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12° Nicosia,
20 January, 2022
 
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Cyprus police shocked at arrest mix-up in Greece

Interpol Nicosia alerted Athens discreetly as there was no basis to lawfully arrest Georgian man

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Cyprus police were shocked at the news that a family man with a clean record was arrested in a high-stakes take down at a Greek airport, with sources suggesting Interpol Nicosia had only flagged the passenger discreetly after Athens never got back to them to resolve a mix-up.

A Georgian man in his late forties was traveling from Larnaca to Thessaloniki earlier this week to attend a funeral when he was handcuffed by Hellenic Police upon landing at Thessaloniki airport.

The arrest, which was reportedly linked to an investigation into contract killings in the Russian mafia, came as a big shock to the traveler, who was only known to Cypriot authorities for violating the laws of traffic.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou confirmed that the man, a Greek citizen living in Cyprus with his family, had served a two-month prison sentence in Nicosia for traffic violations and was released in August 2021.

But media reports said the transliteration of the man’s name in Greek loosely resembled Yakim Karsliev, an alias used in Greece by convicted Russian gangster Sergei Boutorin, also known as Osya.

'We had nothing on which we could detain the man, so Nicosia Interpol notified their counterparts in Athens to check it out, since we never heard back and he was getting on a plane'

After Cypriot police contacted their Greek counterparts based on routine checks to see if they had any reason why the Georgian should not be released in Nicosia, they got a message from Athens in September saying the man could be Karsliev from Russia born in 1964 and wanted for multiple murders.

But Cypriot officers had doubts as neither the photo nor biopage information provided by Greek authorities matched the Georgian traffic violator to the Russian gangster.

“The suspect wanted by Greek police was a Russian citizen born in 1964, but the gentleman in question was a Georgian national born in 1974. That’s a ten year difference, and their data also didn’t match with what we had,” Andreou told Knews.

According to media speculation, Greek police suspected the passport could be fake but failed to get back with their Cypriot colleagues to unflag the Georgian man who had booked a flight on 10 January 2022.

Andreou told Knews that Cypriot law enforcement agents had no basis to move forward with a lawful arrest “so we just contacted them to check it out.”

“We had nothing on which we could detain the man, so Nicosia Interpol notified their counterparts in Athens to check it out, since we never heard back and he was getting on a plane,” Andreou said.

But the spokesperson said he had no information about any fingerprints that were reportedly evaluated and led to the man’s arrest in Thessaloniki.

Unconfirmed media reports said fingerprints that belonged to Boutorin had been included in the Georgian man’s Greek police file, with additional media suggesting it was a blunder.

The Georgian man reportedly told Hellenic Police that he had traveled to Greece once before about ten years ago to fulfill army obligations.

Greek media have reported that the man was being suspected of drug-related offenses allegedly committed in Greece, but this was not independently verified.

Cyprus police say the traveler was not officially flagged on the passenger list for additional scrutiny as they were no warrants on him or any other information identifying him as a suspect.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Nicosia  |  Athens  |  Georgia  |  Russia  |  Interpol  |  mafia  |  Yakim Karsliev  |  police blunder  |  arrest  |  Thessaloniki

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