By Stefanos Evripidou
THE SUPREME Court rejected an appeal by Attorney-general Petros Clerides against a decision by Paphos Criminal Court on a murder case for which the only suspect – a former policeman – was acquitted in May.
Neophytos Constantinou, a retired policeman in his mid-sixties, was the only suspect for the murder in February of Yovkon Ivan Krastev, the Bulgarian fiancé of Tasoula Constantinou, his former daughter-in-law.
Constantinou was acquitted of premeditated murder by the Paphos court in May with the court saying the three main prosecution witnesses were unreliable and the forensic evidence insufficient.
Krastev was shot in the chest on his doorstep in Tala village in Paphos at around 7.30am on February 8.
His fiancée, Tasoula, told the police that she saw Constantinou holding a gun immediately after a gunshot was heard.
Her mother and the domestic helper, who had just arrived from the Philippines nine days earlier, were also in the house when the murder took place and also gave testimonies.
In statements to the police, Tasoula and the helper both said they saw Constantinou outside the front door, though in an initial testimony given, the helper claimed she did not see him while Tasoula’s exact location when the shot was fired differed in two different testimonies given.
She also told police that her former father-in-law held Krastev responsible for the collapse of her marriage to his son.
The mother insisted in her testimony that the suspect was not wearing a mask but could not tell whether he was wearing a hat or glasses.
Tasoula and her husband got divorced in May 2012. Tasoula started seeing Krastev who moved in with her some five months before he was killed. They lived together in a house Tasoula and her former husband had built together on her land, isolated from other houses.
The Paphos court deemed the testimonies of all three witnesses as untrue, due to various contradictions that came up during the four testimonies given by the helper, two by Tasoula and two by her mother, mostly relating to where they were when the shot was heard and whether they actually saw Constantinou standing outside the house or not.
The AG appealed the decision based on the argument that the law had not been properly implemented in this case, while raising arguments on the court’s interpretation of the case law regarding the quality of identification evidence.
In examining the appeal, the Supreme Court did not examine the correctness of the court’s decision but the correctness of the procedure followed to reach that decision.
In its ruling on Wednesday, it concluded that the lower court did not consider the quality of the identification evidence since it considered the testimonies of all three prosecution witnesses to be untrue.
Since the prosecution based its case, “if not exclusively, then to a substantial degree” on the three witnesses, then the lower court rightly acquitted the suspect, said the Supreme Court, rejecting the AG’s appeal.