A local man caught on video verbally and physically assaulting an asylum seeker who was holding her baby has been remanded in custody, but his lawyer says he was the one who called police in the first place.
Police said a 43-year-old Greek Cypriot male walked into a Larnaca station on Thursday and was placed under arrest on suspicion of violating racism and xenophobia laws of the Republic, after a woman from Congo filed a complaint a day earlier saying the suspect attacked her and her young infant both physically and verbally.
Local media said the 29-year-old mother had bought a used vehicle from the suspect in Larnaca prior to the alleged assault. She reportedly paid €900 in cash and took the car to her own mechanic in Paralimni, where she found out that a leak could not be fixed because she had bought a lemon.
After going back to Larnaca to demand her money back, the suspect refused to do so according to the complaint.
“You’re in my country and there’s nothing you can do to me,” the suspect was purported to have told the woman, while according to viral video, he also became angry and shouted “go away” to her and another black male.
According to the complaint, the suspect had threatened to kill the woman and the baby if they did not leave
The woman was sitting on the ground with her baby in her arms, while the video showed the suspect kicking her and punching her.
Local media also said the man had threatened to kill the woman and the baby if they did not leave, while the person recording the incident on video said the suspect also grabbed a steel rod to repeat the threats.
But the suspect denied the allegations, with his defense attorney addressing the prosecutor in the courtroom and asking whether they knew that his client had been calling police since 2pm, before the incident took place at 6:15pm.
The prosecutor then told the judge they were still in the remand phase.
“That was not my question, did you know about it?” the attorney persisted.
“No, I did not know this,” the prosecutor said.
The judge ordered the suspect be remanded custody for four days.
“All the criteria have been met for the remand. There is an investigation in progress. It is my judgment that the request meets all conditions for detention. There shall be a four day remand,” the judge said.
The suspect, who reportedly gave a voluntary statement to police, claimed to investigators he was intending to return the vehicle only after the woman would bring back the vehicle.
Police said they were investigating offenses under racism and xenophobia laws, as well as violence against women, while additional charges included aggravated assault, use of profanity in public, threat of violence.