Prison governor uncovers plot to end her career

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Central prisons governor Anna Aristotelous alleged she had been targeted by a senior police officer who conspired with an inmate to obtain video footage involving her and another female staff member, which could damage her career.

Aristotelous reached out to Politis daily on Friday, claiming the officer had been targeting her and another female officer at the central prison.

In her interview, she revealed to have obtained proof of the senior officer communicating with the inmate – serving a long sentence for drugs trafficking – through an online platform called Telegram.

In one of the messages cited by Politis, the officer appears to write, “It’s rumoured that Anna will soon move on to another job.

“Send me them [videos] as soon as possible because I want to do some things before the girls leave the prison.”

Aristotelous told Politis that the case had affected her ability to run the central prison, as the facility is “buzzing” with talk of the ongoing sting attempt, with inmates discussing it at length.

She revealed to Politis that she had already sent a letter to the Public Service Commission requesting her transfer to another position.

And she intends to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, requesting that an independent probe on police corruption be carried out.

The prison governor has decided not to report the case to the police complaint authority, as the incident concerns a senior officer, arguing “the force is unable to investigate itself”.

The alleged incident raises further questions, such as how an inmate appears to have had such easy access to communication devices.

The motive behind the senior police officer’s alleged actions is unclear and the nature of the video content.

Sources quoted by Politis speculate the officer is envious of Aristotelous and the penal reform she has done.

She is credited with improving a poor prison track record on prisoner treatment and conditions.

In 2015, Cyprus ranked first among European countries for suicide rates in prison.

According to a Council of Europe report, Cyprus had the highest suicide rate among 50 European countries.

The highest suicide rates per 10,000 prisoners in 2014 were recorded in Cyprus, with 44.1, more than double of Norway, in second place, which recorded 16.1. The Europe-wide average was 7.2.

Aristotelous took over the central prison’s administration in 2015.

Since then, Cyprus prisons did not record any suicides in 2016 and 2017, just one in 2018 and another in 2019.

The central prisons have improved over recent years after a series of reforms and refurbishments.

And the administration adopted new practices and alternative penalties, especially for those sentenced to up to two years in jail.