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‘Police retirement law serves  vested interests’

By Angelos Anastasiou

Despite opposition by most stakeholders, the parliament passed a law during Thursday’s plenum extending the retirement age of senior police officers by one year, to 63, a measure that will only impact nine officers, daily Phileleftheros reported on Friday.

An earlier bill raising the retirement age for officers to 65, tabled by DISY’s Prodromos Prodromou and DIKO’s Fytos Constantinou, soon went up in flames after when it was opposed by Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou, and police members’ unions.

But, despite opposition, it was replaced by what seems like a compromise bill, with the retirement age raised to 63, only applicable to officers above the grade of sergeant.

According to Phileleftheros, the amendment will only impact nine officers, one of whom will return from his retirement leave for one more year. Of the nine, four would retire within 2015 if the age limit was not raised.

Daily Politis, which picked up the story on Friday, reported that the bill was passed to serve the interests of a single officer with political connections, pointing out that it had been passed with the votes of DISY and DIKO, as well as EVROKO’s lone deputy Demetris Syllouris and independent Zacharias Koulias.

Citing sources from inside the police, Politis said that the real object of the law was to allow senior officers to seek promotion just before they retire, thus securing higher pensions when they do retire.

The justice minister and police leadership opposed any increase in the retirement age of policemen, citing the decline of physical skills that comes with age. They argued that their goal of an operationally capable police body would be hindered by an aging force.

“We want an operational police force, whose members are physically fit, besides experienced, to respond to their policing duties,” he had argued.

And at a recent session of the House Finance committee which discussed the issue of raising the retirement age, Chrysostomou also voiced opposition to the measure, using himself as an example, saying that, at 48, he no longer has the physical skills he had as a young policeman – let alone at 60 or 65.

According to Politis, the proposed measure was even put to an informal vote by senior police officers, who voted against increasing the retirement age.

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