By George Psyllides
A WAR of words between main opposition AKEL and Politis newspaper continued on Saturday over a libel suit filed by the party over reports that it had received €1.5 million from a company allegedly linked with a man many hold responsible for the collapse of the banking sector.
Using strong language on Saturday, Politis slammed AKEL’s action, saying “a libel suit is the last refuge of a …” but did not add the word scoundrel.
AKEL is demanding damages worth between €500,000 and €2 million, claiming an article in the paper “resulted in the loss of party officials, members, voters and supporters.”
In an editorial that started on its front page and carried on inside, Politis asks how much does AKEL value its supporters per head.
Politis said AKEL’s decision may constitute a pre-election stunt but “in reality it is nothing but an insult to the intelligence of the people it refers to. That party members and officials are so predisposed that they abandon it without second thought because of certain publications.”
Based on the wording of the lawsuit, AKEL proved what it has been trying to disprove for weeks: “That it operates with the logic and practices of a company and not a political party.”
“The effort by AKEL’s leadership to attribute the possible reduction in the party’s percentages on Politis’ reports constitutes a monument of political subterfuge and unacceptable opportunism.”
The party responded in kind.
“The last refuge of lying proves to be vulgarity,” the party said in a statement.
It reiterated that its influence in society were its officials, members and its people who were shaken by “Politis’ false publications”.
The party based its existence on its supporters, AKEL said, the same way Politis counted on its readers.
“Unless it (newspaper) is not worried of losing them due to the false and offensive reports it publishes. Unless it has other, stronger backing,” AKEL said.
Politis had reported that Focus Maritime had paid €500,000 directly to DISY in ten instalments of €50,000 each in January and February of 2008, and almost €1.5 million to AKEL – of which €1 million was paid through offshore Abendale Management Corporation in two equal instalments in September 2007, and €450,000 in June 2008 through the audit firm of Kyprianides, Nicolaou & Partners.
The newspaper said the transfers were made around the time of Cyprus’ 2008 presidential elections.
Both parties denied any wrongdoing although DISY later admitted to receiving €50,000 from Focus.
Focus is owned by Greek ship owner Michalis Zolotas who is in turn linked to Greek businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos, whom many here blame for the collapse of Laiki Bank.
Focus allegedly received large loans – some without adequate security – from Laiki during the time Vgenopoulos was at the helm of the bank.
By George Psyllides