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Cyprus

Suspected rapist sent home by mistake

Central prison under fire for mistakenly releasing a rape suspect

By Constantinos Psillides

A ROMANIAN inmate in the Central Prison, suspected of taking part in the group rape of another Romanian inmate, received a presidential pardon and was sent back to his country, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said on Saturday.

The rape, that took place in January, came amid public outcry over the alarming conditions inside the Central Prison after five suicides and two suicide attempts all in the span of 18 months. The case even prompted a reaction by President Nicos Anastasiades who visited the 23-year-old rape victim at the hospital and publicly pledged that “heads will roll”.

The mistake, which was only revealed on Saturday, came to light after police officers visited the Central Prison on October 8 to take the Romanian to court but instead found out that he had left the country.

It was then discovered that his name had been put on a list for presidential pardons in August – the prison administration often gives pardons to counter overcrowding – which he received.

According to Angelides, the man was serving a sentence for theft and was scheduled to be released in early 2015. Inmates who committed minor crimes – such as theft, drug use or burglary – when nearing the end of their sentence are usually pardoned by presidential order and in the case of immigrants immediately deported back to their country of origin. The Romanian was back in his country in late August.

It took authorities two months to realise their mistake.

While police investigators completed the report on the group rape and submitted it to the attorney-general’s office, they failed to notify the prison administration, which allowed the suspect inmate to roll through the cracks of standard procedure.

The mistake prompted an irate letter from Deputy Attorney-general Rikkos Erotokritou on October 9, saying that the situation was unacceptable and that deporting a man who was under investigation for a major crime, “is something unheard of”.

Under instructions by Erotokritou the police have issued an international arrest warrant.

Daily Politis reported – citing sources – that Romanian authorities have located the man and are close to arresting him.

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