Cyprus Mail

Police defend why it took so long to search homes of those on Al Jazeera video

Former House President Demetris Syllouris

Police on Friday defended the fact that it took them more than two weeks to search the homes of former state officials and others who appeared in a damning undercover video offering assistance to a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record to secure Cypriot citizenship.

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Police executed search warrants on Thursday at the offices and homes of five people appearing in the video: former House president Demetris Syllouris, former Akel MP Christakis Giovanis, Famagusta lawyer Andreas Pittadjis and two other implicated individuals.

During the searches, officers seized computers and documents, which will be forensically processed.

“After securing evidence, search warrants were issued and a number of searches were carried out at the premises of people appearing to be involved in the case,” police spokesman Christakis Andreou told the Cyprus News Agency.

However, as the news broke on Thursday evening, many people questioned the force’s apparently belated action.

Andreou said for the investigator to get the court orders they must first secure evidence that would justify the search.

“Evidence had to be secured to see what offences are under investigation and what the police is looking for to go on with the case,” Andreou said.

The warrants were issued on Wednesday and executed the next day, he added.

Al Jazeera published the video about two weeks ago, prompting public outrage which led to the resignation of Syllouris and Giovanis.

Already under pressure, the government decided to terminate the controversial citizenship by investment programme, which had already landed Cyprus in hot water with the EU.

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