IN THE END Attorney-general Costas Clerides had to order an investigation into the allegations of misuse of EU funds made against Edek MEP Demetris Papadakis by his party. The acrimonious exchanges between the Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos and Papadakis, after the party’s disciplinary committee decided unanimously to expel the latter last Monday, revealed the possibility that a criminal offence may have been committed.
If there were such suspicions, should Edek not have reported its MEP to the authorities instead of deciding that the party could act as a court of law? Six charges were brought against Papadakis one of which was that the MEP’s office was housed in the same premises as a private business, the operational costs of which were covered by funds from the European Parliament. Another charge was that he was using European Parliament funds to pay the wages of a person that was the owner of a private business and offered services to people that had nothing to do with the duties of the MEP.
We do not know if there was any truth in these charges, but if Edek felt there was it should have reported its MEP to the police immediately, instead of setting up a disciplinary council to deal with what could have been a criminal offence in-house. A political party does not have the competence or the legal authority to deal with such serious offences. Then again, if Papadakis had quietly accepted the decision of the disciplinary council, he could have carried on doing what Edek had accused him of doing, because justice had been administered by the party, punishing him with expulsion.
It was a bit hypocritical of Edek to accuse its MEP of misusing European parliament funds, when it had forced all its candidates in the European elections to sign a contract by which they undertook, if elected, to divert funds from the European Parliament to the party. The contract stipulated that funds given to the MEP for keeping an office (€4,500) would cover the operational costs of a ‘Euro-parliament office’ that Edek wanted to set up. Also 50% of the funds given by the European Parliament for an MEP to employ support staff would go to the party for the employment of staff.
Would this not also constitute misuse of European Parliament funds? That the party forced candidates to sign a contract obliging them to surrender to the party a sizeable proportion of the expense allowances given to MEPs does not seem a very lawful practice. Perhaps this was why Edek was reluctant to report Papadakis to the police and opted to deal with the matter in-house.