By George Psyllides
THE Larnaca Criminal Court has found there is a prima facie case against seven defendants charged in connection with a suspicious land deal involving the pension fund of state telecoms company CyTA.
The accused must now present their defence, starting on Monday.
The defendants are former CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis, electricity utility EAC’s former chairman Charalambos Tsouris, a member of the CyTA board at the time, opposition AKEL official 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 worked at the land registry, and businessman Antonis Ioakim, a shareholder in Wadnic, the company that developed the land.
Presiding judge Nicos Sandis said the defendants, in line with procedure, have three choices: they can remain silent, they can provide testimony under oath and face cross examination, or give a statement from the dock without cross examination.
The only choice essentially taken into consideration by the court is the sworn testimony.
Either way they can call defence witnesses to back their case.
The court heard that Kittis will testify under oath and will call one witness. The same applies to Tsouris, but he will have five defence witnesses.
Vasilliou will also testify under oath and call witnesses, as will Ioakim, Zanettos and Gregoris Souroullas.
Yiannis Souroullas was contemplating making a statement, his defence said.
Charges include conspiracy to commit felony, fraud, theft, bribery, abuse of power and money laundering.
The alleged offences were committed between 2009 and 2013.
The land deal in question involved the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space in Dromolaxia at a price several times the going market value.
Claims have since surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.