Attorney-general George Savvides took the stand for close to five hours on Wednesday before the Supreme Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case calling for auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides’ dismissal on the grounds of inappropriate conduct.

The ‘golden passports’ and the in-fighting which erupted between the heads of the two independent institutions formed much of the line of questioning when Savvides was cross examined.

“I came here because the auditor-general, in the way he conducts himself and speaks so degradingly, has wrecked institutions,” he told the eight-judge panel.

Savvides’ written statement alone spanned 111 pages and he was cross examined by Michaelides’ lawyer Christos Clerides.

As the questioning became heated at times, Savvides sought to stress to Clerides “I am not on trial here nor is it my behaviour in question after my own report.”

The hearing focused largely on around 2020, when the attorney-general refused Michaelides access to files relating to the golden passports.

“I denied him access to documents. I believe it was a very small number he wasn’t given. I have answered in great detail why I prevented his audit. I am not being judged for my legal opinions,” he said.

“It is the auditor-general who is being judged for his reaction.”

For starters, Savvides said the auditor-general disagrees “strongly and is degrading about the decisions of the state’s legal advisor”.

“He is also being judged because beyond the strong disagreement, his response repeatedly attributes bad faith, conflict of interest, expediency and corruption.”

This line of questioning undermines the institution and is undoubtedly damaging not only to the Legal Service but other state bodies, because it casts them under a constant shadow of doubt, he said.

Savvides underlined Michaelides had reported him to the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) four times.

The way in which Michaelides behaves to argue that the attorney-general, the deputy attorney-general, ministers, university rector, chief of the national guard, all state officials are corrupt “in my humble opinion, no matter what INTOSAI says, is unacceptable”, Savvides stressed.

As for the spat where the two clashed in their official capacity for the first time in 2020, Savvides put forth that the reason he denied Michaelides access to documents is because the Nicolatos investigative committee on the golden passports had been appointed.

“Having two ongoing investigations at the same time was not right,” the attorney-general said.

Looking to Clerides, he said “your client, despite his strong disagreement accepted that he wouldn’t get involved.” The two had a meeting, reached a deal but then Michaelides moved to continue his own investigation regardless, according to Savvides.

Clerides suggested to Savvides that a reason behind his irritation is the fact that Michaelides’ report in November 2020 pointed to the attorney-general and his deputy directly.

This is because it detailed 18 people were ‘gifted’ a passport linked to the casino, as well as members of their family amounting to 27 individuals.

You too were a part of the cabinet decision as minister at the time,” Clerides told Savvides. “That’s why you wanted to halt the publication of this report no matter what.”

Before pointing out that he was not the one under trial, Savvides highlighted that behind the scenes, Michaelides had “admitted to us” that there would be no such issue but his public statement “drilled down on the fact that we [Savvides and his deputy] were ministers.”

Savvides will continue testifying before Supreme Court on Thursday starting at 9:30am.