By Evie Andreou
Attorney-general Costas Clerides and lawyer Polys Polyviou clashed again in the courtroom on Wednesday with the latter calling the former “a disgrace” to the justice system during the ongoing Bank of Cyprus cases.
The trial concerns the case against five bank executives over the handling of Greek government bonds that eventually caused the lender huge losses.
At the beginning of Wednesday’s proceedings, the two sides delivered their arguments on the context of events on the basis of which the new preliminary objection raised by the defence for misuse of the court proceedings would be adjudicated.
The spat broke out when Polyviou asked for permission from the Court to comment on what Clerides had said earlier in his arguments. Clerides had objected to allowing Polyviou to speak a second time.
Clerides said Polyviou was putting pressure on the court. The lawyer responded that pressure was being exercised by the attorney-general “who is a disgrace to the Cyprus justice system and has ruined the courts.”
Clerides reacted by asking for the protection of the court and demanded Polyviou was immediately brought to justice. “I request the protection of the court. Mr President, I ask for the protection of the court,” Clerides said.
The spat forced the court to discontinue the proceedings for more than an hour. The President of Court Leonidas Kalogirou said the procedure could not be continued in that manner.
Later on, however, Polyviou apologised for his behaviour towards the court, Clerides and the other lawyers, and for his “unacceptable” conduct.
Taking the floor immediately after the resumption of the proceedings, Polyviou attributed his behaviour to the intense atmosphere of criminal trials that leads to outbursts.
He admitted to similar behaviour in the past and that he used a phrase he shouldn’t have.
“It was in the heat of the moment,” Polyviou said, adding they were “in a court, and not a coffeeshop, and we have to keep a level in this room.”
Polyviou also said he took back what he said earlier in the day.
Following the apology, Clerides said that he intended to ask the court to apply the regulation on contempt of court in relation to Polyviou’s behaviour but decided against it after the latter expressed remorse.
Judge Kalogirou invited the parties to be more careful in the future and behave properly towards their colleagues and the court for the smooth conduct of the proceedings.
Kalogirou also said that due to the absence of an agreed framework of events and in order for the court to decide whether the specific appeal could be settled ahead of the trial or in the main proceedings, both parties should tell the court, which witnesses would testify.
The court decided to adjourn the proceedings for the day, and they will reconvene on August 1 at 9am, and the defence will have until July 29 to turn in their list of witnesses to the prosecution, so the latter can decide on their list of witnesses.
Following the discharge and acquittal of Bank of Cyprus executives Andreas Eliades and Yiannis Kypri, the proceedings have continued to try the rest Christis Chadjimitsi, Nikola Karyda, Christodoulos Patsalides, Eliza Leivadiotou, Despina Kyriakidou.
This is not the first time Clerides and Polyviou had a spat in court. Last February the two men crossed swords during the same case.