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Syrian man detained for two years in Menoyia, ordered released by top court

The Menoyia detention centre

A Syrian national who was detained in Cyprus for almost two years after being accused by a compatriot of participating in a terrorist organisation, has been released after it emerged the entire narrative was the result of a family feud over political differences.

It emerged on Saturday that the Supreme Court issued a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum for the release of the man from Syria who had been detained for over 19 months on suspicion that he was a member of terrorist organisation Al Nusra, after being reported to the Cypriot authorities by his compatriot.

This was the second time that the man, who was detained in November 2019, filed for a writ of habeas corpus for his release arguing that the duration of his detention was illegal. Last August, he had also appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, over violations of his fundamental rights by the authorities of the Republic.

The man was arrested just two days after arriving in Cyprus through the north and a day after he had filed for international protection. He was arrested after his compatriot told the authorities that he was a member of Al Nusra and that he was among certain persons who attacked and injured him while in Syria.

Specifically said the attack against him was by a man (the accused’s father) and his children (including the suspect). He said he was attacked by them for no obvious reason, though he assumed it was, in his opinion because they were affiliated with Al Nusra, and they did not subscribe to his own political beliefs.

The man was then taken to the Menoyia immigration detention centre and remained there until last week when his release was ordered. According to the Supreme Court ruling, at the time, authorities had also received information from three individuals that the man’s family were selling arms and were cooperating with many organisations.

The suspect told police he had no idea who had accused him, a claim backed by the accused’s cousin last January.

After the cousin was called in to testify along with two others, the Cyprus Intelligence Service, KYP, sent additional information to the police last April saying that members of the accused’s family were indeed involved in an attack against the complainant back in 2016 but not the suspect, who was a minor at the time.

It also emerged that the attack had nothing to do with the victim’s religious and political beliefs, but with personal differences between the two families. It was established that the person who had actually attacked the complainant was identified and imprisoned in Syria.

The Supreme Court ruled that the incident itself was not classified by the authorities as terrorism, and it appears that the fact the applicant’s family possessed weapons did not make them terrorists given the situation in Syria. It added that the complainant himself was armed at the time of the incident and had returned fire.

The court said the detained man, in light of the new information, could not be considered as serious threat to the national security of the Republic and his further detention was not justified.

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