A 48-year-old man who was arrested on Tuesday in Limassol in connection with kidnapping and indecently assaulting a minor, was remanded for eight days.
An arrest warrant for the suspect was issued on Monday night after it emerged that an eight-year-old boy, reported missing on Sunday, had spent the night in the 48-year-old’s house.
The suspect, who appeared before the court without a lawyer, pleaded not guilty. He also denied the eight-year-old had spent the night in his house. The suspected offences under investigation allegedly took place over the past year.
The eight-year-old, reported missing after disappearing from a park in Ayios Nicolaos in Limassol where he had been playing on Sunday, returned to his home on Monday morning. He allegedly revealed later that he had spent the night in the house of the 48-year-old, who lives in the same neighbourhood.
The arrest warrant was issued after the boy and his 12-year-old sister spoke to police. The two children, according to information provided to police by neighbours, often visited the house of the 48-year-old. Both were taken to the hospital to be examined, but no signs of sexual abuse were detected, the police said.
According to police spokesman Andreas Angelides, after the eight-year old was found, police continued to investigate the case, and the 48-year-old was arrested based on information collected.
“There are statements about indecent actions towards the two siblings. There haven’t been signs of abuse so far but nevertheless, this is a very serious offense,” Angelides said.
The two children were placed temporarily under the care of the social welfare services, after suspicions were raised that they might also be victims of violence at home.
Angelides said that “other issues concerning the specific family emerged”. He added that police are investigating the case in close cooperation with the social welfare services.
He urged everyone who may possess information or suspect cases of child abuse to report to the police.
Children’s Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba expressed concerns as to whether the neighbours and the children’s school knew there was something wrong but did not report it. She said her office has launched a probe into the case. “No one in the neighbourhood, or the school, noticed anything?”
“It appears the case concerns a family which did not function properly”, Koursoumba said, and wondered whether the social welfare services were aware of the problems within the family and didn’t act.
As regards the possible sexual abuse, she said, prevention is very important, and the role of both families and schools is crucial.
She added that sex education is very important in schools, “so that children will know all they need to know to be able to protect themselves. Knowledge is power”.
She too stressed the responsibility of the community toward children and said that everyone who might suspect cases of child abuse should report them.