By Jonathan Shkurko
Mayor of Aradippou, Evangelos Evangelides, who was fined €300 for attending a church service on Saturday, could also appear in court for his violation of the decree and face a much bigger fine, said justice minister Giorgos Savvides on Tuesday.
Film footage had shown Evanglides going to church on Easter Saturday where he took Holy Communion. He was fined €300 on the spot for violating the decree while an investigation was taking place linked to the church service not being held behind closed doors.
On Monday, Evangelides posted an apology on his Facebook profile, claiming he had no intention of disrespecting the decree currently in place. Nor was this a show of disregard for people that may have wanted to attend the church service on Saturday morning, he added
“For all those who felt this way, I sincerely apologise,” he said.
Evangelides said he had gone to church in the morning to see that everything was going smoothly and was asked by the priests to help out.
“The empty church moved me, and I felt the need to stay,” he said. “In an emotional state because of the absence of the faithful, I took Holy Communion. I understand, this bothered people,” he said.
The mayor said that he wanted to take responsibility for his action and apologise. He added that he respected the police and said he had no problem with the way they handled the case, claiming he dif not believe that those in public office are above the law.
The contriteness and the fine are not likely to be the end of the story, with Savvides saying there would be a full investigation and the case could go to court.
“I don’t think that a fine of €300 will be enough in this case,” he told CyBC radio on Tuesday. “There is a possibility there will be further developments regarding the mayor’s action on Saturday.
“The reason why I think the €300 fine is not enough in this cases is because it was imposed on the first citizen of Aradippou, a person who should set the example for the citizens of his municipality, which is also one of the most affected by the pandemic,” Savvides said
The Justice Minister said the maximum penalty for breaking the law carried a €3,000 fine or even prison time, but that was for the police courts to decide.
He also said the priest who carried out the service might be subject to an investigation for allowing Evangelides into the church. Aradippou is the hardest hit area by the coronavirus.