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Flawed search warrant was used on suspected owner of Yiolitis parody account  

Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis

The supreme court on Friday cancelled a police search warrant used to enter the home of a Larnaca woman suspected of being the administrator of a parody account of Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis.

The court said the sworn statement given by police in court did not provide the necessary details and the request should have been rejected.

The decision is set to reignite a public outcry against the police’s zeal and ease with which the force secured a search warrant and seized electronic devices from the home of the teacher in Larnaca, whom they thought was behind the account when apparently, she had no links.

Yiolitis was also accused of abusing power and wasting resources on a trivial matter.

Police sought the warrant on December 23, following a complaint by the minister on an unspecified date, after the ‘Lady Emily Kardashian Duchess of Yiolou’ parody account posted a photo of the minister’s father with commentary that was deemed offensive.

Under oath, the officer requested the warrant in relation with impersonation and personal data violations.

The officer told the court that they had received information from the information processing department that the creator and administrator of the account was the woman in question.

Officers searched the home and seized all electronic devices, including those belonging to the woman’s two children.

They were returned soon afterwards after finding nothing, with the minister saying she was dropping the case and had no further demands.

By that time, however, there was a huge backlash against her and the police.

On January 20, the teacher asked the court for permission to file a motion cancelling the search warrant.

The attorney-general decided not to contest the motion, with the state telling the court on Friday the decision came after taking the facts of the case into consideration, including the minister’s decision to withdraw her complaint.

The court ruled that the affidavit used to secure the warrant lacked the specific reasons why the police wanted to find and seize the equipment and the request should have been rejected.

“Under the light of the above, I find that the Larnaca district court had exceeded its jurisdiction when issuing the search warrant,” the court said.

The teacher said she planned to sue the minister over the affair.

President Nicos Anastasiades later on Friday provided cover to Yiolitis, who was asked during a news conference whether she planned to resign after the court cancelled the search warrant issued after she reported the parody account to police.

In asking the question, the reporter suggested Yiolitis had abused power and asked her if she planned to assume responsibility and step down.

Before she had a chance to respond, the president signalled to her not to respond, and took it upon himself to support his minister.

Anastasiades said the court decision was respected, as was the sensitivity displayed by the public and politicians over the matter.

The president said he intervened to say that whatever was decided by justice was acceptable but so was the right of people who felt offended to seek recourse.

Anastasiades jokingly said that Yiolitis was not in politics that long and did not have his “thick skin” to tolerate whatever is thrown at him.

Just because someone is a politician, he said, it did not mean their entire family could be targeted.

His demeanour changed abruptly when the reporter insisted on hearing from the minister.

“You want answers from the government. I am the President of the Republic, I appointed Mrs Yiolitis and I have full trust in her and there is no question of assuming responsibility. Simple, full stop,” Anastasiades said before moving onto the next question.

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