Cyprus Mail

Police under fire in CyTA scandal

By Stefanos Evripidou

JUSTICE MINISTER Ionas Nicolaou has in his hands a report from police chief Michalis Papageorgiou on allegations that police failed to execute an arrest warrant against a key witness in the CyTA land scandal and then used intimidation tactics against his wife.

The report examines events surrounding the testimony of Mimis Fantousis regarding the dodgy land deal in Dromolaxia between the CyTA pension fund and businessman Nicos Lillis.

The case has shaken Cypriot politics in the past few weeks, uncovering what at first glance looks like an intricate and deeply entrenched web of corruption allegedly involving a semi-government organisation, civil servants, businessmen, unions and political parties.

Investigations so far have led to the arrest, remand and release of three CyTA staff (a union rep, a senior director and the semi-government body’s chairman), two senior AKEL officials, a land registry official, and a businessman, while court proceedings have already been initiated against Lillis and two police officers who face charges in connection with the case.

Police have come under fire from various quarters regarding the events surrounding the testimony of Fantousis on the case.

According to reports, his testimony was key to securing the remand of two senior AKEL officials.

However, reports also revealed that arrest warrants have been pending against Fantousis for some time now over unpaid debts, prompting some to question how the witness ended up at police headquarters making a statement when he was supposedly a wanted man by the state.

Adding to the criticism piling up against the police force was an incident which allegedly took place after Fanoutsis gave his testimony to police.

Police were accused by Fanoutsis’ wife of attempted intimidation against the family over a traffic violation, the implication being that a section of the police force was not happy with her husband’s testimony and its implications.

According to yesterday’s Alithia, Fantousis’ 28-year-old wife, Irene, made a statement to police regarding the allegations of police intimidation.

The paper reported that Irene said in her statement that she arrived to her home at 1.15pm after picking up her five year-old from school, when she found five uniformed policemen on their motorbikes with sirens blaring. One of the policemen allegedly parked his motorbike next to her door so she could not open it and told her to roll down the window.

Alithia wrote that the police officer, after asking for her driving licence and insurance, informed her that her car insurance had expired and that the car would have to be confiscated. A pick-up truck was then called.

Two police patrol cars also showed up, along with two civilian cars parked in the area, while three uniformed policewomen also appeared on the pavement.

“They treated me like I was the worst criminal,” the 28-year-old allegedly said in her statement, slamming police for their behaviour which scared her five-year-old to tears.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Nicolaou limited his comments to saying that he would study the report prepared by Papageorgiou on the two issues of pending arrest warrants and alleged intimidation and if necessary, seek further clarification or investigation.

“There are some issues that need investigation,” he said noting that what was delivered to him was simply a report on the facts.

The minister said if police took action as a result of Fantousis’ testimony, this was serious.

If something happened on purpose, “you can be sure it will not go unnoticed”, he said.

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