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Poachers allegedly helped by corrupt policemen

A songbird trapped in a mist net by poachers

A policeman serving at the Game Reserve unit is claiming his life is being threatened after he filed a report on his colleagues to say they are colluding with big poachers that illegally sell protected species like songbirds raking in €15million per year.

According to a report published on Sunday in Simerini, the head of MMAD (Police Rapid Response Unit) which the game reserve unit falls under, has detailed notes regarding a policeman who apparently has “quite a reputation” and is allegedly involved with one of the biggest Larnaca poachers.

The policeman in question allegedly went to the poacher’s home without a warrant to report him for using one net.

In Famagusta, a poacher was fined €10,700 however one policeman who was also rumoured to be colluding with the illegal industry had never taken any action against the poacher.

The report suggests policemen were aware of illegal incidents on poaching but turned a blind eye or took little action for appearances’ sake.

The policeman who claims his life is being threatened, in a letter from his lawyer to Attorney General Costas Clerides, outlines that on August 3, he submitted a plethora of documents that led to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou ordering an investigation on the matter.

Following the move, he has consequently been moved to a different department and has been the recipient of death threats, he claims.

The letter also alleges documents from the policeman’s car relating to the investigation were stolen. A separate report on that has been filed, the lawyer said.

Such allegations of corruption are taken seriously, police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Cyprus Mail, confirming police was carrying out a broad investigation but there were three policemen in particular the allegations concerned.

“It has been about a month and the investigation is in its final stages. We call on the public, if they have any information to contact us.”

The policeman has been with the game reserve unit since October 2012 and has been behind 75 per cent of  reports filed against those breaking the law, for which he has been congratulated for by the relevant European committee on the matter, the letter outlined.

Though he has been congratulated by the force, since his report on his colleagues, he now fears for the life of his family and himself and is willing to cooperate with Clerides on the matter and provide any evidence required.

“Any wrongdoing will be punished whether it is disciplinary or criminal,” Angelides said.

According to Simerini, a crate of a dozen songbirds can sell for anywhere between €50 to €80 raking in €15m per year to poachers.

In June, parliament voted a controversial bill into law relating to the protection of songbirds, which was described by critics as decriminalising hunting with limesticks.

Though now with harsher fines, individuals with a hunting licence are allowed to take small quantities of game they hunted themselves to restaurants, provided it has been pre-cooked, for consumption at the establishments.

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