By Constantinos Psillides
The family of four accused of sexually abusing four of their underage relatives 20 years ago were attacked during their remand hearing on Wednesday, by other members of the extended family.
The 63-year-old father and the 37-year-old son were attacked by a group of relatives who were waiting for them to arrive at the Limassol District Court. Before being restrained by police, the mob threw the suspects to the ground and started kicking them.
Along with the two other suspects, the 64-year-old mother and a second son, 36, the two were remanded for eight days.
According to the police report, the four suspects were alleged to have sexually assaulted and abused three girls and a boy, from 1992 to 2002. The alleged victims are the children of the 64-year-old woman’s two brothers. The two girls – now 29 and 34 – are sisters to the boy – now 27 – while the fourth victim is the daughter of the second brother. According to the report, all four cousins are believed to have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their aunt, uncle and their two sons.
The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported that police were now looking into whether any other members of the same family were subjected to abuse.
According to CNA, the lead investigator told the court that the case came to light after one of the victims, the 29-year-old woman came forward to report the crime after being urged by her therapist.
Following her report, three more family members came forward. The victims told investigators that they were afraid to step forward before because the family was close together and they feared that no one would believe them.
According to the investigator the 36-year-old son admitted to indecently assaulting the 29-year-old woman about ten times, when she was 12.
The 64-year-old mother claimed that she had divorced her husband after she found out that he was abusing underage girls. Initial reports said that the woman was present during the abuse and that she was in the room when the father and two sons showed pornographic films to the four children.
She rejected the accusations and claims that she wasn’t involved in any of the crimes.
The four are suspected of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.
Police have taken 16 statements so far while also seizing computers and a video camera from the family residence.
Legal advisor for “Hope for Children”, an NGO dedicated in promoting and protecting the rights of children, told the Cyprus Mail that while Cyprus law has a ten year statute of limitations, it does not apply to child sex abuse cases.
“It was repealed in November 2014, when Cyprus passed much stricter laws on child abuse,” said Antonis Stylianou, adding that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway since the suspects were also facing a rape charge.
“This is a grave accusation. A rape charge carries a life imprisonment sentence,” said Stylianou, pointing out that being family members was an aggravating factor.
“If found guilty, the judge will consider the fact that they abused the trust of minors,” he added.
Stylianou said that based on the presumptive charge sheet, the suspects are facing a minimum of 10 years imprisonment.