Cyprus Mail
OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: A well-timed chance to sermonise about our moral inferiors

The video appears to catch one of the officers surveying his handywork

HACKS that had their normally inactive brains working overtime to think up a news story in the last fortnight, when the politicians were on holiday, must have been in church thanking the Lord on Wednesday for answering their prayers for a half-decent story.

What a God-send the video of the Polis cops beating the living daylights out of some hapless man turned out to be. Websites attracted many thousands of visitors, the television news had some real action to broadcast instead of archive material and the newspapers were free to fill their pages with heart-felt articles of moral outrage and indignation.

Suddenly there were easy targets to shoot at like the police, justice minister Ionas, the Attorney-General while stories about halloumi, the property issue and the demands of the CyTA unions were forgotten, which was no bad thing. We had a good excuse to do what we do best – sermonise about our moral inferiors.

The only problem was that we were all on the same side. Ionas, the Chief of Police and the head of the police watchdog authority all labelled the beating ‘shameful’, and lamented the fact that some cops were taking the country backwards. With everyone agreeing we were unable to have a good old-fashioned public row between the good guys and the bad guys.

EVEN the president of the Police Association – code name of the cops’ union – Andreas Symeou had to condemn the violence at a news conference but had to point out that the film footage was selective. But what else did he want to be shown, scenes of the cops being nice to the guy?

Symeou felt that cops may have shown “excessive zeal” in performing their duties and urged them “to avoid, at least in some cases, the use of excessive force”. Obviously, in some cases – when for instance there was no CCTV to film the beating – the use of excessive force was acceptable.

We also had reason to be grateful that our cops used only truncheons. “If this was another country, instead of truncheons, the police could have carried pistols and the results could have been much worse,” said Symeou. Finally, he advised us to “see the psychology of the policeman” in order to try and understand his behaviour.

I examined the psychology, despite knowing nothing about psychology, and my ignorant conclusion was that the two cops were thugs in uniform, who enjoyed beating up a defenceless man on the floor, because it satisfied their sadistic instincts and improved their self-esteem.

MOST reports about the beatings highlighted the snail’s pace at which the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints Against the Police (IAIACAP) worked.

The Polis police victim filed in his complaint in February 2014 and the Authority completed its investigation in May 2015.After being given the go-ahead by the Attorney-General to charge the two cops in May, it needed another two months to do so. In the meantime the victim had been charged, tried and sentenced.

Everyone was asking what was taking IAIACAP so long to complete a pretty straightforward investigation – it had the film footage of the beating so what else was there to investigate? And why had it not suspended the two cops for the 15 months of the investigation? It was an oversight, claimed the Authority chairman, Andreas Spyridakis, a civilised lawyer, who seems more suited to intellectual hair-splitting than investigating cop violence.

IAIACAP’s sense of urgency seems on a par with the civil service and you only have to look at its geriatric composition to understand why. The average age of its five members, I would guess is over 70. This is a guess because the only female member on the committee does not give her date of birth in her biographical write-up. Two members are 71, one is an 83-year-old accountant and the baby of the group is 61.

None of them is at the peak of their powers, and they probably see their work for the Authority as a pleasant distraction from the boredom of retirement. With their low reserves of energy, it is unlikely they will display the excessive zeal of the violent cops in the performance of their duties.

WHEN politicians are on holiday there is no news, because so much of the news is based on reporting the worthlessly banal opinions of our politicians. For the last two weeks, the state broadcaster RIK shut down its four-hour, morning radio talk-shop for politicians and played music, interrupted by two-minute news bulletins.
As a result its 50-minute news shows at 1pm and 6pm, which broadcast what the politicians said during the day, were reduced to three minutes. Tomorrow things might be back to normal as most of our politicians will be back uttering their banal, but newsworthy, views about the danger of a Cyprob settlement, Turkish intransigence and the rights of CyTA workers.

A couple of weeks ago, having run out of new documentaries to show, RIK made its own contribution to the promotion of a pro-solution climate by running a documentary it had produced five years ago. It was very topical and as relevant today as it was five years ago as it featured a dim-witted DIKO deputy slagging off Turkish intransigence, expansionism etc.

MEANWHILE Phil, which nobody could accuse of cultivating a positive climate, in the absence of the politicians to talk about the negative aspects of a settlement, was running its own scare stories on it front page about the property issue.

On Monday its banner headline screamed “War over the properties”, while its report was rich in poetic clichés. The setting of criteria for the property issue “is like Golgotha”, especially with regard to rights of legal owners and current users. The classification of topics relating to the property issue, “for the negotiating teams is considered a ‘mountain’ as they would have to pass through ‘minefields’.”

Apoel will be taking the Bank of Cyprus to Europe
Apoel will be taking the Bank of Cyprus to Europe

SOME 10 days ago, the Bank of Cyprus announced that it would be the sponsor on the shirts of Cyprus champions Apoel, who could make it to the group stages of the Champions League if they win their home match on Wednesday by a two goal difference. If they fail to qualify they are guaranteed a place in the group stages of the Europa League.

The sponsorship for the Champions League would be 300 grand, but less for the Europa League. The announcement of the sponsorship did not go down well at the commie mouthpiece Haravghi – a fanatical supporter of AKEL-run Omonia – which published scathing articles against the B of C’s generosity.

In one article, the writer claimed the sponsorship would be half million and wrote: “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they bailed in the savings of the children of the Helios air disaster, which grandfathers pulled out all the stops to safeguard but were told they would not be given the money back….

“What will the Bank of Cyprus say to divorced Angela that was left with the debts of her ex and the bank is threatening to repossess her house? What will it tell Panayiotis who every two months is charged €1,600 to extend his loan? And what will it tell the orphans of Helios?”

Interestingly, Haravghi’s ad salespeople are constantly calling the B of C urging it to buy advertising space in the paper, but never once offered to give the money it would be paid to the fund for the Helios orphans, divorced Angela or Panayiotis.

A COUPLE of days later, there was more. “It is a provocation when the Bank of Cyprus does not restructure loans of people who have lost their jobs and cannot pay their instalments but at the same time gives Apoel €300,000” wrote another columnist. Omonia, he pointed out had asked for a loan, not sponsorship, and had been turned down by the B of C, he added.

The funny thing was that Omonia had also been promised sponsorship from the B of C if it qualified for the group stages of the Europa League and a meeting had been arranged for the day after its last qualifying match. However, Omonia was knocked out and the meeting never took place, because the bank saw no point paying for shirt sponsorship if the team would not be playing in Europe.

Communist hypocrisy is the stuff of legend. Had Omonia qualified for the Europa League it would have happily taken the sponsorship of the bank and Haravghi would have seen no provocation nor would its writers be shedding tears for the Helios orphans and divorced Angela.

PREZ NIK, rejuvenated after his holiday in the Seychelles and the presidential villa on Troodos will tomorrow meet the CyTA unions which are demanding even more concessions than those made to them by the government in order to agree to privatisation.

One of their demands is that they are hired by the privatised company with work conditions of civil servants. That is a surefire way of not finding any strategic investor. Meanwhile the government has offered to hire all those that do not take early retirement and do not join the new company in the public service, which it is committed to downsizing every year.

This downsizing is proving very problematic indeed. A survey of National Guard officers, asked what they would do in the event of a settlement and the abolition of the army, found that the majority would be happy to work elsewhere in the public sector.

At this rate, the computerisation of the public sector might have to wait another 50 years so there is enough work for the new recruits.

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