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Couple killed in Ayia Napa shooting laid to rest

The couple gunned down along with an Ayia Napa businessman, Phanos Kalopsidiotis, while dining at a restaurant last Thursday night were laid to rest in Nicosia on Saturday afternoon.

The funeral of 46-year-old police sergeant Elias Hadjiefthimiou and his wife Skevi,who were gunned down in front of the eyes of their two teenage children, was held at a packed St Lukas church in Strovolos. Hundreds of police officers in and out of uniform lined the interior of the building while almost as many mourners stood outside in the heat as there was no more space inside.

The couple who were dining with Phanos Kalopsidiotis at an Ayia Napa restaurant were approached by Albanian hitmen who sprayed the three with gunfire from an automatic rifle and a pistol.

According to autopsy reports, Skevi Hatjiefthimiou died instantly from a single shot sustained to the head, while her husband received eight bullets to various parts of his body, two of which were regarded as fatal. Kalopsidiotis received 12 bullets to various parts of his body.

Off-duty policeman, MMAD (Rapid Reaction Force) member Giorgos Charalambous, a friend of Kalopsidiotis, who happened to be at the scene is in critical condition in Nicosia General Hospital following surgery for gunshot wounds to his neck, chest, leg and arm. One of Kalopsidiotis’ bodyguards was also injured during the attack.

One of the assailants was also killed by a single shot to the chest, but it is unclear if he was shot by Charalambous who was armed at the time.

A second suspect, believed to be 48-year-old Aleks Burrelli is at large. It is believed that the two hitmen arrive in the north a month ago.

The killings have raised questions as to why two policemen should be openly socialising with Kalopsidiotis and carrying arms while off-duty.

President Nicos Anastasiades has already called for a report into the involvement of the police officers in the incident.

“There are questions which we expect will be answered,” police spokesman Andreas Angelides said, when asked about the presence of the two officers at the scene. Angelides said the law allowed members of the police to carry their service weapons at all times. This applies particularly to members serving in important departments dealing with organised crime, drugs, and other duties. “It is usual to carry their weapons, depending on the nature and risk of their duties,” he said.

The shootout came four years to the day when five men were gunned down a couple of hundred meters down the same street in the heart of the resort’s nightclub scene, near the popular Red Square bar. Four of the victims were working for Kalopsidiotis, whom Famagusta police believed had been the target. Kalopsidiotis was not in the car with the other five.

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