By Constantinos Psillides
CONTROVERSY has hit the fences of the Menoyia Detention Centre once again, as a 38-year old Portuguese man currently held there faces deportation despite being an EU citizen and in frail health.
The 38-year old, who was sentenced to 6 months in prison back in March in relation to theft, was scheduled to be released on September 22 but instead was transported to Menoyia to await deportation.
His sister contacted the Cyprus Mail in a last ditch attempt to thwart the deportation order and have her brother released. “I have contacted Menoyia, immigration, the hospital, KISA, my local MP, Portuguese MEPs, I don’t know what else to do,” she writes in her email, asking for leniency for her brother.
She claims that his only crime was being drunk and aiding a theft by helping a Romanian man escape. According to her email, her brother was asked by a fellow worker to drive him somewhere, without knowing that he was carrying stolen items. While the Romanian was never captured, the Portuguese man was sentenced to 6 months in prison for his role in the crime. According to the sister, he contacted the theft victim, paid him €2,000 – the estimated value of the stolen items – and apologised. According to his lawyer, the victim told the court that he had no quarrel with the 34-year old and that he accepted his apology and compensation.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” wrote the sister in her email to the Cyprus Mail, pointing out that the court ignored all that and sentenced him to six months.
The 38-year old’s partner, a Romanian woman with whom they have been living in Cyprus for the last six years was devastated after she was informed about his deportation order.
“Why do they have to do this? Why? They sent him to prison and he served without complaint. Why do they have to deport him? All the real criminals are roaming the streets outside and they decide to punish a man who has shown remorse and paid for his mistakes,” his partner told the Cyprus Mail, adding that he was helping her make the payments for a house she bought. “It has gotten very difficult with him in prison. I’m in Cyprus for the last 17 years and he has been here for seven. Why don’t they leave us alone?”
The man, who according to his family and lawyer never had any run-ins with the law before, also faces several medical issues. His partner told the Mail that he had one lung removed due to an accident, he has metal plates inserted in one of his legs and also suffers from a stomach ulcer. His sister claims that police denied him medical treatment on a number of occasions.
The 38-year old is the latest in a line of people falling victim to the draconian practice of deporting anyone who has either committed or participated in a crime. The practice, favoured by law enforcement with the aid of the migration department, doesn’t take into consideration any mitigating factors, such as the person’s health, the seriousness of the crime –it applies to both murderers and petty thieves – or whether he has a family on the island. The practice was criticised by NGOs such as the immigrant support group KISA, the media as well as by ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou.
The 38-year old is currently waiting for the court to decide on his appeal against the deportation order. According to the lawyer, the chances of the order to be rescinded are slim and he estimates that the man will even be deported before a decision is reached.