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Presidential Pardon For MP's Speeding Tickets

andreas themistocleous speeding ticketsFormer DISY MP Andreas Themistocleous received a presidential pardon for three speeding tickets he received in 2009 and 2010 when he was still a member of parliament, according to a report by Politis newspaper.

Themistocleous lost nine points on his drivers license and was fined 900 euros, there was even an arrest warrant out for him, but Attorney-general Petros Clerides recommended the president give him a pardon on technical grounds. MPs are immune to prosecution whilst they are in office, according to the constitution, so the traffic police and judge who ruled against Themistocleous were in the wrong, said the attorney-general. Asked who will control MPs who break traffic laws, Clerides said that they should be taken in hand by their parties and party leaders, apparently recommending that a group other than the justice system should take the law into its hands.

It's not clear what the attorney-general would have recommended in the case of manslaughter through reckless driving.

Politis newspaper was trying to create the impression that President Demetris Christofias was returning political favours to Themistocleous, said the former MP in comments to state broadcaster CyBC. The real reason for the story is an ongoing court case between Politis and Themistoclous, said the ex-MP. In other statements, he said the job of an MP was pressured and he had to drive fast.

"Thousands of people break traffic laws every day," said Themistocleous, "people should look at the timing of this story, during an election year."

But a spokesman for Politis also phoned into the news programme on state radio, saying that immunity whilst in office does not apply to traffic violations. MPs are immune from prosecution for what they say in Parliament. If an MP is accused of a crime, authorities have to abide by Article 83 in the constitution and get a release by the Supreme Court before prosecuting.

Cyprus has one of the highest road fatality rates in the EU, and the highest rate of motorcycle fatalities relative to its population. Just one look at CyprusNewsReport.com's Road Safety section shows accidents caused by excessive speed, not wearing seatbelts, drink driving and other careless road habits. Although police try to lower the death rate through public service campaigns, their efforts fall on deaf ears and there has only been a slight reduction in the number of people who die in accidents.

A presidential pardon for reckless driving habits like speeding can only reinforce the impression that traffic laws are not taken seriously by anyone in the system, including the president and the attorney-general.

There was no immediate comment from the president's spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.

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