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Police, AG to review next steps after phone data decision

The chief of police said on Thursday that a Supreme Court decision that retention of customer data by telephone providers for six months is illegal will be thoroughly examined together with the state Legal Service in a bid to see how to proceed.

Stelios Papatheodorou said they will be meeting with the attorney-general to discuss what problems were created and if any ongoing investigations or trials were affected and how authorities will proceed.

“We will examine it thoroughly,” the chief said, adding that he could not offer an opinion on whether the law should be amended. “We need to see that with the Legal Service.”

“There might be other ways, we will see how to overcome or make recommendations to amend the legislation.”

In a decision seen as a blow to the force’s ability to combat crime, the Supreme Court decided by a seven to six majority that data retention is illegal, thus preventing police from accessing information collected before a crime had been committed.

The decision would not only affect future cases but also paved the way for appeals by people who were convicted based on their telephone data.

Papatheodorou tiptoed around a question on whether the decision would also affect the investigation relating to an Azeri man suspected of planning the assassination of Israeli businessmen operating in Cyprus.

The chief said it was not only the telephone data that were used as evidence but oftentimes they were part of the case.

“We will examine how to handle the matters with sobriety and composure,” he said.

The Supreme Court decision followed an appeal by a group of lawyers against the telephone data retention law for the purpose of investigating serious crime, an ongoing issue in the EU.