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Cyprus

Police had wanted to prosecute in MP ‘skirt photo’ incident, leaked report shows

Akel MP Irini Charalambides

By George Psyllides

Police investigating an indecent assault complaint filed by a female MP against a colleague who allegedly tried to take an up-skirt photo of her had suggested looking into the possibility of prosecuting the offender, a leaked report showed.

The police report, published by daily Phileleftheros, recounted the June 2015 incident, which started when AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou took a photo using her mobile of DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou, and DIKO colleague Fytos Constantinou, lighting cigarettes by the window in a committee meeting.

Constantinou laughed but Kyprianou, apparently angry, sought explanations and had words with Charalambidou.

“I am no longer taking part (in the meeting,” Kyprianou said according to the transcript. “I have nothing to say to colleagues who take photos of their colleagues.”

Charalambidou replied that she knew how to deal with “little men” like Kyprianou.

To that, his response was to call Charalambidou a “slut.”

Witnesses also told police that she had called Kyprianou a little man of the underworld.

Two MPs and three parliament staff members said Kyprianou had tried to take an up-skirt photo of Charalambidou.

In their report, police investigators suggested three criminal offences had been committed: smoking in a closed space, swearing in public by Kyprianou, and indecent assault.

The officers recommended issuing fines for the smoking and looking into the possibility of starting procedures to lift Kyprianou’s parliamentary immunity and his prosecution.

Attorney-general Costas Clerides reacted to the report, condemning the “selective and misleading leak” of confidential police documents whose aim was to “damage the Republic’s independent institutions and promote their own aspirations.”

The AG said he had made a legal decision at the time that served the public interest “without any intention to show favouritism or prejudice to anyone”

Charalambidou reiterated on Tuesday that it was a mistake not to prosecute, which raised risks.

“I reported the case to police because that was the right thing to do,” she said in a statement. “That is what I ought to do for the thousands of other women who are threatened, intimidated, and indecently assaulted, and are not public figures protected by their position or their connections.”

Not prosecuting discouraged women from reporting attacks and set the prosecution bar so high that some people will get away with it.

At the time, something, which he reiterated on Tuesday, the AG said the only criminal offences that could be adequately substantiated were swearing – against both Kyprianou and Charalambidou — and smoking in a public area, against Kyprianou and Constantinou.

Clerides said the indecent assault could not be adequately substantiated as Kyprianou, appeared to attempt to take a photo of Charalambidou from a distance, with no contact, or other circumstances that created fear of violence or an indecent act.

He added that under the circumstances, it would not be in the public interest if he sought to lift the MPs’ immunity by the Supreme Court, taking the time of the full plenum of 13 judges, “for lesser offences that are the result of frivolous behaviour that has already been publically criticised.”

“Involvement of the courts by prosecuting this behaviour would only be a waste of time and expenses,” he said.

But Clerides instructed police to issue the two MPs with fines for smoking in a public area.

 

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