EU Anti-Corruption Panel Backs Off Cyprus Court Probe

Marin Mrcela, chief of the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption, center, speaks during a press conference in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

After saying it would review whether Cyprus’ Supreme Court justices had conflicts of interest in ruling on cases where relatives, some of the lawyers, were involved, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body GRECO said it doesn’t have the power to investigate.

GRECO offered its assistance to the government over a case that threatens to send the justice system into turmoil after attorney Nicos Clerides, brother of Attorney-General Costas Clerides claimed, and later provided details, alleging courts were controlled by the Polyviou and Chrysafinis law firm,

Marin Mrcela, Chairman of GRECO met with the judges of the High Court and the Judges’ Union and told reporters “The body expects to see progress and Cyprus complying with its recommendations,” although it can’t do anything if there isn’t.

A day earlier, GRECO’s Executive Secretary Gianluca Esposito told Parliament that Cyprus needs to develop a mechanism for tackling and preventing corruption in the judiciary system, the Cyprus Mail reported on the developments.

Marin Mrcela, chief of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption, center, speaks during a press conference in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Making it clear that the body’s recommendations are binding on member states participating in GRECO, Esposito said that Cyprus has acted on just two out of 16 recommendations issued in 2016 although the body can’t investigate them.

Esposito pointed out the need for a code of conduct for judges to prevent conflicts of interests said to be common on the small island, adding that GRECO had given recommendations without saying what they were.

The GRECO officials had meetings with all legal institutions, such as the Attorney General, the Cyprus Bar Association and the Justice Minister, Ionas Nicolaou who said the government was complying with all recommendations, disputing charges it wasn’t.

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