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18 July, 2024
 
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Auditor General's dismissal hearing begins

High-stakes proceedings address misconduct allegations and legal challenges

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The hearing for the dismissal of the Auditor General of the Republic, Odysseus Michaelides, begins today, Wednesday, June 12. Attorney General George Savvidis will be the first witness to testify. His testimony, spanning 109 pages, has already been delivered to Michaelides' lawyers, allowing the proceedings to move directly to cross-examination.

Matter of lawyers' fees

In his opening statement, Dinos Kallis, one of the Attorney General's lawyers, raised concerns about the remuneration of Michaelides' lawyers. Kallis highlighted that Michaelides has refused to provide information regarding his lawyers' fees, citing a conflict of interest. Kallis pointed out that two of Michaelides' lawyers represent organizations audited by him, which could create a conflict of interest. Michaelides had previously invoked the Ministry of Finance's lack of competence to request this information. Kallis argued that the non-payment of fees constitutes a conflict of interest and a violation of legislative provisions, while acknowledging Michaelides' constitutional right to appoint a lawyer of his choice.

Attorney General's statement

At the start of the proceedings, the Attorney General made an opening statement outlining the grounds for the motion to dismiss the Auditor General for misconduct. The key points include:

1. Improper Conduct: The Auditor General allegedly engages in extreme populism, using polls, social media posts, and protest marches to influence and intimidate.
2. Breach of Presumption of Innocence: Michaelides is accused of making baseless accusations against the Attorney General's opinions, alleging cover-ups of criminal offenses and corruption.
3. Lack of Objectivity: His actions allegedly undermine the work of the Legal Service, tarnish the dignity of the Attorney General and other officials, and erode public confidence in institutions.
4. Conduct on Social Networks: He reportedly fails to distance himself from extreme and abusive comments in Facebook support groups that threaten and defame other officials.
5. Controversial Stance: Michaelides allegedly ignored the issue of criminal suspensions as a former Attorney General but raised it upon assuming his current role.
6. Violation of Duties.
7. Complaints to the Anti-Corruption Authority: He submits complaints and then makes statements that violate the presumption of innocence, attempting to influence public opinion.
8. Reaction to Investigations: Michaelides continues to support his allegations even after the Anti-Corruption Authority acquitted the Assistant Attorney General, discrediting the Authority's findings.
9. Conflict of Interest: He refuses to provide information on his lawyers' fees, raising suspicions of conflict of interest and violation of legal provisions.
10. Public Accusations: He makes public accusations of wrongdoing and corruption, undermining the rule of law and causing institutional turmoil.

These points highlight the concerns and alleged transgressions of the Auditor General, presenting a case for his removal from office.

Proceedings and witnesses

During today's proceedings, both sides are expected to present the Judicial Council with a list of witnesses they intend to call for better planning. Last Wednesday, the Judicial Council dismissed the pre-trial issue raised by the Auditor General on whether the Attorney General has the authority to request the suspension of an officer. The Council upheld the Attorney General's position, affirming his role as a guardian of the public interest. Proceedings began at 9:30 a.m.

[This is a translation and edit from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  politics  |  corruption

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