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30 May, 2024
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Lockdown-defying bishops off the hook

Police prosecutors say not worth prosecuting bishops citing high burden of proof


Two local bishops who were facing charges in connection with violation of public health laws during the pandemic lockdown are off the hook, with state prosecution reportedly lacking clear and convincing evidence.

According to Philenews, the attorney general’s office has completed the review of two cases pertaining to alleged offences by local bishops who were accused in separate incidents of violating government decrees during the pandemic lockdown.

The bishops were accused of violating lockdown measures by inciting believers through messages or statements to violate shelter-in-place guidelines and attend worship services during church shutdowns back in April.

Other accused violators included believers whose cars were identified outside a monastery but police were unable to prove they had attended services inside

But on Thursday it emerged that the review did not yield evidence of any crimes committed, citing the right of the two bishops to be in the church and carry out services.

Staff from the Legal Services Department reportedly did not feel prosecutors had clear and convincing evidence that the bishops could be prosecuted successfully in court.

Back in April, local media reported that the bishops Neophytos of Morphou and Varnavas of Trimythounda had made statements or sent messages inciting believers to attend services or feel free to carry out their religious customs.

Believers involved in the two cases will also not be dragged to court, with officials saying they will be asked to pay fines instead.

Other accused violators facing fines include a group of believers whose cars were identified outside a monastery with a number of them later saying they went to gather wild plants and later left on foot and police unable to prove they had attended services inside the monastery.

Cyprus  |  bishop  |  Morphou  |  Neophytos  |  lockdown  |  church  |  pandemic  |  decree  |  public health  |  police  |  legal department  |  coronavirus  |  court

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