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Cyprus

Legitimacy of inquiry panel will be decided through legal proceeding

By George Psyllides

THE LEGITIMACY of the investigating committee tasked with looking into the economic debacle will be tested when it is challenged through legal procedures, the government said on Wednesday.

The legality of the committee has been disputed by main opposition party AKEL after former president Demetris Christofias walked out last week when he refused to answer questions unless he was allowed to read a lengthy statement beforehand.

AKEL suggested that the appointment of the committee was illegal, since the relevant law said it could not be appointed by the cabinet if the cabinet itself and the president were involved in the investigation.

“There are differing legal opinions about the amendment of the law. The matter of the legitimacy of the appointment of the investigating committee will come up if and when people decide to dispute it through legal procedures,” deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said.

The spokesman added that people demanded answers on why “we ended up with this economic tragedy inside five years.”

Papadopoulos said the committee hearings were public and not behind the closed doors of criminal investigators.

Former attorney-general Alecos Markides sided with AKEL, pointing out that the law had been amended last year to afford the power of appointing an investigating committee to the attorney-general – when an investigation involved the president or the cabinet.

“You cannot get a clearer text,” he told private Sigma TV.

Markides suggested that no one had noticed the amendment initially, including himself.

“The reality is that no one noticed it,” he said.

He said that AKEL probably noticed it now because of the need to mount a defence in the event the attorney-general decided to prosecute Christofias for walking out of the committee.

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