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Media Watch 2003

29 August 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Philippos Stylianou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 29 August 2003.
Disy proposes prosecution for dealing with north

Opposition Disy is introducing a legislative proposal making any private dealings with the illegal occupation regime a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years. The proposal looks unlikely to muster sufficient parliamentary support to get it off the ground, as the government and most other parties were quick to express disagreement. 

Interestingly, major coalition partner Akel was not among them. Party spokesman Antros Kyprianou told the Cyprus Weekly Akel will study the proposal before formulating its position. 

Disy’s move came amid a public debate about the way private claims for property compensation to the pseudostate should be handled by the state.

Party leader Nikos Anastassiades told a press conference the proposal sought to safeguard constitutional order and not to curtail the exercise of the right to property. He also stressed that according to the proposal provisions, no one will be prosecuted if he was directly or indirectly forced to act against the law.

The Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said such tactics were wrong and the government did not agree with them.

Needless move
Ruling Diko MP Andreas Angelides criticised the development as a needless move by Disy to create a political impression. He noted that Disy went ahead with its proposal, knowing full well that the House could not debate it at this stage. “This is like telling those who may want to apply to Denktash’s “property commissions” that there is no law preventing them from doing so and they could take advantage of it,” Angelides argued.

He added that both the Consitution and the penal code already provided the legal means to curb such actions, but if the need arose, they should only be used to the extent and to the degree necessary.

Socialist Edek President Yiannakis Omirou, who had earlier described those applying to the pseudostate as collaborators of the occupation forces, also expressed his opposition to the proposal, saying that both the Constitutions and the penal code provided adequate legal measures if needed.

United Democrats Party (Edi), also criticised the move by their former coalition partner in the previous government, saying that the isolated cases of Greek Cypriots who express the intention to claim compensation from the Denktash regime should be dealt with resolutely but not by legal means.

“The main message must be that the Cyprus Republic is a state respecting the rule of law and that it does not adjust its laws to the political exigencies of the time,” a party announcement said.

The only support to the Disy proposal came from the single seat New Horizons party. MP Christos Clerides said they would support the Disy proposal if it came before the House, because the existing provisions of the penal code may not entirely cover applications to the so called “property commissions” set up by the pseudostate.

He disclosed that his party is considering to introduce its own legislative proposal to Parliament, amending articles 108, 47 and 48 of the penal code in such a way as to remove any doubt that they could apply also to Greek Cypriot applications to the pseudostate. 

As they stand now, these penal provisions refer to seditious acitivity and to acts for usurpation of authority.

The Disy proposal is based on articles 30, 34 and 35 of the Constitution, which prohibit acts that might undermine the constitutional order and the guaranteed rights and liberties, and also oblige the legislative, executive and judicial authorities to safeguard the effective application of these provisions.

According to the proposal, anyone who knowingly cooperates in anyway directly or indirectly, applies to or seeks to cooperate with any person, organ or authority which has been established or functions as a result of the presence of the occupation forces, and are not recognised as legitimate by the Republic of Cyprus or the international community, in a way that undermines or abolishes the constitutional order or endangers the interests of the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, shall be guilty of a criminal offence. 

In his press conference, Nikos Anastassiades said he had discussed these opinions during his meetings with President Papadopoulos, adding that there was a disagreement on the issue as the President firmly believed that no legal measures should be taken against those resorting to the pseudostate mechanisms.

Disy’s legislative proposal was to have been tabled at the House yesterday but this did not become possible, because it was special session with only one item on the agenda. Disy MP and party Justice Commissioner Ionas Nikolaou, who with party Legal Council chairman Christos Triantaphyllides had drafted the proposal, told the Cyprus Weekly it will be introduced to the House on 19 September.

The proposal has been handed to the General Director of Parliament."