Up to now, KISA has not made a statement regarding the hostage situation in Oroklini[i], in respect of its commitment to conduct a meeting with the police prior to making a public statement on the issue. Given that the meeting with the police took place yesterday (01/06) and the fact that the relatives of the deceased have authorised KISA to act on their behalf, we consider it our duty to inform the public with regards to the essence of the incident that ended with the death of the Egyptian father (R.E.).
The information from the police regarding the events that took place before and during the particular police operation is incomplete, contradictory, and misleading.[ii] More specifically:
The story that the police just managed to save the child from being stabbed by the father is false. Before the raid on the house, the father wasn’t holding the child, and had also not caused him any injuries. The child’s injury was caused either during the police’s intervention or after it. It seems more likely that the child’s injury happened during the father’s fall to the ground after he was shot.
The information that the father almost severed the child’s carotid is also inaccurate since the wound is located on the jaw. Using this information, the police tried to support the argument that the child was in imminent danger. This argument by the police provides an excuse for the decision to raid the house given that if they didn’t execute the father, he would have been able to cause the child fatal injury (to the carotid), without the capacity to treat him immediately.
In addition to the above, the information from the police regarding the fact that the father was shot by the policemen who broke into the apartment is also false. In fact, the spot where the bullet hit the wall of the apartment clearly disproves this. Based on the facts we have, R.E. was executed by a sniper – most likely situated on a floor in the block of flats situated opposite the apartment – which shows that the final outcome of the matter had been planned before the Special Counter-terrorism Squad stormed into the house.
In our opinion, the police’s conclusion that the father was going to kill his child wasn’t reached after a proper and objective evaluation with the participation of specialised professionals (social welfare services, mental health services and members of NGOs) but rather was based on the verbal threats of the father. At this point, it is important to mention that during the incident, R.E. asked for a lawyer, a request that was turned down by the police. Moreover, based on our information, the police didn’t involve other specialised departments of the force in the handling of the incident – departments like the Office for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, which has numerous years of experience in the area.
At the same time, it is pertinent to consider whether the police had correctly evaluated the situation: whether the father was indeed capable of fulfilling his threats or if he was simply making empty threats for blackmail purposes so, based on his way of thinking, he could ensure the best possible outcome of the matter. The fact that throughout the incident R.E. responded to the police’s requests by constantly mentioning that he loves his child and wants to raise the child contradicts with the view that he intended to hurt his child. This view is further invalidated by the fact that R.E. had never exercised direct violence on his child until that particular day. In fact, according to the information we have collected, he was capable of taking care of his child and exercised parental care on a daily basis.
Also, it is worthy to mention that, during the hostage situation, the police only gave R.E. the option of handing over the child, without examining the possibility of creating the conditions necessary for the child’s safe temporary residence with his father in order to give other experts time to manage the family’s problems and find a permanent solution. In essence, they placed themselves and the father in a stalemate, given that R.E. knew that if he gave in to the police’s appeals, he would be separated from his child and arrested. Therefore, it was extremely difficult for him to consent to such a solution.
As for the period before the events, based on our sources, problems began in the family after the child’s birth and were further exacerbated by the serious financial trouble they faced. The couples’ problems culminated in the existence of severe incidents of domestic violence, which both the police and people close to the couple (e.g. neighbours) were aware of. Nevertheless, the police didn’t deal with these incidents effectively, but also didn’t inform the state’s competent authorities, for example social welfare services. At the same time, KISA points out and reproaches the tolerant attitude demonstrated by the state’s competent authorities towards incidents of domestic violence. In fact, this tolerance is even greater when those involved in such incidents are not Cypriot citizens.
Based on all the above, KISA believes that if the competent authorities of the state had intervened appropriately from the beginning, it’s possible we would never have been led to the incident in question. Also, we believe that the child could have been saved without his father’s death, if, during the operation, the police had adopted a strategy and tactic aimed towards resolving the incident without bloodshed.
KISA welcomes the Attorney general’s decision to appoint an independent criminal investigator, which shows that the Attorney general requires further evidence than that originally provided by the police, in order to properly evaluate the circumstances under which R.E. lost his life. Finally, we believe that the key that will shed light on the case lies in the scientific findings that will result from conducting a new forensic examination of R.E.’s body by two coroners or by a coroner appointed by the family on state expenses. Specific requests have been communicated to the competent authorities by KISA on behalf of the relatives of the deceased.
[i] On the 21st of May, the counter-terrorism squad of the Cypriot police invaded an apartment in Oroklini, inside which a father of Egyptian origin had locked himself and his 16 month old son and threatened to kill both himself and his child if the police intervened violently. During the operation, the father was shot and fatally wounded, while the child was transported to the hospital after his father injured him. See for example: