Media group CEO shot dead in Cyprus

New York, January 12, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Cypriot authorities today to thoroughly investigate the murder of Andis Hadjicostis, chief executive officer of Dias Media Group, who was gunned down Monday in the capital city of Nicosia.

Hadjicostis, 42, was shot dead at around 9 p.m. outside his home in Nicosia’s diplomatic neighborhood of Engomi, Reuters and Agence France-Presse reported. Citing witnesses, Cypriot police told journalists today that there were two assailants—a gunman on foot and a second man waiting for him on a getaway motorbike. Hadjicostis died at the scene and his killers fled. Police said they recovered no bullet casings from the crime scene, according to local and international news reports.

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias immediately condemned the murder and expressed hope that police would “exhaust every possibility to solve this brutal crime,” AFP reported. Police opened a murder probe but have yet to reveal any details, AFP said.

“Our thoughts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Andis Hadjicostis,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “We call on Cypriot authorities to give every possible murder motive, including that he was gunned down for his work, a careful consideration.”

Nicosia police spokesman Michalis Katsounodos told Reuters that “two shots were heard and the victim was found dead outside his home.” Katsounodos said investigators refused to comment on any possible motives, referring to the ongoing investigation. According to press reports, the killers were waiting for Hadjicostis near his home in the vicinity of the U.S. and French embassies. When Hadjicostis emerged from his car, a gunman fired into his chest and back.

One of the largest Cypriot media companies, Dias Media Group owns six television and radio stations, including the popular Sigma TV; several magazines and newspapers; and the Internet-based news portal Sigma Live