Diko’s disciplinary council on Monday dismissed 12 party members including former party leader Marios Garoyian and former MP and MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou.
The announcement came after the party summoned 22 of its members to a disciplinary hearing on Monday for failing to back party leader Nicolas Papadopoulos during the first round of the presidential elections.
Papadopoulou said that it was a “parody of a trial” which was both illegal and arbitrary.
“The aim was the humiliation of Diko’s living historic senior officials and their political extermination in view of the upcoming party’s election conference,” Papadopoulou told Phileleftheros right after the announcement.
The disciplinary body decided to dismiss five members of its executive office, Garoyian, Papadopoulou, Michalis Yiakoumis, Christos Flourentzou, and Giannos Lakkotrypis, and seven more members: Marios Protopapas, Takis Gavrielidis, Giannos Tsappas, Tasos Kiteos, Andreas Hambakis, Antonis Antoniou Savva and Takis Attipas. Another member, Stefanos Stefanou was acquitted.
The hearings will continue on Tuesday, as nine more members are due before the council.
An announcement said that the disciplinary council had taken this decision following Monday’s consultations “and after examining the facts and the defence of those accused, who either represented themselves or through lawyers”.
Diko spokesman Athos Antoniades told CyBC radio that the procedure concerns “those who betrayed Diko” and that they were summoned to defend themselves.
In a statement later on, Antoniades said that it was sad that Garoyian and other senior party officials sent their lawyers and “did not have the courage” to go before the council in person and defend their “anti-party behaviour and their actions”
The procedure was deemed by some of the accused as nothing more than a publicity stunt aiming at drawing attention away from Papadopoulos’ share of responsibility for his disappointing performance in the elections.
Papadopoulou said in her letter delivered to the disciplinary body by her lawyer, that she found the ‘charge sheet’ vague. “It includes nothing specific and what it is I am accused of,” she said.
She also called for an election as the term of all the party’s collective bodies including its president have expired.
The group are accused of not abiding by their obligations as senior members, for conduct which discredits the moral authority and dignity of the party, and for keeping a stance contrary to the principles, ideology and decisions of the party, all in violation of Diko’s charter.
During the election campaign, a number of Diko members openly held gatherings stating their opposition to Papadopoulos’ perceived hard-line positions on the Cyprus issue at which Garoyian was the main speaker. Such gatherings were even held in Limassol and Nicosia on January 24 – just four days prior to the first round of the election.
Back in October, several officials had broken ranks including the party vice chairman Christos Patsalides. Last December, Garoyian fired a shot at Papadopoulos, who unseated him as Diko leader in 2013, disagreeing with Papadopoulos’ veiled efforts to denounce the bizonal, bicommunal federation as the model for a solution to the Cyprus problem.