Cyprus Mail

Defence minister cornered on two cases of special army privileges

By Constantinos Psillides

THE defence ministry found itself in hot water on Wednesday after it emerged that the son of a political party senior official was serving his military service from home.

The case was added to a similar scandal, regarding the son of an athletics association member who was given ‘professional athlete’ privileges in the army without once having played in a professional team. Special privileges for athlete-soldiers include being allowed out for training, events and weekends.

The report was run by left-wing daily Haravghi.

Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides who was cornered on both issues, confirmed that the son of the party official was indeed at home when he was supposed to be at his unit, saying that his case merited special privileges and that people should first be aware of all aspects of the story before jumping into conclusions.

“Without going into details I can only tell you that in this particular case we are dealing with a person that needs special support and care. I don’t deny that there are problems and people abusing the system but we are trying to weed those cases out,” said Fokaides.

He said he would be pushing for reforms to the procedure by which soldiers are granted special privileges.

Commenting on the supposed athlete, Fokaides attributed the case again to the faulty process, adding that his privileges would be revoked and all soldier-athletes cases re-evaluated.

Fokaides added that he has requested from the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO), which is responsible for compiling a list with professional athletes and handing it over to the defence ministry – to look into all the files on soldier-athletes.

CSO chair Klea Hadjistephanou Papapellina said on Wednesday that they would intervene to correct any mistakes. We are currently looking into the cases of all soldier-athletes who have filed for special privileges. Wherever a mistake is found it will be corrected,” said Papaellina.


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