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Updated: 10 weeks 6 days ago

Paphos armed robbers still at large

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:32

THE stolen car used by two hooded armed robbers that blasted their way into a branch of the co-op bank in Timi at around 8.30am on Monday morning before demanding cash and fleeing the scene with €21,500, was found burnt out at midnight the same day.

The beige/coffee coloured Hyundai four-wheel drive, registration LAR 046, which was reported stolen from a parking lot at Paphos airport, was found on the outskirts of Choullou village in Paphos.

“The robbers set the car on fire and it is destroyed,” Paphos police spokesman Michalis Ioannou told the Cyprus Mail, adding that so far, no witnesses to the action had come forward.

The vehicle owner is from Larnaca and parked it at the airport while traveling abroad.

Four people voluntarily gave statements at Paphos CID on Monday and a subsequent search of their homes found no evidence relating to the crime, said Ioannou.

“We are still investigating but so far, no arrests have been made,” he said.

The robbers spoke in broken Greek, and both wielded guns, a Cyprus issue G3 assault rifle, and a hunting shotgun at terrified staff after first shooting out the glass of the security doors at the front of the bank before entering. They had their faces covered and demanded money from the two terrified female bank tellers on duty. There was also one customer inside the bank at the time.

Paphos police are also investigating a robbery at a jewellery shop in Chlorakas village in the early hours of Tuesday morning, which saw the thief or thieves make their get away with a large amount of silver jewellery and watches, the value of which is yet unknown.

Ioannou said: “The robber or robbers broke into an empty shop next to the jeweller, it used to be a bank, and destroyed the dividing wall between the two before gaining entry.”

He said that the perpetrator then cut the wires to the CCTV equipment, before looting the store and making a get way. Ioannou said that technicians are repairing the equipment which will enable the police to examine any footage; this will hopefully show how many thieves there were, he said.

 

“The alarm went off at 4am and triggered an SMS message to the shop owner who then called the police, we were at the scene within 15 minutes, but it was too late,” he said.

The store owner is insured, he added.

The post Paphos armed robbers still at large appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Green party red-faced after dead turtle fiasco (Update)

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:26

A Green party announcement condemning the brutal torturing and killing of a sea turtle at a Paphos beach caused confusion on social media on Tuesday, after it emerged that the turtle had been washed ashore dead and marked as counted with red paint by a government official.

The party had said that the turtle’s limbs had been hacked off and the perpetrators had then sprayed the dead animal’s shell with red paint, an act of “a sick mind”.

However, local daily Phileleftheros later reported that the turtle had been washed ashore and bathers who found it informed the government’s Marine Turtle Protection programme.

According to the reports, an officer then went to the beach and painted the dead turtle, to make sure it wouldn’t be counted twice.  The officer then informed the municipality so they could remove the animal from the beach.

Meanwhile, news of the turtle’s ‘brutal killing’ reached the Green Party and prompted their statement on Monday, which claimed that the fisheries department couldn’t be bothered to find the people who carried out the killing and sprayed the turtle.

Comments on social media charged that the Green Party rushed to politically exploit the incident without bothering to check the facts.

Head of the party Giorgos Perdikis said the party was not aware of this version of the events, commenting “if this is true, shouldn’t the fisheries department know about it?”

“This just proves their incompetence,” Perdikis tweeted.

In a statement, the department expressed surprise at the “false reports” alleging the “brutal torturing of a turtle”, which reproduce claims made in a misleading statement by the Paphos branch of the Green party.

After being informed of a dead turtle at the Yeroskipou beach on Sunday night, the department said, it notified the Cyprus Wildlife Society, which implements the Turtle Protection Programme in collaboration with the fisheries department.

The following morning, a programme official went to the beach, recorded the turtle’s species, dimensions, and condition, obtained tissue samples for DNA testing, and spray-painted its shell red so that it wouldn’t be counted again – and also to prevent use of the shell by anyone.

Then, the municipal authorities were notified to collect and bury the dead animal, the statement said.

According to the fisheries department, the dead female turtle was a Caretta Caretta, measured at 70 by 68 centimetres.

