Former ruling party AKEL accused Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos of being quick to assign blame, as rumours suggested over the weekend that fresh arrests were imminent in the case of a suspicious land deal involving the state telecommunications company (CyTA) pension fund.
AKEL accused Hasikos of being irresponsible and of acting as the judge and jury.
The party also rubbished the minister’s suggestion that they should clean up their act.
“In general, we believe that it is not ethical for party members or government officials to interfere in other parties’ internal affairs,” AKEL said.
And Hasikos was the last person with a right to speak, AKEL said.
The party challenged the minister to say how his party, ruling DISY, had cleaned up its act over its direct involvement in the 1999 stock market scandal.
It also asked Hasikos to explain where the kickbacks of the purchase – in the late 90s — of an anti-aircraft missile system went and reached further back in the past to accuse DISY of never engaging in self-criticism over the 1974 coup to overthrow president Makarios.
Police have so far arrested seven people in connection with the €20-million deal concerning land in Dromolaxia, Larnaca.
They include CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis, two employees, and two police officers.
Word over the weekend was that four more people would be arrested, all linked to AKEL.
On Wednesday, a court heard that Kittis and an AKEL MP allegedly received one million euros each while AKEL’s Larnaca branch got €234,000.
The latter was confirmed by the party, which denied however, that it was a kickback.
In his response, Hasikos said he had not condemned anyone, but it was a fact that AKEL had admitted receiving the cash.
The courts will judge whether this was legitimate, the minister said, “certainly though, it is politically wrong. We wonder, when will this money be returned to their only legal owner, the CyTA pension fund?”
Of the missile system kickback charge, “for the umpteenth time, I was not a minister at the time,” Hasikos said.
“Concerning where I was 40 years ago, or the stock market bubble, when again, I wasn’t a minister, no one cares. The matter is, what we do today,” Hasikos said.
The land deal in question involved the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space near Larnaca airport at a price reportedly several times the going market value.
Allegations have surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.