RIKKOS Erotokritou, the former deputy attorney-general also known as Tricky Ricky, has been released from prison where he was doing time for corruption and abuse of power before he had served half his term. Suddenly the rumours of a presidential favour were flying. Prez Nik was after all a chum who had appointed Ricky deputy AG.
A report in Phil on Thursday dispelled the rumours. It disapprovingly explained the release was lawful, the legislature having amended the law regarding the release of prisoners in May. According to the amendment, which passed under the media radar, prisoners are now entitled to apply for their release six months before serving half their sentence as the old law stipulated.
Rikkos, therefore, applied to the parole board in June, immediately after the approval of the amendment by the House, and was released on August 3. He served 17 months of his three-and-a-half-year sentence, which, if we look on the bright side, is 17 months more than most corrupt officials do inside.
A LAWYER and an academic were quoted expressing their disapproval by Phil, the former claiming that the law was amended so that Rikkos could be released sooner. He also asked if the amendment was approved unanimously. According to Phil’s report it was. This strengthens the view that many of our deputies do not even read the bills they approve.
There was no way Akel would have voted for the amendment if its leadership realised it would lead to the early release of Rikkos, whom the comrades hate with a passion. As deputy AG he played a key part in the prosecution and imprisonment of Akel’s financial director Venizelos Zannetos for his involvement in the Dromolaxia corruption scandal.
Perhaps the comrades had not understood the amendment was for the benefit of Tricky Ricky, because someone at the party must have read it before Akel deputies were instructed to vote for it. Maybe the comrades’ humanist, socialist ideals outweighed their hatred for Rikkos and they decided to err on the side of forgiveness, however unlikely that may seem.
PRESIDENT of the House legal affairs committee, Disy deputy Giorgos Georgiou, gave a host of sociological reasons to justify the amendment to the Prisons Law. The most compelling was that it would help decongest the overcrowded Nicosia central prisons.
So if more decongestion is needed in the future, will the law be amended again making prisoners eligible for parole after serving just a tenth of their sentence? The good news is that this might not be necessary as justice minister, Ionas Nicolaou, last week announced plans for the expansion of the central prison that would lead to “gradual decongestion”.
New wings were constructed recently while another will be completed soon said Nicolaou, adding that this will feature modern amenities. The old, outdated spaces will gradually be abandoned as they do not serve the modern demands of the prisons. If only the new wing with its modern amenities was completed sooner, Rikkos might not have been in such a rush to get out of prison.
YOU HAD to feel a bit of sorry for Phil, which did not hide its disappointment over the small impact of its Rikkos scoop, which it labelled a “conspiracy of silence”.
The “series of ruthless questions” raised by Friday’s lead story “remained unanswered” it reported on Saturday, bemoaning the fact that none of the members of the House legal affairs committee “wanted to give us an answer”. It also noted, with sadness, that “no party issued an announcement to explain its position.”
Others were involved in the conspiracy of silence, alleged Phil. “More impressive was yesterday’s handling by the news media, which made the matter disappear. Especially the TV and radio shows that pick up newspaper stories daily, yesterday pretended they had not seen Phileleftheros’ lead story,” it reported on Saturday.
Not wanting to accept that its scoop might not have been such a big deal, it concluded on a conspiratorial note. “It is unknown from where the intervention for their silence came, but, what is certain it took place.” I hope the paper notes in its next edition that the Coffeeshop was not part of this sinister conspiracy of silence, imposed by an invisible power.
THERE HAS been an even bigger conspiracy of silence over the last few weeks that Phil completely missed. The deafening silence of the parties (no announcements) and newspaper commentators over the big diplomatic row between Greece and Russia.
Greece expelled two Russian diplomats and barred entry to another two for interfering in local affairs, including attempted bribery of a public official, in an attempt to rally opposition against the government’s Macedonia deal which Moscow disapproved of, but hardly anybody in Kyproulla deemed this worthy of comment.
Neither our parties nor the newspaper columnists that pose as the defenders of Hellenism took a stand on the row, which last week saw Moscow, in a tit-for-tat, expel two employees of the Greek government for no apparent reason. They were certainly not interfering in Russian politics.
