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    HomeOpinionsCypriot PerspectiveThe deterioration of the authority of the Advocate General

    The deterioration of the authority of the Advocate General

    In summary, what should worry everyone is that there are no safeguards in place to ensure control of the G.E.'s handling of suspensions of criminal prosecutions.

    By George Koumoulli

     

    The primary responsibility of the Attorney General (G.I.) is to protect, maintain and promote the rule of law. This means that the G.E. must ensure that the law is applied equally and fairly for all and that checks and balances are maintained between the three powers – the legislative, executive and judicial powers.

    There are some issues surrounding the institution of the Attorney General (g.e.) of Cyprus that are of crucial importance.
    First of all, the appointment of the current g.e. by the PD was a clear ploy. Traditionally, lawyers or judges with parchments in their field are appointed to the position of attorney general. The current G.E., as we all know, served as a minister in the Anastasiades government. How, then, can he be 100% impartial, no matter how impartial he tries to be, on issues that concern the leading members of DISY or the PD itself? Suppose that the Parliament one day decides to prosecute Anastasiades for bribery, in accordance with Article 45, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, for the lavish holidays he took in the Seychelles. In order to promote this process, the approval of the G.E. is necessary.
    The fact that it is considered by the Cypriot public to be easier for a camel to pass through the stitch hole than for the G.E. to prosecute Anastasiades, in itself, is a great blow to the prestige of the institution of the g.e. In other words, the appointment of the g.e. reminds us that the thorns of nepotism, means, russet, and volition that sprouted immediately after independence have now flared up and drugged the few democratic fields that we were left with such an extent that the old ones look back with nostalgia to the British rule where such phenomena were completely unknown.

    Another justified concern of the public is the suspension of criminal proceedings on grounds of “public interest” by the Attorney General.

    The “public interest” is largely subjective, and because the reasons why a criminal prosecution stops each time are not made public, it is natural to suspect that the g.e. favors some “heroes”.

    A few months ago, MP Irene Charalambidou demanded in vain from the G.E. the reasoning behind his decision to close the case for bribing a member of the Radio and Television Authority by a canal master.

    The fact that the alibi of the public interest of the General Secretariat for the suspension of criminal prosecution is perforated, is revealed by his recent decision not to prosecute the former commander of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Mr. Katsounotos.

    I recall that in his conclusion, Mr. Emilianidis stated that he considers that Mr. Katsounotos may have committed the offense of abuse of power under the first paragraph of Article 105 of the Criminal Code and the offense of conspiracy under Article 373. Both of these offenses are misdemeanors.

    As a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus who has read the reasoning behind the decision, I am concerned about the strange attempt of the Legal Service to take out Mr. Katsounotos, still attributing good intentions to him.

    We are told to fall asleep that “it seems that the motive in Mr. Katsounotos’ communication with this particular convict was the extraction of information related to his duties and the possible commission of offenses by persons within the Central Prisons”.

    I would like to ask G.E. how this conclusion is reconciled with the following message from Mr. Katsounotos to a convict of the Central Prisons: “All I want is some videos that burn them (Aristotelous and Demetriou). If you have or if you find them, send them to me and I know what I will do.”

    To further justify his decision, the Secretary-General refers to a statement made by England’s Secretary-General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, in 1951 in the House of Commons: “It has never been the rule in this country – I hope it never will be – that suspected criminal offenses must automatically be the subject of prosecution”.

    This quote is misleading because Shawcross went on to explain after this statement exactly what he wanted to say, i.e. “It is not always in the public interest to go through the whole process of the criminal law if, at the end of the day, perhaps because of mitigating circumstances, perhaps because of what the defendant has already suffered, only a nominal penalty is likely to be imposed”

    (https://dpp.govmu.org/Documents/Publications%20and%20Communique/SirHartleyShawcross).

    In Greek: “It is not always in the public interest to complete the entire criminal law process if, at the end of the day, perhaps due to mitigating circumstances, perhaps because of what the accused has already suffered, only a symbolic sentence is likely to be imposed.” Thank God, Mr. Katsounotos is neither mentally retarded, nor very old, nor has he been tortured by any organ of the state to justify his non-prosecution.

    In summary, what should worry everyone is that there are no safeguards in place to ensure control over the G.E.’s handling of suspensions of criminal prosecutions.

    There should be some other institution that can control such decisions and demand their revision based on the common sense of justice and/or the Constitution. It is undemocratic for only an appointed, and not elected, person to decide what the public interest is and when to exercise the privilege of ‘nolle prosequi’.

     

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