Police drop case against British woman over ‘useless’ jibe

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Cyprus Chief of Police has intervened to stop a British woman from being prosecuted after chiding a village community leader ‘useless’ in a Facebook comment.

Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou told the Financial Mirror he personally intervened to get the case dropped immediately.

“The force sent a memo to the Attorney General, recommending the case should not be presented before a criminal court,” said Papatheodorou.

The Legal Services have agreed with the recommendation, he said.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou conceded the force acted “overzealously” in arresting the woman.

On Tuesday, police told the Financial Mirror they would be dropping charges of obscene language and harassment on social media.

The Paphos community leader also withdrew his complaint with an affidavit submitted to a Paphos court on Monday.

Cyprus police made unwanted headlines in British tabloids for overstepping the mark when arresting British mother Kaela Charalambous in front of her child last week.

After Mandria community leader Kypros Michaelides reported her for using obscene language against him on social media, she was arrested.

The woman was arrested for calling the community leader ‘useless’ in a Facebook comment over construction works in the village.

British-based Justice Abroad, established to help expats find their way through foreign justice systems, stepped in to represent Charalambous to prevent a miscarriage of justice and get the charges dropped.

“At this stage, Ms Charalambous is requesting a public apology for the unlawful actions which have been taken against her, a law-abiding member of society who was arrested in front of her young child,” said Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak.

“We call on Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis and the Attorney General of Cyprus George Savvides to clarify… there will be an inquiry into what has happened in this case and how a warrant was ever issued.”

Justice Abroad said the arrest and charging of Charalambous is an “obvious breach of her rights under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression”.

It said people are specially protected “when it comes to the protection of criticisms of elected politicians”.

“Freedom of political debate is at the very core of the concept of a democratic society which prevails throughout the Convention’, and this mantra is directly applicable to the facts in this case,” said Polak.

The woman was taken to a police station and then to the office of Michaelides, where he warned her to stop her comments on social media and post a public apology.

Michaelides told the Financial Mirror he had withdrawn his complaint and said he made it clear from the start that he had no intention to have the woman arrested.

It is the second time in recent months Cyprus police have been criticised for heavy-handedness in their response to complaints about social media activity.

Police were slammed for “acting disproportionately” when looking into a complaint against a Twitter parody account of Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis earlier this year.

They barged into the woman’s house believed to be behind the parody account, confiscating laptops and electronic devices, some of which belonged to her children.

Yiolitis said the police should not have acted in the way they did to her complaint.

Cyprus’ justice system came under the spotlight in 2019 over how it treated a British teenager who claimed she was gang-raped in Ayia Napa.

The teenager was found guilty of public mischief in January 2020 after retracting her initial police statement, which she said was done under duress.

Justice Abroad is helping the woman fight an appeal against her conviction.