THE attorney-general has suspend indefinitely a criminal case brought against the entire Paphos municipal council and the mayor by the owner of a marble factory.
The case had been due to get underway on Wednesday following a number of postponements.
“Yesterday, a letter from the attorney-general suspended indefinitely the case against all of the defendants including the mayor, the city council, the municipality of Paphos and the contractor,” one of the defendants, Andreas Chrysanthou, a Paphos councillor, told the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday.
Chrysanthou said that he understood that the complainant had asked Attorney-General Costas Clerides to suspend the prosecution.
The Paphos council, along with the mayor, were formally charged in 2016 on 29 counts relating to the destruction of a wall in Paphos. They all pleaded not guilty.
The legal action was brought by Polys Patatos, the owner of a Paphos marble factory which adjoined the Markideio Theatre in Paphos.
He alleged that the tearing down of a wall by the Paphos municipality, as part of the upgrading works on the theatre and its outside space, was illegal and caused malicious damage.
The defendants faced charges including trespassing onto a property with the intent to cause a crime and causing unlawful damage to property.
The case was part of a long-running battle between Patatos and the municipality over three pieces of Turkish Cypriot owned land which he was using. In the past Patatos secured an injunction on two pieces of the land which prevented any action to be taken at the site by Paphos municipality, as part of the upgrading works. This was subsequently cancelled, after the court found that he was operating on the land without lawfully having the two plots ‘in his possession’.
However, the businessman also legally leased a third piece of Turkish Cypriot owned land, which was licensed by the ministry of the interior, and where the wall was situated.
On Wednesday, mayor of Paphos, Phedonas Phedonos, issued a statement saying he felt vindicated by the suspension of the case.
“The filing of the criminal case was a strategic move to put pressure on Paphos municipality and to scold me and politically hurt me before the municipal elections,” he said.
He warned that similar strategies on political and authoritative figures should not be used in the future, as they exploit court proceedings and undermine the law.
“The state and the competent bodies should study the facts of the present case and draw the right conclusions and take steps to avoid repeating such a situation in the future,” he said.
Chrysanthou added that the attorney-general noted that if the plaintiff wants to proceed with further action he should make a statement to the police and his claims would be investigated.
“I believe that the plaintiffs’ lawyer probably advised him this course of action is not advisable as there may be recourse from the councillors for time lost and legal fees and so on. So far, we have already had to go to Nicosia four or five times,” he said.
He added that unless Patatos drops the charges altogether, the case will remain suspended.
“Hopefully this will be the end of this procedure,” he said.
Chrysanthou said that the marble factory has since relocated to a new area.
“The site of the theatre and the facility itself has been completely reshaped and has resulted in a very good addition for Paphos,” he said.