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Cyprus

Criminal court to rule on validity in passports trial

File Photo: Photo Illustration Of A Cypriot Passport

Nicosia Criminal Court said on Tuesday it will announce on December 22 whether the provisions of the law forming the basis of the indictments in the criminal case related to Al Jazeera’s reporting and events surrounding exceptional naturalisations of foreign investors and businessmen are unconstitutional.

This decision is based on a report prepared by the Nicolatos investigative committee and whether the issue of the indictment’s validity should be referred to the Supreme Court.

The Nicolatos investigative committee was appointed by the government and was led by former Supreme Court judge Myron Nicolatos.

It found that 53 per cent of the 6,779 citizenships granted overall were unlawful, and said politicians and institutions had political responsibilities while certain applicants and service providers may be held criminally culpable.

The matter arose through preliminary objections raised by Christakis Giovanis’ lawyer, George Papaioannou, who argued the lack of a valid law underpinning the charges against the defendants.

The proceedings continued Tuesday before the Nicosia Criminal Court, where both defence and prosecution argued over the preliminary objections.

Defendants in the case are former House President Dimitris Syllouris, former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis, and one of Giovanis’ company executives Antonis Antoniou.

Three out of the five charges lack legal basis, according to Papaioannou.

In response to the query on why the court must decide on this issue, Papaioannou asserted potential abuse of process and the pursuit of his client for an offence based on an “ineffective legislation.”

He stressed the unfairness of his client enduring an entire trial only to subsequently find the indictment invalid.

Expressing the gravity of the matter, he advocated for the referral of the case to the Supreme Court.

However, Legal Service representative Ella Papagapiou argued that there is no legal issue regarding the indictment’s validity. She contended that there is no question of the laws’ validity and, consequently, no legal issue necessitating referral to the Supreme Court.

Papagapiou said that such matters should not concern the Supreme Court, noting that every case has constitutional issues, and there is no case that doesn’t touch upon constitutional matters.

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