THE Solidarity Movement and far-right party ELAM have requested police protection for their leaders in line with the practice currently in place, it emerged on Thursday.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said the requests to afford a police guard to Solidarity’s Eleni Theocharous, who is an MEP, and Christos Christou, will be evaluated.
The minister said the state provides security to party leaders after assessing risks and security matters.
ELAM has sent a letter in which it raises certain issues without however making a specific request, Nicolaou said.
“The issues raised will be evaluated, as is the case of the chairwoman of the Solidarity Movement,” he said. In general, he added, such matters were assessed at regular intervals.
Nicolaou said providing police for the security details of politicians was not a privilege nor could it be considered a right.
“It is linked to the need for security,” he said. “We have agreed with the chief of police to have a regular evaluation of risks faced by anyone or even members of the diplomatic missions in Cyprus,” he said.
The minister said it was important for the officers on security details to undergo training frequently so that they were able to do their job.
“Affording these officers is for security reasons and not to serve any other needs,” Nicolaou said.
There have been reports in the past about police officers in security details acting as drivers, or errand boys for politicians.
Before May’s elections, a total of 51 police officers were paid to guard party heads and former state officials.
Former president Demetris Christofias has 12 policemen guarding him, after a senior police officer confirmed that three years after the end of his term, the threat to his life by individuals or groups continues to exist.
Averof Neophytou, Andros Kyprianou and Nicolas Papadopoulos, leaders of DISY, AKEL and DIKO, respectively, have six guards each, with former House chairman Vasos Lyssarides trailing them with five.
EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos has been assigned four policemen for his protection, whereas former president Giorgos Vassiliou has a detail of three men.
Demetris Syllouris – formerly head of EVROKO – and Nicos Koutsou – formerly head of Neoi Orizontes – had two officers each, as do the Citizens’ Alliance head Giorgos Lillikas and former House president Marios Garoyian. Syllouris has since been elected House president while Koutsou did not run for re-election.
Former House president Alexis Galanos, now the mayor of Famagusta, as well as Mimi Kyprianou, widow of former president Spyros Kyprianou, have a one-man protection detail.
It is expected that former House president Yiannakis Omirou, currently under the watchful eye of nine policemen, will soon be added to the list.
Although entitled to a police guard as a former First Lady, Fotini Papadopoulou, widow of former president Tassos Papadopoulos, has waived the right.
Green Party chairman Giorgos Perdikis, has also waived his right to two policemen protecting him, instead pocketing a monthly €1,000.