By George Psyllides
A mobile phone used to send threatening text messages to people involved in a suspicious land zoning case in Paphos had been bought by the town’s mayor, Savvas Vergas, it emerged on Thursday.
The phone was in the possession of Maria Solomonidou, a municipal worker currently in police custody in connection with sending threatening text messages to four people, including Vergas himself.
Solomonidou, the sister of Aristo Developers designer Christos Solomonides who is implicated in the case, was detained along with her husband and father-in-law.
Vergas confirmed purchasing the handset but denied there was anything dodgy. He said he bought the phone because Solomonidou’s job was to send texts to the public and handle the municipality’s social network sites.
A quick check showed that the last tweet from the official twitter account was on November 18, 2013 – preparation of the Christmas tree with an attached photo. The first one was three days earlier, “Welcome to Pafos Municipality”.
Similarly, the municipality’s Facebook page contained three entries – May 5, the day it was created, and July 29 and August 22.
The mayor said he bought the phone with his own money on August 3 and gave it to Solomonidou the next day.
“What involvement does the mayor have if threatening messages were sent from this handset two months later, on September 29,” Vergas told state broadcaster CyBC.
He played down the messages, saying they were condemnable but did not imply corruption. “They are simply threatening texts,” he said, adding that he has received such messages many times in the past.
Vergas warned that he would file lawsuits against the media because, as he claimed, his personal life had been invaded.
“I had nothing to do with the specific handset,” he said.
Apart from Vergas, threatening messages were sent to councilman Phedonas Phedonos, the head of the municipality’s technical services Androulla Efthymiou, and journalist Kostas Nanos.
Christos Solomonides was arrested along with Aristo boss Theodoros Aristodemou, his wife Roulla, and former municipal engineer Savvas Savva in connection with forgery and fraud in the demarcation of 177 plots of land on behalf of the company. Another municipal employee, arrested for the same case, will be used as a prosecution witness.
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.