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Sam's long, drawn out legal battle.

SAM'S tale begins on a winter's night in the sticks near Larnaca when, three and a half years ago, he inadvertently drove his 4WD over what he assumed was a half full refuse bag, jutting out into an unlit road.

The following morning, the cops came to his home and arrested him on two counts; dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident - it had been no rubbish bag - without reporting it.

At Police HQ, his request for a lawyer was denied, so he refused to answer any of the 'good' and 'bad' cop questions. No medical tests were undertaken to establish the existence of foreign substances in his blood and he was locked up for 24 hours in a filthy cell, denied food and told, when he asked for water, that he should use the foul smelling, cell wall-tap. His wife was not permitted access to him until the morrow, when, in the presence of a 'hurriedly found and briefed' lawyer, he was formerly charged. A police sergeant assured him that those aforementioned charges 'would more than likely be dropped'. He was released on e1/43000 bail.

Sam carried on blithely living the good life until, 18 months later, he received a summons to appear in court to answer those aforementioned charges.

On hurriedly contacting the previously 'hurriedly found and briefed' lawyer again, Sam was advised that due to him having allegedly left the scene of an accident without reporting it, and having allegedly said to the cops on their arrival at his home that fateful morning, 'Have you come about the person I knocked over?' he would need the services of an expert criminal lawyer, preferably one from the capital.

Suddenly and horrifyingly, Sam, who himself admits that his demeanour resembles that of a lout from Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange' (steel toe-cap boots, crew-cut hair, attired in tight and grubby all weather jeans and T shirt) although the nicest of persons when we met a week ago, found himself in the vice like, money grabbing grip of the Cyprus legal profession.

Over the period of the past two years, Sam and his capital lawyer have made 36 visits to the Larnaca Assizes (courthouse) at a fixed cost of e1/4500 a time to Sam where, on half of them, his case was deferred to a future date after sitting all morning in an antechamber waiting to be called. When he did appear in front of the judge (there are no juries in Cyprus because everybody knows everybody and nobody trusts anybody) for half of the remaining number of times, he did so only to satisfy a legal formality to re-establish conditions of bail.

On the number of times left (that's nine if readers are doing the maths properly) Sam and his capital lawyer's appearances lasted but a few minutes, only for the case to be adjourned to a later date. The court employed a translator for Sam's benefit, who asked him at one of the sessions what he'd meant by the expression, 'I am a man of integrity' -- the true meaning of which had foxed both the judge and translator.

During another of those nine short court appearances, the police produced witnesses to the alleged accident, a married couple, who were allegedly following Sam's 4WD in their car on the night in question and who saw the 4WD hit the victim then drive over his legs, Sam stopping to get out and glance back, then hurriedly drive off.

The lady witness of the couple stated that she took the registration number of the 4WD, rang for an ambulance and called the police, while her husband attended to the salutary needs of the seriously injured victim.

The capital lawyer asserted in court that the victim had spent several months with his legs in plaster then returned to the UK, due to him being a known drunk with the habit of lying in the road after midnight, having been knocked over several times before Sam's alleged inadvertency.

In support of the prosecution's case, police forensics alleged that a dint in the front nearside wing of the 4WD was caused by the accident, although Sam claimed that it was in fact caused by a satellite dish falling from the grasp of a TV engineer, who had placed his short ladder two days earlier on the running board of the 4WD to access and remove the dish from Sam's former flat's, first floor balcony.

Sam was found guilty by the judge on the second charge (leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it) and given a future date to reappear for sentencing; the capital lawyer informing him that a custodial sentence of up to two years and a fine of a e1/41000 at worst could not be excluded.

During this Olympic marathon of courthouse procrastination, Sam' wife left him. He now needs to find a good home for his two dogs - a greyhound (Sam being an aficionado of hare coursing -- no, he claims he is not a gypsy!) and a Cyprus poodle, which he took in after the dog's former owner kicked it out.

He was told by the judge to expect a visit from a court social worker, who would assess Sam's pecuniary circumstances and state of mind then report back to the judge. The capital lawyer recommended a 'specific psychiatrist' wrote a report stating that Sam was suffering from undue stress at the time and that he was an honest and highly sensitive person, but Sam refused to connive. If sent to prison, he will lose his job as a light industrial engineer, his rented accommodation and his dogs.

Now then, if the witnesses produced by the police are to be believed, wouldn't Sam have seen them and not left the scene of the alleged accident? And if not, you must all be wondering how the police knew where to find the owner of the 4WD. Could the victim have memorised the registration number, and if so, why did he not bring charges for personal injury, since the law allows a maximum of three years from the date of an accident for him to have done so? And why did the prosecution not ensure the victim's appearance in court to substantiate their case? Then again, if the 4WD's nearside wing had collided with the victim, more than likely pushing him away, how did the victim manage to shoot his legs under the 4WD's front and rear nearside tyres? Perhaps there was more than one vehicle involved on that fateful night in question?

The long arm of the law in Cyprus is extremely long, whether outstretched or slightly bent! Sam could have crossed over to 'the other side', but he stayed put to face the music until penniless, and can now name our judiciary's tune in one! 'Money, money, money..!'

Names and places (apart from that of the island of Cyprus) have been changed.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2012

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Aug 5, 2012
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