By Friday morning, Cypriot police had managed to track down 14 of the churchgoers who had taken part in an illegal service at Ayios Georgios Spileon Monastery in Limassol’s Erimi village on Thursday, which soon turned into a fiasco as participants had locked themselves in rooms upon the sight of the police while some managed to escape.
All 14, among whom is the priest that conducted the service, are expected to appear before court on Friday, and will be facing charges relating to violations of government decrees in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.
A case file is also expected to be compiled and sent to the Attorney General who will decide on how to go about the case.
Police are still on the lookout as they believe the true number of participants of the service that took place to mark Saint George’s Day in defiance of restriction measures in force was much higher than 14, as they had spotted some 20 cars parked outside.
Police secured witness statements claiming they saw some of the churchgoers escaping on foot, leaving their cars at the scene of the Monastery, with police currently attempting to track down escapees through license plate numbers.
According to the events of the case, police had rushed to the scene of the Monastery at around 9 a.m. on Thursday after learning that a service was going on in violation of several parameters of government decrees in force.
Upon noticing police presence, the priest conducting the service went outside the church to talk with the officers, who moved to file a report against him.
Police told Knews on Thursday that officers had entered the church and saw that members of the public had gathered to participate in the service, but upon exiting to confer on how to deal with the situation, the priest moved to hide the churchgoers in rooms of the monastery, with police remaining at the scene for hours awaiting them to give in.
Reports also suggested that the situation turned tense when dozens of residents to the area gathered at the scene of the Monastery and threatened to attack members of police.
“We issue favours for no one, as our primary concern is the safeguarding of public health,” Police chief Kypros Michaelides told the Cyprus News Agency on Friday.