An exchange of murder suspects took place between north and south on Thursday, with officials on both sides of divided Cyprus sending a clear message against impunity for crimes.
According to Cyprus News Agency, four male suspects wanted in the south for the murder of Ernest Leonides, who was murdered in Limassol in February 2018 in what some believe to have been a hit linked to the Russian mafia.
North to south
The four suspects, at least three of them from Georgia, were arrested last summer in the north on charges of illegal weapons possession, after Turkish Cypriot police raided a housing complex in Akanthou/Tatlisu along the northern coastline.
Greek Cypriot police on Friday said four others are also still wanted by authorities in connection with the Leonides case.
South to north
The four suspects were handed to Greek Cypriot officials through the UNFICYP and the bicommunal crime committee, just as another murder suspect was being transferred from the south through the same UN channels to Turkish Cypriot authorities.
Officials from both sides reiterated the commitment of law enforcement to 'end impunity' for suspected criminals who try to take advantage of the political situation
Muhammad Salman, a 24-year-old male from Pakistan, was apprehended in Limassol in October 2018 after his photograph was released by Turkish Cypriot media that raised the possibility he might have fled south.
Salman was arrested in the southern town on charges of illegal entry and illegal stay in the Republic of Cyprus, while he was wanted by Turkish Cypriot police in connection with the brutal murder of 53-year-old arts educator Hasan Isik Ozgocmen.
Ozgocmen was beaten and strangled to death in late September of 2018 in a forested area in Trikomo/Iskele.
Officials from both sides made statements to local media, reiterating the commitment of authorities and law enforcement to “end impunity” for suspected criminals who try to take advantage of political loopholes.
The bicommunal crime committee, despite some success in a number of cases, is still facing many problems stemming from the political situation on the divided island. Known officially as the Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters, it is the only entity on the island operating on the principles of federal policing.