Cyprus Mail

Police tell Limassol mayor ‘hooligan’ club must close

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Complaints from neighbours about noise and nuisance from such premises are commonplace

Police on Tuesday are trying again to secure the closure of a clubhouse in Limassol connected with the latest episodes of violence by football fans which unfolded in the city last week.

Speaking on CyBC’s morning radio, police spokesman Christos Andreou said the club, where 80 hooded men armed with clubs, rocks and improvised bombs had gathered to instigate a street fight, was one of several such premises operating in the city, some of them unlicensed.

Complaints from neighbours about noise and nuisance from such premises are commonplace but nothing “serious” had occurred at the specific premise since May, Andreou said.

The police rep detailed that the legal process to close down a problematic club is circuitous, and police must file the case with the district court to secure a decree to this end – even if the premise is illegally operating without a permit.

Police have officially informed Limassol mayor Nicos Nicolaides of their intent to demand a closure decree from the court for the club in question, Andreou said.

The Limassol mayor, speaking on the same programme, condemned the violent episode and noted that incidents of delinquency and criminality are now becoming standard in the city which is a worrying development.

Justifying his decision last May to allow the operation of the club, despite the police’s reservations, Nicolaides said that the reasons incidents flare up around football clubs are complex and though some are linked to elements on the underworld, not all football fans fall under this category.

“Those people [hooligans] will find another place, if it’s not a club it will be a school, a coffee shop, or such,” the mayor said.

He noted that the specific club had originally not been operating with a licence but that the municipality had issued a permit for it last year to open as a coffee shop under extremely strict conditions to be renewed every two months.

“The hope was to offer a window for the club members to rein in their more subversive elements, knowing that the club could face closure if the conditions were not upheld,” the mayor said.

The municipal council will now examine whether the terms of the permit, which include items such as limits on days and hours of operation, have been violated, the mayor said.

“We will take a decision based on protecting the public and we stand by the police in their efforts,” Nicolaou stated, adding, however, that “a situation of action-and-reaction will not bring the desired result of safety.”

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