Onoufriou remanded for eight days, defends himself at court

By George Psyllides

A former convict on the run from police for five days claimed in court on Wednesday that he had been physically abused by officers who arrested him after a shootout the previous day.

Andreas Onoufriou, 63, opened fire at police officers outside his hideaway in Lagia village in rural Larnaca while holding his five-year-old son with one hand and a G3 assault rifle in the other before he made a run for it but was captured minutes later.

Onoufriou, who was remanded in custody for eight days on Wednesday, claimed he had been framed by police and that he had been physically abused by officers.

He rejected reports that he hid behind his child to save himself.

The 63-year-old showed the abrasions on his arms and asked Judge Tonia Nicolaou if she wanted him to take off his clothes to show the rest of his injuries. He showed up without a lawyer and defended himself.

At some stage the remand hearing was interrupted because Onoufriou said police had taken his glasses and he could not read the police statement.

“They took me to hospital for examination after the abused me. They lied that I asked to be taken to hospital,” Onoufriou told the Larnaca court.

The former convict claimed that officers fired at him while he held his child.

Police said Onoufriou sustained the injuries when he tried to escape by going down a 20-metre ravine.

The court heard that upon their arrival in the area, counter-terrorism squad officers noticed someone running in the yard of the dwelling and then they saw a child.

The child was heard calling “dad, dad” and was seen going towards the back.

He was followed by officers down a road when at some point the suspect appeared, armed with an assault rifle.

The suspect knelt in such a way that he was covered behind the child. He turned his weapon towards the officers and fired two bursts – at least eight rounds.

The officers took cover as Onoufriou fled, leaving the child behind.

The head of the squad fired three shots in the air above the suspect who went into a ravine.

After a brief standoff, Onoufriou heeded the officer’s repeated calls to throw down his weapon.

“Okay guys, let me see the kid,” Onoufriou was quoted as telling arresting officers.

There was still no explanation on how the suspect got hold of the child who lived with Onoufriou’s mother and two sisters.

Police said it was taken by a close associate of Onoufriou on Monday night.

Officers found three full assault rifle magazines on Onoufriou, and a hunting shotgun, and an airgun inside the hideaway. They also found a pistol, which reportedly belongs to a police officer.

The officer was part of a group of 10 who tried to search Onoufriou’s Limassol home for weapons last Thursday.

That day, according to police, Onoufriou, armed with an assault rifle, fired shots in the air and fled.

One of three vehicles found outside the fugitive’s hideaway had been reported stolen last December. Inside, police found a blonde longhaired wig, a pair of sunglasses, and the number plates of a car reported stolen in Limassol on March 7.

Police also arrested two more suspects in connection with the case: Christoforos Kyprianou, 63, and Michalakis Michael, 57.

Kyprianou, remanded for four days, is the owner of the house where Onoufriou was arrested on Tuesday while Michael is the owner of the shotgun. He was remanded in custody for three days.

Back in 1996 Onoufriou was sentenced to 18 years in jail for the attempted murder of a judge in Limassol.

In 2012 he was named in a plot to murder then Attorney-general Petros Clerides but the charges were later dropped.