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Controversy over President’s children transport by police (Updated)

The overpayments date back to President Nikos Christodoulides time as government spokesman
The overpayments date back to President Nikos Christodoulides time as government spokesman

Children’s Rights Commissioner Despo Michaelidou called for the president’s children to be left out of public discourse on Friday, as the debate between the audit service, police, and the presidential palace about the legality of the president’s children being driven by service vehicles continued.

“It would be good, in such cases that the private lives of children are brought to the fore, whosever children they may be, to avoid public discourse [about them]. It is not my position to say how to solve the issue legally; others will have to decide,” she said.

In her statement, Michaelidou pointed out that the public stance of the audit service, declaring the transportation of the president’s children in service vehicles illegal, and the media uproar, ignore the fact that children, through no fault of their own, become the subject of discussion. Their private lives are also dissected on social media with all the consequences that entail.

She added: “My recommendation is to avoid further public reference the children of the president, as the children of the president are also children with rights.”

Earlier, police spokesman Christos Andreou expressed complete disagreement with the notion that President Nikos Christodoulides abused his power by having security officers transport his children.

On Thursday, a report emerged from the audit office on police activity, in which they noted that it was illegal for service vehicles to transport solely the children of the president.

“We completely disagree,” Andreou said on Friday. “The police are completely different than the rest of the civil service. There is a police order that says anyone who might be in danger, can be transported by service vehicles.”

Speaking to Politis radio, Andreou added that they [the police] believe it is correct [to transport the president’s children] and that they will continue “to provide security in this manner”.

When asked about the police driving behind a private vehicle transporting the president’s children, Andreou clarified that this cannot happen as officers are trained to react to issues on the road, making it necessary for them to be behind the wheel.

Weighing in to clarify the opinion published in the report, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides posted on X to say: “Unless the law makes the president’s children entitled to an exclusive use car, the car and fuel for their travel should be borne by the family and not the tax paying citizen.”

He added that this already occurs with political party leaders, who own their own car, driven by a member of their guard.

“The arguments of the representatives of the government regarding the practical problems of exercising parental duties are not related to audit service’s observation. If the government or the political parties wish to expand the beneficiaries of a car for exclusive use and, in addition to the president and the first lady, include separately the children of the president, they should take a legislative initiative to change the legislation.”

He said that the matter is financial and regards compliance with legislation on public expenditure.

“Police had already been informed that if they complied with the law, then it would not have been included in the report.

“However, since it wasn’t [complied to], the audit service could not cover up an illegality, no matter who was involved.”

On Thursday, the audit office issued a special report on police activity in 2023, where they cited that it is illegal for separate service vehicles to be used to transport the children of the president.

Commenting on the report to the medi, the spokesman of the audit service, Marios Petrides, said that Christodoulides can transport his children by himself, using either his own vehicle or his service vehicle.

He added that a security officer could accompany them, but the President or First Lady would have to be present in the vehicle as well.

According to the audit office, the problem was that the service vehicles could not be used to drive the children alone with security officers.

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