By Andria Kades
The trial of two police officers accused of beating up a man at Polis Chrysochous station got underway on Monday, with the plaintiff, Panagiotis Savvides taking the stand as a prosecution witness.
The video of the beating which allegedly took place in February 2014 was published on social media in August.
At the start of proceedings, the Paphos criminal court rejected defence lawyer Giorgos Georgiou’s request that Savvides should not take the stand on the basis he had been admitted to a psychiatric facility on more than one occasion.
Taking the stand, Savvides, who lives in Paphos work as a forester, told the court that on the night of the incident, February 10, 2014, members of the drug squad had arrested him after he had arrived at a block of flats in Prodromi to meet a friend.
Savvides said the officers did not provide a reason of his arrest which took place in front of his friend and the flat owner.
Savvides described how at the police station he was in a terrible psychological state with the handcuffs fastened around his hands too tightly and injuring his wrist, and in the beating that followed the thumb on his right hand was broken.
The video shows one officer beating Savvides repeatedly with a truncheon, beginning on camera and continuing off-camera for a longer period while another looks on but later joins in with a few kicks while the man is on the ground.
As a consequence he was treated at the Paphos hospital for three days and a psychiatrist referred him to Athalassa psychiatric ward on March 12, 2014 where he was treated and released.
Georgiou, who is the defence lawyer for one of the officers, told the court that drug squad members had a search warrant for Savvides’ car and home but the plaintiff reacted violently, attacking the policemen and stopping them from searching him and his car.
Once at the station, the officers in question entered Savvides’ cell to remove any objects in his possession but the spray they used on him did not work, Georgiou said.
Had it worked, the violence depicted in the video would not have ensued, he added.
When the officers entered the cell they also believed Savvides had a knife on him, however he had thrown it out before entering the cell, Georgiou told the court.
According to Georgiou, the officers entered the cell to use the necessary violence to immobilise him and remove his personal items.
Savvides admitted in court that he had hit one officer at the Polis station – not one facing charges – with a knife on the cheek and over his body when he tried to handcuff him.
The next court case is set for January 18, 2016.
The two officers face charges for intentionally causing grievous body harm, harsh, humiliating and inhumane treatment of another individual and illegally causing grievous body harm.
The officers are free on €30,000 bail each. They have surrendered their travel documents and they are banned from leaving the country.