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Justice won’t be served this Christmas

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For some people, this Christmas won’t be a jolly jaunt of family gatherings, gift-giving and an exercise in overindulgence.

A cost of living crisis, soaring inflation and eye-watering energy bills are enough to knock the stuffing out of a Christmas turkey.

But the festive season is designed to forget our troubles, hail the Cyprus Church’s new leader and ignore that the future is jam-packed with nasty surprises.

If you read the small print, this is also a time of forgiveness and circumspect.

Although this is not in the gift set of the Cyprus justice system that has got itself in a twisted muddle over the prosecution of a British pensioner who killed his terminally-ill wife.

The only Christmas dinner 75-year-old David Hunter has tasted is courtesy of Nicosia Central Prisons, where he is held until his trial concludes.

And after recent events, he may never get to spend another Christmas at home with his family because he faces a life sentence for his crime.

He insists the deed to end his wife’s life was a mercy killing to cut her suffering short, in agreement with her wishes.

It was hoped that a plea bargain could be struck for David to accept a manslaughter charge after pleading not guilty to premeditated murder.

As there is no law for assisted suicide or euthanasia, the prosecution was worried about setting a precedent of leniency.

While a plea was expected to be made, it fell through after both sides blamed the other for changing the terms of what was agreed.

The prosecution felt uneasy that David insisted his wife had requested he end her life as the pain was insufferable.

Defence lawyers were confident that prosecutors would see there was no mileage in pursuing a murder case.

They were wrong. The Attorney-general believes it is in the public interest for David Hunter’s nightmare to be relived and prolonged.

Arguably, he was put in an impossible position to prevent a loved one from unbearable pain before inevitable death.

He was ready to admit to killing his childhood sweetheart but not her callous murder.

Some will disagree on ethical/religious grounds, but does a prolonged murder trial really serve the justice system?

Is it in the public interest that this man is sentenced to life behind bars, equivalent to the death penalty, due to his age?

The state prosecution is quite happy to attract unsympathetic international media and punish a man from an expat community uneasy about his plight.

Justice Abroad

UK-based legal aid advocates Justice Abroad have championed the case as an injustice as they did the infamous Ayia Napa rape case, which the authorities also bungled.

A red-faced attorney general had to eat humble pie after throwing the full weight of a loaded justice system against a teenage girl who was badgered into retracting her gang rape claim.

Now Cyprus is determined to make another perilous journey down legal potholes.

Hunter is accused of murdering his wife Janice, who died on 18 December last year at their home in Paphos.

It was hoped a plea bargain could lead to a suspended prison term and get him out of jail before Christmas; now, his trial will drag on.

A faithful husband is in the dock as a brutal murderer – something that would break anybody’s mental strength.

David had tried to take his own life after his wife’s death.

His UK lawyer Michael Polak, a barrister for Justice Abroad, said: “It’s very disappointing. And it seems like they’re treating this criminal case like a game.

“It’s not a game, and it’s a very serious case.

Mr and Mrs Hunter had been together for 56 years and moved from Ashington in Northumberland to Cyprus 20 years ago.

Janice was diagnosed with terminal leukaemia in 2016.

Euthanasia is a taboo subject, but maybe it is about time we confront the issue in a grown-up manner.

Is it time to let terminally ill people choose a dignified death to depart on their terms within boundaries?

And maybe the justice system should put the government on trial for how it treats cancer patients and the lack of good hospice care.

What is being done to make the final days of cancer patients more comfortable? Are we doing everything we can to ensure better outcomes?

I’m sure if you dig beneath the Christmas tree, the truth will unsettle you, but that’s a truth nobody is willing to divulge.