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DISY MP does not object to lifting of immunity for traffic violations (Updated)

File photo: Andreas Themistocleous at court

By George Psyllides

DISY MP Andreas Themistocleous on Thursday told the Supreme Court he did not object to lifting his parliamentary immunity to face prosecution for traffic offences. The case was adjourned for next month.

The Supreme Court was considering a request filed at the Supreme Court a week ago by Attorney-general Costas Clerides citing repeated instances of speeding and inappropriate behaviour towards police officers.

The court’s decision is expected some time next month.

The court gave the two sides five days each to prepare their arguments.

It will reconvene on February 1 for clarifications.

His lawyer, Chris Triantafyllides, told the court that the MP did not object to the AG’s request and left it up to the judges to decide whether his immunity should be lifted.

Themistocleous said later that he never considered himself different from any other citizen and had never used his immunity as a shield to avoid paying the fines.

Along with the request, Clerides described how a police report from last September, according to which Themistocleous had been caught driving his car at a speed of 172 km/h – 72 over the legal maximum –  and various press reports that Themistocleous had been a serial offender, triggered a request for detailed records by the AG.

“Reviewing and evaluating the evidence, a very large number of convictions and fines against the MP was revealed, mainly relating to speeding, among other instances, with 141, 170, and even up to 190 km/h,” Clerides said.

“Further, police reports also indicated that, in numerous occasions, the deputy behaved inappropriately towards the police officers, invoking his parliamentary immunity when told he would be charged.”

In the statement, it is further noted that due to his capacity as a parliamentarian, which affords immunity from criminal prosecution, “most of the convictions were cancelled, some criminal prosecutions filed by police were suspended, while other serious charges were deferred to the end of his parliamentary term”.

“Since the sum total of available evidence suggests that the deputy has repeatedly, and by invoking his parliamentary immunity, violated laws and regulations, under conditions that constitute public danger, the attorney-general has decided to request the Supreme Court to lift Mr Themistocleous’ parliamentary immunity, so that his prosecution with regard to the most recent of the charges against him can be facilitated.”

Following Thursday’s hearing, Themistocleous released a statement saying he gave a lot of thought to whether to fight the request “due to the nature of the offences and the timing. But I concluded that it would be best to accept it so as not to create the impression that I sought any preferential treatment.”

He stressed that this did not mean that he accepted the wording of the request or the accusations.

“I reserve the right that all citizens have to defend myself in a district court when the charges are filed,” he said.

Themistocleous said he was concerned over the possible effects on parliament’s functioning by the ease with which lifting an MP’s immunity was requested.

He said he felt the need to express his deepest regrets because it was the first time in the history of the Republic that such a request was made for offences of this nature.

 

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