‘Special constables’ scandal

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Want a gun? In Cyprus, it is as simple as going down to your local police station and being sworn in as a so-called special constable. At least, that is the general impression of a public inundated by reports this week that people, ranging from businessmen to pimps, have been issued a police pistol and authorized to arrest and detain others on the pretext that their lives are at risk. Attorney General Alecos Markides has said the practice is an abuse of power which has rumbled on unnoticed for decades. «It should stop being applied and all appointments of special constables should be revoked,» he said. An annoyed President Glafcos Clerides has had made it clear he wants police to curb the practice, a political source said. He has summoned police chief Andreas Angelides to explain the appointments. «People who want licenses to carry a weapon now need to go to the Justice Ministry and to the Cabinet. In order to bypass that process, police made these guys special constables. Clerides won’t have it,» the source told Reuters. Special constables generally have similar duties to those of normal police officers.