Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

AG to decide on police brutality charges

Screen grab of the Polis police officers hitting the suspect

Police on Tuesday said they respect a Nicosia district court decision which acquitted a 28-year-old man who reported he was beaten by officers in 2012 but was charged with causing bodily harm to policemen.
Court instead, after its ruling on Monday, sent the case to the Attorney General’s office to decide whether the involved officers could be investigated for criminal offences.

The man was arrested in August 2012 for allegedly attacking a police officer and beating another in the Nicosia shop he was working in, following a robbery, where police were called. He was charged in writing and was released.

Reportedly, the day the incident occurred, the co-owner of the furniture shop the 28-year-old was working in, received a call from a man who had broken into the establishment and who threatened he would set it on fire unless he received money.

The owner reportedly called his employee to go to the shop to see what was going on, and also notified the 50-year-old sister of his business partner. He also notified the police, while he too went to the shop.

When the three arrived at the shop, according to media reports, one of the two perpetrators kicked the owner and the employee intervened to protect his boss.

At that point, one of the officers who arrived at the shop, claimed the 28-year-old attacked him and he tried to defend himself. Two more officers arrived and they too reportedly used force to arrest the man.

They claimed he was drunk and uncontrollable, and that he was swearing. He had allegedly bitten the officer who was trying to handcuff him.

The court heard that during the incident, one officer was holding the defendant by the neck while hitting him with a baton, and the other two were hitting him with their batons on various parts of the body while he was handcuffed. After one of the officers said that the defendant bit him, they pushed him to fall on the floor and continued to hit him on the back.

During the incident, the 50-year-old tried to pull one of the officers away from the man. When she later went to the police to complain for excessive use of force on the 28-year-old, she too was charged with assaulting an officer.

The court reportedly acquitted the man after it found there were serious contradictions in the testimonies of the four police officers involved and of the investigating officer.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Cyprus Mail that the acquitted 28-year-old has also filed a complaint at the independent authority for the investigation of allegations and complaints against the police.

He added that the then AG had ruled that the case did not justify a criminal investigation, but that disciplinary offences were detected against one of the officers. “We had launched a disciplinary investigation against one of the officers, which is ongoing,” he said.

He also told the Cyprus News Agency that the Police Chief has requested immediate information on the case. He also asked that the disciplinary case file is also sent to the AG for a decision as to the further handling of the case, following the court decision.

The ruling comes after the Paphos criminal court sentenced two police officers to a year in prison last week after they were seen on video beating up a man at a holding cell in Polis Chrysochous in February 2014.

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