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19 June, 2024
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Police open to reexamine warrant procedures

New guidelines may be coming down the pipe after Supreme Court rules number of warrants as unlawful


The Chief of Police in the Republic of Cyprus wants a special team to go over warrants that were rendered unlawful recently, following a high profile defeat before the Supreme Court in connection with a home search over a Twitter parody account about the justice minister.

Police Chief Stylianos Papatheodorou has tasked a special team to comb through cases where arrest and search warrants were found by the Supreme Court to have been issued illegally, according to Philenews.

The move comes after a number of appeals of high-profile warrants were defeated during the appeal process with the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors saw their court-approved warrants being overturned, including an arrest warrant in the spy van case as well as a home search in the Twitter parody account about Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis, whose initial complaint to police ended up later with three officers knocking on the door of a single mother and activist in Larnaca.

Knews has learned that law enforcement practices about warrants included general statements on alleged offences against a group of suspects and not specific crimes against a specific person

The Supreme Court ruled that police showed no link between alleged cyber crime offences and the woman against whom the warrants had been issued, while in other cases prosecutors had included many different offences on warrants either not matching the updated penal code or alleged crimes did not match with a specific suspect.

Knews has learned that law enforcement practices involving warrants sought by police were often approved by district courts based on general statements on alleged offences against a group of suspects and not specific crimes being investigated against a specific person.

Law enforcement officials told Knews the practice is widely used to aid in the launching of investigations where multiple suspects and unspecified offences are under preliminary stages of a criminal investigation.

In the Twitter case, Police spokesperson Christos Andreou had previously acknowledged that Yiolitis was the person who filed an initial complaint over posts by Twitter handle “Lady Emily Kardashian Duchess of Yiolou” that poked fun at the minister.

Police ready to apologise if needed

“Police sought a search warrant through the district court by following all legal procedures,” Andreou said at the time.

But this week, according to Philenews, the spokesperson did not rule out that an error could have occurred in the case.

“If it turns out that mistakes were made in handling the case, we will apologize,” Andreou said.

The spokesperson added that the findings from the special team on illegal arrest and search warrants would be examined, “so that guidelines can be given to investigators who submit requests at the district court level.”

Some mistakes not over substance but oversight

Andreou went on to say that dozens of warrants were being issued on a daily basis, adding that some mistakes might take place due to oversight but not substance.

In one case, an arrest warrant against a medical doctor accused of sexual assault was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court recently after prosecutors cited a number of offences on the official request including one that no longer existed on the books.

Cyprus  |  police  |  Supreme Court  |  warrant  |  arrest  |  detention  |  search  |  alleged offences  |  court  |  police chief

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