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AKEL presses justice minister over police corruption

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou (CNA)

Main opposition AKEL on Wednesday kept up the pressure on Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, criticising him anew for doing nothing to crack down on corruption in the police force.

The censure came in the wake of the June 23 contract killing in Ayia Napa, where the target, 51-year-old businessman Fanos Theofanous Kalopsidiotis, was shot dead while dining out with two active members of the police force.

In a statement, AKEL spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said the justice ministry has since January 2015 been sitting on a report that dealt with gangland connections of police officers.

Despite being in power for three-and-half years, he said, the present administration has done close to naught in cracking down on this form of corruption.

AKEL panned the justice minister in particular, noting that when Nicolaou was an opposition MP he was constantly calling for resignations.

Now, AKEL said, Nicolaou is seeking to shirk responsibility “by resorting to PR and sound-bites”.

Responding, Nicolaou said the only report looking into police corruption that was submitted to him and to the president was completed only recently.

In addition to that report, in the meantime his ministry has been taking a number of steps. These included instituting stricter hiring criteria for police officers, as well as frequent reassigning.

The ministry has also compiled a study recommending the establishment of an Internal Affairs Division within the police. Its findings would be used as the basis for the drafting of relevant legislation, Nicolaou said.

Backing him up, police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou said in a statement there was only one report on police corruption that has been forwarded to President Nicos Anastasiades and communicated to the justice minister.

That report was based on empirical research, including a survey of police officers about their personal experiences and observations. In total, 434 police officers of all ranks filled in a questionnaire.

The report was submitted to the president on June 27 of this year.

Chrysostomou conceded that earlier studies on the subject had indeed been carried out, but said that these were more academic in nature and as such had no use in the real-world situations.

Those earlier studies, which took into account best practices by police forces in other countries, were merely used as a starting point for the more concrete research later conducted.

 



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