Cyprus Mail

Former interior minister Dinos Michaelides dies at 83

Dinos Michaelides

Controversial former interior minister Dinos Michaelides has died in Athens at the age of 83, reports said Tuesday.

A fixture in Cypriot politics for decades, Michaelides had faced corruption accusations which forced him to resign in 1999. He was jailed in Greece for his role in an arms kickback scandal involving a prominent Greek politician.

Michaelides, a trained lawyer and founding member of Diko, served in the government in various positions, including the diplomatic service between 1961 and 1982.

He was appointed interior minister for the first time in 1985 by then President Spyros Kyprianou and again in 1993 by Glafcos Clerides.

Just before the end of the government’s five-year term, Diko withdrew but Michaelides refused to leave his post.

He was re-appointed in 1998 after Clerides won a second term in office.

Michaelides resigned in 1999 after weathering months of corruption allegations.

He denied he had been pushed into resigning because of the corruption allegations and said the resignation of then government spokesman Christos Stylianides had not influenced his decision either.

Stylianides resigned three days earlier in protest at a controversial cabinet decision to exonerate Michaelides.

The cabinet had cleared Michaelides of wrongdoing after a critical ombudsman report questioned the motives behind planning changes to land which the minister later bought.

Michaelides remained politically active and in 2010 he re-joined Diko.

However, in 2015, Michaelides and son Michalis were sentenced to 15 years in jail in Greece for helping a leading Greek politician take millions of euros in kickbacks from arms deals.

According to the charge sheet, the actions of the defendants had facilitated payments by Syrian-born businessman Fouad al-Zayat to Akis Tsohatzopoulos, a founding member of Greece’s Socialist Pasok party who served as defence minister from 1996 to 2001.

Those payments were linked to a contract agreed by Tsohatzopoulos during his time in office to supply Greece with Russian made anti-aircraft missiles.

Tsohatzopoulos was jailed in 2013 for tax fraud and taking kickbacks for the arms deals.

Michaelides was released a few months later because of serious health problems. He posted a €700,000 bond and was ordered to remain in Greece under house arrest and report to the police twice a month.

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