Presidential candidate Giorgos Lillikas sought on Thursday to dial down his allegations that someone tried to buy him off so that he’d pull out of the elections race, acknowledging that he has no hard evidence to back his claims.
Bombarded with questions from the media about the alleged affair, asking him why he did not report the matter to the police, Lillikas had to concede he could not produce proof.
“Obviously this sort of thing [attempted bribery] is not done in writing. It’s not like you sign a contract. It’s all done verbally. So it’s my word against theirs,” Lillikas said.
He would not be pursuing the matter further, he added.
Lillikas appeared to be back-pedaling after attorney-general Costas Clerides urged him to file a complaint with the police.
Clerides said the case could potentially involve a criminal aspect.
Asked by the Cyprus Mail what these criminal offences might be, given that the alleged attempted bribery was between private individuals and not public officials, Clerides said that election laws contain clauses pertaining to the inducement of a candidate to withdraw from the race in return for money or other reward.
According to Lillikas, a person or persons from a rival camp – which he has not named, but is believed to be the campaign team of Nicolas Papadopoulos – approached him in December, offering him a substantial amount of money and promises of a sinecure if he’d withdraw his candidacy.
Papadopoulos staffers have categorically denied any involvement.
On Thursday, Lillikas revealed that the overtures were made not to him personally. Rather, someone had approached a close friend of his, who then relayed the offer to Lillikas.
But prior to this, Lillikas said, the same rival camp had ‘pinched’ a number of staff on his election team.
Paid staffers at the Citizens Alliance – Lillikas’ party – were lured away to the other camp by higher salaries.
Although party cadres switching allegiances was not a new phenomenon, he said, it was the first time in an election campaign that money was being used to ‘steal’ someone else’s associates.
Lillikas meanwhile had to fend off criticism that his allegations– given that he would not substantiate them – were merely a publicity stunt.