Two men who were arrested as suspects in the Kallitchionis murder were released from remanded custody on Tuesday, both raising questions over locking up pre-trial suspects as well as their lawyer accusing police of violating the rights of his clients.
Defence attorney Antonis Demetriou, who represents two former suspects in the Kallitchionis murder, had some harsh words for top law enforcement officials after it emerged that police did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute his clients despite managing to secure a second remand. Reports said a successful attempt to file a criminal case would have likely kept the suspects locked up until trial.
“I must lay the blame on obsession on the part of the CID Famagusta director, who ought not to forget that an investigation into an offence should not be a personal or selfish matter but rather something that is examined objectively and always based on evidence,” Demetriou said in a press release on Tuesday.
Earlier, police prosecutors had visited the Legal Services Department to discuss filing a criminal case against two local men, aged 29 and 40, who were named as suspects in the murder of Panayiotis “Valentinos” Kallitchionis. The bodyguard, who was a witness in a high profile Ayia Napa murder case years ago, was gunned down in Ormideia, Larnaca district, on June 25. He had recently been released from prison after serving a sentence in a different case.
During a thorough pre-trial cross-examination, it emerged that police had no evidence against the suspects but awaited further test results
Demetriou accused the police official of “repeatedly and persistently harassing or pestering the Legal Department” by demanding that a criminal case be filed against the two suspects, who were arrested on July 8 and remained in custody for a total of 12 days.
Police had managed to secure an initial eight-day remand order for the two suspects and then a judge renewed the remand for an additional four days, based on pre-trial testimony heard in court. A maximum of eight days is allowed for a remand but it can be renewed if new evidence or other reasons warrant further detention up to three months.
But during a thorough pre-trial cross-examination just before the four-day remand was to expire, it emerged that police had no evidence against the suspects but said they were awaiting further test results.
In the first remand hearing, police said they were examining multiple pieces of evidence including tests on DNA, shoeprints, gunpowder, telephone records, and a suspicious motorcycle.
During a second remand hearing, Demetriou asked a police witness specific questions regarding the existence of evidence linking the suspects to the crime, with the officer admitting that police had no DNA or other incriminating evidence specifically against the suspects at that time. On Tuesday, all results were in with no incrimating evidence against Demetriou's clients.
Remand hearings have specific purpose
“The remand hearing is meant to have two purposes, to present evidence either pointing to guilt or excluding a suspect from having committed an offence,” Demetriou told reporters after the hearing.
Demetriou also reiterated that an arrest did not mean someone was guilty, adding that a total of 15 questions he had asked in court during cross-examination showed the evidence presented did not implicate his clients and did not warrant their further detention.
Police spokesperson Christos Andreou rejected accusations leveled against police or specific law enforcement members.
In a written statement, Andreou said “investigation in a case is carried out by investigators who work collectively and at no time should specific members be targeted for taking part in the interrogations in any way.”