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UK Cypriot tycoon killed in bloodbath.

Byline: Elias Hazou

(Category: news )

A GREEK Cypriot yachting magnate was among the hostages gunned down by terrorists in a Mumbai hotel yesterday, moments after telling of his panic by mobile phone.

Entrepreneur Andreas Liveras, 73, holder of a British passport, was among four other people shot dead in the hotel basement, after gunmen opened fire indiscriminately.

He was being held along with some 1,000 others, mostly American and British nationals.

Moments, possibly minutes, after he took the call, Liveras died from several gunshot wounds.

He was in Mumbai for a yacht show, said his brother Theophanis Liveras.

Reports said Liveras phoned his son, Dion, in London just hours before he was killed to say he was safe.

"He was in a good frame of mind," Theophanis said.

Liveras could have escaped death if he had been carrying his Cypriot passport, family members said last night.

"But he never took it with him," his Theophanis said.

The terrorists had separated British and American passport holders and chose six to shoot, he said.

His personal assistant was injured in the attack but managed to escape and is being treated in a Mumbai hospital.

Liveras' assistant, who suffered two gunshots, called the victim's family in England to alert them to his plight without knowing his fate.

Theophanis, who lives in Nicosia, Cyprus, promptly called Liveras' mobile phone which was answered by an Indian woman who stunned him by shouting: "He's been shot."

Phaedonas Anastasiou, head of the consular affairs at the Foreign Ministry said: "He was executed in cold blood and he was carrying a British passport."

Andreas Liveras was the first of nine children born into a dirt-poor family in Cyprus on April 1, 1935. His father was a humble shepherd.

But Theophanis said proudly: "He was one of the richest people in Cyprus and the world."

"His death is a terribly unfair loss. If he had been killed in an accident -- for example on his private plane -- I could have understood that. But this is so utterly unfair."

The tycoon is survived by three daughters and his son who all live in England.

His death was confirmed by Mumbai's St. George's Hospital. A hospital administrator confirmed that Liveras was brought in by ambulance.

"He had been shot multiple times, causing heavy bleeding and fatal injuries to his major organs. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. The matter has been referred to the police and the British High Commission," he said.

Speaking in Nicosia late in the afternoon, Theophanis said his brother and some 1,000 others, holders of American and British passports, were rounded up and led into the hotel's basement.

"It seems that, in his panic, he did not think to mention he was Greek Cypriot," the brother said.

Before his death, Liveras, a self-made millionaire who emigrated to Britain from Cyprus in 1963 told the BBC that he was with over a "1,000 people living on their nerves".

He said he visited the Taj Mahal Hotel last night for curry after hearing that the hotel served the best food in Mumbai.

"But as soon as we sat at the table we heard the machine gun fire outside in the corridor," he said.

"We hid ourselves under the table and then they switched all the lights off. But the machine guns kept going, and they took us into the kitchen, and from there into a basement, before we came up into a salon where we are now."

He went on: "There must be more than 1,000 people here. There are residents and tourists and locals. We are not hiding, we are locked in here - nobody tells us anything, the doors are locked and we are inside.

"Hotel staff are helping us a lot providing water and sandwiches - butAanobody is eating really, people are frightened.

"At this moment it's very quiet. The last bomb exploded about 45 minutes ago and it shook the hotel up. Nobody comes in this room and nobody goes out, and we don't really know.

"All we know is the bombs are next door and the hotel is shaking every time a bomb goes off. Everybody is just living on their nerves."

Theophanis complained that the Foreign Ministry had kept the family in the dark about his brother's fate - an accusation later denied by Phedonas Anastasiou of the Foreign Ministry.

According to Anastasiou, he was able to confirm Liveras' death "within half an hour" of speaking personally on the phone with Theophanis. Anastasiou contacted Cyprus' High Commissioner in New Delhi, who had spoken with the British consulate in Mumbai.

Anastasiou debunked allegations that the Foreign Ministry had not done all it could to protect Cypriots in the hot zone. Liveras had been traveling on a British passport, so it was virtually impossible to keep tabs on him, he said.

He said also there is another Greek Cypriot, a student, in Mumbai at this time, but that she is safe.

Liveras' story is a classic rags-to-riches tale. In 1963, his family migrated from Cyprus to London and he took a job as a deliveryman for the then tiny Fleur De Lys bakery, which was operating out of a Kensington basement. When the bakery owner decided to close shop five years later, Liveras stepped up to buy the business.

By the time he had sold Fleur De Lys in 1985 to Express Dairies (a Grand Metropolitan subsidiary), for an eight-figure multimillion-pound deal, he had turned it into one of the largest independent manufacturers of frozen gateaux in Europe. The sale gave him the time and money to indulge his growing passion for yachts. For many years Liveras had already been buying and selling boats

The Sunday Times ranked the Liveras family 265 in a Rich List published earlier this year. The family's worth was estimated at Au315million.

According to Andreas Liveras's entry in a book called "Greek Cypriots in the UK - a directory of Who's Who" - he was honoured for helping Rwandan refugees from that country's genocide and for providing educational scholarships to Ethiopian youths. He was a keen pilot --who owned his own plane -- and enjoyed tennis, water skiing and snow skiing.

Liveras was one of eight children.

A family member in Cyprus said: "We're a large extended family and we're all in shock. I haven't spoken to any of his four children yet but I heard they are all devastated."

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2008

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Nov 28, 2008
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