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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Closing remarks in immunity case ]

Closing remarks in immunity case

Poly Pantelides

A PROCEDURE at Supreme Court which could eventually lead to the lifting of President Demetris Christofias’ immunity came to a close yesterday after the Supreme Court’s 13 judges heard the closing remarks over whether a provision from the constitution could be interpreted.

The Supreme Court did not issue a decision yesterday nor did it say when a decision would be given.

Three applications have been filed by the families of people who were among the 13 killed in a munitions’ blast at a naval base last July and involve a request for the Supreme Court to interpret the provisions involving the president’s immunity under the constitution’s article 45.

Under the current applications the families’ lawyers are asking to be given permission to file an application for the Supreme Court to interpret article 45, and do not pertain to the interpretation of the article itself. 

The lawyers of the family yesterday argued that the Attorney-general Petros Clerides had been unable to properly investigate Christofias’ involvement into the July 11 blast which crippled the island’s biggest power station, injured dozens and killed seven sailors and six fire-fighters.

The families are asking the Supreme Court to interpret in particular provision 45.3 which says the president is liable to be prosecuted for offences involving dishonesty or moral turpitude and also 45.5 which states that he is not liable for prosecution against “any offence committed by him in the execution of his functions”.

“The terms (of article 45) are not clear. Clarifying them will lift the obstacles surrounding an investigation,” lawyer Loucis Loucaides said.

Clerides argued that his decision not to prosecute Christofias was not based on any interpretation of article 45 but based on his opinion that a recourse could only be justified if four essential and necessary requirements were met. These four requirements are: the existence of a disagreement on a legal point; the existence of a vagueness in a relevant provision; the need to give an exact interpretation on the vagueness to resolve the disagreement; and the recourse serving the direct interest of the claimants. 

The lawyers said that the only way to properly investigate the events under question would be to lift Christofias’ immunity so that he could be questioned.

The lawyers want the Supreme Court to interpret the meaning of the provision of the article under question so that the state’s legal services headed by Clerides, may be able to prosecute Christofias over the events which led to the naval base blast. It is unclear whether manslaughter and causing death through a negligent act are included within the terms of article 45, the lawyers say.

Under article 45.3 of the constitution, it is still the attorney-general and the assistant attorney-general who would “present the charges (of dishonesty and moral turpitude) before the Supreme Court”.

Clerides has asked that all three applications be rejected because article 134.2 of the constitution allows for the rejection of any “prima facie frivolous” appeal.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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