The Paphos district court on Tuesday rejected a police request to detain the town’s mayor, Savvas Vergas, and two others for eight days in connection with alleged irregularities over a music concert held in August.
Vergas, close associate Maria Solomonidou, and her husband Constantinos Sifantos, were arrested on Monday following claims that an events company belonging to Sifantos got a tax break on condition of donating part of the proceeds from a Sakis Rouvas concert to charity.
No donation had been made.
However, judge Christos Christodoulou rejected the police request to remand the suspects in custody, describing the investigator’s testimony as vague.
Lead investigator Pieris Neokleous told the court that the concert was fraudulently promoted as a charity event, with Vergas personally soliciting donations from companies.
The court also heard that Vergas misrepresented the facts of the concert to the municipal council, claiming that he had been contacted by Rouvas – a claim subsequently refuted by the singer in a statement last week.
Finally, the lead investigator also said that documents relating to the concert went missing from the municipality’s records, especially the contract signed with Rouvas, which the singer said was signed by Vergas as counterparty.
But the court ruled the case against the three suspects’ remand “vague and incomplete,” and ordered their immediate release.
“There is no proof that any offence has been committed, and it is not my intention to delve into the minutiae of the case,” the judge was quoted as saying.
The judge also rejected the argument that money should have been paid to charity as announced, because he had been presented with no evidence of the concert’s cost, revenues, and any ensuing profit.
Police said investigation into the case will continue, with the lifting of the suspects’ banking and land-registry records.
Immediately following his release, Vergas went to the Paphos Town Hall to preside over a scheduled council session that was to decide whether to suspend Solomonidou, who has been on annual leave since her arrest.
Arriving at the Town Hall, a nervously smiling Vergas told reporters that following his six-day ordeal, he did not wish to make any statements, “especially tonight.”
After a two-hour session, the council decided to suspend Solomonidou, and to launch a disciplinary probe into the missing concert documents.
Police had arrested Vergas as a previous remand order for a separate case expired.
The mayor had spent four days in custody in relation with threatening texts sent to witnesses in a suspicious land zoning case involving prominent developer Theodoros Aristodemou.
Solomonidou was also implicated in that case.
Vergas was arrested after admitting buying the mobile phone used to send threatening messages to four people including himself and two witnesses in the case.
He said he had bought the phone for Solomonidou.
Threatening messages were also sent to a journalist covering the case.