After the announcement that a parliamentary committee would convene to examine a complaint against independent MP Andreas Themistocleous, alleged to have made ‘abusive remarks’ against Greens MP Alexandra Attalidou, police on Tuesday added that the case would also be referred to the legal service.
The controversy revolves around a Facebook post made last week by Themistocleous, replying to Attalidou’s earlier post where she welcomed the passage of legislation criminalising ‘conversion therapies’ on LGBT people.
Themistocleous wrote sarcastically: “It looks like the three blacks never showed up after all.”
The independent MP had voted against the legislation.
Attalidou immediately moved to report the matter to the House ethics committee, which will convene for this purpose on Thursday morning. Both she and Themistocleous will be summoned to give their accounts.
A source told daily Phileleftheros that the police cybercrime unit has collected material published on social media between the two MPs, and intends to consult the attorney general before proceeding.
This includes Attalidou’s post, and two from Themistocleous – one mocking her post, and another one he published to explain himself after it emerged the House ethics committee would be discussing the case.
The above will be brought before the legal service to determine whether Themistocleous’ post is racist, hate speech, or something else, and whether it is justified to start removing the independent MP’s immunity, as was done in the past for traffic offences.
It was also noted that the police have not received a statement from anyone involved, and will not do so until they have the opinion of the legal service.
In the meantime, an ad hoc House ethics committee will meet on Thursday to examine Attalidou’s complaint, as well as a request to make the legal framework surrounding permissible speech in politics stricter.
Initially, the independent MP’s behaviour will be discussed and parties will be called to submit their proposals for changes in the legislation. Themistocleous himself is expected to be called to express his views at a later meeting.
The Greens MP expressed her readiness to file a complaint with the police regarding the Facebook post, also referring to an incident from December 2022, when during a plenary session on sexual education in schools, a crowd outside parliament shouted abusive slogans against her.
“When I went outside I saw two colleagues, members of the House, [Elam’s] Mr Christou and Mr Themistocleous greeting and hugging these people,” she told Alpha News on Monday.
She also said that when she asked the police officer present why they were not doing anything, she was told that she should report it to a police station, which she did not do as she did not trust authorities to be impartial.
However, she filed a complaint before the EU Justice Commissioner, noting that the law on hate speech is not properly applied in Cyprus.
Attalidou also claimed that she continues to be on the receiving end of sexist attacks, saying that she has been sent drawings depicting rape.
Once it became known that the ethics committee would take up Attalidou’s complaint, Themistocleous took to social media again to explain what happened.
He said that when he referred to “the three blacks” he was in fact citing Attalidou herself. His Facebook post was merely sarcastic, throwing Attalidou’s own words back at her.
That is factually correct. Back in December, Attalidou went on television, claiming she was on the receiving end of threats and abusive comments on social media.
Among the alleged threats she received, Attalidou said at the time, was that someone would send “three blacks to take care of you.”
According to Themistocleous, he brought up the “three blacks” remark to show Attalidou that nothing in fact happened to her after passage of the bill prohibiting conversion therapies for LGBT individuals. He was mocking her claims that she was in danger.