Cyprus Police have arrested a handful of suspects following a wild brawl during a memorial event of a controversial army general in Limassol, but critics accuse law enforcement of failing to detain offenders during the event as things got out of hand.
A memorial prayer for EOKA commander General Georgios “Digenis” Grivas got out of hand in Limassol on Sundaym, when hooligans from two opposing teams came face to face during the event.
'It is not safe for officers to detain a suspect when they are surrounded by so many perpetrators out there' a police union official said
According to local media, there was tension when APOEL football fans bussed from Nicosia came close to fans from local APOLLON, with reports saying rocks started to be thrown at each other as riot police attempted to maintain order.
But critics accused law enforcement of failing to apprehend perpetrators on site during the incident, with police responding that arrest warrants were later issued and at least five suspects had been detained.
During the incident six officers and two citizens were injured, while patrol cars and motorcycles were also damaged. Molotov cocktails known as fire bombs were also found on site, along with rocks, baseball bats, and other items.
Police union official Nicos Loizides fired back at critics on Monday morning, saying it was impossible for the riot police to stop the hooligans.
Loizides, who was a guest or state radio, pointed to “amateur handling” on the part of authorities and said riot police were simply outnumbered.
“It is not safe for officers to detain a suspect when they are surrounded by so many perpetrators out there,” Loizides said.
Grivas is viewed as a hero by the Greek Cypriot-run state for his role in leading EOKA fighters against the British colonial administration.
But the Cypriot-born Greek general remained a divisive figure after the island’s 1960 independence, when one faction of EOKA laid down weapons and joined the new government while a rival paramilitary network led by Grivas kept fighting a secret war aimed at achieving enosis, union with Greece.