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Aristodemou, three others, to remain in custody (updated)

By George Psyllides

Land developer Theodoros Aristodemou and three other suspects, including his wife, have been remanded in custody for eight more days in connection with zoning violations in Paphos.

At the same time a Paphos municipal councillor, an employee at the local authority, and a reporter, have received threatening text messages  on their mobile phones regarding the case.

Aristodemou, wife Roulla, and two other suspects – the former Paphos municipal engineer, Savvas Savva, and 36-year-old Elisavet Kouspou, who works for the local authority’s technical services, were arrested in connection with forgery of blueprints and conspiracy to defraud the state in a planned development by Aristo in Skali, Paphos.

The court heard that authorities have opened Savva’s bank accounts, finding large cash deposits between 2010 and 2011.

Savva claimed that apart from his salary he had also been receiving financial assistance from relatives but refused to answer questions regarding a specific amount. Police said he also declined to disclose why he was receiving the money.

Police were also looking into the appointment books kept by Aristodemou’s PA in the past five years though the one for 2011 appears to have gone missing.

The court heard that between January 1 and March 15, 2010, Aristodemou had four meetings at his office  with the former municipal engineer. The meetings took place outside normal working hours.

In one occasion, before meeting Savva, Aristodemou met with the company’s designer Christos Solomonides, 38, who is also in police custody.

Savva and Aristodemou had also spoken on the phone numerous times, police said.

However, during questioning Savva denied having any relation with the developer.

The arrests followed a police investigation into the demarcation of 177 land plots in Skali, Paphos, in 2010.

It emerged that the plans for which the demarcation permits were issued were switched with new plans, which seemed to cede approximately 3,000 square metres, worth hundreds of thousands of euro, previously designated as green space, back to Aristo Developers.

In a related development, threatening text messages have been sent to the mobile phones of a municipal councillor, an employee, and a reporter.

The messages were received at 11pm and they aimed to intimidate the recipients. They were apparently sent using a prepaid card.

One of the recipients, councillor Phedonas Phedonos, said the messages threatened their life.

It was also sent to the deputy municipal engineer and reporter Costas Nanos who works for daily Politis.

Phedonos questioned why he was targeted since the case had been reported to police after a unanimous decision of the council.

He revealed that he had received numerous similar messages in recent days, which he reported to authorities but chose not to make them public.

“The point isn’t giving publicity to such issues. The point is to punish the guilty parties,” he told state radio.

He decided to speak up after others received threats.

Phedonos suggested that the authorities should not have to wait for someone to lodge a complaint in order to act. Just going through the auditor-general’s reports “They will discover many scandals and find a lot of corruption and decay.”

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