Police on Thursday said they are investigating claims that a 16-year-old boy who died last week in Larnaca while at a party may have been the victim of bullying.
Panayiotis Stefanis from Troulli died last Sunday while at a party after reportedly complaining he did not feel well. He had gone outside where he collapsed and despite efforts by the father of one of the other teenagers at the party and later by the ambulance staff he could not be resuscitated. A post mortem showed that he had choked on vomit. Tissue was sent for toxicology tests. The results are expected to shed light on what alcoholic substances the teenager had consumed that night and how much.
But after claims that Stefanis had been the victim of bullying, police said they are now also pursuing this line of inquiry.
Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris said on Thursday that he had informed the police chief about the bullying claims.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said on Thursday that the Larnaca police were already investigating the circumstances surrounding Stefanis’ death but are now also investigating the latest claims.
The file has now been transferred to the Larnaca CID.
“It is a very sensitive and serious issue,” he said.
The aim, he said, is to turn these claims into testimonies so that they can be investigated to ascertain their veracity.
Hambiaouris said that he could not take position on the incident until after the police investigation but that tackling bullying in schools is one of his ministry’s top priorities.
He referred to the national strategy against bullying.
“Changes are being made that will yield very positive results,” Hambiaouris said.
The parents’ association of secondary education have expressed their concerns and said they will brief the police chief on Friday on all the information they possess on this incident.
“From the first moment there was news of this tragic incident it has been rumoured that there had been bullying against this child,” the group’s chairman Kyriacos Nikiforou told state broadcaster CyBC.
He said the group, that had a scheduled meeting with the police chief on Friday, is to ask for full investigation into the incident.
Another issue the parents will raise concerns the availability of alcohol to minors.
“We want to ask him that the law that forbids selling alcohol to minors is finally enforced,” Nikiforou said.