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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-01-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, January 7, 2000


  • [01] Six arrested after repeat bank raid
  • [02] Racetrack bomb damages cars and shop windows
  • [03] 2002 set to be landmark year for Cyprus
  • [04] Kyprianou to undergo heart surgery
  • [05] Christofias adds voice to Avrupa campaign

  • [01] Six arrested after repeat bank raid

    By Martin Hellicar

    POLICE yesterday made six arrests in connection with Wednesday's £22,000 raid on the main Limassol branch of the Popular Bank.

    The arrests came after police tracked down a hire-car they believe was used by the two armed robbers. Two hoods, two helmets and a sawn-off shotgun - thought to have been used in the raid - were found in the car.

    Police are now convinced Wednesday's raid was carried out by the same robbers who got away with some £60,000 after a hold-up at the same Popular Bank branch on October 13 last year.

    Limassol CID believes both cases have now been solved.

    It was what the robbers said during Wednesday's stick-up that first led police to conclude the same men were behind both raids.

    According to witnesses, the two hooded and helmeted robbers were distinctly cheeky after bursting into the Athens Street branch at 9am, brandishing a sawn-off shotgun.

    "Good morning and Happy New Year, we're back again, don't be afraid, stay calm and just raise your hands," they apparently said, in Greek, before helping themselves to the cash in tills.

    The raiders' may now live to regret their reference to being "back again."

    The robbers sped away on a white off-road racing bike. Police immediately launched a massive manhunt, setting up roadblocks.

    Two hours after the raid, a police officer on foot patrol near Heroes Square came face-to-face with the two raiders on their get-away bike, police reported. The officer threw a briefcase at the two men in an effort to stop them. But he backed off after one of the robbers threatened him with a sawn-off shotgun.

    The robbers then disappeared.

    Police later found what they believe was the get-away bike abandoned under a block of flats on the Limassol coastal road.

    Case investigators believe the raiders were whisked off by a waiting get- away car after abandoning the bike.

    Late on Wednesday night, police found the suspected get-away car outside a clothes shop in Trimiklini, outside Limassol.

    The discovery of the hoods, helmets and gun in the car led to the six arrests in the early hours yesterday.

    Those arrested are: 28-year-old Greek Pontian George Yiannides, living in Kiti village near Larnaca, his mother Tamara and his wife, Christothea Harpa, Demetris Tantis, 22, from Kiti, his mother Chrysanthi - who owns the Trimiklini clothes shop - and his cousin, restaurateur Michalis Michail, 22, from Pervolia outside Larnaca.

    The suspects were arrested in the Platres area, in the Troodos mountains.

    All six were brought up before Limassol District court yesterday morning.

    The suspects asked for the remand hearing to be postponed to allow them time to find lawyers. The court adjourned till 4.30pm.

    Police then told the court that Tantis had led officers to a remote location in the Larnaca area where £22,000, thought to be the stolen bank cash, was found. Police said Tantis had confessed to carrying out the Wednesday raid with Yiannides. Tantis also said Michail had been an accomplice, waiting to whisk them away in a get-away car after the raid, the court heard.

    The court also heard that police had information and statements linking some of the suspects to the October 13 raid.

    The six suspects were all remanded for eight days.

    Friday, January 7, 2000

    [02] Racetrack bomb damages cars and shop windows

    A BOMB EXPLODED yesterday at the entrance of the horseracing track in the Ayios Dhometios suburb of Nicosia.

    Police believe the bomb, which went off at dawn, was a hand grenade.

    The blast caused minor damage to shop windows and two cars.

    Police are investigating the incident.

    Meanwhile, police were yesterday still looking searching for clues into who planted a car bomb that exploded in Nicosia at 3.25am on Wednesday.

    The blast destroyed a Jaguar, which was parked in the parking lot of an apartment block at Kallipoleos Street.

    The explosion also caused extensive damage to three other cars parked near by.

    The owner of the car, Takis Nicolaou, who is a furniture importer, had been the target of a bomb attack before.

    In 1995, a bomb destroyed his furniture shop at Ifigenias Avenue in Nicosia.

    Friday, January 7, 2000

    [03] 2002 set to be landmark year for Cyprus

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT expects 2002 to be a "landmark" year for the Cyprus problem, seeing the "culmination" of international efforts to reach a settlement.

    Nicosia also hopes that the US will keep its involvement in the Cyprus problem within the context of UN resolutions on Cyprus. According to Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, the international community will intensify its settlement efforts in the run-up to Cyprus' EU accession date, in early 2003.

    "Therefore, the year 2002 could prove a landmark in the culmination of these efforts," Papapetrou stated on Wednesday. The EU position is that a settlement would "facilitate" Cyprus' accession but is not a precondition for it.

