By Peter Stevenson
FORMER police officer Christos Symianos, who was serving a life sentence for murder is due to be released today after serving 14 years in jail.
The parole board decided that Symianos had been sufficiently rehabilitated and approved his release, parole board chairman Philippos Charalambous told the Cyprus Mail.
“We took into consideration that he had married the prison doctor and had a five and a half month old baby, that he had written four books while he was an inmate, two of which are up for a state literature award, in making our decision,” he said.
According to Charalambous, Symianos was an exemplary inmate and due to his police background often helped out within the prison to keep the order amongst other inmates.
“The report we received on his behaviour was very positive and everything was in his favour, meeting all the requirements for an early release,” he said.
Charalambous explained that those sentenced to life for the murder of one person are permitted to apply for early release from the parole board after they have completed 12 years of their sentence and if they meet the necessary criteria.
“Symianos has been fully rehabilitated and we believe he does not pose a danger to himself or anyone else and therefore can re-enter society,” he said.
Symianos, along with another former police officer, Savvas Ioannou, had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Hambis Aeroporos – a member of the well-known Limassol Aeorporos family – on December 16, 1998.
Ioannou was released last month as he had applied for early release before Symianos.
Two of the books Symianos wrote are compilations of poems, one of which has been nominated for an award, the third is a compilation of essays which has also been nominated for an award and the fourth is a fictional novel.
The fourth book, which has yet to be released is his autobiography which describes his life both as a police officer and later as an inmate at the central prisons.
His lawyer Yiannis Polychronou hailed Symianos, telling the Mail that he had set an excellent example towards the other inmates at the prison.
“Just look at what he achieved despite being in prison for 14 years. He managed to write four books, despite the limited resources available at the central prisons, found a wife who is a fully qualified doctor and fathered a child,” he said.
Polychronou said a huge legal effort was made for Symianos’ release but also a huge effort on behalf of the former police officer himself in his attempts to reform.
“He proved to the parole board that he had taken all possible steps to better himself and obtained more than 15 degrees and certificates in various fields as well as becoming an author,” he said.