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Shepherd jailed for building hut

Why can a shepherd be jailed for building a hut when a wealthy businessman can add an extra floor to his house or a developer build without having first secured the necessary permits without being sent to prison?

CorruptionHOUSE Watchdog committee president Demetris Syllouris, speaking on a radio show yesterday morning expressed outrage about the news that a ‘poor’ shepherd had been sentenced to prison for illegally building a small hut on land belonging to the Forestry Department.

His outrage stemmed from the fact that the authorities were coming down hard on minor offenders while the people responsible for bankrupting the two biggest banks and sinking the economy were still roaming free.

Syllouris’ comment could have been interpreted as a call on the authorities not to enforce the law, but that would be missing the point. By highlighting the plight of the shepherd, he was touching a much broader issue – that there is no equality before the law which is enforced only in the case of the little people.

A wealthy businessman could violate a building permit by adding an extra floor to a building but would not end up in prison; neither would a well-connected individual be jailed for building a house on a bigger area of land than a permit stipulated.

But when a shepherd builds a small shack on state land the long arm of the law immediately grabs him. There could be another aspect to this case that we are not aware of. Perhaps the shepherd had been served with a court order to pull down the shack and ignored it, in which case the judge would have no choice but to impose a custodial sentence. But this still does not eliminate the perception that the law might not be applied in the same way for everyone.

It would be wrong to blame the judges for this perception, because it is the state legal services that might not pursue all cases with the same zeal. As Syllouris pointed out yesterday, not a single person had yet been charged for the collapse of the banks. Admittedly, these are complicated cases that require thorough investigations and going through hundreds of documents. The delays could be attributed to lack of expertise or know-how in the police and the Attorney-General’s office, in which case help should have been sought from abroad.

More than a month ago, the Attorney-General announced that the cases would have been prepared within a few weeks, but we are still waiting. Nobody knows the causes of the delays, but it would be a great embarrassment for the Attorney-General if, after all this build-up of expectations, there were no prosecutions. This would strengthen the suspicion that in Cyprus only the small-time crooks are brought to justice.

Readers' comments

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  • CyprusFromVery FarTheBetter says:

    Well said Cyprus from afar……it’s the dinner circuit that he lacked, specially if from Limassol. I know from first hand experience . All rotten to the core & I’m from Cypriot heritage that didn’t even make a difference in there eyes.

  • jon frazer says:

    Been fleeeced, something new for Cyprus!

  • Cyprus from afar. says:

    Obviously the shepherd doesn’t do the same dinner circuit with the politicians, bankers, developers and lawyers et al.

  • MartynG says:

    I quite agree with the sentiments, comments below. Also, re the ‘lamb to the slaughter’ he has been a brave man indeed for comparing his plight with that of the fat-cat developers, lawyers and bankers who, so far, seem to remain ‘untouched’.

    On a lighter note, I read the Attorney General, no less, had his government car repossessed on Wednesday, subject of a Court Order against the government by a landowner who had had his land ‘compulsorily purchased’ and then ‘passed back’ to him, without compensation, as it was ‘no longer required’. The Cyprus Mail reported that the AG had been unable to intervene as there was a properly issued Court Order on his and other government vehicles which even he was unable to revoke!! There exists a great pic of the said vehicle being winched onto the recovery truck!

    Updating the latter, folks might want to read the bizarre background to all this in Today’s (28th March) Cyprus Mail, which begins “The sequence of events leading up to the seizure of the Attorney-general’s car on Wednesday has raised questions as to the handling of the land expropriation case that resulted in the state owing the owner €9m for land it has no use for, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos has said.

    If the property transactions behind all this weren’t so ludicrously and outrageously incompetent, the whole thing would rate as the ‘Laugh of the year”, even decade!

  • Deanna says:

    Well done to the House Watchdog for bringing this into the public domain.

    Keep it up, we need more public exposures which show the two faces of Justice in Cyprus.

  • Ken of Kiti says:

    I’m sure this sort of thing happens in most “Third World Countries” where there are no fair Laws for the little people. Why should Cyprus be any different?

  • Adrian says:

    This shepherd is sent to jail for building a shelter and lawyers developers and bankers manipulate the laws and con people out of thousands, don’t pay their taxes, IPT etc and walk away free.

    The shepherd should have built the shack sold it twice to different people stashed the money away and he would not be any worse off. He obviously didn’t pay the “consultancy and administration fees”!!!!

  • Janner says:

    If this man isn’t careful he’ll find himself held personally responsible, by the authorities, for the economic collapse of Cyprus too!

  • Lamb to the slaughter says:

    This is how the rich get richer! The laws are designed for the rich and powerful, to enable them to put down and keep the rest of the population subservient and in there place. This shepherd is now jailed and the rich will take his land. If he had money they would have extracted that in lawyer fees and then take his land. Get use to it, its the future. In these tough times no rich people have suffered. Poor people have been taxed or they’re savings plundered to keep irresponsible banks afloat. Then they come and take your property from you because you cant afford to make mortgage payments. The shepherd never stood a chance, like 95% of the population he is cannon fodder and only there to keep the rich, rich!

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