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Cyprus

MPs want to lift wide protection of state assets

By George Psyllides

MPs are looking to curb the extensive protection afforded by a bill to state assets, prepared after the attorney-general’s limo was recently seized over money owed to a citizen whose land had been expropriated.

The law amendment submitted by the state specifically mentions state limos, items of artistic, cultural and historical value as well as state monetary deposits.

But MPs voiced concern that the scale of protection was so wide that creditors would never be able to secure a seizure order.

“Our biggest concern as the House Legal Affairs Committee was the scale of protection afforded by the current bill to state property,” chairman Sotiris Sampson said.

At present, he said, the committee was trying to find ways to curtail the bill’s authority, but at the same time safeguard state property.

Sampson said only the assets needed for the smooth operation of the state machinery must be protected, but also antiquities and items of artistic and cultural value.

AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said any change must safeguard the state institutions but also secure the rights of the people.

Submission of the bill followed the humiliation of the state after Attorney-general Costas Clerides’ limo was seized by bailiffs on March 26.

“Court bailiffs act as they see fit, but this is a disgrace to the state, its departments and institutions,” Clerides said.

His car was seized from the reserved parking space in front of the Republic’s law offices in Nicosia on the strength of a court order that ruled in favour of a private citizen whose land, around 10,000 square metres, had been initially expropriated – but never paid for – by the government, which then decided it did not need it and revoked the expropriation.

The land had been destined to be used for a new primary school.

In February 2013, bailiffs tried to seize a limo used by then minister of interior Neoclis Sylikiotis, ending in a shouting match.

The bailiffs were eventually denied access to the car when it was whisked to a basement parking area under the ministry of finance.



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