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Cyprus

Charges filed in police brutality case

By Angelos Anastasiou

Criminal investigator Leonidas Papaspirou filed charges against the two policemen seen in a video viciously beating a young man in a police cell in Polis in February 2014, independent police watchdog (IAIACAP) boss Andreas Spyridakis said on Friday.

According to Spyridakis, in a meeting with the criminal investigator in Limassol, the two officers declined to respond to the charges before consulting with their lawyer.

He added that the Legal Service would formally file the criminal charges against them in court on Monday.

“If they are found guilty of committing these crimes, their punishment will be severe,” Spyridakis said.

The IAIACAP head revealed that the criminal investigator originally appointed to look into the case had been the head of Paphos police, under whom the two policemen served, but was replaced after the officers voiced reservations.

“There never was any effort to cover up the case,” he claimed.

But the fact that the initial criminal investigator was replaced at the request of the two policemen directly contradicts Spyridakis’ claim on Thursday that the replacement was decided not because anyone asked for it but because the Paphos police head “knew several people at the Polis Chrysochous station and thus had a conflict of interest”.

Asked why the IAIACAP failed to ask for the two officers’ suspension, he claimed that “since the authority was created, some ten years ago, it has been standard practice that it didn’t ask for the suspension of officers involved in such criminal offences”.

Though hardly a solid argument, his claim is also at odds with his remarks from Thursday, when he put the authority’s failure to ask for the suspension of the policemen down to “negligence”.

Still, he said, the police had been in possession of the video in question right from the start, and could – but did not – order the suspension of the two before the case was passed on to the IAIACAP.

And with regard to the delay in processing the case, for which the authority has received flak from both the government and the police, Spyridakis said it was due to the absence of two IAIACAP members for health reasons. For very serious cases such as this one, he claimed, the watchdog has always sought to make decisions in a full house.

But, he shot back, although the justice minister had been aware of the resignation of a third member, it took him and the government two months to appoint a replacement, further delaying the authority’s operation.

Plus, he argued, the IAIACAP is severely understaffed, as is the Legal Service.

But it seems that his somewhat erratic remarks left the government less than impressed. On Friday, Undersecretary to the President Constantinos Petrides tweeted a sharp barb against Spyridakis.

“The IAIACAP’s chairman had better stop making excuses because he is just embarrassing himself publicly,” he wrote.

“Claiming he hasn’t got enough TYPISTS!”

Spyridakis was re-appointed chairman of the IAIACAP in April 2011 for a five-year term, after serving the remainder of previous chairman Yiannakis Agapiou’s term when he passed away a year earlier.

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