A tourist of Chinese origin who visited Ayia Napa last year claims to have been racially targeted and abused by local police, causing him mental health issues.
But Famagusta police said he was arrested after causing a public nuisance while drunk and for insulting an officer. They said a complaint was only filed recently and they are looking into the issue.
Jonathan Kan, originally from Hong Kong, has been living in London for the past ten years. During his holidays to the island’s tourist resort in the Famagusta district, Kan was arrested in the early morning hours on September 13, 2021.
The 30-year-old data privacy analyst reported he was picked on by officers who told him he “looked Chinese” and had “brought Covid” to the country.
“I got tied up by the police with cable tie, put in a car and driven to the middle of nowhere, being pushed and beaten up for hours,” Kan wrote in his GoFundMe page which he created to help pay for his legal fees.
He said the experience is haunting him every single day as police threatened to kill him and detained him in a dark cell with pee and rubbish for about eight hours, refusing to give him water. When he asked to speak to a lawyer, Kan said he was told they would beat him if he did not shut up.
Kan was taken to court later that morning where he was fined €420 for five offences related to being drunk and causing a public nuisance as well as insulting a police officer. He was also charged for failing to wear a face mask according to the relevant health ministry decree to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Famagusta police spokesman Steve Theodoulou said.
For his part, Kan said “they drove me to the court and forced me to make a confession without legal representatives. They made me pay a fine and said I would be put in jail if I did not.”
The 30-year-old then referred the case to the British High Commission and a Cyprus lawyer who, he said, “did not speak very good English”. The attorney stopped representing him in January and Kan has approached Justice Abroad, a team providing assistance with a range of international justice law enforcement issues.
As a result of his experience, the man said he suffered from PTSD and was unable to work last year which has contributed to the accumulation of over €8,000 worth of debt, The Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
“No complaint was made to the police during the time he was in Cyprus,” Theodoulou said, adding that the complaint was received this year. However, the complaint, which was received via e-mail, was lacking information and police responded requesting details of the case.
After receiving the specifics, police are preparing a report based on the testimony of the officers involved to respond to the complaint.
Related to the accusations of racial targeting and police beating, the spokesman said “I am not in a position to respond.”
Responding to MailOnline, Justice Abroad said Cypriot police can mistreat foreign nationals without consequences.
“This is another worrying case involving the Cypriot Police who feel like they can treat foreign nationals as they wish with impunity.
“This problem in Cyprus is accentuated by the fact that the Police in Cyprus do not wear body worn cameras, there is no recording of anything which happens in Police cars or even the Police station, and there is not even a proper record system for noting the time of arrests of individuals and the reason for arrest.”
Although the Cypriot Parliament has promised to make improvements following high profile cases involving visitors, “none have eventuated”, the expert team added. “This maintains a system ripe for abuse in case such as this one and many more with which that we are currently dealing.”