A team of independent investigators are due to conclude their probe into the possible involvement of police in a gangland style shooting, in an Ayia Napa restaurant in June this year, with reports pointing to officers having had prior knowledge of the contract killing.
Reports say the investigators found that police displayed “a large degree of inaction and negligence” regarding the management of information received by Interpol Cyprus from their Serbian counterparts on the arrival from the Balkans of hired assassins, which appeared to have been the main focus of the inquest, along with the possible involvement of police officers in the murder.
Along with businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis, 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 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.
Reports say that negligence on behalf of the police was to such a degree that information including a cash transfer to the island for facilitation of the contract killing, as well as the names of the persons it involved were not investigated.
Criminal and disciplinary measures are expected to be recommended against members of the force for their handling of the case and the leaking of the information from Interpol.
The investigating team is made up of 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.
They were originally given three months to carry out their task when appointed on August 9 by the attorney general to conduct the criminal investigation but requested a two-month extension, which was granted.
Their remit was to carry out inquiries into possible criminal offences, alleged involvement of police officers or other persons in cases related to complicity, corruption and other offences, on the basis of information conveyed to the attorney general’s office from the chief of police.
In September justice minister Ionas Nicolaou announced that six bills had been prepared in the general fight against police corruption, with two more pending at the legal service.
The six related mainly to the composition and constitution of an internal audit service for the police, which would be allocated specific powers and functions in order that it could effectively investigate information or complaints related to police corruption.
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.
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.