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Call for calm after chaotic scenes at Paralimni school

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Cyprus children’s rights commissioner has urged authorities to keep a cool head while investigating unruly disruption at a Paralimni high school where animals and flares were used to mark the new academic year.

Police have launched an investigation into an incident at the school on Monday where students had tossed rabbits and chickens from the first floor into the courtyard, some of which were killed from the three-metre drop.

Following some shocking videos of the incident finding their way on social media, Cyprus police launched a probe which could see some students facing serious charges.

Police say they are currently investigating multiple offences, including possible charges of animal abuse, rioting, unlawful assembly, trespassing, and theft as the animals were stolen from a farm in the area.

A Police source told the Financial Mirror that they were also looking into charges of illegal possession of explosives as flairs and firecrackers were set alight — charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 18 years.

In an announcement issued on Wednesday, the Commissioner Despo Michaelidou said: “Students involved should be treated primarily as children to ensure that guidelines on a child-friendly justice system are implemented”.

She referred to a positive coincidence that the House of Representatives on Wednesday launched a discussion on reforming the law regarding juvenile delinquency.

“A child-friendly justice system, which will minimise as much as possible, a child’s contact with the criminal justice system. Such a system is based on proactive policies and programs, to deal, effectively and in a timely manner, with phenomena of anti-social behaviour”.

Michaelidou acknowledged that responsibilities should be assigned where due, but questions should be asked about the causes behind such antisocial behaviour.

Animal Party Cyprus, whose president Kyriacos Kyriacou posted the initial video of the incident, said the group would not tolerate any cover-up attempt.

“We say no to impunity and lawlessness,” the party said.