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21 May, 2024
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Supreme Court takes on Twitter parody case

Police and Larnaca judge face tough questions over search warrant issued after justice minister’s complaint


A woman whose house in Larnaca was raided by police officers, following a complaint by Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis over a parody account on Twitter, is taking her case to the Supreme Court, with her lawyers arguing police performed an illegal search.

According to local media, two lawyers are representing a woman whose home was raided and electronic devices confiscated by police in connection with an investigation into a parody account on Twitter. Police said nothing incriminating had been found while critics cried foul over the entire operation.

Cyprus’ legal community has been very active following debate on social media over a botched Twitter raid in Larnaca, where police officers confiscated a computer and a phone belonging to a woman suspected of impersonating Yiolitis as well as violating the privacy of the minister’s relatives.

A sworn statement stated that police intelligence received information that the creator and manager of a fake account was [redacted name], but the content and source of the information were left out

The account in question was a parody account that appeared to poke fun at Yiolitis, a former corporate lawyer in Limassol, whose personal life and lifestyle is often picked apart by posts from Twitter handle “Lady Emily Kardashian Duchess of Yiolou” as well as replies from other social media users.

Attorneys Alexandros Clerides and Elias Christou filed a petition for judicial review, known as certiorari, challenging the presence of a warranted suspicion on the part of the police against their client as well as raising questions regarding information presented to a Larnaca judge who issued the search warrant.

According to a decision by newly-appointed Supreme Court Judge Ioannis Ioannides, who reviewed the petition, the content of a sworn statement by a female officer that was presented in court was sufficient basis to take on the appeal case.

“The Larnaca District Court does not appear to have carried out its own evaluation of the information presented in order to draw its own conclusion as to whether there was reasonable suspicion in accordance with the legal definition,” Judge Ioannides wrote in his statement.

Police got rubber stamp and went in

Ioannides said the district judge appeared to have accepted the police position as “rubber stamp” and added that there was an apparent lack of justification to believe crimes had been committed or that the specific woman had any connection with such crimes or even whether there were devices in her home that were pertinent to the investigation.

“In no case within the evidence presented in court was there a sufficient or important link between the witness account and the above concerns,” the Supreme Court Judge wrote.

The Judge pointed out the sworn statement by a police officer stated that the “police intelligence unit received information on 23 December 2020 that the creator and manager of the particular fake account is [redacted name],” while pointing out based on a preliminary review that the “exact content and more importantly the source of the information” was not included or shown to the local judge.

The woman’s lawyers argue their client was the subject of an unreasonable search and seizure, with Judge Ioannides saying there were legal grounds for the petition “because the search warrant involves her residence and property and she does not have any other recourse to seek to revoke it.”

Ioannides allowed four days for the Attorney General’s office to file any objection to the petition, while the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on January 29.

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