Cyprus Mail

Nicolaou says legal or not, panel’s questions needed answering

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou

By George Psyllides

WHAT IS important is for the causes of the island’s economic collapse to become known, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said yesterday, as he sought to put things into perspective regarding the legitimacy of the committee probing the matter.

“Certainly, it is the Supreme Court that will decide on legal matters, if the issue ever goes before it,” Nicolaou said. “What is important at this point is for everyone to recognise the need to have the questions answered on why the economy was led to this condition.”

Main opposition AKEL has disputed the legitimacy of the cabinet-appointed committee following former president Demetris Christofias’ refusal to answer any questions during his appearance before the panel last week.

Christofias, whom many hold responsible for the island’s current economic woes, walked out of the hearing because he was not allowed to read a lengthy statement.

AKEL later suggested the committee had been illegally appointed, citing a provision in the law.

The former ruling party said the cabinet cannot appoint an investigating committee when its scope included the ministers or the president.

In those cases it was the job of the attorney-general, the party said.

Former attorney-general Alecos Markides agreed with AKEL, which turned up the heat further on Thursday, after the state’s current legal chief, Petros Clerides, revealed that the government had never asked him in writing to give his opinion on the matter before the appointment of the committee.

AKEL accused the government of lying when they said they had been given the green light by Clerides to justify the committee’s illegal appointment.

“This especially important development adds another ring to the chain of this administration’s actions, which render it unreliable,” AKEL spokesman Giorgos Loukaides said.

However, the justice minister said that from the first moment when the government decided to appoint a panel to look into the debacle, it went to the AG.

It is true that no ruling had been sought in writing since all the documents and actions were done in cooperation with the AG.

No disagreement or opposing view was raised regarding the cabinet’s authority, Nicolaou said, despite any doubts that may have transpired in retrospect.

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