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Cyprus

AG rejects AKEL’s conspiracy probe request

AG Costas Clerides

By George Psyllides

The island’s attorney-general will not order an investigation into how a suspicious land deal case implicating state officials and politicians was put together, rejecting calls from former ruling party AKEL, which has two of its members facing charges.

Responding to a letter from AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou, the attorney-general said any other investigation could affect the ongoing criminal procedure.

The credibility of a witness and the legitimacy of the investigation will be judged by the court, Costas Clerides said in a letter.

Kyprianou had sent a letter to Costas Clerides following the publication of the purported transcripts of conversations between a key witness and his legal advisers.

From the transcripts, it appeared that the witness, businessman Nicos Lillis who is also implicated in the case, had cut a deal with prosecutors to give evidence against state officials in return for a lighter sentence.

AKEL, which has seen two of its members arrested in connection with the case, suggested that the transcripts were proof that a conspiracy was afoot.

Clerides said neither the legal service nor he, took a suspect’s party affiliation into consideration.

The only thing that mattered was whether there was enough evidence to prosecute, Clerides said.

“I understand your concern to ensure the proper and fair administration of justice, however … I do not intend to order any other investigation, which could affect the course of the ongoing criminal proceedings,” Clerides said.

“The credibility of a prosecution, or any other witness or defendant, will be judged by the court,” Clerides said. “The same applies for any allegation or issue relating to the correctness and legitimacy of the investigating procedure.”

The land deal in question involved the purchase by state telecoms company CyTA’s pension fund of office space in Dromolaxia, near Larnaca airport, at a price reportedly several times the going market value.

Allegations have since surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.

Former CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis and seven others — former electricity authority EAC chairman Charalambos Tsouris, a member of the CyTA board at the time, AKEL officials Christos Alecou and Venizelos Zanettou, the director of CyTA’s pay-TV arm and SEK union rep Orestis Vasilliou, CyTA employee Yiannis Souroullas and his brother Gregoris who works at the land registry, and businessman Antonis Ioakim, a shareholder in Wadnic, the company involved in the €20.5m deal – will appear before Larnaca Criminal Court on March 7 to be formally charged in connection with the case.

Nicos Lillis has already been charged with bribing two secret service officers to falsify a report that would have made a land deal possible.

The two officers, Costas Miamiliotis and Lefteris Mouskos, were allegedly paid to produce a report saying the Turkish Cypriot seller of the land had resided in the government-controlled areas for six months – a necessary condition — for the transaction to go ahead.

 

 

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