By Stefanos Evripidou
OPPOSITION AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou yesterday said he had proof of a “political stitch-up” over the CyTA land deal which he’s considering submitting to the same authorities that have effectively been accused of participating in it.
AKEL has reacted with outrage to the arrest and remand last week of two members of AKEL’s secretariat, Venizelos Zanettos and Christos Alecou, in connection with investigations into a €20.5 million land deal concerning the CyTA pension fund and businessman man Nicos Lillis.
Police said the two AKEL officials and Antonis Ioakim had been named by Lillis who has already been charged in connection with the case.
The land deal in question involved the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space near Larnaca airport at a price reportedly several times the going market value.
Allegations have surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.
Along with Lillis, prosecutors have charged two police officers, Costas Miamiliotis and Lefteris Mouskou, in connection with the case.
Speaking after a meeting with House Ethics Committee chairman Demetris Syllouris, Kyprianou said his party was reacting strongly against efforts to set up testimonies against specific people.
Asked if he had proof of a “political stitch-up”, the AKEL leader said he did.
He expressed regret that the CyTA case was distracting politicians and public opinion from many problems facing the Cypriot people right now, like the Cyprus problem, economy, and natural gas.
“And we are all saying that collective action and unity is needed to handle these issues, but we are doing anything but trying to build that, with the climate being cultivated lately. And that is very sad,” said Kyprianou.
The remand of the two AKEL officials and Ioakim expires on Thursday, though the Larnaca District Court will hear the appeal of Zanettos and Alecou to their remand tomorrow.
Meanwhile, CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis was released from detention on Sunday. He was remanded in custody for eight days in connection with the Dromolaxia case on September 25. Five days later, he complained that he wasn’t feeling well, and was taken to hospital.
On October 3, while still in hospital, he was re-remanded for a further three days. On Sunday, the day his second remand order expired, Kittis’ health improved. He was taken from hospital to Lakatamia holding cells where he was subsequently released.
Another three people have been arrested, remanded and later released in connection with the case. They are senior CyTA employee Yiannis Souroullas, his brother, land registry official Gregoris Souroullas, and union rep Orestis Vassiliou.
The fog hovering over the case thickened further over the weekend when local papers reported that one key witness accused the police of attempting to intimidate him by sending 14 police patrol cars and a pick-up truck to his house to confiscate his wife’s car which had an expired insurance policy.
Reports suggested deputy police chief Andreas Kyriacou- former head of the presidential guard under former president Demetris Christofias- was implicated in the case.
According to state broadcaster CyBC, Kyriacou has denied any involvement and plans on taking legal action against those who made the libellous comments.
Police chief Michalis Papageorgiou has reportedly launched an investigation into the matter.
Adding to the intrigue, AKEL MP Aristos Damianou yesterday questioned how the key witness above was able to travel to Cyprus from abroad and give testimony at police headquarters when an arrest warrant was pending against him for debts.