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Former bishop set to file appeal after assault case

Former Bishop Chrysostomos of Kiti (left) with then Bishop Georgios of Paphos

An appeal is expected to be filed within the day against a court of first instance verdict finding the former bishop of Kiti guilty of the indecent assault of a teenage girl over 40 years ago.

According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), on Thursday, the lawyer for former Bishop Chrysostomos, Yiannis Polychronis received instructions from his client to file an appeal on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial.

Twelve reasons to appeal have been drawn up, according to the report.

One of the main reasons cites grounds of appeal as “the right to a fair trial”, suggesting it was violated due to the long period of time that elapsed since the incident.

The recent conviction of indecent assault related to a case from 1981 but charges were not brought by the complainant until 2021.

The appeal is also expected to cite that the defendant’s side could not bring in essential witnesses because some had died or they had health issues due to the passage of time.

Sources told CNA that it would be argued that once the judicial process started, the former bishop could not have received a fair trial and that the presumption of innocence is preserved until the final judicial process is completed.

Earlier this month, the former bishop was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for three years, causing outrage.

The Holy Synod is to meet on Tuesday amid demands that the former bishop be defrocked. Some reports have suggested he may only be demoted.

The filing of an appeal against the sentence could give the Synod grounds to postpone any decision it is being called on to make next week.

The women’s organisation Pogo on Thursday called for a protest outside the Holy Synod when it meets. The group said it separates the decisions of the Holy Synod from the decision of the court, recognising the important position that the Church of Cyprus holds for a large part of society and the effect it has on the people’s perceptions.

The complainant, now aged 58, was 16 at the time she was assaulted. After the court hearing, she told reporters she had expected to hear a symbolic sentence – not a suspended one.

In her ruling, Judge Evi Efthymiou said she took into account the former bishop’s advanced age of 85, and his health issues, as well as the time that had elapsed since the case began.

The judge did however express disappointment with the former bishop’s attitude that was at times “arrogant and sarcastic”.

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