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Police investigating ‘all possibilities’ in suspected Azeri hitman case (updated)

police car 11

Police are investigating all possibilities following the arrest of a 39-year-old Azeri national, police chief Stelios Papatheodorou said on Monday asked about media reports that the man was a suspected hit man.

The suspect, who is in police custody, was arrested last week after he crossed from the north through the Ledra Street checkpoint.

In his possession, officers found a pistol equipped with a suppressor, which was undergoing ballistics test to determine whether it had been used in any other crimes. His mobile phone was also being examined.

The suspect arrived around three weeks ago through Larnaca airport from Russia and has been visiting the north almost daily.

According to initial  Israeli media reports, the intended victim is an Israeli businessman. But on Monday, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the planned assassination of Israeli businessmen in Cyprus was an Iranian plot aimed at striking Israel.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Tedi Sagi, the businessman who was initially reported to have been the target, was not the target of the attack. Iran, Israeli security officials said, had tried to attack a number of Israeli businessmen who operate in Cyprus.

Replying to questions on the sidelines of a press conference on the Cyprus Police Torch Run, Papatheodorou said: “An individual has been arrested, in the possession of whom a gun and ammunition was found…. It is a sensitive case and that it why the request he be remanded in custody was held in closed session of court.”

Asked whether the suspect was cooperating with authorities, the chief said “it is not a question of cooperation” adding that evidence is being collected so as to bring a case to court.

Asked whether police were close to making further arrests, he said that for the time being, there was nothing to add.

Police had received information about the suspect the moment he arrived. Last Monday, they placed him under surveillance as soon as he crossed from the north. They followed him as he rented an electric scooter from a shop in the old town and went to Engomi where he got into a rental car. The vehicle was rented in Paralimni using a forged ID.

The suspect was remanded in custody for eight days on Tuesday, as police investigate the possible involvement of other individuals.

 

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