    Papapetrou stressed again that Cyprus's accession could not be "held hostage" if the Turkish side refused to move towards a settlement.

    The Government Spokesman also welcomed US President Bill Clinton's references to Cyprus in his report: "A National Security Strategy for a New Century."

    In the report, Clinton speaks of "building on hopeful developments between Greece and Turkey to make progress in the Aegean, particularly on Cyprus."

    "It is a fact that the US President has shown a special interest in Cyprus during the last months and the inclusion of Cyprus (in the report) reflects a continuation of this interest," Papapetrou said.

    But Papapetrou also expressed the hope that the US would operate within the limits of UN resolutions.

    "The government hopes that the US interest in a settlement in Cyprus in the next critical months will move in the right direction and reinforce efforts to implement UN decisions," Papapetrou said.

    Fears have been expressed in Nicosia that the international community could be edging closer to accepting Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's demands for recognition of his breakaway state in northern Cyprus.

    Nicosia favours the UN proposal for a federal settlement, a proposal, which enjoys the official blessing of the international community.

    A second round of UN-led proximity Cyprus settlement talks is scheduled to begin in Geneva on January 31.

    Friday, January 7, 2000

    [04] Kyprianou to undergo heart surgery

    HOUSE president Spyros Kyprianou is to undergo heart surgery after hospital tests showed the veteran politician has severe circulatory problems.

    Kyprianou was admitted to the Nicosia general hospital on Wednesday for a catheterisation scheduled after he was hospitalised for about a week following a severe asthma attack in late November.

    The examination showed stenosis of the coronary artery and mitral valve inefficiency.

    The director of the hospital's coronary unit, Costakis Zambartas, said he and the other doctors at the unit had proposed that Kyprianou undergo surgery to restore the functioning of his coronary artery and heart valve.

    Zambartas said the surgery should be carried out sooner rather than later.

    Kyprianou, who was released from hospital shortly after the catheterisation, promised to follow doctor's orders.

    The 67-year-old Diko leader and former president of the Republic is expected to choose the London hospital where he has had treatment for heart problems in the past for the surgery.

    The state foots the bill for medical treatment abroad for government officials.

    Communist Akel leader Demetris Christofias last year sparked controversy by going to London for a kidney transplant that some specialists said could just as well have been carried out in Cyprus.

    Friday, January 7, 2000

    [05] Christofias adds voice to Avrupa campaign

    Staff Reporter

    DEMETRIS Christofias, communist Akel party general-secretary, yesterday joined the Republic's protest against the Denktash regime's persecution of an opposition newspaper by asking UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan to try to halt it.

    Christofias told Annan in his letter that the $260,000 fine an occupation regime ‘court’ imposed on the newspaper, Avrupa, was aimed at silencing a voice in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus that annoyed the regime and sought a peaceful Cyprus solution.

    His letter to Annan also said the committal of six Avrupa journalists to a military ‘court’ affirmed the intentions of the Denktash regime to crush the newspaper.

    On Tuesday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou declared the imposition of such a huge fine on the Turkish Cypriot newspaper as "essentially equivalent to closing it down."

    Papapetrou's condemnation followed a letter-writing campaign by the Union of Cyprus Journalists to international organisations, and to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, himself, in defence of Avrupa.

    The Union also wrote to the ambassadors of the "Big Five" permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, Russia, France and China - noting the threat to press freedom represented by the ‘court’ ruling.

    Avrupa, which is fiercely critical of the Denktash regime, was fined for allegedly publishing reports that defamed Turkish- Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash

    Denktash has claimed that the "mission" of Avrupa, from the very first day of its publication, was to "extinguish" him and to open a gap between the Turkish Cypriots, Turkey and the powerful Turkish military.

    He further charged that "this newspaper poisons Turkish Cypriot youth."

    Papapetrou said the Cyprus government was urging the international community to "show the necessary sensitivity and react to this deliberately planned muzzling of the most healthy voice in the occupied area."

    "We denounce the policy of exercising pressure and prosecution by the Denktash regime against the freedom of the press, and we call on you to exercise your influence to put an end to the prosecution of the daily," Christofias said.

    He noted that, "at a particularly sensitive period for the Cyprus problem, the silencing of voices which contribute to bringing the two communities closer constitutes a negative development and hardens further the efforts to reach a just and viable solution to the problem."

    Christofias reminded Annan that Avrupa "has consistently supported a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of principles" and that the Turkish Cypriot daily "had the courage to criticise Mr Denktash's policy and expose past events, in which the Turkish Cypriot leader had an active involvement."

    A fresh, UN-led effort, aimed at paving the way for a settlement in Cyprus, opened in New York in December 1999, with proximity talks between the Greek- Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot sides.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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