A British mother was arrested in Cyprus and faced a € 4,000 fine after calling the town mayor ‘useless’ in a Facebook rant.
Three police officers showed up at Kaela Charalampous’s home to take her to a police station on charges of defamation and insulting verbal abuse.
A warrant for her arrest had been issued after Kypros Michaelides, mayor of the village of Mandria, saw the post and complained to the police.
And despite 35-year-old Kaela apologizing, the charges have yet to be dropped.
Three police officers showed up at Kaela Charalampous’s home to take her to a police station on charges of defamation and insulting name calling
Kaela said to a friend, “I can’t believe I was arrested for something so insignificant.
What happened to freedom of speech? It’s just ridiculous that it went this far and the charges were not dropped. ‘
Kaela, who is from Liverpool but has lived in Cyprus with her husband Christos for the past 14 years, took part in an online discussion with many of the other British ex-pats living in and around the Paphos village to the west. coast of the island.
They complained about the mayor’s decision – known locally as the Muktah – to start a major construction project in the village center days after a strict lockdown was lifted, causing massive parking and traffic problems.
An arrest warrant was issued against her after Kypros Michaelides, mayor of Mandria village, saw the post and complained to the police
Ex-pats had wondered why the work hadn’t started months ago when the restaurants closed and few people were allowed out and parking restrictions didn’t matter.
Kaela joined the discussion on the ‘Mandria Chitchat’ Facebook page, writing, ‘He’s not getting a new term. He should never have gotten this one.
‘I am glad that not only the Cypriot community knows how useless he is. !! ‘
Days after the mail, three police officers arrived at Kaela’s house with warrants for her arrest.
She said to a friend, “I am fluent in Greek so I could understand exactly what was going on. I was at home with my four-year-old son and had to call my husband to come home from work.
“I went with the police voluntarily, but if I had resisted, I’m sure I would be shackled.”
Despite 35-year-old Kaela apologizing, the charges have yet to be dropped
Kaela was taken to the local police station, where she could read the charges on the arrest warrant. She was allowed to go home after almost four hours.
Police officers spoke to the mayor and he said that if Kaela wrote an apology he dictated, he would drop the charges and post it on the same public forum for 10 days.
Kaela agreed, writing, ‘I would like to apologize for choosing such a public forum to express my opinion and choosing such unfortunate words. I’m sorry I called you useless. Maybe it was inappropriate and I’m sorry if I hurt you. ‘
Kaela, who is a singer, thought this would be the end of the case, but was stunned to find that the charges of libel, slander and insulting name calling had not been dropped.
Kaela, who is from Liverpool but has lived in Cyprus with her husband Christos for the past 14 years, took part in an online discussion with many of the other British ex-pats living in and around the Paphos village to the west. coast of the island
She told a friend: ‘I am a singer and you should see what people have said and written about me.
If you put yourself in a public position, you have to be able to tolerate criticism.
‘I don’t think the word useless is such a strong term and certainly not slander. It is my opinion and everyone can have an opinion. ‘
Unless the charges are dropped, Kaela will face a fine of up to $ 4,000.
She said to a friend, “I’m a strong person and stand up for the good, but this upset me. I have done everything asked and apologized, but the charges remain.
‘People complained about the construction, because there is no parking for the restaurants. They have been closed all year due to the lockdown and now when they open there is construction work outside and people are having a hard time getting there. ‘
Radha Stirling of the Dubai pressure group Detained has experience helping people accused of posting derogatory posts on social media in the United Arab Emirates, where strict laws apply to what can be written on public forums.
She was informed of Kaela’s case by a friend.
Stirling said: ‘This is a disgraceful attack on the freedom of expression of an EU country. Such a policy would make half the country criminally liable.
‘Does Cyprus want to send a message to the world that it resembles Middle Eastern countries that regularly lock up dissidents and critics?
“A politician must understand that public criticism and accountability are his job and that voters must be able to express their views freely.”
Mr. Michaelides was not available for comment.