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Cyprus' first parolee a lifer.

Author:

Natalie Hami

CYPRUS yesterday saw its first-even parolee, a 37-year-old English Cypriot man imprisoned on the island after being jailed initially in the UK for manslaughter.

The convict will be released on Monday from the Nicosia central prisons where he has been incarcerated for the past 12 years after asking to serve his sentence in Cyprus.

Speaking after announcing its decision, Georgos Mettouris, president of the parole board said the newly-set up five-man board "gives prisoners the message that they can hope for a second chance as long as while they're imprisoned they behave appropriately, show remorse for what they've done and that they're ready to be integrated back into society."

The convict's lawyer Chris Christodoulides told state television his client had been young and drunk when he committed the crime but now wanted to "start a new life with his family by his side." "He admitted his crime immediately and regrets what he did," added Christodoulides.

The release comes with several conditions and if even one of them is broken the parolee will have to return to prison immediately.

The conditions include a ban on leaving the country, the surrendering of travel documents to the authorities, the submission of the parolee's name on the stop list, his presence periodically at an assigned police station, his obligation to hold himself accountable and to make himself available to the person -- parole officer - assigned to him by the board.

In order to be eligible for parole in the first place an inmate must have been sentenced to over two years. For those serving life they must have completed 12 years - half of their sentence before being eligible for parole.

The parolee in question was also the first person to be interviewed by the parole board, which was set up this year and marked a significant moment for the island's penal system.

Made up of a former judge -- the chairman -- a university professor, two psychiatrists and a social worker, the board was faced with an uphill battle to get through the teething problems and start to hear applications.

The board received some 80 applications from convicts seeking their early release but around 30 were rejected because they did not fulfill the conditions.

One of the biggest remaining problems for the board is the lack of specialised people, or probation officers, to supervise released convicts. The law does not explicitly define who the supervisor would be or which government department should undertake the task.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Dec 11, 2010
Words:424
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