A Greek Cypriot man accused of driving through a Turkish Cypriot checkpoint barricade says his car was shot at during the incident, with authorities in the north releasing video footage and prosecutors saying the suspect was being uncooperative.
According to local media, a 34-year-old Greek Cypriot man has been remanded in custody after prosecutors argued before a Turkish Cypriot judge in north Nicosia that the defendant was a flight risk.
The rogue driver made news after he allegedly drove into the north through a barricade at Ledra Palace on Monday afternoon, causing damage to the gate as he proceeded to leave the Turkish Cypriot checkpoint without following proper procedure.
He was later arrested and brought before a judge the following day, while authorities in the north have also released video footage of the incident.
During a remand hearing on Tuesday, investigators said the suspect failed to provide a breath sample, refused to give a statement to police during his arrest, and further declined the signing of a court citation.
But the suspect, who spoke in the courtroom, reportedly gave his own version of events, saying police officers at the gate blocked him from passing through.
“I was treated badly, my car was shot at,” he said.
The police investigator told the judge a shot was fired at the tire to make the driver stop as the car appeared to be moving suddenly towards the barricade without permission
The judge then turned to the police investigator, who said a shot was fired at the tire to make him stop as the car moved suddenly towards the barricade without permission.
It was not fully clear in the video, which had no sound, as to when exactly and under what circumstances guns were drawn during the incident.
Local media said the judge ordered the defendant to remain in pre-trial detention, not to exceed one calendar month, until a court case could be sorted out.
The driver is facing multiple charges including malicious damage of property, illegal entry, and trespassing in a forbidden military zone.
The specific crossing at Ledra Palace is used by the general public only on foot or bicycle, while vehicular traffic is prohibited except for diplomats.
Turkish Cypriot daily YeniDuzen reported that the man had been warned by Greek Cypriot officers not to drive through but the report could not be verified.
Vehicles are known from time to time to be allowed to cross into the buffer zone at Ledra Palace for specific purposes, such as parking outside one of the facilities or during an event without crossing into the other side.
The suspect is currently being held in a prison cell in north Nicosia.