A draft bill to ensure ministers and government officials are criminally responsible for their actions during their term in office were yesterday approved by the Cabinet.
This was in accordance with a pre-election promise made by President Anastasiades in response to the public outcry over the deadly Mari naval blast.
According to the draft bill, ministers and cabinet members will be liable for criminal offences related to violating the constitution, the law, or for causing intentional harm to the Republic’s interests.
The bill comes after public outrage following the 2011 Mari blast that killed 13 people.
A trial found only former Defence Minister Costas Papacosta guilty of manslaughter and causing death by negligence, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Former Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou and ex-National Guard deputy chief Savvas Argyrou were cleared of all charges.
Relatives of the victims also demanded that then president Demetris Christofias be prosecuted, but he was protected under the constitution.
Fire services Chief Andreas Nicolaou, deputy chief Charalambos Charalambous and commander of the disaster response unit (EMAK) Andreas Loizides were also found guilty of causing death through negligence. They received two years in jail each.
Relatives of the victims described the verdict as an “outrage” while thousands of Cypriots expressed their anger over the light sentences.
Cabinet also decided to launch a discussion with the social partners in the private sector to establish a two-year emergency plan to fight record unemployment.
More specifically, the government will discuss compensation schemes for overtime, holidays and shift work, general pay rises, restructuring working hours, part-time employment, provident funds, new employees’ salaries, benefits for employees of semi-government organisations and local authorities, employment priority for permanent residents and fighting illegal employment.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said the two-year plan will look to ensure that private businesses can keep their current employees and create new job positions.
“We are trying to regulate this emergency situation (in the economy) so that there are the appropriate work adjustments in the framework of today’s possibilities,” said Papadopoulos.
Cabinet also approved an amendment to the 2011-2012 laws which froze pay rises for government employees and the pensions of former civil service or public sector employees, so that in case of promotions there is no additional financial burden for the state.
Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou was authorised to consult the Legal Service regarding making similar amendments for the education sector, the National Guard and the police.