By Evie Andreou
Former president Demetris Christofias entered the fray over the early release of paedophiles from prison on presidential pardons, denying that he had granted any as Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou had said the previous day.
Christofias accused the Nicos Anastasiades administration of turning cheap propaganda into a science and seeking to put the blame on others for their actions.
“Instead of apologising, Mr Ionas Nicolaou sought yesterday to put the blame on Demetris Christofias again because Mr Anastasiades granted presidential pardon to a paedophile,” the former president said in a statement.
Christofias said that in the first months of his administration they had given specific instructions that presidential pardons would be based on criteria that would exclude those convicted of sex offences, murders and drug trafficking.
“Unfortunately, the Anastasiades-Disy government has permanently abolished any notion of ethics and respect towards anyone who served the institutions of this country. Shame!”
Disy responded with a laconic statement by its spokesman Demetris Demetriou who implied that Christofias was the last person to speak considering that during his term the economy collapsed and a munitions blast killed 13 people and knocked out the island’s main power station.
“Who speaks of shame. Demetris Christofias.”
Akel’s response came soon afterwards through its own spokesman Stephanos Stephanou who accused the ruling party of being arrogant.
“What’s unfortunate is that you hold the fate of this country in your hands,” he said.
The government has been heavily criticised over the early release of a child molester who had benefitted from a general presidential pardon granted by Anastasiades after his re-election in February this year.
The man was released on Sunday and he returned home to the same neighbourhood as his victim, now an adult, who was not however informed of his release.
He had been sentenced to three years in jail and was due to be released on March 29, 2019.
It emerged on Thursday however, that he was not the only sex offender who had been granted early release.
“In 2018, on the basis of the defined criteria, apart from lifers, also excluded were those convicted for sexual offences against minors up to 13-years-old, or against minors up to the third degree of kinship,” Nicolaou said on Thursday. “Pardon was granted based on the charges and not based on specific individuals included on the list, which, apart from the convict in question, included others with the same offence.”
He added that before the criteria, when the Akel-backed Christofias administration took office in 2008, 22 people who had been convicted for sexual offences against minors of all ages had also been released early, among others.