An independent probe into alleged police brutality earlier this year, when a water cannon truck took part in shutting down a demonstration, has recommended both criminal and disciplinary proceedings against officers.
During the demonstration, a young woman was captured on video at the moment when she was hit in the face by police water cannon
According to local media, the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints Against the Police met this week to examine findings from a four-member committee, in connection with reports of a heavy-handed response to a peaceful protest against corruption in downtown Nicosia on 13 February 2021.
During the demonstration, a young woman was captured on video at the moment when she was hit in the face by police water cannon. She later identified herself on social media and said she had sustained a serious eye injury.
“Police used water cannon to attack me because I was dancing peacefully on the sidewalk. I have a serious eye injury and I need surgery, but I don’t regret anything! Kisses to all and stay strong,” she wrote on social media.
Protesters criticized officers for using excessive force as they moved to disperse the crowd, making several arrests and using force to detain suspects.
But police said they had warned demonstrators that the gathering was unlawful, citing bans based on executive orders issued by the government during pandemic measures.
Final word rests with attorney general
IAIACAP probe findings do not have power of their own but are considered important recommendations for the attorney general, who is the official tasked with making a final decision on criminal prosecution.
In May 2020, after IAIACAP made recommendations in the island’s serial killer probe, former attorney general Costas Clerides concluded that 15 police officers and law enforcement officials should face criminal prosecution for allegedly being involved in dereliction of duty and other types of behavior, including actions with racist undertones.
But current Attorney General George Savvides ordered a secondary probe to evaluate the IAIACAP findings, with the Legal Department concluding last summer that criminal prosecution could not be justified against sergeants and frontline officers, citing lack of protocols and procedures regarding missing persons.
A police internal affairs committee had recommended disciplinary action against members of law enforcement for dropping the ball on cases of missing women and children, all foreign nationals, who were later found murdered.