By a Staff Reporter
POLITICIANS and VIPs who are not state officials should pay for their own security, the head of the police association has said in the wake of reports that too many officers are seconded to such security details.
Around one-sixth of the police force overall is detailed to officials or politicians’ security, Andreas Symeou told state broadcaster CyBC.
And he cited Limassol as an example, where the district (excluding the city proper) is policed by only 30 officers as a result of depleted numbers.
Symeou said that 40 to 45 police officers are currently assigned to guard politicians – such as party leaders and some MPs – and other VIPs. Adding the officers assigned to embassies takes the number up to 130.
“Whoever sets up a party here needs police to guard him,” Symeou complained, alluding to a politician which he did not name who recently requested an additional two men for his security detail. He was understood to be referring to Giorgos Lillikas, leader of the Alliance of Citizens party which has one seat in parliament. The seat is not held by Lillikas, but by Nikos Koutsou.
“Some others are 95 years old and can’t even get up and walk out of their house, but have five officers guarding them anyway,” Symeou remarked, adding it was high time the security detail system is rationalised.
“What is happening now is a waste of public money,” he added.
Previously, party leaders or cadres hired their own security and paid for it. That practice should resume. Otherwise, the parties themselves should foot the bill, said Symeou.
And politicians shouldn’t have trouble finding bodyguards, since there are retired policemen available for the job.
Politis on Sunday reported that security for state officials and politicians costs the taxpayer €575,000 a month, with the average salary for the guards standing at around €2,500.
Around 130 police are seconded as security for politicians or VIPs, and to embassies and government buildings. In addition, the Presidential Guard comprises 99 officers, for a total count of 230 officers.
Former President Demetris Christofias has 12 police officers guarding him round the clock, House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou has nine, DIKO leader Nicholas Papadopoulos six, AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou six, and DISY boss Averof Neophytou has five.
Meanwhile former EDEK leader Vassos Lyssarides has four officers assigned to him, and former President George Vasiliou has three.
Those shadowed by two minders include: Giorgos Lillikas; head of the European Party and MP Demetris Syllouris; DIKO MP Marios Garoyian; Archbishop Chrysostomos; the Attorney-general and deputy Attorney-general; the President’s chief negotiator in the Cyprus talks; MP Nikos Koutsou; and the First Lady Andri Anastassiades.
Mimi Kyprianou, spouse of the late former President Spyros Kyprianou (who left office in 1988) has one police officer assigned to her.
Government ministers have two to three officers, depending on the case.
By a Staff Reporter