The Initiative Group for an Independent and Strong Anti-Corruption Authority sent a letter to the Parliamentary Legal Committee, responding to a recent one sent by the former Minister of Justice, Ionas Nikolaou. The Initiative Group, through its letter, attaches the position of a reputable lawyer, who was asked to state in writing his opinion on the position of Mr. Nikolaos that the Independent Anti-Corruption Authority should not have investigative powers. The lawyer, who is not named, so as not to be attributed, as mentioned, alien and / or selfish motives, expresses the view that in the Authority there should be investigators.
In fact, his position is that “if the core of the facts is corruption, then all offenses should be investigated by the Authority. This is so as not to fragment the interrogation, which could lead to ineffective prosecution. “But if the basis of the facts does not emerge from corruption, then the case should be sent to the Police for investigation.” .
This is the reply letter of the Initiative Group:
INITIATIVE GROUP FOR AN INDEPENDENT AND STRONG PRINCIPLE AGAINST CORRUPTION
OPEN LETTER TO THE LAW COMMITTEE OF THE PARLIAMENT
Following the letter of the former PPP Ionas Nikolaou to the Legal Committee of the Parliament on the issue of the investigative powers of the Authority with which he argues against, the INITIATIVE FOR INDEPENDENT AND STRONG AUTHORITY of nature to prepare a short note on the subject. He preferred anonymity in order not to be given alien and / or selfish motives. We quote it below:
The main argument (Iona Nikolaou) is that there will be a complex legislative framework that is difficult to implement due to the fact that “a principle whose appointment framework can not guarantee guarantees of its effectiveness, independence and integrity, the operation will not be able to ensure its effective coordination with law enforcement authorities; failures to respond to investigative responsibilities; corruption at a time when impunity and inadequacy in the investigation of corruption are being discussed. “
On page 7 of Nikolaou's letter, something is noted that is absolutely correct. In corruption cases, there is a great deal of effort on the part of the suspects and / or defendants to influence the persons involved (at least the investigators and the prosecutor) and where this method fails, there is a defamation of the anti-corruption bodies for no apparent reason. international research). It is internationally recorded that both the investigation and the prosecution of such crimes require great patience, method and perseverance, but the need for support from those involved by the institutions and society is urgent. The entanglement of the media in such cases and the distortion of reality when they try it is recorded.
That is why what Mr. Nikolaou says is correct. But the question is elsewhere. The whole process of investigation and prosecution will be more effective, which will be documented to be attacked from everywhere, if it is based on the hands of one or two persons (GE or BGE) or better the decision of the GE, which institutionally takes the final prosecution decision to assist, is it documented and supported by the decision of an independent body (five members), which with its own resources and investigators will conduct the investigations? On the contrary, any decision of the General Assembly not to prosecute should be so well documented that it can overcome the opposite report and findings of an Independent Authority. Any joint decision will be fully secured. At the end of the day, what is necessary, and is mentioned in Nikolaou's letter, is that all institutions and political forces must stand and support and defend both the operation and the independence of the new Institution. Attacks by political parties against justice, as we have had in the past, in such cases must not be repeated. If, therefore, the support of these Institutions of Democracy is given, as Mr. Nikolaou calls, then the independent operation of the Authority is possible, with the amendments that you suggest with my following remarks:
- I take it for granted that an Anti-Corruption Authority should have its own independent budget and its own investigators. However, the main body of its investigators must be lawyers with experience in investigative duties. It is right and given that it is a very difficult job that requires experience and depth of knowledge. I therefore agree with the position that investigators should for the most part be police officers, but who should not be hierarchically subordinated to the leadership of the Police. My personal experience shows that information to the media and suspects (very critical in a corruption case) is provided by senior police officers and not by investigators, whose interest is to investigate the cases. Of course, the provision for the appointment of independent investigators should remain correct, but they should work in conjunction with experienced police investigators. Again, I refer from personal experience.
- The question is whether investigators are better off reporting to the GE or BGE or the Authority. For the reasons I have argued above and recent history shows that it is better to belong to the Authority, in an independent 5-member composition (my personal opinion the three-member could perform its duties more effectively). Given that it has 5 members, one member could be the competent Prosecutor of NY for criminal prosecutions. In any case, the tested model with the Authority for the Investigation of Complaints against the Police, demonstrates that this can work, without the powers of the General Staff being affected in any way. Ultimately, the issue of ensuring efficiency and impartiality can be more fully ensured by the existence of an independent Authority, which will refer the file to the GE for the final and absolute judgment of the latter.
- On the question of whether the external or political relations of the state should be excluded from the competences of the Authority, I consider that this concern can be covered by a provision that the purchase contracts concerning the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense fall within the competences of the Authority.
- The question arises as to whether the Authority will investigate, in addition to corruption offenses, other criminal offenses that appear to have been committed. It is my position that if the core of the facts is corruption, then all offenses should be investigated by the Authority. This is so as not to fragment the interrogation, which could lead to ineffective prosecution. But if the basis of the facts does not result from corruption, then the case should be sent for investigation to the Police.
I am of the opinion that audit inspectors can work independently of investigators internally in the public administration to suggest changes to procedures.