By Constantinos Psillides
By Constantinos Psillides
POLICE OFFICERS disrupted a wedding on Sunday night in Paralimni to search the car of the bride’s brother-in-law in connection with the assassination of Yiannis Kalopsidiotis on Friday night.
According to deputy police spokesperson Nicoletta Tyrimou, officers were acting on a tip-off informing them that Alexis Mavromichalis, also known as Alexoui, had a gun stashed in his car.
Tyrimou told the Cyprus Mail that police officers were “discreet” and asked Alexoui to step out of the reception hall so police could search his car in his presence. Alexoui had been invited to the wedding reception along with his wife, the bride’s sister. Alexoui stepped out with his bodyguards, causing a commotion, and the reception came to an abrupt end when guests went out the parking lot to see what was happening.
The search yielded no results.
Tyrimou denied reports saying that there were “40 armed to the teeth members of the riot squad MMAD” as originally reported, and that the bride fainted on realising what was happening.
“They were regular police officers of the Famagusta District Police. We had a tip that the suspect had a gun in his car so we acted on it. Nothing more,” remarked Tyrimou.
The couple have filed a complaint with the Famagusta District police, but according to Tyrimou, “nothing illegal happened”.
Alexoui, was arrested on March 17, upon his arrival from Athens at Larnaca airport. He was one of the island’s most wanted, having been linked to the attempted murder of Andreas Gregoriou in 2009, as well as the murder of Andis Hadjicostis in 2010.
Hadjicostis was the CEO of DIAS publishing group, a media company which owns the daily Simerini and the Sigma TV station. Gregoriou was later sentenced to life in prison for his role in the assassination of Hadjicostis.
Mavromichalis was implicated in these cases by Giorgos Zavrantonas, one of the prosecution witnesses in the Hadjicostis trial. Zavrantonas was himself arrested on February 28, for his participation in a shootout in Peristerona village. Zavrantonas had broken his parole; he was supposed to be abroad in the witness protection programme.
Alexoui was released without charges on May 22, after Zavrantonas made clear that he wouldn’t appear in court to testify against him.
Sunday’s search of Alexoui’s car was part of the ongoing investigation into the assassination of Yiannis Kalopsidiotis, father to businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis.
Yiannis Kalopsidiotis, 77, was killed outside his home in Paralimni on Friday, after being shot in the chest. He was found dead by his wife who ran outside after him when she heard gunshots.
According to the police report, Kalopsidiotis went outside to check on his dogs when he was shot, possibly by a G3 military rifle, the kind issued to reservists and which are stored in their homes.
The victim’s widow accused police of negligence, claiming that they had ignored threats on her husband’s life. Speaking on a MEGA TV talk-show on Monday she said that she was told to be “wary of three persons that want to kill your husband”. The woman added that she had phoned police before the killing to ask them why they hadn’t cut off the road leading to their house, to receive the response that “we don’t have enough police officers.”
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou also made a statement on Monday, telling the press that the “investigation is ongoing” but refused to add anything else, arguing that “it won’t help the case at all.”
Asked by reporters whether Yiannis Kalopsidiotis’ assassination is connected to the 2012 murder of four of his son’s employees, Ionas said that “every possibility is being explored.”
Phanos Kalopsidiotis made headlines two years ago, when four of his security guards and another individual were ambushed and murdered in Ayia Napa as they left a local pub. It had then been presumed by police – and Kalopsidiotis himself – that he was the intended target of the attack and that it was motivated by business disputes and score-settling.
But although two people were accused of the murders and convicted earlier this year, it seems Phanos Kalopsidiotis’ enemies would not be deterred. Police suspect that the perpetrators’ failure to murder Phanos Kalopsidiotis led them to go after his family, in an attempt to intimidate him.
Following the June 2012 murders, he conceded to running betting parlours but denied being involved in illegal activities, such as protection rackets and drugs.