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Cabinet approves changes to penal code

The cabinet on Tuesday approved changes to the penal code, including expanding offences against individuals and deprivation of liberty.

Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said the cabinet has added the term ‘deprivation of liberty’ in the penal code, which until now only included abduction as an offence.

“It was judged by court decisions also that it should have been extended so as to substantiate these offences,” he told reporters.

The cabinet also amended the criminal procedure rules, removing one of the options afforded to a defendant who had a case to answer.

Currently, a defendant has three options: to remain silent, to take the witness stand and undergo cross examination, and to make a statement from the dock without cross-examination, although this does not bear the same gravity as being questioned under oath.

The authorities have decided to remove the latter option “as part of the evolution of our system and we are following the practice in other countries like England and Australia, which have a similar legal system,” the minister said.

“If a defendant wants to say something, they should undergo cross-examination like all other witnesses,” he said.

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