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President blames system weakness for molester’s early release

The central prison


President Nicos Anastasiades expressed regret on Wednesday after a convicted child molester was released early from prison and returned home without the knowledge of his victim, who lives in the same area.

Anastasiades pledged that any weaknesses in the system would be corrected as soon as possible to prevent a repeat occurrence.

The president’s statement came a day after public outcry greeted the news that the state had pardoned a man convicted of sexually abusing a minor who, now an adult, lives in the same neighbourhood.

Green party MP Giorgos Perdikis said he had received a frantic call late at night from the girl’s father saying ‘we saw him, we saw him, we saw him.’

“What could I do at 10 at night?” Perdikis said.

The man was released last Sunday, with the victim and her family finding out when they heard the celebrations for the return of the offender to the neighbourhood.

In his statement, the president said the man was released under the established practice of the president, with the agreement of the attorney-general, suspending one-quarter of an inmate’s sentence, “irrespective of the offences committed, bar certain exceptions”.

The man had been sentenced to three years in jail and was meant to be released on March 29, 2019.

Anastasiades said he understood the problems created by pardoning people convicted for sexual offences and planned to introduce stricter criteria to prevent sentence commutation for people convicted of similar offences.

At the same time, the president said, to tackle similar offences, a bill has been drafted and sent to the Law Service for processing which provides for stricter sentences for sexual exploitation of minors.

The case was brought to light by Anastasia Papadopoulou, the head of the council for the implementation of the national strategy to fight sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography, who posted the release on her Facebook page.

Papadopoulou said, the woman had suffered sexual abuse for four years at the hands of the man and his wife who was never charged with any offence and is still employed at a school.

Papadopoulou described how the victim spoke of her ordeal with help from other people, managing to stand before a court where she went through a lot “because we told her, break your silence and we will be there as a state and as society.”

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