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Steps to remove auditor-general likely to be filed by Friday

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides

The ‘war’ between the legal service and audit office is creating a climate of intimidation, the latter charged on Wednesday, as steps to remove auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides from his post are expected to be filed ‘imminently’.

Deputy attorney-general Savvas Angelides said in an interview on Sunday that there was no other recourse left to remove auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides from his post, other than going to the Supreme Court.

“Angelides outlined some very serious accusations [against Michaelides] and yet no action has been taken,” spokesman for the audit office Marios Petrides said.

“If you want to do something, do it.”

Otherwise, the situation reads as nothing more than an intimidation threat, Petrides added.

The Cyprus Mail however understands the legal service will indeed move to initiate proceedings by the end of the week – meaning Thursday or Friday.

The Audit Office has made clear that if the legal service takes the step, it will immediately file a pre-trial objection on the premise of the procedure. It argues only the president can initiate such proceedings, as it is the president which makes the appointment.

Meanwhile, President Nikos Christodoulides has not officially taken a side, describing the developments as unpleasant.

A source close to the matter however said there is concern over how the proceedings will unfold. Michaelides’ reports have also embroiled Christodoulides and in case Supreme Court proceedings begin the president may have to be called in as a witness.

“This dysfunctionality is irritating the president,” the source said.

Though time will tell how the situation will unfold, proceedings could mean a number of people taking the stand as witnesses – including former President Nicos Anastasiades who appointed Michaelides.

Meanwhile, the 40-year friendship between Anastasiades and attorney-general George Savvides has been called into question as a conflict of interest, but the latter has stressed the legal service will find a way to deal with it if a situation ever requires it to.

Both the Audit Office and Legal Service are independent institutions and as such, their heads cannot be fired. They can only resign, or Supreme Court must make a decision that they must be removed from their post – as was done with former deputy AG Rikkos Erotocritou.

The legal service is expected to file proceedings over Michaelides’ post, on the premise of inappropriate behaviour. It is taking legal advice from the L. Papaphilippou, and the Kallis & Kallis firms.

Similarly, Michaelides has turned to lawyers Christos Clerides, George Triantafyllides, and Pambos Ioannides at his own expense.

Petrides said the rhetoric which has erupted since Sunday’s interview has created “a climate of intimidation”.

Officials working at the Audit Office that have to go investigate cases, may be increasingly cautious of how they handle concerns, he specified.

“If someone identifies 10 problems, will they outline all of them? Or will they be in a situation where they try to minimise the severity of a few?”

 

 

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