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Suspect in killing remanded in custody (Updated)

Giorgos Xiourouppas being transferred to the Larnaca court during an earlier court appearance

Giorgos Xiourouppas, 45, who was arrested for the alleged killing of 38-year-old Panayiotis Christodoulou in Larnaca, was remanded in custody on Tuesday for eight days amid a fracas outside the Larnaca court.

The suspect, who had allegedly shot the victim in a Larnaca bar early Monday following a row, faces charges of pre-meditated murder, of illegally possessing and carrying a firearm and explosives.

Xiourouppas, who was brought to court amidst heavy security, was verbally attacked by the victim’s relatives, one of whom spat in his face. He also received threats, while police had to step in as a number of them, stood in front of the police car transferring Xiourouppas, forcing it to stop.  Christodoulou, who was from Kamares, had four children under 18.

The court heard that there was bad blood between the two men of late as Christodoulou considered Xiourouppas responsible for his arrest a few days ago for drug possession. Christodoulou allegedly believed Xiourouppas had informed the police.

According to statements police secured, the court heard, the two men had a row earlier in the night in another bar, where the suspect allegedly was seen carrying a gun. Following the row, the suspect left and went to the bar where the shooting took place.

The police investigator told the court that Xiourouppas was allegedly very angry after the row with the victim, and a friend had tried to calm him down.

At around 5.15am, the victim arrived at the same bar Xiourouppas was in, and as soon as the suspect saw him, the court heard, he walked right up to him. Christodoulou stood up but Xiourouppas allegedly started shooting at him from  a distance of around one metre, and continued to shoot even after the victim fell on the ground. It seems the examiner said, that the suspect had reloaded the gun he was using. At the crime scene, police located 13 shells.

Xiourouppas, who fled right after the shooting, was detained at around 2pm on Monday at Kato Pyrgos in the Tylliria area. He was spotted near the crossing to the north by an officer who was off-duty. He had tried to flee to the north through Pergamos, shortly after the killing, but when he was asked to take out car insurance, he returned to the government controlled areas.

Upon arrest, a USP pistol was found in his possession, which was loaded with nine bullets of the same calibre as the shells found at the crime scene, the court heard.

It later emerged that the gun belonged to a retired police officer who had  reported it stolen in 2008.

The suspect, who admitted to committing the murder, the court heard, gave a number of claims as to why he did it, as well as how the gun was in his possession, which are being investigated.

State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous had said the victim had gunshot wounds to the head, chest, abdomen, arm and leg. The post mortem, which was carried out on Tuesday by state pathologists Nicolas Charalambous and Sophocles Sophocleous indicated that he had died instantly.

Charalambous told the Cyprus News Agency that the victim took eight bullets to different parts of his body.

The head of the Larnaca CID, Charalambos Zachariou said that as regards the suspected weapon, which was a police service gun, ballistics would  indicate whether it was used in the past.

He said that a file was opened in 2008 when the gun was reported stolen, and the case was until today unsolved. Police are investigating the claims the suspect gave as to why he had the specific gun, Zachariou said.

He also said that a blood sample from the suspect would reveal whether he was under the influence of drugs when the killing took place.

Speaking on Alpha TV, Christodoulou’s brother, Constantinos, said that as a family, they sent out the message that “no one for any reason has the right to take a gun and shoot anyone in cold blood”.

He said that he saw his brother lying dead from the bullets and that it was not a matter of revenge.

“What I want from justice, is to keep this kind of people locked up, they should not walk among society,” he said. He added that the ones to pay the price are the victim’s wife, children and mother.

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