Was a child snatch planned?

By | Category: Travel news
Aphrodite Rock, Cyprus where you can relax. But can you relax if these attempted child abdction allegations are true?

Aphrodite Rock, Cyprus where you can relax. But can you relax if these attempted child abduction allegations are true?

This week there was a lot of media coverage about an attempted child snatch in the Cyrus resort of Protaras.

It was broken by the Daily Record in Scotland and then spread amongst the tabloids. Even ITV’s Loose Women covered the story.

So far, Google is recording 135,000 stories or comments about this story but few are highlighting the comments of the Cypriot authorities.

To recap, the approach by most of the media is that a group of waiters, ostensibly working at the Anastasia Beach Complex, tried to abduct children. It is claimed that a gang were operating at the hotel and that a couple were leading two children towards a car whilst other members of the gang were talking or leading other children. They were spotted (by whom seems not have been mentioned although the person or persons deserves credit and praise for their quick-wittedness) and the gang members ran off, some crashing a car shortly afterwards.

But this isn’t the version the officials in Cyprus are accepting. Viktoras Papadopoulos, a deputy spokesman for the government was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that the allegations are “unnecessary and completely unfounded.” He also is quoted as saying that police found nothing to incriminate a 19-year-old man. He says a search of the man’s home and telephone as well as interviews with the British tourists who made the allegation turned up nothing suspicious.

The Cyprus Mail also has a different take on the story. It says that a holidaymaker from Glasgow, James Hagan,  dismissed the reports and claimed some of the people involved acknowledged having gone “overboard and over-reacting”, and apologised to the hotel staff. “There were lots of crazy stories about things that never happened” he is quoted as telling the newspaper.

The Cyprus High Commission in London issued a statement stressing that the police investigation into the allegations produced nothing incriminating. “The news stories in the UK media do not reflect the facts, thus unfairly tarnishing the good reputation of Cyprus”, it said.

To my way of thinking these two versions are as different as chalk and cheese and I have spent some time trying to get to the bottom of it and understand what is the truth behind it. I can’t.

Whatever the truth, holidaymakers from here and any other country where the story has run will be wary of the complex and of Cyprus. It won’t do any credit to Cyprus to not answer line-by-line the allegations made in the press. If the claims are wrong Cypriot officials must show they are wrong and our media should apologise making clear that Cyprus is as safe as anywhere is to holiday. If they are right then the authorities need to take action as do Cypriot hoteliers.


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