Its body had started to decompose, hence the decayed limbs, but showed no signs of abuse.

The post Green party red-faced after dead turtle fiasco (Update) appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

No-confidence vote signals ‘High Noon’ for South Africa’s Zuma

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:24

Protesters blocked roads with burning tyres and rocks on Tuesday in a show of opposition to President Jacob Zuma hours before the South African parliament was due to vote on a no-confidence motion which could force him to step down.

Newspaper headlines reflected the high stakes at play — “JZ’s moment of truth” read The Star, while The Sowetan declared: “High Noon for Zuma”.

Zuma, who has held power since 2009, has struggled to fend off opposition accusations of corruption and mismanaging the economy. If parliament votes in favour of the no-confidence motion, he and his entire cabinet would have to step down.

The parliamentary speaker on Monday ruled the vote would be a secret ballot — a decision the opposition hopes will embolden members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote against Zuma.

It was unclear, however, which way the vote would go. The ANC has 249 seats in the 400-seat parliament and the opposition controls 151 seats, so it would take 50 ANC lawmakers backing the opposition to vote Zuma and his cabinet out.

Markets had welcomed Speaker Baleka Mbete’s decision, with the rand, bonds and banking shares surging after Mbete’s announcement, buoyed by the prospect of Zuma’s removal. On Tuesday, the rand traded flat as markets waited anxiously.

In the past year, Zuma has upset investors, in particular by removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March. The country’s credit rating has been downgraded to junk by two of the top three credit rating agencies, unemployment is at a 14-year high of 27.7 per cent and the economy is back in recession.

Zuma has also faced a welter of corruption accusations, which he denies, and the ANC, which has governed since the end of apartheid in 1994, is deeply divided.

“Jacob Zuma has brought our nation to its knees,” the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party, which brought the motion to parliament, said in a statement urging lawmakers to vote the president out.

“FIRE ZUMA”

Across Gauteng province, where the commercial hub Johannesburg and capital Pretoria are located, protesters blocked major roads with burning tyres and rocks.

Many clad DA colours carried posters saying “Fire Zuma.” Other posters featured a cartoon of Zuma in a dustbin.

Opposition parties also planned a march in Cape Town, where parliament is located, to push for Zuma’s removal. ANC party members are also expected to rally in the city to support Zuma.

The leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party was expected to hold a protest in Pretoria.

Zuma’s tenure as South Africa’s president is due to run until 2019, when national elections will be held.

He has survived eight no-confidence votes during his eight years in power thanks to loyal voting by ANC lawmakers, who form a strong parliamentary majority. But those votes were not secret.

“This motion, just like others before it, will be defeated,” a statement from the ANC’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu said.

But ANC lawmakers appeared divided.

Derek Hanekom, who was removed as tourism minister in the cabinet reshuffle that cost Gordhan his job, said on Twitter that lawmakers must vote against “massive looting and corruption. Vote for change”.

Nomura analyst Peter Attard Montalto said the decision to have a secret ballot was “a significant surprise” but he expected Zuma to survive.

“We still expect the vote to fail, but attach a 30 per cent chance of success,” he said.

If the motion is successful, Zuma would be removed as state president but would remain as ANC leader until December, when he is due to step down and a new leader elected in his place.

Should he be forced to quit as South Africa’s president, the speaker takes over and the National Assembly is expected to elect a new national leader within 30 days.

As the largest party in parliament, the ANC would be expected to select the new president and government.

The ANC — once all-powerful as heir of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle — has lost popularity under Zuma, underscored by its worst electoral showing in over two decades of power in local elections last year. Thousands of people took part in protest marches in April calling for Zuma to step down.

The post No-confidence vote signals ‘High Noon’ for South Africa’s Zuma appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Teen arrested for Phaneromeni attempted murder

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:17

A 17-year-old teenager was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the stabbing of a 16-year-old in the throat and chest early Monday morning, a police report said. He was later remanded for six days.

According to the report, the incident happened at around 3am while the teenager was hanging out at the Phaneromeni church courtyard at the centre of Nicosia with a friend, 17.

