Relatives of the 13 men who died in the July 11 explosion at Mari naval base have petitioned the Supreme Court challenging Article 45 of the Constitution which governs immunity and prosecution of the President of the Republic.
The application was filed by two of the victim’s families who claim that President Christofias' immunity should be waived and he should face criminal charges for the explosion before his term is over. This is the first time ever in the Republic of Cyprus that such a petition comes in front of the High Court. The hearing for the case before the full plenary of the High Court is set for March 8.
An independent inquiry, ordered by President Christofias himself immetiately after the catastrophe, and lead by Polys Polyviou, found Christofias, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou and the Minister of Defence Kostas Papakostas mainly responsible for the events that lead to the explosion.
Article 45 of the Cyprus Constitution says that “The President or the Vice-President of the Republic may be prosecuted for an offence involving dishonesty or moral turpitude upon a charge preferred by the Attorney-General and the Deputy Attorney-General of the Republic before the High Court with the leave of the President of the High Court.”
Speaking to the state owned Television Station CBC, the lawyer Christos Triantafyllides who represents the relatives said that there is ambiguity in article 45 and it’s not clear exactly what crimes are included in the phrases "an offense involving dishonesty" and "moral turpitude offense", and it is not clear, he said whether these phrases include the offense of manslaughter under Article 205 of the Penal Code or for causing death due to reckless or dangerous act or omission of Article 210 of the Penal Code.
The plaintiffs have also asked for clarification of paragraph 5 of article 45 which states that “the President or the Vice-President of the Republic shall not be liable to prosecution for any offence committed by him in the execution of his functions.”
During the interview at CBC Triantafyllides added that, even if the High Court interprets article 45, in a way that gives the right for prosecuting the president, it’s up to the Attorney General Petros Clerides to decide for or against the prosecution.
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