Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos said Thursday he will be talking to police, a day after he went public with the names of people, including a prominent businessman and a former minister, who allegedly held Turkish Cypriot property worth millions without being eligible.
The outspoken mayor said he expected to talk to police later on Thursday or Friday morning about the accusations he voiced regarding the matter, which he said was a “monument of scandalous management.”
Phedonos said there had been political intervention in the way the properties were allocated and authorities had also turned a blind eye to unlawful acts.
Following the 1974 Turkish invasion, properties abandoned by Turkish Cypriots in the south were, by law, put under the protection of the interior ministry, or the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties.
Because of the need to house Greek Cypriots who were displaced from the north, it was decided to allocate such properties to them – usually for a small fee – on condition that the owners would not lose their rights.
Speaking on privately owned television station Sigma on Wednesday evening, Phedonos named businessman Nicos Shacolas, former defence minister Elias Eliades, and a number of other people, including Dionisis Malas, father of presidential candidate Stavros Malas.
The mayor said Shacolas had been given 230 donums of Turkish Cypriot land next to his golf project in the area of Limni, near Polis, for which he paid €2,085 per year when according to the use, he should have been paying €66,482.
The mayor said the company was not eligible to be given Turkish Cypriot land.
He also named businessman Elias Eliades, who was defence minister between 1985 and 1988, as being in possession of Turkish Cypriot real estate without being a refugee.
Malas’ father Dionisis also held land on Tombs of the Kings Avenue, which he sublets to a restaurateur for €1,200 a month.
Phedonos named several other cases, including one that the municipality had reported to the tax department.
“A few months ago, I sent the municipal auditor to report the case to the internal revenue department. There was no response,” the mayor said.
There was also the case of an individual who was given 1,300 donums of farmland, for which he collected subsidies – between €40 and €50 per donum — “with his feet up,” the mayor said.
Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said most cases mentioned by Phedonos were known to them and they planned to look into new ones he raised.
Petrides said the government was in the process of tidying up the mess. In the past two years, he said, 231 properties were recovered, 133 in Paphos. Some 100 more will be done soon, he said.
Paphos district officer Mary Lambrou said the most serious problem was subletting.
The problem was bigger in her district, Lambrou said since around 40 per cent of the shops were held by tenants who had contracts with the Turkish Cypriot owners before 1974.
If those tenants make their living off the dwelling, have not sublet it, and its use has not changed, then there was no question of taking it back, she said.
The company that owns the Limni resort said it had lawfully leased the land and was looking into the possibility of suing Phedonos.
The land is “almost entirely barren, rocky, and cannot be cultivated,” the company said. It added that it aimed to clean, beautify, and protect it from fires without any benefit.
The company also dismissed the mayor’s references to Shacolas as unfair, wrong, and defamatory.
Eliades also denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the building he used at the centre of Paphos since 1973 had been rented by his grandmother since 1960.
He told daily Politis that a legal opinion from the state Legal Service said that the establishment in question was not under the control of the guardian.