Source: Kathimerini Cyprus
The measures taken by the Central Prison Management are neither sufficient nor effective and result in an uncontrolled and extremely dangerous situation that poses risks to the safety and lives of people inside and outside the Prison, with serious implications for public safety and order, according to the Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General of the Republic, George Savvidis and Savvas Angelides, in a statement.
"It's an uncontrolled and extremely dangerous situation in the prison"
At the same time, both men are publicly expressing their "deep concern and worry" about the situation in the prisons, noting that they expect all relevant agencies to take action.
According to the statement, the case concerning the murder of a convict committed on October 27, 2022, within the Central Prison was registered today at the Nicosia District Court with the intention of referring it to the Nicosia Permanent Criminal Court.
A heinous murder and massive gaps in the system
"One of the defendants in the same ward as the victim was charged with premeditated murder as well as possession and use of a Class A controlled substance." Other people are being prosecuted in the same case, including two prison guards who face charges of manslaughter by unlawful negligence constituting culpable negligence, neglect of duty, and causing death by the reckless or dangerous act, as well as neglect of official duty, according to the statement.
According to the report, "this serious crime reintroduces the problem of the importation, trafficking, and use of mobile phones and narcotic drugs in prisons, as well as the commission of criminal acts by prisoners while incarcerated."
Drugs and mobile phones are transported through the prison with the assistance of prison personnel
Mr. Savvidis and Mr. Angelides recall that on July 27, 2022, a four-member team of independent criminal investigators led by former Supreme Court Judge M. Christodoulou was appointed to investigate the possibility of criminal offenses being committed within the Central Prison, with a specific focus on the importation, trafficking, and use of mobile phones and drugs.
They state that the report of the four criminal investigators was given to the Legal Service on November 4, 2022. "The investigation, the testimony gathered, and the criminal investigators' conclusions are clearly not for the public to see. However, we are obligated to make a public statement without disclosing the details of the criminal investigators' report because we are very concerned to note that, through the investigation, the findings of the court decisions and the information/testimony held by the Police on the repeated importation, transfer, and use of mobile phones by prisoners in the Central Prison are confirmed," they added.
According to them, this appears to have been accomplished with the assistance of some members of the prison staff. Similarly, the picture of drug importation, trafficking, and use within prisons is confirmed, once again with the assistance of some prison staff. They add that this exposes the entire structure of the prison system to very serious risks, which are causing a crisis throughout the Criminal Justice system.
Ineffective measures of the Prison Directorate
"As a result, and based on undisputed facts, it is clear that the measures imposed by the Prison's Directorate are neither adequate nor effective. This results in an uncontrolled and extremely dangerous situation that endangers the safety and lives of people both inside and outside the prisons, with serious consequences for public safety and order," Mr. Savvidis and Mr. Angelides agreed.
"Prisons are the "headquarters" of organized crime
- Findings of the Larnaca Criminal Court in the decision dated 19/7/2022, in case number 2188/2020, regarding the use of mobile phones by a convict, who through the devices illegally introduced into the prisons, talked to other persons and provided instructions for committing very serious criminal offenses, that is to kill specific people, resulting in an attempted murder against 5 unsuspecting fellow citizens who happened to be in a public place.
- The warehouse of the Limassol District Court was set on fire, and it was claimed that the perpetrator of the crime, who at the time was a prisoner, received a live telephone transmission of the arson from the perpetrators.
- The murder of a specific person on April 21, 2021. In a significant drug case, this person served as the prosecution's key witness.
- Murder of a certain person, the father of a prosecution witness, who was in the Witness Protection Plan. The murder of this person was carried out a few days after his son gave sworn testimony.
- Desecration of the grave of the mother of another person, also a member of the Witness Protection Scheme, who was about to testify against a defendant in a drug case.
"It is not our responsibility as the head of the Legal Service to take action to avert and prevent this circumstance. However, we urge the appropriate authority to take drastic measures right away to protect all citizens both inside and outside of prisons in order to prevent, deter, and suppress these dangerous phenomena," the statement read.
It added that today "We have sent the entire criminal investigators' report to the honorable minister of justice and public order so that she can respond as soon as possible within her authority. We publicly express our deep concern and worry about the situation as it is developing in light of the turbulent events and developments and expect action to be taken by all pertinent agencies."
[This article was translated from its Greek original]