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Cyprus

Police arrest Paphos mayor (updated)

Former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

Police on Wednesday arrested Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas in connection with threatening text messages sent to witnesses in a suspicious land zoning case involving prominent developer Theodoros Aristodemou.

The mayor had been questioned for almost seven hours last week in connection with threatening text messages sent to four people including himself and two witnesses in a suspicious land zoning case involving Aristodemou, the owner of Aristo Developers.

Threatening messages were also sent to a journalist covering the case.

Police had detained his close associate, 33-year-old Maria Solomonidou, and her father, 64, in connection with the messages.

It later transpired that Vergas had bought the mobile phone used to send the messages, a fact he did not deny.

The mayor claimed he bought the phone for Solomonidou who was responsible, among other things, for handling the municipality’s social media accounts.

The decision to arrest Vergas was taken during an afternoon meeting headed by Attorney-general Costas Clerides.

During questioning last week, Vergas told police that he was at the town hall when he received the threatening message and that he could not remember when he had talked to her.

But reports said that authorities determined that Solomonidou and Vergas were at the same location when the messages were sent.

Vergas was escorted by police officers to his office, which was searched before returning to the CID.

“I have nothing to say,” the mayor said when prompted by waiting reporters.

Earlier, following a scheduled meeting in Nicosia on an unrelated matter, Vergas said his town was going through a rough patch but he would continue to “work selflessly from morning until midnight.”

Solomonidou is the sister of Aristo Developers designer Christos Solomonides, arrested along with his boss, the latter’s wife Roulla Aristodemou, 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.

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 euros, previously designated as green space, back to Aristo Developers.

Police are also looking into claims by a municipal councillor regarding a concert held in Paphos in the summer.

Vasos Demetriou claimed that an events company linked with Solomonidou got a tax break from the local authority on condition of making a donation to charity but had failed to do so.

Demetriou said the local authority had waived the entertainment for a concert given by Greek singer Sakis Rouvas on August 8.

The condition was that the company, whose director, on paper at least, is Solomonidou’s husband, would donate part of the net proceeds to the municipal food bank. The decision was taken by the council.

Demetriou said “not one cent” had been donated and no explanation had been given.

 



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