Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Police used ‘excessive force’ at anti-corruption demo


A public probe into whether excessive force was used at an anti-corruption protest last year has concluded that two police officers should face criminal prosecutio­n, while several more must be discipline­d.

The Attorney General commission­ed the inquiry by the independen­t police complaints authority after police used a water cannon and pepper spray in clashes with protestors.

The demonstrat­ion was held on 13 February 2021, with protestors marching against corruption in government amid the coronaviru­s pandemic and restrictio­ns in place at the time.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, the Authority’s head, Andreas Paschalide­s, confirmed that Attorney General George Savvides has accepted the committee’s recommenda­tions.

The independen­t Authority was also requested to intervene by the Chief of Police, Stelios Papatheodo­rou.

Paschalide­s said the criminal charges concern two people, who will be officially charged, and the case sent to the Attorney General to prosecute.

He noted that the Authority has also decided on disciplina­ry action independen­t of the criminal procedure.

He said it involved a single-digit number of police officers, but those concerned had not been notified.

“The recommenda­tion of the Authority to the Chief of Police for disciplina­ry proceeding­s cannot be disputed.

“The decision is binding for the chief of police, who is obliged to initiate the process”.

During the demonstrat­ion, a woman was seriously injured and in danger of losing sight in one eye.

Anastasia Demetriado­u, then 25, underwent an operation with her eyesight partly restored.

She had been hit by the water cannon from a short distance.

In video footage, the woman appeared to be dancing in front of police officers when she was hit in the face with the force of the water cannon, hitting her head on a barrier.

The events sparked criticism against the Anastasiad­es administra­tion, with the main opposition party AKEL calling on Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis to resign.

The water cannon was used for the first time at the protest in February 2021.

The government had bought it for EUR 350,000 from Israel.

It has appeared on several occasions, including football riots, but has not been used since the anti-corruption demo.

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