Charges were dropped on Tuesday against a British woman arrested in front of her child last week after describing the mayor of Mandria village Kypros Michaelides as ‘useless’ in a Facebook comment.
An announcement by UK-based Justice Abroad, established to help expats find their way through foreign justice systems, said Tuesday that the Attorney General’s office has decided to drop charges against the British mother and resident of Mandria, Kaela Charalampous.
Charalambous was charged with obscene language and harassment on social media after describing community leader Kypros Michaelides as ‘useless’ in a comment under a Facebook post regarding works being carried out in the village.
“It is understood that the arrest of Ms Charalmpous was carried out under a warrant issued by a court in Cyprus. It is not clear why the Police requested such a warrant from the Court and how a Judge felt able to issue a warrant given that Ms Charalmpous’s actions, which are in writing on Facebook, disclose no crime and the issue of the warrant and arrest was a textbook example of a breach of her rights under Article 19 of the Cypriot Constitution and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which provides for freedom of expression, especially when it comes to criticism of elected politicians,” the Justice Abroad announcement said.
It added that after being taken to the police station, Charalampous went to the Mayor’s offices, where he threatened her that proceedings would continue against her unless she posted a public apology, one of which he drafted himself and texted to her and made her post on Facebook.
Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak said that “whilst we welcome today’s decision by the Attorney General to drop all charges against our client she has not received the apology requested for the clearly unlawful arrest in front of her small child.”
“Further, many questions remain unanswered for which the public will want answers. Why did the Police apply for a warrant for expression which was clearly not criminal? Would they have acted in the same way if the ridiculous complaint had come from an ordinary citizen not someone with political power? Why did a judge, who must have been trained in Cypriot law and the European Convention, issue such a warrant? Did the Mayor misuse the criminal process and his position of power to force a woman to publish an apology that he drafted when no such apology was due?” Polak said.
He added that this is just one example of the processes being used in Cyprus to supress freedom of expression, and called on Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis to “establish an inquiry to consider how this farce was allowed to take place.”
“Unless such steps are taken ordinary people can have no confidence that the the law is being applied without fear or favour and that the Police are not acting as private security for those with political power,” he said.