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Ayia Napa crime levels drop despite gangland shootings

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou at Famagusta police HQ on Monday

Serious crime has dropped in Famagusta, along with traffic related injuries at a time when tourism has chalked up a substantial rise, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Monday.

Speaking during a visit to the district’s police HQ, Nicolaou said results relating to general safety in the area were exceptionally good.

“There is a big reduction in serious crime, as well as a substantive drop of around 20 per cent in serious and light injuries from traffic incidents at a time when the area has seen a 20 to 25 per cent rise in tourism compared with 2016,” Nicolaou said, adding that the force was on a good path.

The minister voiced his certainty that things were changing for the better and pledged to provide detailed data at a later stage.

His visit in the area came in the wake of what appeared to be a gangland shooting in Ayia Napa that resulted in one man being hospitalised in critical condition.

“The measures in place cannot cover every corner in the area,” the minister said. “When someone decides to ambush someone else for any reason it’s not something one can prevent through any measures.”

Nicolaou said the incident was isolated and could not be used to judge the measures, which showed the high degree of readiness of the district’s police force.

Ayia Napa has been the scene of two of the bloodiest gangland incidents in recent years which saw five people shot dead in 2012 and four others last year.

The minister said these kinds of turf wars were seen in Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia years before and were not something that happened in Famagusta exclusively.

“Our effort is to clear all these cases and I think one can acknowledge the fact that the quadruple murder was resolved in a short time and not only the executioners but also the masterminds are in jail,” he said.

Nicolaou added that no country in the world had succeeded in stamping out organised crime all at once “so let us not expect from our police to achieve what no one has in any country in the world.”

“Heightened measures are in place and you should know that the security level is not for us to judge but the people who live in an area and the visitors.”

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