Drug squad chief cleared of corruption

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Drug squad chief Michalis Katsounotos suspended over a recent corruption scandal, was cleared after the Attorney General said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.

Attorney General George Savvides and his assistant Savvas Angelides issued a statement declaring that no evidence has emerged to support corruption claims against the drug squad chief, who was accused of conspiring with a convict at the central prisons.

The senior police officer was suspended over an alleged blackmail attempt against central prisons governor Anna Aristotelous and a female colleague with a compromising video.

Justice Minister Stephie Dracos had suspended Katsounotos.

“Neither the investigator nor the Legal Service that studied the report found there was evidence of corruption against Mr Katsounotos, in the sense that he may have tried to gain something out of the situation,” said Savvides.

He did confirm that the investigation suggests Katsounotos may have abused his authority and committed the offence of conspiracy but argued there was no public interest to prosecute the officer.

“Both offences carry a two-year prison term and/or a fine up to €2,562, but there is no public interest in beginning a criminal prosecution against him”.

Savvides went a step further, noting that Katsounotos was trying to obtain information as part of his job and tried to uncover potential offences carried out by members of the prison service.

But he ruled his actions could be construed as a disciplinary offence due to how he communicated with the convict.

Independent investigator lawyer Achilleas Emilianides was appointed after prison governor Anna Aristotelous went public in June, accusing Katsounotos of conspiring with an inmate to try and secure damaging footage of herself and her assistant.

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 supply a video of her ‘personal life’ that also implicated her deputy, Athena Demetriou.

“From the witness material of the specific criminal investigation, it appears that Mr Katsounotos prepared a number of official reports to the leadership of the Police; he recorded the facts known to him, emphasised the organisation and execution of crimes through the Central Prisons, warning about the risks involved,” the announcement said.

Aristotelous and Demetriou transferred their “disappointment” with the ruling, requesting they be relieved of their duties at the Nicosia prisons and be transferred elsewhere.

“We are deeply disappointed the criminal investigator has found clear evidence of corruption, abuse of power and conspiracy by a senior police officer against us, but nothing was done.

“The biggest disappointment is the fact that his proven to be illegal actions were attributed to the alleged zeal of a superior officer, escaping prosecution.

“The system failed to protect us in a clear case of power abuse and conspiracy, which are actions of corruption”.