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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-09-24

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, September 24, 1998

Did Clerides make the right decision?

THE ARGUMENTS over whether President Clerides acted correctly in ordering the Auditor-general to investigate the Christos Pourgourides' corruption allegations were the main theme in yesterday's papers. The pro-government papers defended Clerides' decision.

Haravghi, which is against the government, gave prominence to the conclusion, reached unanimously by the House Watchdog Committee, of which Pourgourides is chairman, that Clerides had made mistaken decisions. The paper went as far as to say that Clerides had "acted illegally".

The committee was to write to Clerides asking him to get the Cabinet appoint an independent criminal investigator as the appointment of the Auditor-general was a "legal and practical mistake". The president himself did not have the authority to appoint an investigator, the paper said; only the Attorney-general's office and the Council of Ministers had this authority.

Phileleftheros, in the pro-government camp, said that the Attorney- General, Alecos Markides, had backed Clerides' handling of the matter, but did not rule out the possibility of appointing a criminal investigator in the future if the need arose.

The Auditor-general's office had the power to make the relevant investigations and collect information on the case, thus saving time, Markides said. Valuable time would have been lost if Clerides had to wait for the next meeting of the Council of Ministers to appoint an investigator, said Markides.

Machi said that Markides had silenced the House Committee with his arguments. It reported Markides' claim that he did not have the authority to appoint an investigator. This did not mean that he would if he had the authority.

Alithia reported that Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides had cancelled his scheduled trip to Brussels so that he could prepare his reply to Pourgourides' accusations and submit them to the Auditor-general.

Clerides, in letter from New York, said he opposed the appointment of an investigator as this went against any idea of natural justice. It would be wrong to appoint an investigator, he said, before giving the person at the centre of the allegations the right to reply, especially as there was no prima facie evidence to justify it.

Simerini reported that EU member countries favoured the lifting of the trade embargo against the pseudo-state. Diplomatic sources in Brussels said that Britain and France linked the lifting of the embargo with the implementation of confidence-building measures and the participation of Turkish Cypriots in EU accession negotiations.

The lifting of the embargo was seen as a way of getting round Rauf Denktash' demand for the freezing of Cyprus' EU accession course.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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