By Constantinos Psillides
THE alleged high-end brothel that police claim to have busted near the village of Palodia on Tuesday night, not only did not have any building permits, but was a month away of being shut down, said interior ministry officials.
In a written statement, interior ministry officials explained that the establishment, which was masquerading as a luxury spa, was never issued building permits, preferring instead to go ahead with construction illegally.
According to the statement, in October 2012 the Limassol District Office contacted the Attorney-general’s office requesting that the company and owner were taken to court over the unlicensed construction.
On October 24 the state authorised an attorney to represent the Cyprus Republic in a criminal case filed against the owner and the company.
On November 8, the court issued an injunction ordering the owner to cease construction immediately and appear before court. The owner never showed up and kept presenting the court with different excuses to get the hearing postponed, even going as far as providing the court with various doctors’ notes. Police bailiffs also failed to track the owner down to present him with court summons.
In the meantime construction still continued, mostly during the night, according to the statement.
The owner finally appeared before court in February 2014, admitting all charges against him. On June 26 the Nicosia District Court ruled that the owner should be fined, and issued a demolition order for the establishment. The statement from the interior ministry said that if, in a two-month period following the demolition order, the establishment wasn’t torn down, the owner would be arrested and his property confiscated.
As to how the establishment was fully operational despite the fact that the owner was in the middle of a court battle and hadn’t been issued building permits, Electricity Authority (EAC) spokesman told the Cyprus Mail that the electricity provider had no other option.
While making clear that he had absolutely no knowledge regarding the Palodia establishment, Gavrielides said that EAC was bound by law to provide electricity, whether the construction had permits or not. “If a construction is within our power grid we are force to provide people with power if they file an application. No building permit is needed; just an application. Actually, even if the construction is illegal we can still be sued in court if we refuse to provide them with electricity,” said Gavrielides, pointing out that there was only one exception to that rule.
“If a house or store is in a rural area, outside the existing network, the owner must go through that district’s offices to get EAC to extent the network and provide the owner with electricity. In that case the district officer is required to ask for a building permit, blocking the application if everything is not in order.”
After the raid late on Tuesday, the 44-year old Russian owner of the high-end brothel that looked like an ancient Greek palace was remanded by the Limassol District Court for six days.
Thirteen women were among those arrested, along with two other men that acted as security guards. Initially, 18 women had been held, but according to the police five of them were employees and the rest seem to have engaged in sexual acts.
The brothel was masked as a luxury spa and wellness centre, according to the police.