By Angelos Anastasiou
POLICE arrested two suspects on Wednesday in relation to the attack on the house of Alexis Mavromichalis – aka ‘Alexoui’ on Tuesday night, which left his 28-year-old security guard Stefanos Papadopoulos dead.
According to reports, one the men is thought to be the owner of a car found torched near the village of Ergates, near Nicosia, which according to witnesses was used in the attack.
The other is believed to be an inmate at the Central Prisons.
The attack took place at 7:45 pm on Tuesday, while Mavromichalis was in his house with three other individuals, reportedly his wife, child and a friend.
At the time, Papadopoulos was inside a car parked outside the house in the Strovolos suburb near the French ambassador’s residence. The perpetrators fired an anti-tank rocket and a round of bullets at the car.
“We are evaluating closed-circuit recordings from the house, and we will see what comes out of that,” Nicosia police chief Demetris Demetriou said yesterday.
Although police suspect that the intended target had been Mavromichalis, the attack left his security guard seriously injured – he succumbed shortly after being rushed to the hospital – and everyone inside the house unharmed.
Mavromichalis had been known to the police for some time, as a result of his involvement in the high-profile murder of Dias media group CEO Andis Hadjicostis in 2010 and other serious cases.
Shortly after midnight, witness descriptions of a car seen fleeing the scene led police to a white Seat Ibiza found torched near the village of Ergates, Nicosia.
Demetriou said the car’s chassis number revealed that it had various owners, but was not reported stolen.
“We will await the result of further investigation to establish what the findings are,” he said.
With regard to the weapons used, police confirmed that an anti-tank rocket-launcher, as well as a military-issue assault rifle were used.
Although the weapons are thought to have been smuggled in from the Turkish-occupied areas, the Defence ministry has launched an investigation into any missing anti-tank rocket launchers.
But while confirming that a probe had been launched, a Defence ministry spokesperson said the ministry didn’t know the type of weapon used in the attack, and couldn’t even confirm whether it was, in fact, an anti-tank rocket-launcher – though the latter was made public by the police.
“We don’t know – it’s possible the National Guard has been informed of the exact type, but we haven’t,” the spokesperson said.
Demetriou later confirmed that the weapon used was a rocket-launcher not held by the National Guard, suggesting it was smuggled into the country.
Asked whether the police had been tipped off that Mavromichalis was about to be attacked, the Nicosia police chief said that although such information is “received all the time”, the police can’t “stand behind every person, or outside every house, or behind every car”.
Demetriou noted that both the place and time of the murder were extremely dangerous as innocent bystanders could have been injured.
“People were moving through the area at the time,” he said. “The incident took place in a residential area and could have claimed many victims.”