Bill to target corrupt public officials

A new piece of draft legislation, to be submitted in Parliament soon by Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis, aims to speed up the process of getting public officials accused of corruption to stand trial.

The initiative aims to bring to account officials at ministries and public companies – ranging from ministers to general secretaries – who have been accused of committing crimes such as money laundering and taking bribes.

Ministers will still be protected by parliamentary immunity for the period during which they are in office but can stand trial for crimes committed when they did not hold power.

The goal is for the defendants to be brought to trial within eight months of the launch of the preliminary investigation into their alleged offenses. In this way, Kastanidis said yesterday, the majority of such cases would be resolved within a year.

Kastanidis?s estimate might be ambitious as the county?s laborious justice system has resulted in a backlog of tens of thousands of cases that are waiting to be heard.

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