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Cyprus

Deterioration of values is widespread: Attorney-general

Costas Clerides (R) with Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou

By George Psyllides

Corruption is no longer a rare phenomenon in public life, the new attorney-general said on Monday, as he pledged to do his duty to the utmost to restore trust to the institutions.

“Unfortunately, the crisis is not limited to the country’s financial condition. There is an institutional crisis. Deterioration of values is widespread,” Costas Clerides said during his confirmation ceremony at the presidential palace.

Clerides, 61, replaces his namesake, Petros Clerides, who opted to retire a few months early.

“Corruption is no longer a rare phenomenon in public life,” the new top lawyer said, adding that people’s trust to almost all institutions has deteriorated to a worrying level.

Clerides said he was not a messiah but he pledged to do his duty to the utmost to restore people’s confidence in the institutions and achieve fairness and the rule of law.

Clerides, a Supreme Court judge up until Monday, sought to send a message early on that he would not put up with interventions.

“I am proud to say that in my 25-year course through all levels of the judicial service I was never the recipient of any intervention,” he said. “I hope the same will happen while exercising my new duties.”

Clerides said many of  “the attorney-general’s decisions are expected to be unpleasant for some, but I expect them to be judged with the same impartiality that, I assure you, will govern them.”

President Nicos Anastasiades noted the heavy burden Clerides was assuming but also voiced certainty that he would handle the task.

“I am certain that with your exceptional qualifications and irreproachable character, not only you will succeed in the difficult task you are assuming, but you will also be a shining example, a moral standard that our society needs so much,” Anastasiades said.

Clerides, 61, had been appointed Supreme Court judge in 2009.

He read law in London and was called to the Bar at the MiddleTemple.

After his return to Cyprus he practised law for 10 years before he was appointed district judge in 1988.

He was promoted to senior district judge in 1996 and district court president a year later.
Clerides has served as the president of the Limassol Assizes Court, administrative president of the Larnaca-Famagusta district court and, administrative president of the Nicosia-Kyrenia District Court.

He is married and has one son.

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