Two suspects have been identified and questioned by the police over the case of animal torture at the Dali secondary school which shocked the island.
A mother cat and her three kittens were being cared for at the school. One of the kittens was found to have been spraypainted, tortured, subsequently killed, and hanged. Reports also claimed that blood had been smeared on the walls.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou confirmed on Friday that: “Yes, we have found them, but as you are aware they are underage persons and we must be very sensitive and careful in what we say, therefore I can confirm that suspects have been identified and questioned.”
There have been conflicting reports as to exactly how many cats were killed in the incident, with Andreou telling Alpha that the initial information pointed to one kitten being killed, although there may have been more deaths.
He confirmed that two minors, but notably over the age of 14, were questioned on Thursday in the presence of their lawyers and guardians. Andreou added that they are awaiting the required testimony which could lead to criminal charges. The police official explained that as they are minors but over the age of 14 they are able to be held criminally responsible.
The case caused outrage on social media which was awash with accusations of who the suspects may be, with some posts even naming the alleged perpetrators – although the police official denied that such posts assisted in their investigations.
The spokesman said that the incident took place on May 4 and was reported the following day, but that officers at the scene found no indications of such an incident having taken place. Later testimonies however led the police to the two suspects, with the possibility that more than one cat has been killed.
Elsewhere, head of the animal police unit Vyronas Vyronos told the Cyprus Mail that the case of a cat being used as target practice in Limassol has not been officially reported to the authorities.
“We are indeed aware of posts on social media saying that a cat was used as target practice with a Flobert gun, but we have not received an official report,” he said, adding that they have so far not spoken with the man who uploaded photos showing a badly injured cat.
Asked about the apparent rise of animal cruelty cases emerging, Vyronos offered that they were always happening but now the public is more sensitive to such issues and is rightly reporting them.
“Now that we have an animal police unit the public is assured that such cases will be investigated,” he said, adding that in the past such incidents were not taken as seriously.
He called on the public to report incidents of animal mistreatment by calling the local police station or citizen help line, explaining that either a local officer will investigate or the case may be passed on to the animal police unit.
In September 2021, the Cyprus Mail reported that the animal police unit was staffed with 16 officers.