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Cyprus

AG lets loose on corrupt system, apathy of citizenry

Attorney general Costas Clerides

Attorney-general Costas Clerides on Tuesday slammed the fact no political responsibility was taken anyone as a result of the findings of independents such as the 2011 explosion at Mari and the collapse of Co-Op bank, “nullifying the true value and utility of these probes”, he said.

Speaking at an event at the University of Nicosia Tuesday night, he said the findings of the serious committees into political responsibility, “were not only disrespected, but there was also an effort to remove members from the committees, and a devaluation of the work they did.”

Commenting on corruption, Clerides said measures could be taken to combat it “but not just by one or two people”.

“The strongest advocate of corruption is the apathy of the citizens,” he said. “It takes a lot of work for the sun to turn. It also necessitates masters, needs foremen, but also requires many workers.”

Clerides also commented on the ongoing issues across all sectors of the government, noting that in the executive and legislative branches there had been many arrests of political figures.

Candidates taking on such positions should be appointed carefully, he added.

Regarding the judicial branch, he said there was clear distrust in the system, as many laws that are passed only on the basis of populism which disrupts the balance.

“The justice mechanisms have lost their credibility because of excessive delays in court cases, the inability to modernise the system, and the lack of adequate safeguards to demonstrate fairness and impartiality,” he said.
Clerides also cited the example of a parliamentary session in 2016, which ended in 80 bills being adopted on the same day.  Sixteen of those bills were found to have a constitutional flaw, necessitating the Supreme Court’s nullification of 15 of them, he said.

He also said there were cases of MPs participating in parliamentary committees or voting when they should have abstained or stated that they had a conflicting direct or indirect interest. He added that in many cases partisan plans are taken into consideration over the national interest.

Last week, in an interview with Phileleftheros, Clerides commented on the criminal cases filed relating to the 2013 financial meltdown, also remarking that corruption in the public sector was rampant.

“I was the recipient, from various quarters, of both direct and indirect interventions urging me to display leniency [against bankers],” Clerides said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Clerides remarked that the corruption in the public sector is so widespread that it surprised even him.

“Almost everywhere throughout the public sector, where there is a question of financial gain or the potential for financial gain, corruption exists. Rarely does the public interest prevail over individual interest and, where that does occur, it is the exception rather than the rule.”

Sending the message that the days of impunity are over is the best way of tackling such corruption, Clerides said.


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