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02 June, 2023
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New details emerge in Pournara arrests

Sexual harassment retaliation behind recent migrant camp trespassing arrests


New details in last week’s Pournara speedy trial suggests a foreign man and five others convicted of trespassing had gone to the camp to confront another individual over sexual harassment allegations involving the perpetrator’s female relative.

Six out of eight foreign nationals, who were arrested on trespassing charges last Tuesday at the Pournara migrant camp, were sentenced to jail between 10 and 30 days by a Nicosia district judge the following day. Two others were released on bail pending trial.

The main suspect was spotted by police officers inside the camp without authorization, with seven others later also being apprehended. At least two of the eight suspects were holding blunt objects, such as a metal rod and a hand tool possibly a hammer, according to police.

All eight suspects, who were described as Syrian nationals who remained lawfully in the Republic of Cyprus, were arrested on charges of illegal trespassing and possession of blunt objects.

Police told Knews they did not want to speculate why the men went to Pournara, but KISA director says it was attempted retaliation following inaction over sexual harassment allegations inside the camp

Prosecutors said they wanted to file a criminal case with Nicosia district court the day immediately following the arrests, while police told Knews they did not wish to speculate as to why the men visited the migrant facility.

But the director of a local NGO against racism and xenophobia, Doros Polykarpou, provided new details over the weekend, suggesting the trespassing incident at Pournara was in fact retaliation against another male camp resident alleged to have sexually harassed a female relative of the main suspect.

The KISA director, who was responding on Monday to another post on social media involving predatory sexual behaviour, made comments about a Syrian man who went to Pournara camp with his friends “to teach a lesson” to a another man who was allegedly abusing a female relative.

Last Friday, Polykarpou wrote on Facebook that local media reports did not provide a full account of the incident, saying that the illegal action had been carried out by a family member of an adult female refugee who failed to receive protection from authorities over sexual harassment inside the camp.

The KISA director also drew attention to the fact that the suspects were not represented by an attorney during their trial and sentencing, both of which took place the morning after their arrests.

Earlier this summer, Pournara officers were criticized over allegations of sexual harassment, where camp residents allegedly experienced abusive behaviour from other tenants but never received appropriate help or were afraid to speak out.

Cyprus  |  migration  |  Pournara  |  arrest  |  trespassing  |  sexual harassment  |  Syria  |  KISA  |  Polykarpou  |  migrant centre  |  asylum  |  police  |  arrest  |  court  |  lawyer  |  foreign national

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