A new Attorney General was sworn in on Monday at a time when Cyprus is struggling to rebuild its tarnished image amid news of scandals, corruption or just plain public incompetence.
Costas J. Clerides is a tried and tested judge. He has been wearing the robe for 25 years and carries with him the legal “gene” of the Clerides clan, a family that has produced some of the leading lawyers of this land. Taking the oath, he declared at the Presidential Palace on Monday that he would not tolerate any intervention from anyone. And we believe him.
By his side, also looking after the interests of the Republic, is deputy AG Rikkos Erotokritou, a learned, yet younger lawyer who has built a reputation for himself in politics, first with the DISY party and then with EVROKO. There, he was deputy party leader to Demetris Syllouris, another veteran MP, who has realised that it is better to serve the public interest, than to look after his own.
Syllouris, too, has done a good job at the House Ways and Means Committee, parliament’s watchdog. He has (rightly so) persisted and pushed for hearings and investigations into the various public and economic scandals that have blemished the nation.
One of the most controversial cases to hit the news headlines in recent weeks is that of the alleged fraud involving the ownership of Russian companies and the dismissal of the original shareholders, replaced by new directors. Here, we are not only talking about the illegal actions of those entrusted to look after the wellbeing of the company, but a longer list of corrupted public officials who may have allowed these transgressions to take place or simply turned a blind eye.
Hopefully, Syllouris will use as much force as possible to draw out the culprits, who in turn will be hunted down by his former sidekick and the case will eventually end up on the no-nonsense Attorney General’s desk. There, this matter should be taken very seriously and all those found guilty should be punished accordingly, as they are dragging the good name of Cyprus deeper into disrepute.