Cyprus Mail

Former minister and son appeal arrest warrant

Michaelides's legal team arriving to court

By Poly Pantelides

A FORMER interior minister and his son who are wanted by Greek authorities on Friday appealed a European arrest warrant issued against them in connection with money laundering investigations.

Limassol district court will hear the appeal of former interior minister Dinos Michaelides on July 30 and that of his son, Michalis, on July 31.

Greek authorities are investigating the pair in relation to alleged kickbacks given in relation to the purchase by Greece of Russian TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile systems.

The alleged offences that father and son are wanted for, took place between 1997 and 2001, but Greek authorities had originally issued an arrest warrant for the duo in the beginning of the month, when Cyprus’ constitution prohibited extraditing Cypriots for offences committed before Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004.

But the constitution was later changed to drop the 2004 restriction and state prosecutors informed the court this week that Greek authorities revoked the original arrest warrant and issued a new one.

A lawyer for the former minister and his son accused authorities yesterday of amending the constitution to deprive the duo of their freedom, “a thing which is unheard of, and unprecedented”.

State prosecutors said Cyprus was obliged to harmonise its legislation with EU, adding that the bill to amend the constitution was pending from last year.

Former Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos was arrested last April in relation to the case with his cousin, businessman Nicos Zigras, implicating Michaelides at the time.

Dinos Michaelides was forced to step down as interior minister in 1999 during the Glafcos Clerides administration when the ombudswoman questioned planning changes to a land purchased by Michaelides which he used to build a luxury home on.

He claimed he was being “defamed” at the time, and was only a year in what constituted his third stint as interior minister. Michaelides had also served as minister during the previous incarnation of the Clerides government between 1993 and 1997, and was interior minister for the Spyros Kyprianou government during the 1980s.

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