Drug squad chief suspended in prisongate

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A senior police officer has been suspended due to an alleged blackmail attempt against central prisons governor Anna Aristotelous and a female colleague with a compromising video.

According to local media, the head of the anti-drug squad, Michalis Katsounotos, has been suspended over the latest corruption scandal to shake public confidence.

Still, the name of the officer has not been officially announced.

Following Aristotelous’ official complaint on Monday, Justice Minister Stephi Dracos decided to suspend the senior police officer accused of trying to blackmail the prison governor but had opted to give him time to explain his side of the story.

Despite the officer objecting to the decision, Dracos finally decided to suspend the officer until 20 July unless the probe had not concluded by then.

In a statement, the Minister of Justice said: “Having considered the response of the high-ranking officer, sent in writing, I have decided to suspend him until 20 July 2022, set as a timeframe for the completion of the criminal investigation, to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the investigation”.

Authorities have already launched a probe into allegations by the prisons’ director that a senior police officer had recruited an inmate to gather information or video about her private life that could be used to blackmail her.

Attorney General George Savvides has appointed lawyer Achilleas Emilianides as an independent investigator, following an official complaint filed with the legal services by Aristotelous’ lawyers.

Emilianides will conduct a criminal investigation into allegations made by the prisons boss and her deputy, Athena Demetriou.

He will be going through evidence submitted by Aristotelous and her legal team while calling in people who appear to be involved in the case, including prisoners and police officers.

His findings will be handed to the Attorney General, who will decide whether the case should be prosecuted.

The scandal surfaced after Aristotelous accused the senior police officer of allegedly recruiting an inmate serving a long sentence on a drug conviction in a plot to harm her career.

She claimed the officer communicated with the inmate inside the prison through a mobile phone using an app to get supply a video of her ‘personal life’ that also implicated her deputy.

Speaking after her lawyers filed a formal complaint to Savvides, Aristotelous said the senior officer’s actions aimed to “harm her and, as we believe, constitute a blatant act of corruption, especially because it’s been committed by a member of the police.”

It is unclear why the officer allegedly took such measures to ruin the woman’s career.