News/Cyprus: Cyprus ruling party chief's twin arrested over immigration scandal

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Subject: News/Cyprus: Cyprus ruling party chief's twin arrested over immigration scandal
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Oct 17 1999 - 10:10:47 EDT


Cyprus ruling party chief's twin arrested over immigration scandal
Agence France Presse, October 15, 1999

DATELINE: NICOSIA, Oct 15

The twin brother of the leader of Cyprus's ruling party was arrested Friday
in connection with the issue of illegal residence permits to foreign
strippers in exchange for bribes, police said.

Halambos Anastassiades, 53, turned himself in at a police station in the
southern coastal city of Limassol the day after the government announced
that immigration chief Christodoulos Nicolaides and one of his subordinates
had been suspended for three months while police investigated the scandal.

The arrest is an embarrassment for the ruling DISY party and its leader
Nicos Anastassiades, which has eight of the 11 ministers in the cabinet,
though it denies any involvement in the racket.

Police said later Friday that Nicolaides had also been arrested on written
evidence of cases of receiving payments in foreign currency aimed at
furthering the granting of residence and work permits to overseas artistes.

There have been widespread allegations that police officers and immigration
officials are involved in securing residence permits for girls -- mainly
>from the former Soviet Union and other eastern European countries -- who
arrive as tourists and subsequently seek work on the cabaret circuit, where
they are usually illegally employed as strippers and hookers.

Some 1,200 foreign girls -- mainly from Russia, Romania and the Ukraine --
are employed at some 70 cabarets across the island, while lucrative
prostitution, drugs, and gambling rackets have spawned a dozen gangland
killings since 1995, most of them unsolved.

The government has pledged to crack down on organised crime and
prostitution, including steps to limit the number of foreign girls
employed, but has conceded the police force is "riddled with corruption."

Some 30 girls have already been arrested for allegedly possessing fake or
invalid visas.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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