JUSTICE Minister Ionas Nicolaou has described as “inadequate” the 45 month prison sentence passed on a 68-year-old man who sexually assaulted a six year-old girl.
The charges, spanning a period of two years had to do with nine separate incidents and Nicolaou asked the Attorney-general on Wednesday to look into the possibility of re-examining the case.
The case, tried in Nicosia’s district court, could have a maximum sentence of five years as opposed to 20 had it gone to the criminal court. Judge Doros Theodorou told daily Phileleftheros that this was a decision from the Law Office.
As the crimes were committed before 2014, his sentence was passed based on the old legislation meaning the tougher laws did not apply to him.
Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights Leda Koursoumba branded the court decision as ‘shocking.’
“What message does this send to society?” she said, stressing that despite the decision the focus should now be on offering the young girl and her family adequate psychological support.
“This child, for the rest of her life, will live with this terrible experience and I urge the competent authorities to act immediately and fully coordinate to ensure that this child and her family have all the necessary support.”
The man admitted that between 2011 and 2013 he sexually harassed the girl nine different times. He was reportedly closely associated to the family and was a friend of the girl’s grandmother.
He would often drive the child from her grandmother’s house (where her father also lived) to her mother’s homes, as the parents were divorced.
“His relation to the family makes things even worse,” Koursoumba said, adding that the state has obligations towards the child.
The main mitigating factor that reduced his sentence was the fact that he admitted his guilt and therefore spared the girl from having to be a witness in court, which would further traumatise her, Theodorou said, as was the fact that he did not physically assault her.
DIKO leader Nikolas Papadopoulos called this a wrong decision saying “justice has failed.”
“The outcome of this case of the repeated abuse of a six-year-old girl disappoints and outrages the society and is completely at odds with the sense of justice,” he said while calling on the education ministry to promote awareness programmes aimed at children, parents and teachers as “knowledge and prevention are a shield of protection for every child.”
“These sentences cannot work as deterrents. One could characterise them as a caress,” the Green Party said.