The agriculture ministry said on Tuesday it was shocked by a letter from the Cypriot hunters’ movement (Kekk) calling for minister Costas Kadis’ suspension, following the suspension of the veterinary services director Christodoulos Pipis.

“The ministry opposes the criticism, insults, enmity and disparaging comments about the minister, the permanent secretary, and the staff of the agriculture ministry,” they said.

In the letter, the hunters criticised the minister for the suspension of Pipis, because they allege Pipis followed all the protocols with a bout of brucellosis that broke out at a cow farm in Larnaca last year.

Last week, the public service commission suspended Pipis for three months.

The reason was the instances of Brucellosis found in cattle in a Larnaca farm, which led to the cull of approximately 1,200 animals.

Brucellosis, a bacterial disease which mainly infects sheep, cattle and goats, is endemic to many parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. People can get the disease when they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

The agriculture ministry released a statement last Wednesday revealing that several Veterinary Service officials, including Pipis, “were found guilty of negligence while performing their duties”.

Commenting on Kekk’s letter, the ministry said it believes the text was written without having all of the facts.

The ministry said that a report by the EU Commissioner and a report conducted by their official into the issue found there was just cause for their decisions.

In their letter, the hunters said: “The director of the veterinary services, Mr Christodoulos Pipis, together with the staff of his service, implemented all the prescribed measures for the management of the disease, observing all that is provided by the law, resulting in the problem being dealt with.”

The hunters added that “instead of congratulating and thanking the staff of the service” for their success in dealing with the disease outbreak, the minister and his permanent secretary decided to request cabinet order an investigation into Pipis and his officers due to the animals being culled to stop the disease from progressing.

They added that the reasoning behind the investigations was that culling animals necessitated reparations from the government to the farmers, as outlined in Cypriot law.

The group also fired at the Animal Party, which had called for the suspension of Pipis, saying that Kadis and members of his family have close ties with the party.

“What are the real motives that led them (the ministry officials) to accuse the director (of the veterinary services) and his staff,” the party questioned.

They added that the ministry could have edited the reports of the incident, made some documents disappear, or scared staff into not giving testimony.