THE sentence of the two police officers who were found guilty after they were caught on tape beating up a man in a Polis Chrysochous holding cell in February 2014, will be announced on Wednesday, the Paphos Criminal Court said on Friday.
The two men, Panayiotis Eracleous and Carlo Dekermendjian, were found guilty for causing grievous bodily harm and inflicting cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment with the aim of causing actual bodily harm. They are to remain under custody until their sentence is announced.
The incident occurred in Polis Chrysochous on February 10, 2014 but the video of the beating was published on social media in August 2015. It shows the victim, Panayiotis Savvides, beaten by one of the officers repeatedly with a truncheon, beginning on camera and continuing off-camera for a longer period. The second officer looks on but later joins in with a few kicks while the man is on the ground.
The man had been arrested earlier that day after resisting a body search and although nothing illegal was found on him, he was taken to Polis station and detained for assaulting police officers.
He was led to the cell foyer and told to hand over his personal items so they could lock him up in a cell, but he refused to co-operate and asked for medical care, after which police tried to immobilise him using force. Savvides reacted and got into a fight with two officers. At the same time, a penknife fell from the man’s pocket which he grabbed and used to attack one of the policemen. He then ran and locked himself in the cell where two other policemen then came in and beat him up.
Police officers dressed in black, gathered outside the court room on Friday in support of their two colleagues.
The court hearing ended with defence lawyer George Georgiou’s mitigation plea.
Georgiou told the court that before their sentence is announced, it should be taken into consideration that the incident took place two and a half years ago.
He also said that in 2013, the then Paphos police chief had proposed the two officers’ promotions for gallantry, as they had, in an incident, jumped into the sea risking their lives to save a citizen, and their colleagues.
Georgiou also said that Dekermendjian was awarded a medal for his good services to the force for 12 consecutive years by police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou.
He also referred to the two officers’ clean criminal records and said that the sentence will destroy their careers and will bring “dramatic changes to their lives”.