Justice Minister Yiorgos Savvides has responded to the outcry over the shutting down last month of the Anti-Poaching Squad of the Cyprus Police’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) in a confidential letter to the House of Representatives dated November 22 that was seen by Phileleftheros.
The Minister was responding to questions posed by Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis to Savvides’ predecessor Ionas Nicolaou about 2.5 years ago on July 28, 2017.
Perdikis had called Nicolaou to provide an update on complaints submitted against the Anti-Poaching Squad regarding “unorthodox and inefficient practices” as well as reported meetings with political figures of the Famagusta district and members of the underworld.
Savvides responded on behalf of his predecessor without addressing the above accusations, stating the reasons for shutting down the Anti-Poaching Squad. Namely he cited lack of activity as reason for its discontinuation as there were 39 complaints in 2018 of which 29 were out-of-court and 10 complaints in 2019 of which eight were out-of-court, engaging five ERU staff that could be used elsewhere given the Police’s under-staffing problems. He also stated that ERU’s role had been intended to be a supportive one to the Hunting and Wildlife Service which has authority equal to the police one to perform its duties.
The president of the United Cyprus Hunters Association Nicolas Prodromou said in a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades last month that the squad was dissolved due to pressure from political figures connected to poachers who supply them with illegal game. He also told philenews that the real reason they shut down the squad is because they didn’t want them performing their duties.
The accusations against the Anti-Poaching squad are expected to be examined soon by the House’s Environment Committee after a letter sent by Perdikis to the committee president and Akel MP Adamos Adamou. Perdikis emphasised in the same letter that if these accusations are proven to be true then the squad’s dissolution will have proven a dangerous decision with potentially irreparable consequences on Cyprus fauna.