By Constantinos Psillides
A BULGARIAN national who has been detained at Menoyia said yesterday he has been there since February and has no word about his deportation.
Nikolai Paskelev said there were three other EU citizens in the detention centre in the same situation.
“This feels like a kidnapping. I am held here and nobody tells me anything. A court decided I did nothing wrong but they still arrested me and won’t deport me back. I don’t know what to do,” said Paskelev.
He came to Cyprus in December 2013 and was later arrested on charges of burglary. He was acquitted in February but immediately re-arrested and sent to Menoyia to be deported. The Bulgarian national told the Cyprus Mail that the immigration services promised him that someone would drive him to the airport and put him on a plane but nobody has yet shown up to do just that.
“My family lives in Greece, my wife and son are in Thessaloniki. I own a house there. I have no issue with being deported. I want to leave. I want to go to my family,” added Paskelev.
A high ranking official, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Cyprus Mail that EU citizens are taken to Menoyia for three reasons: either they are reluctant witnesses to a criminal case and need to be detained until the trial, or they have been convicted of a crime. The third reason is if they are deemed a danger to public safety.
“They are not prisoners here. They are detained until they are deported,” said the official. He said deportation can sometimes take a while.
“If the detainee has his papers in order, then it’s a matter of days. But if they destroyed their travel documents, which is often the case, then it becomes far more complicated. One way to determine who the detainee really is to take him to his country’s embassy. But we can’t do it by force. The detainee has to volunteer to go,” added the official.
Asked whether a four month detention period was acceptable in the case of an EU national, the official agreed that was too long but not surprising,
“considering the bureaucracy governing these deportations”.
The detention centre came under heavy criticism when Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou appeared before the Ethics Committee on Tuesday and said Cyprus was on the verge of being convicted for human rights violations by effectively turning the detention centre to a maximum security prison.