A 27-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in relation to the attack of a food courier by a group of minors over the weekend.
So far, six arrests have been made in relation to the case. A 22-year-old remains in custody while five minors aged 15 and 14 were charged and released on Monday.
According to Limassol police spokesman Lefteris Kyriacou, the five minors “showed great remorse for their actions”.
Kyriacou said the police have also spoken to people who witnessed the incident in the Limassol area of Ayios Antonios, who confirmed the reports of assault and robbery against the group.
According to the police, they ordered food through an online app. When the courier arrived he was threatened by the group of young people, who were armed with knives and bats.
They took the food without paying and stole the courier’s moped.
Later in the evening, the driver found out about the whereabouts of the group and the moped. Along with three other individuals, all Pakistani nationals like him, he headed to the Ayios Ioannis park and confronted the minors.
There, they were attacked by a larger group of unknown people.
According to the courier’s account of the facts that unfolded, around 15 people assaulted him and his friends at the park.
The four men attempted to flee, but were stopped by the group, who beat them with clubs.
At some point, the food courier managed to escape the attack, took his motorbike, and went to the police station to report the crime.
Following the incident, police went to Limassol general hospital where they found two friends of the courier, aged 34 and 38.
The two were kept for treatment, as doctors said their condition was serious but stable. The 34-year-old sustained fractures to his head, and right arm, while the 38-year-old had a fracture on his knee and lacerations.
Kyriacou on Tuesday said that police are also attempting to identify the larger group of people who attacked the courier and his friends at Ayios Ioannis park.
A 22-year-old man was arrested in connection to the same case on Sunday, and has been remanded for eight days.
Meanwhile, ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides released a statement condemning the incident, saying that “violence, wherever it may come from, cannot be justified, especially when it comes from a place of perceived superiority”.
Lottides stressed that zero tolerance must be shown towards people who commit racist hate crimes, whose offenses should in any case be investigated on the basis of the anti-racist legislation, which includes prejudice on part of the perpetrators as an aggravating factor.
The fact that the incident involved minors is another reason for it to be addressed immediately, effectively and decisively, she said, remarking that it is positive that arrests had already taken place and that the authorities were considering violations to the law on hate speech and xenophobia.
President Nikos Christodoulides issued a statement condemning the incident on Tuesday, in addition to the attack on a Turkish Cypriot girl over the weekend in Ayia Napa.
The president, was quoted as stating that the episodes do not appear to have been racially motivated.
Nevertheless, they were to be condemned as unacceptable and delinquent behaviour.
In her statement, the ombudswoman also said that this was not an isolated incident, but rather a continuation of other racist attacks that have taken place in Cyprus, such as the attack of an asylum seeker by a Cypriot man and more attacks on delivery drivers by young people.
For this reason, dealing with racism and intolerance against vulnerable groups of the population, such as immigrants and asylum seekers, should be set as a priority for Cypriot society, no matter how difficult the task may be getting with increasing migration rates, to protect actual and potential victims of hate crimes, she said.
Lastly she pointed out that the state has a crucial role to play in cultivating a culture of respect for the dignity of all people without discrimination, stressing that her role is “especially important in clearly conveying the message that all authorities will remain committeed to our collective effort to combat racist phenomena and protect those who are ‘easy targets’ of discrimination”.
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