told of horrific atrocities committed by Turkish soldiers against Greek Cypriot civilians.

    Yalcin Kucuk, who lives in self-imposed exile in Paris, said that when he was posted to Cyprus in 1974, he was told he would be taking part in a "clean-up" operation.

    "I do not know why they sent us there," he said. "It was an empty village with vines. You were not sure whether it was empty or not, that's why you had to be careful and go into houses one by one."

    Kucuk told of one incident where two soldiers boasted about murdering a woman in cold blood and were then forced by him to bury her body.

    "I saw a wealthy villager's house with grapes. Then fire started. Two soldiers whom I had known cried triumphantly, 'I killed, I killed'. It was very close to m, I saw a woman. I got the impression she was a mongol [suffering from Down's Syndrome], the two soldiers bound her and then put all the bullets into her vagina," Kucuk said.

    He went on to describe the arrival of another captain - whom he referred to as a "fascist" - who congratulated the two soldiers for what they had done.

    "I jumped up with my weapon, I pointed my weapon, I was out of control and I forced them to dig a grave and bury that woman," he said.

    Asked if he knew the whereabouts of any mass graves, Kucuk said: "I know about mass deaths. I don't know about mass graves."

    He said he had seen dead civilians in the fields whose bodies were distorted by the summer heat.

    Several reports have surfaced in the past month from Kurds who had served with the Turkish army in Cyprus in 1974, claiming they had also witnessed atrocities and massacres.

    [07] 'Our people just love guns'

    AN INCIDENT surrounding a Turkish journalist detained and sent back to the occupied areas on Sunday for carrying a pistol in his camera case has sparked a handgun row in the north.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, 'Prime Minister' Dervis Eroglu said the Habil Yilmaz, 42, had "acted imprudently" in taking a gun to the free areas.

    Yilmaz, who is an official Turkish Cypriot press officer, admitted to carrying a pistol while passing through the Ledra Palace checkpoint with a group of 30 Turkish Cypriot journalists crossing to cover the presidential election.

    "He has acted imprudently by going to the south with a gun," Eroglu said. Asked about the question of handgun licences, Eroglu said the incident had nothing to do with that.

    'Deputy Prime Minister' Serdar Denktash, son of the Turkish Cypriot leader, said there were no examples of crimes committed by holders of handguns.

    "It is meaningless to blow this issue out of proportion," Denktash said. "We issue handgun licences because there is a demand for them. Our people love handguns, not to do anything, just to hold them in their hands."

    [08] Islamic party plan raises Denktash ire

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has rejected the notion of an Islamic Party being established in the north.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, Denktash said the proposed Islamic Party "Our Party" was against the 'TRNC constitution' and could not be set up.

    'Prime Minister' Dervis Eroglu said the 'TRNC' was "a secular state" and that the Islamic Party's application would first be assessed by 'Attorney- general' Akin Sait.

    Sait said there were provisions in the party's statute which violated the 'constitution'.

    Our Party, whose emblem depicts an Ottoman raider carrying a bow and arrow on a rearing horse, aims "to establish a new state and a government with a brand new method".

    The party programme says that the "sterile policy" pursued on the island for the last 23 years "has turned the Turkish Cypriots into a hen confined to a farm on the island."

    The party also wants employment preferences in the civil service to be given to men. If Our Party ever comes to power, women will barred from the police force, whipping will be reintroduced, mixed schools will be closed down and tourism brought under stricter discipline.

    [09] Caterpillars helping pines survive drought

    By Martin Hellicar

    CATERPILLAR-ravaged pine trees may be unsightly but the munching larvae may actually help the trees survive drought, experts believe.

    A seasonal explosion in the population of tent caterpillars has led to the appearance of hundreds of bare pine trees across the island in recent weeks.

    "The caterpillars may actually act as some sort of natural control mechanism," Forestry department officer Alecos Kambouris said. He explained that loosing needles to the foraging insects may actually help reduce the trees' water loss during drought, as the pines loose most water through their leaves.

