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Cyprus

Vergas tight-lipped over threatening texts

Embattled Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas on Wednesday declined comment over his alleged involvement in the dispatch of threatening text messages to witnesses in a suspicious land zoning deal, saying he was fully co-operating with the authorities.

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

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 prominent businessman Theodoros Aristodemou, the owner of Aristo Developers. Threatening messages were also sent to a journalist covering the case.

He was summoned to Paphos CID after it transpired that he had bought the mobile phone used to send the messages, a fact that he admitted.

Vergas claimed he bought the phone for Maria Solomonidou, a municipal employee and close associate. She was arrested by police along with her father, 64.

Solomonidou’s father, Elias, has taken the blame for the texts but police remain unconvinced. Both have been released without being charged pending the investigation.

In contrast to the first couple of days after the revelation, Vergas remained tight-lipped on Wednesday.

“As long as the investigation is ongoing, I have instructions from my lawyers not to make any statement that may be used against me,” Vergas said.

Police were  comparing his statement with his phone records, specifically his whereabouts when the messages were sent and if he had contacted Solomonidou that night. Reports suggested there were discrepancies between his statement and the records, but Vergas again refused to comment when asked.

“These are reports that I cannot comment on from the moment the investigation is ongoing,” he said.

Vergas said he was fully cooperating with the police and had faith in the authorities to do what was necessary.

Their next action depended on the findings of their investigation, Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said, without ruling anything out.

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.



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