By Poly Pantelides
Lifer Ierotheos Christodoulou, alias Ropas, was released on Friday from the central prison in Nicosia after the parole board ruled in favour of his release earlier this week.
The 52-year-old was released after spending 15 years in prison.
Stepping out of the prison a little after noon, Ropas smiled to the photographers who had been waiting outside the prison from morning.
His lawyer thanked the parole board, and Ropas stepped into a hired car, kissing his wife, who was waiting for him in the back of the car.
Ropas was charged with masterminding and taking part in the 1998 murder of Marios Panayides, 29, in Limassol, along with two accomplices who also served prison sentences but have since been released.
In reaching a release decision, the parole board considered Ropas’ conduct during life in prison and the fact he was not considered dangerous to society.
The board examines convicts’ long-term imprisonment, aiming at re-integrating people back in society. It was set up in 2010 to offer convicts a chance of early release after a lifer challenged the system at the European Court of Human Rights. Until then, only the attorney-general or the President of the Republic could authorise early release of prisoners.
To qualify, convicts who have been given more than two years to serve, need to have completed half their sentence. Lifers need to serve at least 12 years, and those serving successive sentences need to complete 25 years.
Convicted persons serving a life imprisonment in Cyprus are jailed for the remainder of their lives.
Supported by parole officers supervising released convicts, the parole board may set a number of conditions to authorise early release, including banning parolees from leaving the country, and having them regularly report to police. The board also takes into account the crime committed, the convict’s behaviour and court comments.