The lawyer of prison director Anna Aristotelous and her deputy said that they may now file a case to the ECHR after the attorney general quashed a private criminal lawsuit.
The AG’s office on Thursday put a stop to their case filed against drug squad chief Michalis Katsounotos – accused of targeting the two women by conspiring with an inmate.
“It is now clear that for this case and for the violation of Aristotelous and [her deputy Athena] Demetriou’s constitutional rights then the only relevant authority is the ECHR,” he told CyBC radio on Friday morning.
He emphasised that the AG has now quashed two cases brought forth by his clients – stating that all local routes having now been exhausted, opening the road towards the ECHR.
Later in the day, Justice Minister Anna Prokopiou said that the police are now in the final stages of evaluating whether Katsounotos will face a disciplinary investigation.
“They [Aristotelous and Demetriou] made the “mistake” of reporting that incident to the police and from then on – in my view – we’ve seen the argument of public interest used to circumvent in such a way as to protect the person who has committed illegalities,” lawyer Christos Triantafyllides said.
Asked why it was a “mistake” to report it to the police – what else could they have done? – Triantafyllides said “nothing”.
“They had no other choice but look at how the case developed,” the lawyer added.
The complexity of the case appears to be concerns over potentially sensitive details which would come out in public should it be thrashed out in court.
“That’s the tragic element, imagine that we’ve reached the point whereby a senior officer is being protected so that facts cannot be heard in court,” the lawyer said.
He was asked whether the AG in such cases must explain or reason how it is not in the public interest for this case to go to court.
“He has no obligation to reveal what the public interest at risk is… but it is understood that it should be used to protect the rule of law rather than an alleged perpetrator,” he said.
“The issue is that the courts is where guilt or innocence is decided but this process was stopped not once but twice, the two ladies were targeted and are now out of work,” he said, questioning what this means for justice.
He then referred to both Demetriou and Aristotelous as not having felt secure enough to remain physically present at their roles in the prison.
Aristotelous has been on sick leave and later normal leave since the end of last year.
The row has been brewing for months after the two women charged that Katsounotos attempted to secure damaging footage of them after colluding with an inmate.
In his letter to AG Giorgos Savvides expressing “intense disagreement” with the latter’s decision to quash his clients’ lawsuit, the attorney asked for permission to re-file another criminal lawsuit from scratch.
Initially Aristotelous and Demetriou had sought to file a private criminal lawsuit against Katsounotos based on – and citing – the findings of a prior inquiry. Members of the public may file private criminal lawsuits, but need permission from the AG.
In this case, the AG denied their request to file, so the two women withdrew that private lawsuit. Subsequently, however, they did file a new lawsuit – this time not based on the inquiry.
This is the lawsuit which the AG has now quashed.
Aristotelous and Demetriou announced they wanted to leave their post after the AG rubbished any corruption claims. Demetriou has been seconded to the auditor-general’s office while developments over Aristotelous’ post are still up in the air.