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20 January, 2022
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MP sees conflict of interest behind ‘cocaine colonel’

Cyprus’ deputy attorney general accused of going easy on officer who retired with promotion after drug arrest


A member of parliament in Cyprus is raising a conflict of interest for Deputy Attorney General Savvas Angelides, saying when he was serving as defense minister he went easy on a colonel who was busted for drugs and the case was dropped altogether after he became the state’s second chief law enforcement officer.

According to local media, MP Irene Charalambides has raised a conflict of interest for Angelides, saying while the deputy attorney general was serving as defense minister he suspended instead of firing a colonel who reportedly admitted using illicit drugs after he was arrested for possession of cocaine and anabolic steroids.

During a House watchdog committee hearing on Thursday, it emerged that the colonel was promoted and allowed to retire with full benefits instead of being fired in accordance with laws and regulations.

'We don't know as defense ministry why the case was closed, you will have to ask to the Legal Department'

“Immediately after his arrest and admission that he was a drug user, he should have been fired from the National Guard and also prosecuted for possession of anabolic substances and drugs,” Charalambides said.

But the AKEP MP also went on to point fingers at Legal Services, accusing the department of suspending prosecution “so that he wouldn’t lose his retirement benefits.”

Defense ministry officials say they had nothing to do with the decision to go easy on the colonel, with spokesperson Andreas Louka telling the watchdog committee they had no case.

“We don't know as defense ministry why the case was closed, you will have to ask the Legal Department,” Louka said.

It later emerged that then-minister Angelides had chosen to suspend the colonel instead of terminating his employment.

After Angelides became deputy attorney general he suspended prosecution for the colonel in 2020, thus allowing the military officer to be promoted and then retire voluntarily with full benefits based on his highest rank.

Charalambides believes Angelides had an obvious conflict of interest when he suspended prosecution.

But some local media suggested the deputy attorney general was following through on a previous deal reportedly negotiated between the Legal Department and colonel’s lawyer.

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