The sports ethics committee on Wednesday insisted its investigating officials have fully complied with any required rules, after Cyprus Football Association (CFA) president Giorgos Koumas’ lawyers said that its match fixing probe was riddled with violations.
In a joint statement, Koumas’ lawyers Christos Triantafyllides and Marios Orphanides said that at this stage they do not wish to comment as the findings of the report were not shared with them.
The lawyers went on to say that “during the investigation, we became aware of numerous violations of both the legal and constitutional rights of our client, and that a conclusion has been drawn up without taking into account the positions of our client and other CFA officials”.
This was, they claimed, because the investigating officials “refused to answer questions that were repeatedly put to them when they called Mr. Koumas and other officials, the answers to which were essential in making sure the process was compliant with basic legality”.
The committee’s statement, which came later on Wednesday, denied these claims, saying that Koumas and those connected to him were given repeated opportunities to come forward and testify “but chose not to do so”.
It added that despite the fact it does not wish to have any correspondence with the lawyers of people being investigated, “we have an obligation to clarify the situation” since the lawyers’ statements make specific allegations about those involved in the probe.
“The rights of any person under investigation have never been compromised, nor will the sports ethics committee ever allow them to be,” the statement stressed.
“But we want to make it clear that the subject’s refusal to testify based on various pretexts will never be an obstacle in the continuation and completion of the investigation,” it added.
Addressing the point that the investigating officers refused to answer the lawyers’ questions, which were put to them in writing, the committee clarified that “they are not allowed to answer questions from the persons against whom an investigation is being conducted”.
“Nevertheless, they were answered by both us and the investigating officers,” it added.
The statement went on to highlight a letter sent to Koumas’ lawyers, dated August 1 2023, in which the investigators said the probe was being conducted “on the basis of a specific mandate, given in the context of impartiality and non-conflict of interest,” and said that they had requested specific documents both from Koumas and the CFA only to be faced with non-cooperation.
According to the committee, its investigators said they would proceed with and complete the investigation “in an objective and impartial manner” and that the documents and testimonies were requested in that context.
The letter also pointed out that the decision on whether a criminal investigation will be ordered is up to the attorney general, who may also review the conclusion of the probe.
“However, questions of legal interpretation or procedural fairness do not in any way give a witness the ability to refuse to testify or to hand over documents that he is legally obligated to hand over,” they added in their letter.
Closing its statement, the committee said that it responded “to the extent [it] could respond without jeopardizing the ongoing, existing investigation”.