The area is a popular hang-out spot for Nicosia youngsters.

The pair were attacked by three individuals, resulting in the teen needing medical treatment for throat and chest injuries caused by a sharp instrument, police said.

The teen underwent surgery and his condition is stable. The 17-year-old was treated and later discharged.

Nicosia CID are on the case which they treat as attempted murder.

The post Teen arrested for Phaneromeni attempted murder appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Zuma survives vote of no confidence

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:02
President Jacob Zuma has survived a vote of no confidence in the South African parliament.

Nadal has eyes on world number one ranking in Montreal

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:59

Rafael Nadal will return to the top of the ATP world rankings for the first time in three years if he reaches the semi-finals at this week’s Rogers Cup in Montreal.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, top seed in Canada in the absence of current world number one Andy Murray, ended last year ranked nine after taking time off to recover from a wrist injury.

While the return of the Mallorcan to the summit would be an incredible turnaround, the French Open champion is refusing to get carried away as he seeks a fourth Rogers Cup title.

“I don’t even think about that now. I’m trying to have the right preparation now and that’s it,” Nadal told the ATP’s website.

“I’m going to keep trying to play the way I did in the first part of the season, so if I’m able to make that happen, I hope to have a chance to do well,” said Nadal, who is preparing for his first action since losing an epic contest to Gilles Muller in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

Fifteen-times grand slam champion Nadal has spent a career total of 141 weeks as world number one – seventh on the list.

Murray, who is missing from Montreal as he treats a hip problem, has been ranked number one since last November having claimed five successive titles.

Nadal opens in Montreal against either Croatia’s Borna Coric or Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Second seed Roger Federer also returns to action in Montreal having won his eighth Wimbledon title last month.

The 35-year-old Swiss is also challenging to return to the world number one spot he has occupied for a record total of 302 weeks during his career.

The post Nadal has eyes on world number one ranking in Montreal appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Earthquake of 5.3 magnitude shakes Turkey’s Bodrum

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:49

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 shook south-western Turkey near the Aegean coastal town of Bodrum on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured. The quake struck some 15 kilometres south-east of Bodrum, the USGS said.

Bodrum is a popular resort for both Turks and foreigners on holidays during the summer months.

“We shook throughout the night, again very heavily this morning,” one witness told Reuters via telephone. “I put on my shoes and went into another room and it was shaking the entire time, it lasted a long time.”

The earthquake is the latest to rock the Aegean region this summer. Last month, a powerful quake killed two people on the Greek holiday island of Kos, sending tourists fleeing into the streets and causing disruption in Bodrum as well.

In June, a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake struck Turkey’s western coast and the Greek island of Lesbos, killing one person and rattling buildings from the Turkish province of Izmir to the Greek capital of Athens.

The post Earthquake of 5.3 magnitude shakes Turkey’s Bodrum appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Jewellery store crashed into and robbed

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:48

Three hooded persons drove a car into the showcase of a jewellery shop in Latsia and grabbed a number of gold items and other valuables at dawn on Tuesday.

Between 3.30am and 4am, a police report said, the three crashed a black saloon car into the shop and managed to take the valuables before fleeing.

Police rushed to the scene and collected evidence.

The post Jewellery store crashed into and robbed appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Kidnapped model: Police had 'doubts' over claims

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:45
A British glamour model who claimed she had been kidnapped in Italy and offered for sale on the dark web left police with "understandable doubts" about her story, her lawyer has said.

Disused building, cars torched in Northern Ireland violence

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:38

Northern Irish police called for calm on Tuesday after cars were burned out and a disused building set on fire as officers came under attack by masked Irish nationalist youths throwing petrol bombs and other missiles.

The trouble, which erupted late on Monday, was sparked when Belfast City Council sought to remove materials from a bonfire in the “Markets” area close the city centre which had been prepared to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial.

Internment, the rounding up and imprisoning of hundreds of people in the early 1970s in response to growing Irish Republican Army (IRA) violence, sparked even greater bloodshed and is marked annually across Northern Ireland with bonfires, parades and other events.

