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Cyprus

‘Aphrodite’s Temple’ trial to go ahead despite threats of revelations

By Constantinos Psillides

THE Attorney General’s office will not drop charges against a 43-year old Russian man arrested in connection with the luxury brothel operating in Palodia village, despite threats of revelations by his lawyer, Deputy Attorney General Rikkos Erotokritou said yesterday.

The defendant’s lawyer, Marios Georgiou, sent a confidential letter to the Attorney General’s office, saying that if the case reaches the court then he would have no choice than to reveal the names of high-profile individuals that frequented the brothel.

“Politicians, high ranking police officers, even officials from the Legal Services used to visit the brothel,” according to Georgiou, who said he was basing his accusations on the testimonies of the girls working there.

The high-end brothel –named “Aphrodite’s Temple” – was situated on the outskirts of Palodia village and was raided by police on July 23. In all, 21 persons were arrested, including the 17 girls working there and the 43-year old who at the time identified himself as the establishment’s manager. In the end, only 13 girls were remanded in custody, along with the manager, while two security guards, a DJ, kitchen staff and a cleaning lady were released. Police investigators then asked the girls to turn prosecution witnesses, so that they could build a case against the 43-year old.

Talking to CyBC, Georgiou said that he isn’t blackmailing the Attorney General but rather putting forth his dilemma. “As a lawyer I can’t represent my client to the best of my abilities if I don’t use all testimonies and facts available. If I do that, certain high profile people may get hurt.”

Georgiou also claims that his client was only a driver and that he was prosecuted because he was of Roma descent.

The lawyer also pointed out that out of the 21 persons originally arrested, his client is the only one facing charges and that of the 17 girls originally working there, only one remains. “The others were deported to their countries. The only one left is a Moroccan girl that begun work on the day the establishment was closed down.”

Erotokritou responded to Georgiou accusations, inviting him to prove his allegations in court. “For me, his intentions are clear. He wants the case thrown out of court. That will never happen. Therefore, the defence lawyer will have ample opportunity to prove his allegations and say what he wants before court. What’s for sure is that we will not drop charges,” Erotokritou said on CyBC radio.

During the course of the investigation, it emerged that “Aphrodite’s Temple” didn’t have the necessary building permits and was a month away from being shut down by the local authorities.

State lawyer Andreas Aristides issued a statement on behalf of the Attorney General’s office late yesterday, confirming that the charges will not be dropped. “We will not accept any settlement, trade-offs and most certainly we will not tolerate cover-ups or being blackmailed by anyone,” is said, adding that all accusations made by the lawyer were baseless.

“All the women were questioned by investigators. Only two of them admitted to have been hired to have sexual relations with clients and therefore were considered as victims of sexual exploitation. The rest denied all accusations and there was no sufficient testimony linking them to the crimes in question,” read the statement, adding that no CCTV cameras were installed at the establishment.

The two women were drafted as prosecution witnesses. One of them was the Moroccan woman mentioned by the defendant’s lawyer, while the other was from Moldavia.

According to the statement, the first woman took the witness stand when the trial first began on September 25, but it was adjourned when Georgiou requested more time to better prepare for her testimony.

The statement read that the woman broke down, begged to be sent back to Moldavia and threatened to kill herself if authorities didn’t allow her to leave. According to the AG’s statement the woman was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with severe stress, “making her unable to cooperate with authorities.”

“Given the circumstances, the woman was allowed to leave the island. She expressed her willingness to come back whenever there was need for her to testify,” read the statement.

Responding as to why the 43-year old was the only one left on trial, the AG stressed that no evidence was found against any other person and that the defendant himself confessed to being the manager of the establishment.

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