An error by the attorney-general’s office has set back a private criminal prosecution against former supermarket baron Christos Orphanides.
Orphanides is accused of bouncing 12 cheques worth a total of €45,240, issued to a supplier of his now-defunct supermarket chain.
The supplier, Technoplastics Ltd, had initiated eight private criminal cases against Orphanides.
Private criminal prosecutions require the nod from the AG to proceed. In addition, the AG is the only official empowered to order the suspension of a criminal case.
After about four years of waiting, the court was about to set a date for the first hearing.
To save both time and costs, the litigants agreed to roll all the cases into one.
The lawyers for the plaintiffs, Technoplastics Ltd, then requested that the AG suspend seven of the eight cases, to expedite the litigation.
The request was reviewed and approved by the AG’s office. But due to an apparent clerical error, the AG’s office suspended all eight cases – effectively letting the respondent, Orphanides, off the hook.
Speaking to Politis, which broke the story, attorney-general Costas Clerides said the mistake was made by the criminal archives department.
Although, as Politis reports, Clerides’ own signature also appears on the suspension order.
Clerides went on to say he has since informed the plaintiffs that he intends to re-file the case immediately.
But because the initially filed case has missed its turn, the plaintiffs must now wait until the courts clear their workload before getting around to theirs – meaning it could take several months more, if not years.
Clerides said he has asked the courts to expedite hearing the re-filed case.
In the meantime, the supplier has incurred significant legal costs.