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21° Nicosia,
18 October, 2018
 
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Sex trafficking suspects released until further notice

No new remands as investigators still sift through personal records to connect the dots

Newsroom

All five suspects in a recent sex trafficking case have been released from custody until further notice, as police investigators are pouring over bank accounts and telecommunications data to build the case.

Last week, five suspects including three police officers, were remanded in custody in connection with taking part in a sex trafficking ring in Cyprus.

The case began with an anti-human trafficking police raid at a Nicosia pub on August 1, which took place over a month after a US report praised authorities for their efforts in combating sex trafficking while asking them to do more.

Two police officers, who were manning visa inspection booths at Larnaca International Airport, are accused of taking part in the illegal operation by turning a blind eye and letting trafficked Eastern European women pass through the Port of Entry.

The pub owner is being investigated for running an illegal prostitution on business premises where trafficked women lived upstairs on a higher floor of the establishment

Last week police managed to get a seven-day remand for all suspects in the case, including another cop who provided cover as well as a Nicosia pub owner and his girlfriend. But the suspects walked free on Wednesday as investigators have yet to acquire further evidence to warrant a new remand order.

According to local reports, one of the suspected police officers was handpicked by his superiors over the summer to be assigned as a driver for a high ranking official. Another suspect, the pub owner, is being investigated for running an illegal prostitution on business premises where trafficked women were said to be living upstairs on a higher floor of the establishment.

Knews understands that investigators are sifting through bank account transactions and telecommunications data as they try to piece together their understanding of a possible cooperation between the suspects.

According to local reports, no evidence has been found yet that points to bribery of officials, while a total of nine women, mostly from Ukraine and Moldova, have been identified as victims of sex trafficking.

Police will send the case file to the attorney general for further consultation as soon as the investigations are completed.

Charges could include conspiracy to commit a crime, corruption, human trafficking, abuse of authority, sexual exploitation, bribery, and assisting an alien to illegally enter into the Republic of Cyprus.

In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the government for bolstering its efforts to convict traffickers and improve protections for victims, while pointing out that many countries were stepping up their efforts while others were making it easier for traffickers to commit crimes. 

While prostitution is not illegal in the Republic of Cyprus, pimping and public soliciting for sex are offences punishable by law.

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Cyprus  |  sex  |  trafficking  |  prostitution  |  police  |  crime  |  airport  |  cops  |  corruption  |  illegal  |  human trafficking

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