This is the problem when you have two mother countries and they fall out. You just don’t know which one to side with, especially when the surrogate mum pours hundreds of millions of bucks into your economy while your original mum is poor and destitute.
We Kyproullans have a tendency to put money above family, which is why nobody could claim there was an invisible power behind this conspiracy of silence. It was self-imposed for financial reasons, not forgetting mummy Russia’s principled stand on the Cyprob.
OUR PARTIES and political pundits could not even utter a word of support for Greece’s foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, who until he pissed off Moscow for brokering the Macedonia name deal was feted as a national hero by all our parties, especially those of the rejectionist persuasion.
They all felt indebted to Kotzias for his stand at the talks and ensuring the premature end of the first conference on Kyproulla, while also contributing to the collapse of the second by fully backing Prez Nik’s handling. They had reached the stage of quoting Kotzias as the font of patriotic Cyprob wisdom, but now they have all abandoned him for fear of angering mummy Russia.
Friday’s announcement by Greece’s foreign ministry responding to the “arbitrary” expulsions was scathing. “We would like to remind our friends the Russians that no country in the world would have tolerated attempts at a) bribing state officials, b) undermining of its foreign policy and c) interference in the country’s internal affairs,” it said. “Greece took measures only after recording tangible incriminating evidence,” it added.
If the Greek government was involved in similar row with the US government, our newspaper columnists and political parties would have been on the warpath, heroically defending Hellenism and organising demos outside the embassy of the evil Yanks.
THE DIRECTOR of the ludicrous Centre for Cyprus Studies (KyKeM), Christos Iacovou, who secured the job for reasons other than his intellectual rigour, was quick to blame the US for the Athens-Moscow row. Speaking to Sigmalive, Iacovou said, “The move of Greece, initially, to deport the Russian diplomats, in a way, was suggested by the Americans.”
He also defended the Russian response as “symmetrical” informing us that Moscow did not want the crisis to escalate which was why its retaliatory measures were taken after the passing of some time. The Russian ambassador could not have defended his country in a more blatantly biased way than Iacovou who then posed as a spokesman of the Russians.
He said the Russian view was that the Greek government was ready to “sacrifice” its relations with Russia and identify fully with the US and that the “brain” behind this policy was Kotzias. Iacovou avoided all mention of Russia’s interference in Greek domestic affairs in his embarrassingly idiotic pro-Russian analysis, the brain behind which remains unknown.
KyKeM is a charity, but as far as I know – I could be wrong – receives no funding from Russia.
WHAT IS it about the Seychelles that appeals so much to Prez Nik? It was the second time in three years that he has taken his whole family for a holiday to the Seychelles, the first being in August 2015. Three years ago the prez’s clan was flown there on the private jet of a Saudi billionaire, who with other members of his family was granted a Cyprus passport.
We do not know if he made his private jet available to the prez’s entourage for this holiday but it is difficult to see the president’s clan waiting at airports to make connecting flights.
The Seychelles, which was where Makarios was exiled by the Brits in the late ‘50s, has beautiful beaches, but is currently famous for its money laundering and offshore companies. Nik may have been exploring how the Seychelles business model is so successful in the era of ultra-strict anti-money laundering measures so we could introduce it in Kyproulla.
PARIS Hilton, the international celebrity and scion of the Hilton dynasty, upgraded the pseudo state with her illegal visit last weekend. Paris was there to promote her new perfume and attend a music event at the Limak Hotel in the Famagusta district.
Some Turkish Cypriots were ecstatic about the visit. The pseudo-under-secretary for tourism said the visit was “very important for the country”, while the Limak chairman announced that Hilton was “the most famous person who came to the island until today.” President Erdogan might disagree with that statement and demand a retraction from the disrespectful hotel chairman.
Why did our foreign ministry do nothing to prevent this visit, which was a downgrading of the Republic based on fake news. It should, for the record, have noted that many far more famous people than Paris Hilton have visited the recognised part of the island.