The Nicosia district court on Friday cleared three police officers who faced charges of causing someone’s death through reckless behaviour.
The incident occurred in 2012 when the officers killed a man, Savvas Xenofontos, in a vehicle as he attempted to flee in Marki village in Nicosia. The man was in the vehicle with two other man, all of whom previously broken into and robbed an electronics store in Latsia, where they stole 50 computers, totalling approximately €56,000.
The car was stopped by police and after an exchange of fire, Xenofontos got out of the vehicle and attempted to flee. Police chased him through nearby fields and was shot and killed by one of the officers who believed the torch Xenofontos was carrying was a gun.
Following the incident, the independent police watchdog looked into the matter, and assigned criminal investigators.
According to the investigators’ report, “All their [the officers’] conduct and action from the moment they were found at the scene of the burglary to the point of injury did not give the police any further room to act differently.”
The report said, the men should have turned themselves over to police, after the first warning from authorities, but they instead fled and one of them attempted to fire on the officers using a firearm.
“Instead, their actions gave the police the impression, especially after the use of weapons, that they were ruthless and reckless and that their [the officers’] lives were in danger.”
The case was then brought to court, which clear the officers of all charges, saying the officers did not act incorrectly as the situation the three men caused had become dangerous.
In 2013, the other two suspects were jailed for three and a half years.