The parole board refused on Wednesday to provide parliament with details on a recent controversial decision citing confidentiality laws.
The board was invited to parliament to explain the reasoning and procedure followed before deciding to grant early release to former deputy attorney-general Rikkos Erotokritou earlier this month.
Erotokritou was released on August 3, just 17 months into his 42-month prison sentence. His early release was made possible by an amendment tabled by ruling DISY MP Giorgos Georgiou and voted by all the parties in the plenum on May 18.
The change provides that the parole board can take into account the reduction in the sentence that has been granted or is expected to be granted due to good behaviour.
Akel MP Aristos Damianou, and Diko’s Christiana Erotokritou tabled the matter for discussion before the House legal affairs committee on the grounds that “serious questions are raised about the circumstances and speed with which the parole hearing took place… it is therefore deemed necessary to summon the parole board so that it may explain its decision.”
The chairman of the parole board, Sotos Stavrinides, told MPs he could not provide them with the information they wanted because it was confidential and not subject to parliamentary audit.
MPs cited parliamentary laws that compel officials to provide information or face consequences but Stavrinides asked to be allowed to seek legal advice from a private lawyer.
Speaking after the meeting, Damianou said serious questions were raised about the conditions and speed the application in question was examined, considering that Erotokritou was convicted for corruption.
Damianou said there was no question of personal data infringements, arguing that laws on submitting information to parliament were clear.
The Akel MP added that the board can only seek advice from the attorney-general and not a private lawyer.
Diko’s Erotokritou sought to defend the parties’ unanimous decision that made possible the release of the former deputy attorney-general saying it was a correct move.
“Parliament approved a law that enables, within the legal framework, a decision to be made or not,” she said. “However, how a decision is made by the parole board is another matter.”
The issue did not concern the correctness of the law, she said. “It is not the law that created the problem but the way it was enforced.”
She said she had no reason not to assume the share of responsibility her party had, but insisted that the decision was not wrong.