The two officers who were sentenced to a year in prison after they were seen beating up a man on video were paid a regular salary throughout their trial as they had not been suspended, police confirmed on Thursday.
This means that even though video evidence shows Panayiotis Eracleous and Carlo Dekermendjian beating up Panagiotis Savvides, aged 28, on February 2014 at a Polis Chrysochous holding cell, they did not abstain from any of their duties, and regularly went to work, Cyprus Police Association chairman Andreas Symeou told the Cyprus Mail.
Free on a €30,000 bail, they were taken to prison on May 9 when Paphos criminal court found them guilty on two counts of causing grievous bodily harm and inflicting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment with the aim of causing actual bodily harm.
On Wednesday, they were sentenced to a year in prison.
According to Symeou, they will be appealing the case.
The video was made public in August 2015 after it had been shown in court by Savvides’ lawyer who posted it on Facebook where it gained traction.
At the time, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou had called for the suspension of both Eracleous and Dekermendjian, however nothing ever came of it, particularly after Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou said he did not have the legal capacity to do so as a member of the police force cannot be suspended while they are being investigated for a criminal or disciplinary offence.
The case had been in court at the time.
He had also said the police watchdog (IAIACAP), which had investigated complaints against the officers, had not made any recommendation that police take such steps.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Cyprus Mail now that the two officers have been sentenced to a year in prison they will no longer continue to receive their wages.
A disciplinary committee will now be formed from within the police force to determine what course of action will be taken against the police officers. Being fired is a possible option.
According Symeou there is no timeframe the committee has to issue a decision. It could take from a few weeks to a few months.
Commenting on why they had not been suspended, he added the Police Chief has the authority to take such decisions but it depends on what the officer in question is being investigated for.
“If I rape a woman, or steal or take drugs yes of course I’ll be suspended. But in this case we didn’t know if they would have been found guilty. It might have been a case of excessive zeal.”
The Cyprus Police Association pledged their support to the families of Eracleous and Dekermendjian saying the court decision had left many members of the police force feeling bitter.
“It is a difficult day for police. Within our members, there is bitterness and concern.”
A statement from the association said they had information the case would be appealed.
“We will not let the families of our colleagues resort to food banks to survive. They will have our ethical and financial support,” it added.