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AG testifies in brutality case - But more delays as defense objects


ALTHOUGH Attorney general Petros Clerides was allowed to testify in the police brutality trial, his submission of possibly damning video evidence caused more delays.

Two of three defence lawyer – representing 10 police officers – object to the video being allowed as key prosecution evidence before the court.

The objections follow a criminal court decision to allow Clerides to testify after judges dismissed claims of a conflict of interest.

Clerides said he was submitting the tape because the person who took the video is too scared to come forward for fear he would receive the same treatment at the hands of the police.

The person handed over the tape to Clerides in the presence of a lawyer at his law office on December 28, 2005; a week after the beating of two students in Nicosia was filmed.

Clerides said that a number of plainclothes officers and others in uniform were captured on video "badly beating two civilians on the ground in handcuffs". He said the rough treatment went on for "quite a long time".

Lawyer Marios Georgiou argued for the video should not to be made admissible as it came from an anonymous source and therefore make any subsequent conviction unsafe. He said it also prevented the defence from cross-examining the witness, casting doubt over a fair trial for his clients.

There was also a suggestion that the video could have been tampered with before it reached the hands of the attorney general. The court will hear arguments from both sides before ruling on the tape.

Charges

Ten police officers captured on amateur video face trial on a total of 97 charges related to the beating of two students on December 20, 2005.

All the accused have pleaded not guilty to charges that carry a maximum 14-year jail term for beating two students Marcos Papageorgiou and Yiannos Nicolaou aged 27 at the time.

The officers face serious charges of inflicting torture, causing grievous bodily harm and subjecting their victims to humiliating and harsh treatment.

It is a legal first for so many police officers – including one female – to be put on trial for brutality offences.

The accused - serve in various departments from in the drug squad to traffic police -- are aged between 21 and 52 with the highest rank being sergeant.

The ten were suspended from duty, six months after the original incident surfaced.

It wasn't until an anonymous video was made public in March last year that the case gathered momentum following a public outcry.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International slammed the images of police brutality as a "clear violation of the UN convention against torture".

The 43-minute video clearly shows a number of police officers stamping their feet on two male suspects while they are sprawled on the ground with their hands bound and showing no signs of resistance, while others look on.

Ironically, the police officers involved were deployed as part of a dragnet to capture a sex predator in the capital.|||AG testifies in brutality case
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