Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos said on Thursday that Nicos Shacolas was trying to gag him after he accused the businessman of receiving preferential treatment when he was granted large parcels of Turkish Cypriot property.
Shacolas said he was suing the mayor for slander after he said the businessman and his Limni Resorts and Golf Courses Plc was among those in possession of Turkish Cypriot land without being eligible.
On Thursday, the mayor published the lawsuit and a letter he had sent the attorney-general to investigate the Shacolas case.
“I believe Mr Shacolas and the company under his control are attempting to muzzle me in the name of protecting their good name and good reputation,” Phedonos said in a written statement.
The mayor said the company’s effort would not succeed.
“At a time when transparency, good governance and equality are entering the framework of our country’s public life, certain people insist on fighting light with dated methods,” Phedonos said. “The ongoing battle is not Phedonas Phedonos’ personal battle, it is the battle of all those who believe in stamping out corruption and maladministration.”
Since the war and the displacement of populations 43 years ago, all Turkish Cypriot property where the owner is not resident is administered by the state as guardian, collecting low rents, mainly from Greek Cypriot refugees who are deemed as eligible beneficiaries because they lost their own land from the Turkish occupation.
According to the company, its dealings with the guardian of Turkish Cypriot property was transparent and above board.
Shacolas and the company have sued the mayor for slander, asking between €500,000 and €2m in compensation.
It is also seeking a court order banning Phedonos from publishing similar “defamatory” statements or similar material.
More or less recounting the findings of an auditor-general report, Phedonos 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 Shacolas company said this figure was used arbitrarily and misleadingly by the Paphos mayor and did not reflect the true situation.