A public inquiry into the collapse of Cyprus's financial system took an unexpected twist yesterday when former president Demetris Christofias walked out complaining of being treated like a condemned man.
Christofias stormed out after a standoff with the inquiry panel, who refused to allow him to read an opening statement.
"I was president for the past five years. I don't consider myself as just any witness, and I am accused of a great deal by many," Christofias said.
The committee didn’t take kindly to the former president refusing to answer questions until he had his say and when demanding they be put in ting and answered in writing.
Committee chair George Pikis accused Christofias of demanding favouritism and the attorney general must now decide on what action should be taken.
The three-member panel is probing the cause of the crisis, variously blamed on profligate banks, which gorged on written-down Greek government bonds, to fiscal slippage exacerbated under Christofias's government.
"I feel like I am the accused here, as the president who didn't do his job properly," Christofias told a room packed with journalists and many of his supporters form AKEL.
Critics have accused Christofias of shifting the blame for the crisis to banks to detract from his own failure to arrest a spending spree while in power, as well as of delaying seeking an international bailout.
"What nobody says is that there wouldn't be a problem if the banks hadn't gambled on Greek debt," Christofias said.