OUTSPOKEN Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos said Wednesday that organised crime was so powerful that even water being sold in Nicosia’s main shopping streets were part of a huge protection racket being run by the island’s underworld gangs with the full knowledge of the police.
This is yet another bombshell by the no-nonsense mayor who has suggested that archaeological artefacts are stolen from the town’s museum, while he has no qualms in taking on local businesses, politicians and key figures of society. In an effort to clean his town from corruption and a shanty-town image, he even took the wheel of tractor a few months ago to tear down illegal buildings and sites.
“Speaking to police sergeants, officers and chief inspectors, they say that Larnaca is so-and-so’s turf, Nicosia belongs to another and they hit (Ayia Napa club owner Phanos) Kalopsidiotis because one (of the gangsters) went into the other one’s territory,” Phedonos said, speaking on CyBC radio.
“And it seems that Kalopsidiotis was killed by the gang that controls the alcoholic drinks protection racket in Nicosia. There is an organised gang that does not allow specific shops to sell drinks supplied by others; you have fifteen shops in a row in Ledra and Onasagorou streets selling the same water. The police know all about it.”
According to Phedonos, the police are part of the problem.
“In the meantime, the gang has fifteen policemen who cooperate with them,” he claimed.
The mayor did not pull his punches, saying he did not trust members of the force as he had received phone calls, shortly after giving statements, by people asking, “did you tell the police so-and-so is doing this?”
Phedonos added, “the police will call and ask ‘Who is this gang controlling drinks in Ledra and Onasagorou?’ even though I can tell them now, don’t call and ask me. They know very well.”
The mayor said that organised criminal gangs from Limassol were primarily responsible for all the antiquities being looted and sold. He even suggested that prominent Limassol families had bank safety deposit boxes full of these artefacts.
The gangs even have antiquities department personnel working for them on “the inside,” he maintained, something he had surmised from a theft some two years ago from the Polis Chrysochous museum where some of the stolen antiquities were later found dumped on a beach in Timi, a village near Paphos airport.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said that following instructions from the Chief of police, the head of headquarters CID had contacted the Mayor in order to take a statement in relation to the antiquities, something that is expected to take place “soon”.
Asked to comment on the mayor’s insinuations about gangs in Limassol and Larnaca linked to protection rackets in night clubs and whether they would be mentioned in his statement, Angelides said the statement would address the question of Paphos antiquities, but if what he had said in public was also testified, it would be examined.