By George Psyllides
THE cabinet decided yesterday to investigate the suspicious sale of Turkish Cypriot land under the previous administration’s watch, a case that has sparked a row with the opposition.
The land, in Dromolaxia, Larnaca, was sold to a Greek Cypriot, and after the coefficients were upgraded, it was sold to the telecommunications authority (CyTA) pension fund in 2011 for around €22 million.
Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said the procedure was done at the “speed of light,” suggesting that the whole process had been improper.
And CyTA chose the plot over an adjacent one that was cheaper — by around €4.0 million — bigger, with all the necessary permits and building coefficients.
“All these will be the object of the investigating committee,” Hasikos said after the cabinet meeting yesterday.
Former interior minister Neoklis Sylikiotis accused Hasikos of lying and warned that he could file a lawsuit against him.
Sylikotis said the case had been examined by the House Watchdog Committee, which found nothing wrong, challenging Hasikos to make the file public.
“The case was closed by the Watchdog Committee,” Sylikotis said. “We are talking about libel and slander and I am already looking into the matter with my legal adviser.”
Hasikos said he had nothing personal with Sylikotis and “it is Mr. Sylikiotis’ right” to start legal procedures if he thought he had been slandered.
“It is the previous administration that is under scrutiny. Mr. Sylikiotis was a member of the cabinet and the cabinet makes decisions based on the information submitted by the minister in charge,” Hasikos said.
CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis also denied any wrongdoing. He too claimed that parliament had finished examining the case.
“We have no problem and we do not feel fear or guilt. It was an investment like all others.” Kittis said. “The price was very good under the circumstances.”
However, ruling DISY MP Giorgos Georgiou, chairman of the committee, said the investigation was far from over. He also charged that CyTA has so far failed to respond to at least three letters seeking information since last June.
“To date, we have not received any response,” he said. “This issue will be tabled before the Watchdog Committee.”