Cyprus Mail

More time for police corruption investigation

Reports on Wednesday suggested an extension of two months has been given to a team of independent investigators to conclude their probe into the possible involvement of police in the gangland style shooting in Ayia Napa in June this year.

Along with businessman Phanos Kalopsitiotis, thought to be the target of the attack, a policeman and his wife, who were dining with him were also killed. The couple’s children, also present, escaped injury, while one of the two gunmen also lost his life.

The three months granted for carrying out the investigation, which ended last Wednesday, was extended by two months, reportedly because of the heavy workload on the three investigators.

The possible involvement of officers in the murders, and the management of information received by Interpol Cyprus from their Serbian counterparts on the arrival from the Balkans of aid assassins, appear to be the focus of the inquest.

The hitmen had been tipped off mistakenly by a Cypriot policeman who thought he was calling Interpol in Serbia who had tipped-off Cyprus police about the planned hit in April this year. This led to the assassins calling off the killing until June.

The investigating team are made up of a former supreme court judge and chairman of the independent committee for investigating complaints against police, Andreas Paschalides, and former police officers, Panagiotis Pelagia and Agamemonas Demetriou who were appointed on August 9 by the attorney general to conduct the criminal investigation.

Their remit was to carry out investigations into possible criminal offences, alleged involvement of police officers or other persons into cases related to complicity, corruption and other offences, on the basis of information conveyed to the attorney general`s office in a letter from the chief of police dated August 2 and another from the justice minister dated August 8.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou announced in September that six bills had been prepared in the general fight against police corruption, with two more pending at the legal service.

The six bills mainly relate to the composition and constitution of an internal audit service for the police, which would be allocated specific powers and functions so that it could effectively investigate information or complaints related to corruption issues within the police.

Further, legislative measures aimed at combating corruption include the introduction of the right to access recorded communication, the obligation of top police officers to report their source of wealth, regulating the operation of undercover agents, preparing a draft bill to encourage whistleblowing by offering increased protection, and another to allow the lifting of privacy in communications for serious offences, including corruption and bribery.

The service will report directly to the chief of police and its investigations will be overseen by the attorney-general. Additional measures in the pipeline include stricter punishment for such offences, and criminalising the failure to report them. A new webpage to collect anonymous information will also be created, commensurate with the standards under which other European states operate such sites.


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