ON SUNDAY a Greek newspaper carried a report that Attorney-general Petros Clerides had suspended prosecution for driving offences against his son.
Clerides, declined to comment until Monday night on a television current affairs show where although he was not specific about the reported offences – drink driving and not having an MOT – he did confirm that an offence had taken place and that he had suspended prosecution.
Article 113 of the constitution grants the Attorney-general or members of his office acting on his instructions the right to suspend any prosecution against anyone in Cyprus “exercisable at (the AG’s) discretion in the public interest”.
While no one is saying the AG acted illegally, his reasoning is however flawed.
He suggests the fact that he did not sweep the whole affair under the carpet showed transparency. He suggests the fact that he has suspended such prosecutions for other people’s children means his own son should be treated no differently. He suggests it was no big deal because the particular offence is now regulated by an on-the-spot fine and is not really an offence at all.
This is a complete inversion of all logic and a brazen example of Orwellian doublespeak.
Whether he did it above board or under the carpet, he has sent the message that some people are above the law. His, son, a lawyer was 32 years old at the time, not errant teenager who didn’t know any better and might deserve a second chance. And how was quashing such a prosecution in the public interest anyway?
If a driving offence punishable by an on-the-spot fine is not really an offence at all, why is it written in the law and why is there a fine?
If there were, as the AG said, no serious consequences on his son’s career from the driving offence, why not just pay the fine? It’s not like he could not afford it. Even if there were extenuating circumstances that we are not aware of that caused his son to commit a driving offence, the fine could have and should have been paid since it was all ‘no big deal’ anyway.
The AG says he is not ashamed of his actions and merely wanted to treat his son the same way he has treated other people’s children. Does that mean he suspends more driving prosecutions than not? If the majority are fined, then his son, by his own reasoning, should actually have been fined if he wanted to treat him like most others.
The whole point of punishing those who break the law is that they won’t offend again or worse still, harm someone by their repeated actions.
If the highest lawyer in the land can dismiss the letter of the law with a wave of his pen, there is not much hope for this country. It’s the AG’s job to lead by example but the only example that has been shown here is that the law is not worth the paper it’s written on, if you know the right people that is.
Published on April 11, 2013
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