THERE was widespread condemnation yesterday of ELAM’s actions both from private and political circles but while the parties expressed their disgust over the incident, some criticised the president’s decision to sack the police chief.
Main opposition party AKEL’s general-secretary Andros Kyprianou said his party had last year provided police with photographs of ELAM members participating in combat exercises at a mountain camp. “In a recent letter I received from the Attorney-general’s office, I was notified that ELAM members would not be prosecuted because the legal services claim they (ELAM) didn’t know they were breaking any laws at the time,” he said. However, AKEL said ultimate responsibility for the foul-up lay with Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, as the political head of the police force.
“Instead the minister and the president shifted exclusive responsibility on to the chief of police,” the party said.
It said that when AKEL highlighted the dangers of the far-right faction in Cyprus, Nicolaou had mocked them.
“He even recently denied the existence of organised right-wing factions in Cyprus. As for the even in question, despite knowing about the event itself a week before, no preventive measures were taken,” the party said.
“If they assigned responsibilities to the chief of police, because he knew and did not act, then how come there are no responsibilities assigned to the minister of justice, given that his ministry was informed and had also not acted.”
Socialist EDEK took a similar tone. It said the party respected freedom of speech and that protesting should be protected by law. “But we will not tolerate hooligans who attempt to take that right away from other people through fascist violence,” said a statement.
Later after the police chief was fired, the party said it was surprised by the hasty decision taken by the president.
“The written statement by the president raises questions about the real reasons and motives for sacking the chief of police,” the party said.
Before the decision to fire the chief, the other parties, ruling DISY, DIKO, the Greens and the Citizens Alliance all condemned the ELAM incident.
“What took place is a recipe for national disaster,” said DISY, adding that the party expected the state to punish those responsible.
DIKO said the kind of behaviour witnesses in hurt democracy and freedom of expression. “The state should stop turning a blind eye when it comes to neo-fascists and other extremists,” the party said.