The parents of a woman jailed for two years for killing a 17-year-old in 2007 were on Thursday sentenced to three years and 18 months in prison respectively for inciting a witness to perjury, forgery, and the use of counterfeit evidence.
Efi Herodotou’s father Herodotos, 62 was sent to jail for three years while her mother Nitsa, 57, will be doing an 18-month stretch after they tampered with witnesses and evidence in their daughter’s first trial in 2009.
Herodotou was acquitted at the time, but state prosecutors preparing for an appeal discovered that evidence submitted in her trial had been forged and tampered with, and at least one defence witness had perjured himself.
The family fled the island afterwards and had been wanted by police since 2011.
They were eventually arrested in Athens and extradited to Cyprus in January 2017.
During Thursday’s court session, Herodotou’s mother, donned in black kept her composure and tried to comfort teary eyed relatives upon her entrance saying everything was ok and she was thankful to God for whatever happened.
A relative of the defendants criticised the media after the end of the hearing saying coverage had been biased.
Herodotou’s parents were found guilty on five charges, namely perjury, inciting a witness to perjury, forgery, circulating forged documents, and using counterfeit evidence.
Neither had displayed any indication of remorse, the judge said, and strict sentences should be imposed as perjury is an offence that perverts the course of justice.
The father was sentenced to three years each for the first and fifth charge as well as 18 months each for the second and third.
The mother was sentenced to 18 months for the first and fifth charge and nine months for the second and third charge.
The maximum sentence is seven years and the sentences will run concurrently beginning from the date of their detention on January 24 this year. There were no grounds for a suspended sentence, the judge said.
The defence had argued the father had been an army officer that served his country selflessly until he retired in 2010 however, the judge said while it was taken into consideration, the best way to serve one’s country was to abide by its laws.
The mother had worked as an accountant at a private clinic but resigned in 2008 to look after her daughter. The defence also said she was the only caregiver for her own mother, currently in a nursing home.
Their clean criminal record and health problems were taken into consideration but the time that had elapsed since the initial case could not be considered a mitigating factor as they were both aware of warrants against them but did not come to Cyprus to face their charges, the judge said.
The parents were found guilty of encouraging a defence witness, Goran Vujic from Serbia, to lie in the 2009 trial by promising him a job at the TV station NTV that Herodotou’s brother owned and a renewal of his visa.
The family’s lawyer in the 2009 trial, as well as the state prosecutor who tried the case, were also brought up on charges over the affair. The lawyer was acquitted as the evidence against him was deemed insufficient, while the charges against the prosecutor were dropped after she was forced to resign. The state appealed the decision in the lawyer trial.
The court heard that the Herodotou couple – along with their lawyer – presented Vujic as a defence witness and presented false documentation relating to the certificates that deemed him an expert witness.
Herodotou was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday and has since filed an appeal.