    "When the weather is hot and dry, the caterpillar numbers soar and they strip pine trees of their needles. This means water loss from the trees is reduced to a minimum and trees may thus actually be helped to survive drought," Kambouris said.

    He said trees stripped bare of needles by caterpillars might look dead, but the damage was actually short-term, with new needles appearing soon after the larvae descended to the ground to pupate in the Spring.

    "There is some loss of development but that is the only long-term damage," Kambouris said.

    The forestry officer said there was nothing exceptional about the current caterpillar population increase and it did not pose a threat to forests or human health.

    He said relatively large temperature fluctuations this winter had encouraged the spread of the caterpillar. Rain and frost would normally act to keep the caterpillars in check but there has been little of either this winter, he added.

    Clear, cloudless skies have also made ravaged patches of forests more visible, Kambouris said.

    He said the forestry department could do nothing about the caterpillars at the moment because they had grown too big for the "biological weapons" the department preferred to be effective. The larvae are sprayed from the air, either with a crystal which explodes after they eat it or with a substance which blocks skin development.

    Both biological agents work only on young caterpillars. "We do not want to use pesticides because these would wipe-out beneficial insects as well," Kambouris said.

    He dismissed suggestions that the caterpillars might be dangerous to man. "Some people are allergic to the caterpillars but provided they do not pick them up or handle their nests in trees there is no risk," he said.

    The rash that allergy sufferers can develop after contact with the caterpillars can be easily treated with anti-histamine cream.

    [10] Thousands of rabbits burned alive

    MORE than 3,000 rabbits were roasted in a suspected arson attack at a farm outside Limassol yesterday.

    Police said a fire which broke out sometime before dawn gutted a battery farm at Phasoula village, killing all the rabbits caged within.

    The blaze was noticed by owner Phitis Stavrou at 6am, but the fire brigade was unable to put out the blaze before it totally consumed the building. Police forensic experts later said they had found evidence that the fire had been started deliberately. Sri Lankan Kamal Vasilinkhe, who had until recently been employed at the farm, was arrested soon after on suspicion of setting the fire.

    Damage to the farm, which was not insured against fire, was estimated at 100,000.

    [11] Man held for death threats

    A NICOSIA businessman was remanded yesterday on suspicion of threatening to kill the two owners of a night club in the capital.

    Marios Iacovides, 24, was arrested on Tuesday after the owners of the popular Akri club, Marios Argyrides and Aristidimos Constantinou, complained that he had threatened their lives.

    Nicosia District Court heard yesterday that Iacovides sent the two men a note containing a death threat on October 7 last year.

    Iacovides, from the Ayii Omoloyites area of Nicosia, was remanded for six days.

    [12] Local drug company accused of piracy

    A LOCAL pharmaceutical firm has been forced by a court injunction to return a quantity of patented anti-allergic drug to Belgian manufacturer UCB.

    Pharmaceutical business magazine Script reported this month that UCB had taken steps against an attempt by an unnamed Cyprus-based drug company to produce counterfeits of one of its patented medicines.

    Limassol District court served an injunction on the local firm, forcing it to return 5 kilos of cetirizine to UCB, Script reported.

    Foreign pharmaceutical giants have long campaigned for a tightening up of Cyprus patent law, claiming local firms are exploiting legal loopholes to produce pirate copies of their medicines. Local drug companies deny the charges.

    [13] Beware dud welfare officers

    TWO WOMEN posing as Larnaca Welfare Office employees and visiting Larnaca homes supposedly to raise money for victims of domestic violence were yesterday denounced as imposters.

    The matter was reported to the police by Welfare officers, who said no such fund-raising had been endorsed by the Welfare Office.

    The police has warned the public to be on its guard; anyone having further information on the matter should notify Larnaca police immediately on 04- 630200 or call their nearest police station.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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