Cyprus Mail

Attorney-general defends his role in police probe into judge

Attorney-general Costas Clerides said corruption is rife in the civil service

Attorney-general Costas Clerides on Monday released a statement seeking to set the record straight regarding his ordering a police probe into a district court judge.

The matter concerns a judge who is under investigation for allegedly tampering with court transcripts.

The complaint against the judge was filed to police by one of the litigants regarding a case that was tried by the judge in question.

The accusation is that the judge acted in a way to benefit one of the litigants.

The case concerned a dispute between the shareholders of two companies. According to the complaint, the judge’s brother was a long-time employee of one of the litigants.

It is alleged that the judge falsified court transcripts to benefit the litigants with whom his brother was associated.

It since transpired that the judge in question had at some point recused himself when the litigants (who subsequently filed the complaint against him) raised the point in court.

However the affair took another twist when it came out that the lawyer of the litigant who complained against the judge, was Christos Clerides, who happens to be the first cousin of the attorney-general.

Moreover, weighing in, the supreme court last week said that it had looked into the matter, and decided that the allegations that the judge acted with bias did not stack up.

Drawing on this statement, daily Politis asked why the attorney-general decided to pursue the matter criminally when the supreme court had already cleared the judge of alleged wrongdoing.

The implication was that Clerides himself may have been biased in a bid to help out his lawyer cousin. It was also implied that Clerides had acted alone, without keeping the Supreme Court in the loop about the police investigation.

But in his own statement, the attorney-general described this interpretation of events as misleading.

Clerides said the supreme court was well aware that a police investigation was taking place against the judge.

The police probe would be covering some aspects of the complaint against the judge that were not looked into by the supreme court, he added.

Backing up his version of events, Clerides cited a letter – dated November 16, 2017 – from the president of the supreme court to the complainant. In it, the complainant was informed that the supreme court had exhausted all the matters within its scope, but also that the complainant’s allegations of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the judge would be put before the competent authorities (the police).

Accordingly, Clerides said, given that aspects of the complaint had already been referred to the police, and given that it was determined that judicial immunity did not apply in this case, he subsequently instructed the police chief (also informing the supreme court) to “fully investigate” the complaint against the judge.

Further, all the accusations made by the complainant, including the relevant correspondence, were signed by the complainant himself and not by any lawyer acting on his behalf.

“If the insinuation here is that the particular citizen’s complaints should not have been investigated at all, then this does not make sense,” Clerides asserted.

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