By Poly Pantelides
VIDEO footage released by migrant support group KISA shows police officers apparently trying to subdue an Ivorian man and breaking his leg in the process at the centre of the capital Nicosia.
The justice minister said yesterday the case would be investigated.
KISA said that a patrol with three police MMAD officers randomly stopped three African men, all black, between Eleftheria Square and the Ohi roundabout in the heart of Nicosia on Wednesday shortly after 1pm.
All men presented papers showing they were in Cyprus legally.
One of them accused police of racial profiling for choosing to stop them for no reason other than their skin colour, KISA said.
The video shows the man fall on the ground as a police officer tries to handcuff him.
The man is screaming and his leg appears broken. “It’s come apart,” the police officer said as he was handcuffing him.
“I ask you a simple question. Why because I’m black that you control me?” the Ivorian man told police.
KISA said the man has been living in Cyprus for seven years and is married to a Cypriot with whom he has a four-year-old child.
Off camera, another man said in English: “Let the world [see] what is happening. This [is] what blacks go through here.”
“Can you see? This is someone’s leg. It’s broken.”
The independent authority for the investigation of allegations and complaints against the police have confirmed they had received an official complaint and would be appointing a criminal investigator.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said earlier yesterday the case would be investigated. “I said as soon as I took over [in February] that I don’t want to see people getting beaten up by police,” Nicolaou said. He said that with the exception of “one or two isolated cases,” police in general had not used violence, even during “combative protests” outside the presidential palace and parliament. “There have been one or two isolated cases but they were investigated and there were even consequences for the police office in one of them.”
The Ivorian man was yesterday in Nicosia General Hospital with a broken leg, KISA said.
The video footage shows a police officer telling someone over the phone the man was “giving police trouble [and] shouting”. A police brief on the incident says officers arrested a person in relation to giving false information to a police officer, causing a commotion, disturbing the peace and resisting a lawful arrest.
The police press office confirmed the brief referred to the Ivorian man. KISA said after the Ivorian man was taken to hospital, police had refused to lodge a complaint, instead accusing him of resisting authorities and giving them false information. A total of 145 complaints were lodged against police last year, compared with 132 in the previous year. Criminal investigators were assigned to 58 cases, and five were referred to the attorney-general who has the authority to decide whether to proceed with prosecution. The attorney-general authorised further legal action in three cases, two of which related to excessive force by police. In one case, two Paphos-based Romanians accused police of racism and violence during a search of their apartment.
Some viewers may find this footage disturbing.