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Hundreds attend funeral for couple killed in Ayia Napa shootings (Updated)

The coffin of police sergeant Elias Hadjiefthimiou is carried out of church after the funeral service on Saturday (Philip Mark)

A couple gunned down along with an Ayia Napa businessman in a gangster like contract killing while out at a restaurant last Thursday night were laid to rest in Nicosia on Saturday afternoon.
The funeral of police sergeant Elias Hadjiefthimiou, 46, and his wife Skevi, 39 was held at a packed St Lukas church in Strovolos. Hundreds of police officers in and out of uniform lined the interior of the building while almost as many mourners stood outside in the scorching heat as there was no more space inside.
Among the wreaths laid were ones from the chief of police, who did not attend, DIKO, the right-wing party ELAM and Skevis handball club.
Eulogies described a well-loved, loving couple and a policeman with 26 years of service who was “respected wherever he served”. Another said Hadjiefthimiou was “a giant of a man both physically and as a person”.
He was described as having had many successes from thwarting contract killings through intelligence gathering to dismantling drug gangs.
The speakers promised that the police and society would take care of the couple’s children.
The pair were executed in cold blood in front of their 13- and 14-year-old children when two gunmen approached the table in an Ayia Napa restaurant where they were dining with businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis, 51, spraying the three with bullets from an automatic weapon and pistol.
According to the results of autopsies – carried out by coroners, Angeliki Papetta, Sophocles Sophocles and Nicolas Charalambous – Skevi Hatjiefthimiou died instantaneously from a single shot sustained to the head while her husband, a close friend of Kalopsidiotis received six to eight bullets in various parts of his body, with two considered lethal.
Kalopsidiotis received 12 bullets that hit almost his entire body. One of the two Albanian hitmen, aged 41, also died instantly at the scene from a bullet in the chest, affecting his heart and lungs. The other man, still on the run has been named as Aleks Burrelli, 48. They are thought to have arrived in the north around a month ago.
Another policeman friend of the businessman, MMAD (rapid reaction force) member Giorgos Charalambous who happened to be at the scene with his service pistol while off duty, is in critical condition in Nicosia General Hospital, after undergoing surgery for gunshot wounds in the arm, chest, neck and leg. He managed to fire back at the gunmen but it is not yet clear whether it was his bullet that killed the Albanian.
One of Kalopsidiotis’ bodyguards was also injured with his condition being described as serious but stable.
The killings have raised questions as to why two policemen should be openly socialising with Kalopsidiotis and carrying arms while off-duty.
Opposition AKEL member of parliament Aristos Damianou on Saturday described Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou as ignorant and afraid of taking responsibility.
“Serious crime is on the rise lately. Two days after a quadruple murder in Ayia Napa the questions are relentless and require answers. What were the police doing with this businessman? Why were they armed at a social gathering? What measures were being taken considering the history of attempted and actual murders and how secure can citizens feel?” he asked.
“Mr Nicolaou has been proved afraid of taking responsibility. This is nothing new. This government does not know, is hoodwinked, hides when things get tough and someone else is always to blame.”
President Nicos Anastasiades has already called for a report into the involvement of the police officers in the incident.
“There are questions which we expect will be answered,” police spokesman Andreas Angelides said, when asked about the presence of the two officers at the scene.
Angelides said the law allowed members of the police to carry their service weapons at all times. This applies particularly to members serving in important departments dealing with organised crime, drugs, and other duties.
“It is usual to carry their weapons, depending on the nature and risk of their duties,” he said.
The shootout came four years to the day when five men were gunned down a couple of hundred metres down the same street in the heart of the resort’s nightclub scene, near the popular Red Square bar.
In connection with the June 23, 2012 multiple murder, two Greek nationals, Demetris Mamalikopoulos, 29, and Tsehilides, 41, received five life sentences each in 2014, one for each of their victims, the longest sentence ever handed out in Cyprus.
The two men had originally pleaded not guilty to the murder of the five men – three Greek Cypriots and two Romanians.
Four of the victims were working for Kalopsidiotis, whom Famagusta police believed had been the target. Kalopsidiotis was not in the car with the other five.
On June 20, 2014, Kalopsidiotis’ father, Ioannis Theophanous, was shot dead outside his home in Paralimni.
In 1996, a bomb blast killed Phanos’ brother Andros, 25, at the apartment of his friend Petros Yiannaki in Ayia Napa.
The family believed the bomb had been placed to kill Andros but reports suggested he had been preparing the device when it blew up.

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