A man accused of assaulting a black woman holding a baby in Larnaca is asking for a mistrial, with his lawyer saying media pundits and state officials violated his client’s right to a fair trial.
Defense attorney Kyriacos Prasitis, who represents a 43-year-old male charged with aggravated assault, told a Larnaca judge on Friday that his client’s presumption of innocence had been violated following public statements made by state officials and media pundits on a video that went viral.
In mid-July a woman from Congo filed an official complaint with police, saying a man had assaulted her while she was holding her baby.
A video posted online showed what appeared to be scenes of the alleged incident, with a white male kicking and punching a black female who was sitting on the ground and holding a young infant.
It later emerged that the woman had bought a used car from the defendant but wanted her money back after her mechanic in her own district gave a thumbs down on the vehicle and advised her to get her money back.
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.
The defendant’s lawyer had previously addressed the prosecutors in court, during his client remand hearing, asking whether they knew that his client had called police hours before the alleged incident.
Prasitis on Friday said his client could not get a fair trial and called on the judge to declare a mistrial.
But state prosecutor Anna Yiallourou objected to the request, asking that claims by the defense be heard during normal proceedings and not in a trial within a trial.
A trial within a trial could resolve an issue prior to legal proceedings going forward.
Yiallourou argued that the court could not resolve the issue without hearing the facts in the case, prompting the judge to say a decision on the matter would be made known on Monday.
The defendant is facing a total of ten charges including offenses under racism and xenophobia laws as well as violence against women, aggravated assault, use of profanity in public, threat of violence.