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Police still searching for four suspects linked to Dias attack

sigma 1
A car set alight outside the Dias building on July 18

Police on Monday said they are still looking for four identified people, after 23 suspects were arrested in relation to the attack on Dias media group and the protest against the coronavirus measures on July 18.

The names and pictures taken from CCTV cameras of four suspects have been published on the police’s website, while the photo of a fifth unidentified suspect was also posted online to assist his identification.

The wanted people concern 28-year-old Afroghi Shahin from Iran, who is a Strovolos resident, Andreas Apostolou, 24, and Pavlos Demetriou, 34, who live in Pyrga, Larnaca, and 23-year-old Constantinos Mantis who is a Lakatamia resident. Authorities have issued arrest warrants against the suspects.

However, police said that more people are still wanted in connection with the case whose photos have been published, and called on everyone who has any information about the suspect to contact Nicosia CID at 22802222, their nearest police station, or the citizen’s line at 1460.

So far, 23 people have been arrested on suspicion of vandalising Dias building which houses Sigma, and/or participating at the protest outside the presidential palace earlier.

These include three people who were identified through DNA evidence found at the scene, a police spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

Eight of the suspects remain under police detention, while the rest have been charged in writing and then released.

Harvard-educated epidemiologist Elpidoforos Soteriades, who was a speaker at the protest, was among those arrested and freed, with police claiming he was among the organisers.

Investigations started after a group from the 5,000 protestors outside the presidential palace arrived at Dias building, where they assaulted staff, set cars on fire using Molotov cocktails and trashed the premises.

The group, which included radical Christians, were demonstrating against the blanket implementation of SafePass and the pressure by officials to the public to receive an anti-Covid vaccine.

A guard who was on duty at the time, Demetris Skouros, said attackers threw a flare into his cubicle that caught fire and were keeping the door closed preventing him from leaving. He claimed that attackers told him he deserved to die, calling him and the rest of the Sigma staff fascists.

He said he was able to escape by smashing one of the windows with the fire extinguisher and rushed to alert the rest of the staff about the attacks to protect themselves.

The attack was condemned by the president, parties and politicians who referred to the attack as a way to silence the freedom of press.

Officers said they were reluctant to act to contain the crowd for fear they would be criticised for using excessive force. Media reports have revealed that several complaints were submitted to the police watchdog regarding police violence during the protest.

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