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Coronavirus: President releases man jailed for breaking curfew (Update 2)

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President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday suspended the 45-day prison sentence given to a man this week after being caught breaking the curfew.

According to an announcement by the presidency office, Anastasiades, exercising the powers granted to him by the constitution and following a recommendation by the attorney-general, decided to suspend the sentence.

In making the decision, it was taken into account that as of March 27, namely two days after the alleged violation, offences of this nature were punishable by an on-the-spot fine, the presidency said. It added that other factors related to the case were also taken into account.

Antonis Antoniou, 35, from Frenaros was sentenced on Tuesday to 45 days in prison after he was caught breaking the curfew to visit his girlfriend.

His harsh sentence had stirred widespread criticism from Frenaros’ residents and around the island.

Attorney-general Costas Clerides said later in the day that although such cases need to be dealt with strictly as public health is involved,  some other factors had been taken into account.

“Taking into consideration the facts and the nature of the offence and the way other people are being treated, they are issued a fine, we deemed that the intervention of the president was justified,” Clerides told Sigma TV.

He said that his office and the police receive many requests from people who are fined and seek leniency but gave reassurances that the legal service was strict about such matters.

“Luckily, we have good news, after the social outcry both the president and the attorney-general acted promptly,” Frenaros’ community leader Michalis Hadjiyiorkas told the Cyprus Mail.

According to Hadjiyiorkas, the outcry did not only come from the community but from all over Cyprus with numerous calls and messages of support. He stressed the power of the people in cases when they feel an injustice has been done.

“I hope and wish, that Antonis will soon breath the air of freedom,” he said, adding that the 35-year-old was put in jail after the judge ordered his immediate imprisonment. “As if he was the biggest criminal.”

Antoniou was caught by police just after 9pm in Dherynia on March 25, when the curfew was in effect between 9pm and 6am.

After his sentencing, lawyers raised the issue of whether he was tried based on the law in place when he was caught or based on a law in force a few days later.

Daily Phileleftheros reported that Antoniou’s mother said that her son was actually living in Paralimni with his girlfriend and they had been planning on getting married. She reportedly said that on that night he had finished work and was on his way to his home in Paralimni to sleep.

The paper also reports that Antoniou’s friends and family have filed a complaint on the way the officers handled the case. He reportedly told them that he had not realised after he was stopped by officers and after the conversation they had, that they would report him.


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