Cyprus justice system gets new legal eagle

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New Attorney General George Savvides and his deputy Savvas Angelides took on their posts Monday tasked with restoring the reputation of the justice system.

The duo now head Cyprus’ legal services after being sworn earlier than the scheduled date of 10 July due to the abrupt resignation of Attorney General Costas Clerides who was expected to step down on 8 July.

Savvides and Angelides, both lawyers by profession, were Justice and Defence Ministers, respectively.

During his speech at the swearing-in ceremony, acknowledging the great importance of their independent roles, President Nicos Anastasiades outlined the criteria and reasoning behind the appointments.

He said the roles required morality, honesty, discretion, integrity, deep and excellent knowledge of legal training as well as many years of experience.

“Above all, citizens expect from them to take into account the strictly defined powers and responsibilities…You are called upon to safeguard these principles and values.”

He also expects them “to focus on delivering equality, good governance and to exhibit dignity and protect the rights of citizens from arbitrariness and abuse of power”.

Anastasiades made special mention of the need to speed up pending cases to ensure the justice system operates more quickly and efficiently.

“From today you become independent state officials, and no one has the right to interfere in your work.”

At the outgoing ceremony Attorney General Costas Clerides also received a special thanks, with the President applauding his dedication in serving the country.

“His long and rich presence in the legal affairs of our country have been important for the defence of the constitutional order.”

Following the debacle over his retirement date, Clerides tendered his resignation on Friday in an act of protest over the way he was treated, citing pressure for him to go early.

Clerides had initially claimed that his term did not technically finish until the end of July, and not on 8 July when reaching the retirement age of 68, for an AG.

Clerides was to take the remainder of his annual leave before retiring but claimed that he was not able to do so as there was no deputy attorney general to cover in his absence.

During the ceremony of his replacement the outgoing AG said that during his tenure, the legal services had delivered a substantial amount of successes.

“With good cooperation between the Auditor General’s office and the Police, we have taken to court and secured convictions on corruption charges, many public figures, such as MPs, former ministers, board members and a former Central Banker,” Clerides said.

Accepting the legal services’ portfolio, new Attorney General, George Savvides said: “I take on my new duties with a deep awareness of the task ahead, pledging to serve this supreme institution, safeguarding the Constitution with the view that no one is above the law.”

New Deputy AG, Savvas Angelides, stated that he undertakes his duties with full awareness of his responsibility with a focus on administrating justice.

“We have to live up to citizens’ expectations.”