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Cyprus

Investigation uncovers ‘alarming evidence’ of police corruption

The 84-page report on corruption in the police force, prepared by three independent criminal investigators over five months, contains alarming evidence, Attorney-General Costas Clerides said on Wednesday.

The report focused on the chain of events leading up to the murder of businessman Fanos Kalopsidiotis in Ayia Napa last summer, in which three other individuals – two members of the police force, who had apparently been dining with the victim, and one of the two Albanian shooters – were also killed.

A third policeman – a member of elite riot squad Mmad, also with Kalospidiotis at the time of the incident – was badly injured in the shootout.

The presence of police officers in the company of the businessman raised questions, the answers to which turned out to be uncomfortable for the body’s top brass, especially as it was suggested that members of the police force had inappropriate ties to members of the underworld.

Attorney-General Costas Clerides
Attorney-General Costas Clerides

The report suggested that several policemen took up night jobs as Kalopsidiotis’ private security detail.

In 2012, the businessman is believed to have been the real target of another shootout in Ayia Napa, in which five of his bodyguards were killed.

According to daily Phileleftheros, the report recommends the criminal prosecution of seven individuals and disciplinary probes on four others, over issues of corruption.

Criminal liability, the paper said, burdens both policemen and officers involved in the handling of a tip from Interpol Belgrade shortly before the June 24 Ayia Napa killings hit informing Cyprus police that Serbian hitmen were on their way to the island to take out the businessman.

Reportedly, Cyprus police then notified the Serbian underworld ring that were carrying out the contract that investigators were on their heels.

The incident was explained as merely an error, but the suspicion was rife that there was more to it than that.

According to the paper, among the report’s findings was that the members of police involved in Kalopsidiotis’ protection worked out a rota system by which one took over from the next after a pre-determined ‘shift’.

Clerides, however, refused to confirm or deny the numbers, commenting only that the report made “specific recommendations” and came to “some conclusions”, which would be reviewed in full before any decisions were made.

He added that issues of omissions and inter-departmental coordination were also raised.

Asked whether the justice minister would be briefed on the report’s findings, Clerides said he saw no reason to do so at present, since the minister had no role to play in criminal proceedings.

“If issues of required systemic remedial measures are diagnosed, he will be briefed accordingly,” Clerides said.



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