A foreign national who was called into a Nicosia police station to assist in an ongoing drug investigation in Larnaca ended up on the wanted list, after he was arrested on immigration charges and escaped while being driven to jail.
Police say 32-year-old Muhammad Atif from Pakistan walked into a station in Nicosia district, after investigators in Larnaca requested that he give a statement in connection with an ongoing drug possession case of about 3 grams in the southern coastal town.
But when Atif walked into the capital’s Agios Dhometios station on Monday evening around 6pm, officers from Larnaca's Drug Squad arrested him on immigration violations and placed him in handcuffs.
Police maintain that officers became aware of Atif's immigration flag on his record after he visited the station, adding he was at that moment onwards subject to arrest and deportation
Police maintain that officers became aware of Atif's immigration flag on his record, namely that his visa had expired in September 2021, after he visited the station, adding he was at that moment onwards subject to deportation.
Two hours later, around 8pm, Atif was placed into a police vehicle to be transferred to a holding cell in Aradippou, Larnaca district, but he escaped while still wearing handcuffs.
Atif reportedly assaulted a male officer sitting next to him in the back seat, moved into the front passenger seat and struck a female officer in the driver’s seat, and then made his way out through the passenger front door.
According to police, Atif was never a suspect in the drug case but investigators needed information from him that could help prosecutors. Officials did not specify whether Atif knew a suspect or perhaps had secondary information that could be pertinent to the case.
He is now wanted in connection with multiple charges in Nicosia, including escape by fleeing from lawful detention, assaulting a police officer, and aggravated assault.
It was not immediately clear whether Atif had any other immigration status pending, while a police communications officer told Knews on Tuesday that law enforcement internal records indicated the suspect let his papers expire last year.
Police have published a photo of Atif, asking members of the public to contact authorities if they have information that can help apprehend the suspect.