Top whistle blower and current Paphos mayor Fedonas Fedonos pulled no punches this week after accusing the police of standing idle as criminal gangs plague the island.
The outspoken mayor, known for exposing scandals in an effort to clean up the town, said this week that corruption was rife in Cyprus. Criminal activities range from illicit trade in antiquities to racketeering, such as controlling the bottled-water trade on Ledra and Onasagorou streets in downtown Nicosia.
“If you walk alongside the restaurants and cafes on those streets, you will see that one after the other will offer only one specific brand of bottled water,” the mayor said.
But the mayor didn’t stop there.
He also painted a bleak picture reminiscent of a Hollywood mafia film where criminal gangs scrap it out with each other in turf wars, with even police officers allegedly involved, such as the recent Ayia Napa murders.
But corruption has also touched the finer things in life, including antiquities.
A bitter row had erupted days earlier between Fedonos and administrative staff in the Antiquities Department, when he showed up unexpectedly at the Paphos Archaeological Museum right at the time when Department Director Marina Solomidou-Ieronimidou was having to answer journalist questions on the illicit trade allegations made previously by the mayor.
The director, along with Museum Curator Despina Pilidou, maintain there is no illicit trade going on, saying the department takes precautionary measures to prevent theft.
“New efforts are under way to improve the system and digitise the collection, but it takes time and money,” Solomidou-Ieronimidou told reporters.
But the uninvited mayor was unmoved, saying the department’s system of recording discoveries was not effective since organised crime and a well-established network of collaborators have infiltrated the department.
The department maintains that Fedonos does not have an accurate picture.
But the mayor insists he is well-informed about organised crime having a hand in illicit trade, with well-known families and prominent members of society having their own collections stashed around town and locked away in private vaults.
“It is absurd. Their only defence is that every time graduate research students come in and ask to see artefacts, nothing is missing,” said the mayor, adding that this is not a proper way to ensure that nothing has disappeared.
But items have disappeared, and a recent discovery following a tip-off from an insider led authorities to Timi beach where they found artefacts, proving that illicit trade is alive and well.
Fedonos’ only concern is that corrupt cops will leak information each time he makes a statement, he claims.
“I will only speak with a few police officers, whom I trust.”
The mayor says he won’t give up on his mission to expose scandals and corruption.
Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou, who is getting a lot of criticism for the way police acted prior to the Ayia Napa murders, has asked the mayor to come in for a chat.