ARREST warrants for two members of AKEL’s secretariat and a businessman were issued yesterday as the police investigation into the Dromolaxia land scam gathered momentum. Two policemen and a businessman will appear in court next month facing 18 charges for their alleged involvement in the case, while the CyTA chairman and another three CyTA employee were remanded in custody last week, for questioning.
Yesterday’s arrest of the two AKEL officials, although expected after the revelations that the party’s Larnaca branch had received €234,000 from the businessman who had brokered the Dromolaxia deal, still came as a surprise. Political party officials, like politicians, were untouchable by the law in Cyprus, but things appear to be changing. Only last week the chairman of a big semi-government organisation was detained, in connection with the case, despite enjoying strong party backing.
These are positive developments in country in which the members of the political system, in effect, were above the law. There had also been a code of silence among politicians whenever allegations of corruption surfaced. This may explain the stance of AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou who yesterday called a news conference to declare the innocence of the two AKEL detainees. It was a “political frame-up”, he insisted, as “we know of the honesty the two.” A week earlier, Kyprianou had insisted “there was nothing reprehensible” in AKEL receiving €234,000 from the CyTA land purchase.
The belief that politicians and parties were above the law is so ingrained in Kyprianou’s mind he genuinely finds it unacceptable that AKEL officials were being treated as suspects. He declared their innocence, before the police had even completed their questioning. Was this his way of putting pressure on police investigators and the Attorney-general not to bring charges against his people? Even if they were charged and stood trial, they could be acquitted, but Kyprianou is defending the politicians’ ‘right’ to be above suspicion and above the law.
It was high time politicians ceased being untouchable and the Attorney-general’s office should be commended for its unwavering efforts to bring to justice all those suspected of being involved in the scam, regardless of how well connected they are. It is the first time the authorities have pursued a case with such rigour and commitment and we hope there is no let-up. A successful case could put an end to the widely-held view that corruption and graft go unpunished in Cyprus, especially when the political parties are involved.