Police prosecutors are moving forward with charges against four teenagers in the death of bullied 16-year-old Panayiotis Stefanis, who collapsed and died at a birthday party in Larnaca.
According to local media, police had been consulting with the Legal Department over the evaluation of evidence in the case, after investigators initially left out possible links between binge drinking and bullying in Panayiotis’ death.
Panayiotis died after he collapsed outside a residence where he attended a birthday party on a Saturday night, April 13. State forensic pathologist Eleni Antoniou, who conducted the post mortem examination, reportedly said she could smell alcohol from the first moment.
Panayiotis was said to have choked on his own vomit after a night of binge drinking. Following his collapse outside the house, an off-duty cop who was present attempted to resuscitate the boy by giving mouth to mouth but to no avail.
While binge drinking was discussed early on in the case, allegations of bullying were made after a number of videos were made public
While binge drinking was discussed early on in the case, it was not until additional information emerged in the media confirming previous allegations through videos made public that the teen had been a victim of bullying.
A number of videos shot by Panayiotis’ friends showed incidents of aggression directed towards the bullied teen. In one case, he was forced to curse publicly his favourite football team while a number of individuals whose faces were captured in the videos appeared to coax Panayiotis into consuming large quantities of alcohol at one go.
Bullying not a crime in Cyprus
But while laws against alcohol consumption under the legal age make it illegal for anyone to supply alcohol to minors, bullying was not considered a criminal offence in the Republic of Cyprus.
The attorney general’s office had weighed in on the case by sending back the file to police asking for a “fuller account” of what took place prior to the teen’s death, with investigators later drawing possible links between binge drinking and bullying in Panayiotis’ death investigation.
Four teens aged between 16 and 18 are expected to be charged as adults, facing possible charges including involuntary manslaughter, according to media reports.