NICOSIA - Police chief Michalis Papageorgiou was ordered Thursday to step down by the President following criticism over the security handling of a demonstration that caused a speech on the Cyprus problem by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to be disrupted.
Speaking to the media, government spokesman Christos Stylianides confirmed that head of the police academy Zacharias Chrysostomou will be taking over the position and assuming his duties as of today.
“Taking into consideration the series of events that occurred and the oversights by the Chief of Police I have decided to order the Chief of Police to step down,” said the president’s message read by Stylianides.
According to the police, around 100 extremist members of the far-right ELAM party scuffled with officers who prevented them from entering the cultural centre where the speech was taking place on Wednesday evening. One Turkish Cypriot journalist reportedly suffered minor injuries while the venue’s front door was shattered before the mob was dispersed and the event was allowed to continue.
Three people were later arrested on suspicion of taking part in the violence although police have not yet confirmed whether the suspects – two men and a woman - are members of ELAM.