The anti-money laundering unit, Mokas, has launched procedures to seize property belonging to five individuals, including former Edek MP Fidias Sarikas, found guilty of corruption in connection with the Paphos’ sewerage system, Sapa.
Along with Sarikas, who was mayor between 1997 and 2002, were former Paphos municipal councillors Giorgos Michaelides, Efstathios Efstathiou and Vasos Vasiliou, and sitting councillor Giorgos Shailis.
Their lawyers pleaded for leniency on Wednesday. Sentencing will take place on May 19 at 10am.
The five faced 61 charges relating to bribes, money laundering, abuse of powe, and conspiracy, but after some charges were dropped, Michaelides was found guilty on 19 charges, Sarikas on six charges, Efstathiou on 14 charges, Vasiliou on seven charges and Shailis on six charges.
Prosecutors told the court in the previous hearing that Mokas would initiate procedures to seize assets belonging to the defendants in a bid to take back sums of money proven to have been paid in kickbacks.
Former mayor Savvas Vergas and former Sapa director Eftihios Malekkides are already doing six-year prison terms after pleading guilty.
They have both returned thousands of euros received in kickbacks.
Sarikas’ lawyer, Chris Triantafyllides, told the court that the state had already withheld €40,000 from his client’s lump sum that he received after leaving parliament.
The lawyer said his client was planning to appeal the guilty verdict. Triantafyllides said Sarikas had a clean record, noting that his political career was now over.
He also mentioned his dire financial situation and a €1.5m debt he had. Arguing that a long time – 14 to 17 years – had gone by since the commission of the offences, Triantafyllides said there should not be a custodial sentence.
Christos Hadjiloizou, defending Michaelides, emphasised his client’s bad health. Michaelides has suffered a stroke and a heart attack, and now needs urgent heart surgery.
Efstathiou’s lawyer, Savvas Angelides, argued that the state had not prosecuted his client’s collaborators, the contractors, who paid the kickbacks, and who testified against the defendants.
It is a fact, Angelides said, that all those who testified had not told the whole truth or withheld facts that were against them.
Angelides said his client did not object to the asset seizure order, arguing that this too should be considered among the mitigating factors.
Yiannakis Thoma, appearing on behalf of Vasiliou, also stressed the fact that contractors had not been indicted.
He too emphasised the number of years that went by and the fact that his client had resigned his post as gynecologist at Paphos general hospital.
Thoma also said that his client had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Shailis’ defence laywer, Costas Shailis, also touched upon the fact that contractors were not prosecuted and his family’s dire financial position.
He urged the court to show leniency and separate him from the rest since he had been elected on January 1, 2012.
Shailis said his client will be returning property worth €27,000.