“Police urge for calm to remain after dealing with some localised disorder in Belfast tonight,” police said on Twitter. “People living there do not want this type of behaviour.”

There were no reports of police injuries.

Paul Maskey, a lawmaker from the nationalist Sinn Fein party, condemned the violence as “wanton destruction” and also called for calm at a time when the British-run province is also grappling with a political crisis.

A power-sharing coalition between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists collapsed in January and the protracted political impasse raised fears that inter-community relations might deteriorate.

Traditional July and August marches are seen as a barometer of those relations and annual parades last month that frequently trigger sectarian violence were among the most peaceful since a 1998 peace deal ended three decades of sectarian fighting in which 3,600 people died.

The post Disused building, cars torched in Northern Ireland violence appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Australia seeks to resolve gay marriage debate this year

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:28

Australia will vote in November on whether to allow same-sex marriage, settling a long-stalled debate by the end of this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday.

The conservative government decided on Monday to hold a non-compulsory postal vote on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry, if a second attempt to win parliamentary support for a compulsory national ballot fails.

If, as expected, the government does not win support for a compulsory ballot, which it would hold on Nov 25, then it will send out postal ballots in September, seeking an outcome by Nov 15, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.

Same-sex marriage is supported by 61 per cent of Australians, a 2016 Gallup opinion poll showed, but the issue has fractured the government and damaged Turnbull’s standing with voters.

If the population votes in favour of allowing gay marriage, then the government plans to introduce legislation in the final two weeks of parliament’s sitting this year to carry that out.

“We’ve been very clear about this: we will facilitate a private members’ bill to change the law in respect to same-sex marriage so same-sex couples can be married if there’s a ‘yes’ vote, and if it is a ‘no’ vote we won’t,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

Same sex-marriage advocates, who would prefer a conscience vote on the issue in parliament, have threatened to launch a court challenge against using a postal vote as the basis to change a law.

But Cormann, in his role as finance minister, said he has the power to ask the Australian Bureau of Statistics to run a “survey” of the population’s view on allowing gay marriage, and under the constitution the government could make laws based on those statistics.

He said there was precedent for asking the public for its opinion on a policy issue, pointing to a survey carried out by phone in 1974 which led to Australia changing its national anthem.

The post Australia seeks to resolve gay marriage debate this year appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Dinosaurs beheaded at Australian museum

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:16
Three model velociraptors have been beheaded by mystery vandals at an Australian dinosaur museum.

US readies more sanctions against Venezuelan officials

Tue, 2017-08-08 09:15

The Trump administration is preparing sanctions against another group of Venezuelan officials linked to President Nicolas Maduro in response to his creation of a new legislative superbody in defiance of world condemnation, US officials said on Monday.

The new measures, to freeze the individuals’ US assets, ban them from travel to the United States and prohibit Americans from doing business with them, could be rolled out as early as this week, one of the administration officials told Reuters.

No final decisions have yet been made on the list of new targets, which is likely to include a significant number of names, or on the exact timing of the announcement, the two officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Washington slapped sanctions on Maduro himself last week following similar action against 13Venezuelan figures on July 26.

The next round is still expected to stop short of penalties against Venezuela’s vital oil sector, considered the toughest of possible sanctions, though such measures, US sources have said, remain under consideration.

“We want to leave room to do more if Maduro’s actions continue, not do everything and everyone who remains all with one stroke,” said one of the officials involved in the White House deliberations.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bloomberg News first reported the new sanctions plan.

Preparations for further sanctions followed Friday’s inauguration of the new assembly, which is expected to rewrite the country’s constitution and give vast new powers to Maduro and his ruling Socialist Party.

The Trump administration has echoed the Venezuelan opposition’s view that the assembly is a bid by Maduro to cement dictatorship after months of deadly protests in the oil-rich, but economically ailing, South American country.

US officials announcing measures against Maduro last week for what the called abuse of power reiterated a threat of a strong economic response and warned that anyone serving in the new assembly could face US sanctions.

The United States, the European Union and most of Venezuela’s neighbours condemned the election of the assembly as flawed.

The post US readies more sanctions against Venezuelan officials appeared first on Cyprus Mail.