We often bemoan the slowness of the justice system in Cyprus but this can’t be said for the case of 26-year-old British tourist, who was jailed for 12 months last week for causing the death of a Swedish tourist and abandoning the scene in a hit-and-run in Ayia Napa.
The accident happened at the beginning of May and the culprit, Manraj Singh Sidhu, who was found to have drink and drugs in his system, was sentenced on June 27, only two months later, for causing the death of Christina Camilla Palmdahl, who was on holiday with her child.
So quick was justice served in this case, that the husband of the unfortunate woman, did not even know the hearing was on and only found out from a Daily Mail reporter; the media in Cyprus were not aware of it either until a couple of days later.
Normally a case like this would receive a lot of attention. For some reason this didn’t.
On Saturday a Cypriot law firm issued a statement saying it would appeal the 12-month sentence, which has appalled many people and which the family of Palmdahl has called “a huge insult”.
The attorney-general’s office has so far not appealed the lenient sentence. That is not to say it won’t, just that there seems to be some kind of silence regarding the case from official circles.
The lawyers pointed to the fact that a Russian driver who caused the death of 27-year-old Panagiotis Christophorou while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs was last year charged with manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in prison.
They also pointed out that with the two months already served, and with good behaviour, the British tourist will be out of jail inside of nine months from now.
Contrast this with our justice system’s treatment of a 74-year-old British man, David Hunter, who was arrested in December for killing his terminally ill wife and remains in custody until his next hearing on September 19 – that’s nine months in custody so far without being tried for a crime he has already admitted to.
Hunter confessed to killing his wife Janice, 75, who was suffering from leukaemia because he said he could not bear to see her suffer. Hunter’s daughter has said that her father, who moved to the island with his wife 20 years ago after retirement, instructed his lawyers to ask the prosecution for the charge to be reduced to assisting suicide, but the request was refused.
Whatever the court decides in this case, is up to the court but there is no justification to hold an elderly man in prison without trial and without bail for nine months. He’s not 26. He may not even survive until September 19.
Why the discrepancy in the handling of these two cases. If David Hunter was held because he might be a flight risk, then why couldn’t his case be heard in two months in the same way that justice acted so swiftly in the hit-and-run case?