Cyprus Mail

Police defend actions in Limassol murder suicide (updated)

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides

Police said without a written complaint they could not have withheld a military firearm later used to kill a woman before the perpetrator, her estranged husband, took his own life in Limassol on Monday evening.

The 27-year-old victim’s relatives charged that police had taken the army issue assault rifle away from the man, 32, following complaints about his violent and dangerous character but handed it back to him a day later.

The National Guard issues assault rifles to reservists, as well as ammunition, that they keep at home.

The 32-year-old shot and killed his wife with his  assault rifle and injured his underage daughter before taking his own life at the home of the woman’s parents in Ayios Ioannis.

The daughter, 10, was rushed to hospital where she underwent surgery. Her condition is not life threatening.

The couple have two other children aged six and three months.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides sought to defend the force’s actions, saying a written complaint had never been filed and without it they could not have held on to the weapon.

Angelides said there had been a complaint by the victim on September 17 following an argument with her husband but when officers visited the woman she did not file a written statement, nor did she mention anything about threats.

“Officers collected a G3 rifle, which was handed over by the 32-year-old,” Angelides said.

However, it was returned the next day because there was no warrant for its seizure, the police spokesman added.

“For police to seize a firearm there must be a court order and one of the conditions is a written complaint,” he added.

On September 28, there had been a fresh complaint from the woman that her husband had visited her at her parents’ and they had a fight.

“No threats were mentioned, either in the first instance or the second one,” Angelides said. “Nor did the victim give a written statement, something she had been asked to do the first time.”

The matter will be discussed by the National Guard command on Thursday, reports said.

Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said there were procedures in place that allowed relatives or other people to report any problems but maybe there was a need to look into improving the system.

The programme of issuing firearms to reservists started in 1994.

“It is linked with the National Guard’s operational needs,” the minister said, noting that reservists where the force’s core.

The House Defence Committee will also discuss the matter though there was no question of disarming reservists.

Committee chairman Giorgos Varnavas said there had only been a few incidents involving army firearms. The issue was whether the various state services had functioned properly.

“Would we be considering a ban on hunting shotguns if one had been used?” Varnavas said.

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