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Cyprus

Underage sex suspects plead guilty

A Larnaca businessman and another man on Wednesday pleaded guilty to charges of sexually exploiting two underage girls.

Businessman Akis Lefkaritis, 57, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexually exploiting a minor while 35-year-old Nicos Nicolaou pleaded guilty to six charges, including possession and supply of cocaine.

The hearing was held behind closed doors to protect the girls.

Sexual exploitation is the most serious charge the two defendants faced, carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.

In light of this, state prosecutors withdrew other charges, which carried lesser maximum sentences.

The next hearing was scheduled for June 11.

In a written statement, state prosecutor Andreas Aristides said the two defendants pleaded guilty to the most serious charges, in terms of penalty, which covered their entire unlawful conduct.

“Therefore, and in light of the admissions, some lesser charges, which are adequately covered (by the other charges), have been withdrawn,” he said.

The prosecutor said that it was a given that sentences imposed for the charges which were withdrawn would run concurrently and effectively absorbed by the higher penalties provided by the law on the sexual exploitation offense.

“The state believes that the particular handling of the case is the most appropriate, on one hand because all the defendants’ offenses will receive the proper punishment, and on the other hand because the victims, who are in an especially vulnerable position at this time, would not have to face the gruelling process of cross examination and would not have to live through the events that crushed them again,” he said.

Lefkaritis pleaded guilty to four counts of sexually exploiting a minor.

He admitted two counts of sexually exploiting two girls, aged 14 and 15, on April 27, 2014. He also admitted to sexually exploiting the 14-year-old at various times between March and September last year, when she was 13. Lefkaritis pleaded guilty to one more count in connection with the 14-year-old between September 2013 and April this year.

Nicolaou pleaded guilty to six charges — four in connection with sexually exploiting a minor between March 2013 and April 2014, and one for corrupting a young woman aged between 13 and 16, an offense that took place on April 27, 2014.

He also admitted to possession of cocaine and supplying a 15-year-old girl on the same date.

The two men were arrested on April 30 after the 15-year-old girl reported to the police that she had been raped and beaten by Nicolaou.

She told police she met the 35-year-old on Facebook and arranged to meet with him, only to be kidnapped and taken to his apartment.

The girl claimed she had been beaten and raped by the 35-year-old, while forced to take drugs.

A second girl, 14, came to the man’s apartment and had asked to be paid for sexual services, police were told.

Nicolaou took both girls to an apartment in Larnaca where they were joined by Lefkaritis who also had sex them.

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