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What sort of example are our justice officials setting?

IT WAS no surprise that the emotionally-charged public debate, which was sparked by the acquittal of the 10 policemen last week, would degenerate into farce. And we are not referring to the gatherings outside the courts during which demonstrators were handing out bananas in an attempt to bring home the point that Cyprus was a banana republic. This was just a bit of silliness by a few hundred who thought they would have a laugh at the expense of the authorities.

The truly farcical goings-on were initiated by the Attorney-general Petros Clerides who stormed into the court-room while the judge was reading the court's decision demanding that he be allowed to put a question. His request was turned down as the trial was over (something he should have known), but instead of accepting that he had lost a case he allowed his emotions to the better of him. He accused the judges of showing disrespect to him and told a television station that the acquittal "constituted encouragement of state terrorism".

These were not the kind of views anyone would expect an Attorney-general to utter in public, but this was not all. He then told the TV show that the judges' decision was mistaken before declaring that we should not always trust the justice system. Even if he believed this, he should have kept the view to himself. In effect, the Attorney-general was telling us that our justice system does not always mete out justice implying that we do not have rule of law.

As if this were not bad, his assistant, Akis Papasavvas appeared on radio and TV, having a go at the police force, slamming the decision and uttering platitudes about the need to satisfy the public's sense of justice. While Clerides finally heeded the call for restraint by the Supreme Court, Papasavvas carried on regardless.

Last Tuesday, the prosecutor in the beatings case, senior state counsel Savvas Matsas told a daily newspaper that the police had tried to publicly embarrass him by leaking information about a traffic violation to a television station. In the same interview he also alleged that the police "make false accusations and incriminate citizens". He gave examples of police fabricating evidence in order to cover up their illegal actions in a newspaper interview published yesterday.

We have an Attorney-general who does not completely trust the justice system, a deputy AG who feels that judges get things wrong and a senior counsel who insists that many police officers are corrupt crooks. And these officials are supposed to work together with the allegedly corrupt police in order to prosecute suspected law-breakers? They are also supposed to cultivate respect for the law, the justice system and the state, but they are doing the exact opposite.

How can they serve the very state system in which they have so little faith and have gone out of their way to discredit? Only they could answer.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Mar 27, 2009
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