Ex-offshore businessman deported

By Anthony O. Miller

WITHOUT even notifying his lawyer, Cyprus Police yesterday deported a Pakistani national and former offshore businessman, who was jailed when he complied with Immigration Department instructions to apply for a visa to extend his stay in Cyprus.

Eric Ernest, 31, “was deported back to Pakistan yesterday … without anyone telling us anything,” grumbled his Nicosia lawyer, Yiannakis Erotocritou, a well-known human rights lawyer.

“They never contacted me. Nobody!” said Erotocritou, who had successfully petitioned Attorney-general Alecos Markides to spring from jail 11 days ago.

Ernest was originally arrested on March 16 for allegedly ignoring what the Migration Department claimed were written denials last year of his requests to stay in Cyprus for three months to arrange to join his American wife in the United States.

Freed from jail two days later by Markides, he was jailed again on March 19, when he went – on Migration Department instructions – to apply for the visa to let him stay in Cyprus.

The arrest warrant and deportation order were issued by the Migration Department, Erotocritou said, while the actual airplane ticket purchase and deportation was done by Cyprus Police, “acting on law and regulations on the books since 1957.”

That way, Chief Migration Officer Christodoulos Nicolaides could honestly claim not to have known anything about Ernest’s actual deportation, when Erotocritou asked about it, he said.

“I am going to send a letter, myself, to National Organisation for Human Rights Chairman George Stavrinakis,” to demand an investigation of the deportation, said Erotocritou.

He noted Ernest’s deportation was carried out early yesterday, some eight hours before the Migration Department issued a two-page press release justifying its re-arrest of Ernest, after Markides had ordered his release from jail.

He slammed the press release as a falsehood for claiming the Migration Department had responded – negatively – to two letters of Ernest’s, last Autumn, requesting a visa extension.

“They never wrote to him,” he said, acknowledging that, since such records are not computerised, but are strictly paper files, the Migration Department could well have inserted `copies’ of letters post-dated last autumn to Ernest’s files to appear to back its claim to having written him, denying his requests.