By Angelos Anastasiou
Former Central Bank governor and government minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, sentenced to five months in prison for tax evasion on Monday, remained hospitalised at Nicosia General on Tuesday after complaining of chest pain, but an independent medical board will rule Wednesday whether he will stay in hospital or return to prison.
He has been held for treatment at Nicosia General under police guard since Monday.
Christodoulou’s name added to a growing list of convicts or suspects who have sought to escape incarceration through admission to a medical facility.
However, as with previous cases of former well-known individuals convicted or held in custody pending police investigation, suspicion is rife among the public as to the seriousness of their alleged condition.
Citing health issues offers a convenient way to sidestep lock-up, at least temporarily, and had until recently been impervious to efforts to uphold court rulings.
But a 2013 cabinet decision, activated in September in the case of Aristo Developers CEO Theodoros Aristodemou, who had been hospitalised at the American Heart Institute during his court-ordered remand, allows the government to empower a medical council to examine patients and rule on whether their hospitalisation away from prison is warranted.
In that case, Aristodemou was examined and found fit to return to the cell by a government-commissioned team of doctors.
But forming a medical council to examine imprisoned individuals once they have been allowed to leave the prison for treatment is a stopgap measure, decided on an ad-hoc basis by the cabinet.
According to Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou, the government has acknowledged the risk of abuse of hospital treatment by convicts or suspects trying to avoid incarceration.
Nicolaou told local daily Politis that the government is moving to create a permanent body of medical professionals to issue independent rulings in such cases.
But with regard to Christodoulou’s case, Nicolaou said a medical council will examine him either on Wednesday to establish whether he is fit to return to prison or further treatment is called for.