Main opposition AKEL leader, Andros Kyprianou, on Wednesday accused Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou of disappearing over the last few days in an attempt to shirk responsibilities for the Ayia Napa contract killing a week ago of Phanos Kalopsidiotis and three others.
Speaking on Sigma TV, Kyprianou claimed Nicolaou was keeping a low profile until the storm relating to the murders blows over, after which he expected him to repeat the same old statements he had previously made.
“When he was Chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee,” Kyprianou said, referring to Nicolaou, “he demanded the resignation (in 2008) of justice minister, Kypros Chrysostomides over the escape of (convicted killer and rapist) Antonis Kitas, something he did, to his credit.”
Kitas, a lifer, had escaped from a Nicosia hospital where he had been treated for months for a gastric problem. It later transpired he regularly left the health centre in the evenings to carry out illicit activities with the knowledge of police.
Kyprianou rhetorically then asked of Nicolaou “With all these murders, where is he now??”
Kalopsidiotis along with five other people, officer Elias Hadjiefthimiou, 46, his wife Skevi, 39, their two children, and police officer — MMAD (rapid reaction force) member Giorgos Charalambous, were having dinner when gunmen stormed the restaurant and opened fire with pistols and automatic weapons.
Kalopsidiotis, Hadjiefthimiou and his wife, and one of the gunmen, were killed during the incident.
The AKEL leader referred to the repeated complaints by Kalopsidiotis and his family, including letters to President Nicos Anastasiades, and Nicolaou, asking what their role was and what they were doing about the situation.
“The issues are broader, there is organized crime in Cyprus and the police know the organized crime bosses and should put together a plan to address the issue. There must be determination to stamp out crime so that citizens feel safe.”
Nicolaou has repeatedly denied AKEL’s frequent accusations of hiding and shying away from his responsibilities, stating that he would not be drawn discussions over the matter and that answers to questions raised about the murder would be given through investigations carried out by the authorities.
“Nobody is hiding and nobody is disclaiming responsibility, but it would be very premature and unnecessary to make any comment before the completion of the necessary investigations of such a serious matter,” the minister said.
“The questions raised concern the investigative work on this case, which is ongoing. AKEL and their MPs should be very careful not to unwittingly affect the investigation or send the wrong signals to any witnesses”
Nicholaou maintained the questions raised by AKEL were not political and as for the operational matters raised, the answers would be given by the police when the investigation was completed.
Of concerns raised on the protective measures taken regarding Kalopsidiotis, Nicholaou asked “Where were AKEL, who seem so anxious now, when they were in government in 2012 when an even more heinous crime was committed? Why were they not so anxious for protective measures then?”
“If AKEL or its MPs have any information regarding this crime, I urge them to report to the investigating authorities. I personally have no intention to revisit this subject while the investigation is in progress. If AKEL has reasons to continue to do so, it is their matter.”
In 2012, when AKEL was in power, five people were gunned down in Ayia Napa by hired killers out to get Kalopsidiotis.