A member of an elite police unit is under investigation following reports that the ID number on his helmet had been covered during an operation at a protest in downtown Nicosia.
According to local media, a male officer of Cyprus Police’s special Emergency Response Unit appeared in photographs on social media where his officer identification number was not displayed on his helmet.
Demonstrators at an anti-corruption protest last Saturday, as well as social media users, launched a public discussion following allegations that officers were not displaying their ID numbers properly, while members of riot police were seen using force against protesters.
Police denied using excessive force, saying officers never attempted to put down the protest until after they saw incidents of violence among demonstrators
Police denied using excessive force, with a spokesperson saying officers never attempted to put down the protest until after they saw incidents of violence among demonstrators.
But critics cried foul over police officers beating up protesters and arresting at least ten of them, while a female protester was injured after being targeted from a water cannon vehicle.
A new protest in Nicosia has been scheduled for the following Saturday, February 20, with law enforcement authorities meeting on Thursday to discuss a course of action.
Justice minister weighs in
Police also said an internal affairs committee was looking into allegations of excessive force, including the possibility of disciplinary action against the ERU officer, after critics including Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis condemned any law enforcement response that was disproportional.
Yiolitis, a former corporate lawyer who vowed to carry out justice reform upon assuming her new position, was recently criticized over an illegal search warrant when police raided the home of a Larnaca teacher. This week, left opposition party Akel called for the minister's resignation.
The educator, who said she was an activist, is suing authorities and seeking damages over the illegal search, which was based on Yiolitis’ complaint to police regarding a parody account on Twitter that poked fun at the minister.
Police said errors were made in the case while Yiolitis maintained that she filed the complaint as a private citizen and not a member of the President’s Cabinet.
Critics said Yiolitis abused her position, arguing that she should have reported the post to Twitter or filed a lawsuit instead of calling the police for a civil matter that ended up being treated as a criminal case.