By Constantinos Psillides
The Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints against the Police (IAIACAP) have asked to stop the deportation of an immigrant couple, who are key witnesses in a suspected police brutality case involving the wife last year.
According to immigrant support group KISA, the married couple, a Sri Lankan woman and a man from Romania, were allegedly assaulted by a police officer in January 2013.
The woman – who has been living in Cyprus for 14 years – was pregnant at the time but lost the child days after she was hospitalised over the incident, said KISA.
According to the support group, on Monday February 10 this year, the husband and his brother were approached by police officers on the street who demanded explanations for his possession of a set of construction tools he had in his vehicle.
Police officers also asked to see licence and registration and then arrested them both, accusing them of using the construction tools for burglaries, according to KISA.
The man was taken to the police holding area in Lakatamia where he was visited on February 11 by his wife and child. KISA said police officers then arrested the mother in front of her three-year old boy. The woman was informed that she would be deported immediately, as her marriage was deemed a sham by the immigration services, according to KISA.
The organisation said the woman has a residence permit valid until 2018, which was granted to her after the couple presented DNA evidence to immigration that her Romanian husband was the father of her child.
KISA said the child has now been handed over to welfare services, which protested the separation of the boy from his mother. Officers ignored the protests and put the mother behind bars, KISA said.
The group argues that the arrest of the couple violates EU laws and that arresting the mother in front of her child violates international child protection laws.
KISA asks for the immediate release of the couple, while casting doubts over the motives behind the arrest. “Their arrest constitutes a punishable offence if they were detained due to the findings of the IAIACAP report,” it said.
Head of the IAIACAP, Andreas Spyridakis, told the Cyprus Mail that he took immediate action after he learned of the arrest and deportation order. “We contacted the attorney-general’s office and informed legal services that the couple were key witnesses in a suspected police brutality case. We asked for the deportation order to be rescinded and the immediate release of the two,” said Spyridakis, refusing to comment on IAIACAP findings on the original case from January 2013.
“Our investigation is complete and we handed our findings over to the attorney-general. Our office can only deal with disciplinary cases but this is a criminal case investigation. The attorney-general’s office will take it from here,” added Spyridakis.