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Cyprus

Christofias’ legal advisers say inquiry panel is illegal

By George Psyllides

THE FORMER president’s legal advisers suggested on Friday that an investigating committee looking into the collapse of the economy was illegal, a day after Demetris Christofias walked out of a hearing because he was not allowed to read a lengthy statement.

Aristos Damianou, who is also an AKEL MP, suggested that the committee should have been appointed by the attorney-general and not the cabinet, because along with President Nicos Anastasiades, it was under investigation itself.

“From the moment the cabinet and, by his own demand, President Nicos Anastasiades were under investigation, the appointment should have been made by the attorney-general,” Damianou told a news conference, citing the law on investigating committees.

“All these and many others included in the written opinion we have prepared unfortunately lead us to the conclusion that the present investigating committee, beyond the obvious illegality in its appointment, has, with its actions and omissions, put itself into legal disrepute,” Damianou said.

A second lawyer, Giorgos Seraphim, said the state must lift the illegality, although, as he said, a body that appoints a committee illegally cannot legally withdraw the appointment “unless its position is that I am rescinding the appointment because I consider myself unauthorised.”

The government said the appointment was lawful, based on the provisions of the constitution, the law, and the opinion of the attorney-general.

It is understood however, that the appointment was made under the same provisions the Demetris Christofias cabinet had appointed lawyer Polys Polyviou to investigate the Mari naval base that killed 13 people and incapacitated the island’s biggest power station.

Polyviou found Christofias as being mainly responsible for the tragedy while foreign and defence ministers Marcos Kyprianou and Costas Papacostas were also blamed.

Christofias rejected the findings and accused Polyviou of overstepping his mandate.

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