A 48-year-old man was arrested on Thursday in connection with a wildfire in Macheras, where authorities say the burning down of 70 hectares of forest was the result of arson.
Media reports said the suspect is a local shepherd of Kapedes, Nicosia distrcit, where the fire broke out around 10am threatening the entire forest of Macheras.
The fire was contained by the evening, according to the Forest Department, after more than 150 men, 7 aircraft and 20 fire engines took part in the effort. Emergency teams were left in position to monitor the situation throughout the night.
Authorities said from the first moment that the fire was the result of arson, based on locating two origins 500 metres apart with no reasonable explanation other than a sinister motive.
During the remand hearing in the Nicosia district court, the judge heard about a vendetta between the suspect and the Forest department, including threats he had made in early September.
A judge ordered the suspect in remanded custody for eight days, while he will be allowed to put his sheep out to pasture for two hours every day under police supervision
Reports said the shepherd had previous encounters with police, including incidents when he hurled insults at public officials and entered illegally in a national park.
Forest officials reportedly had told the shepherd to refrain from letting his animals graze on state land.
“I’m gonna burn the whole thing down and you ain’t gonna be able to do nothing,” he told them according to media reports.
A judge ordered the suspect in remanded custody for eight days, while the shepherd will be allowed to put his sheep out to pasture for two hours every day under police supervision.
Last month, links were drawn between fires in the Tilliria region and disgruntled candidates who were rejected as retained fire fighters by the Forestry department.
Sources also said a series of Tilliria fires were linked to the hiring of retained fire fighters on a temporary basis, a part-time job with pay and benefits that could last several months in a year. According to regulations, temporary hires must be within 18 and 40 years of age and live locally.