By Constantinos Psillides
Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas is under the microscope in yet another case, as Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides is looking into whether he altered his home blueprints to build a tennis court on public land.
According to Michaelides, Vergas appeared to have built a tennis court adjacent to his Paphos home without first securing a building permit. The tennis court was reportedly built on public land originally supposed to be reserved as a green space.
“We received information on the matter a while ago and promptly sent our people to investigate and take pictures. There appears to be a violation thus we are proceeding with a full investigation to determine if there is indeed one,” the Auditor-general told the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday.
Michaelides said he immediately requested all relevant paperwork regarding the mayor’s home to be sent to him but the municipality only got around to it on Monday.
Asked if the tennis court was meant for use by the mayor, or if it was a public one, Michaelides pointed out that the only way to gain access to the court was through the mayor’s front gate.
But as bad as it sounds, an alleged building permit violation for his home is the very least of Vergas’ problems.
The Paphos mayor was charged in writing on Monday in connection with threatening text messages sent to witnesses in a suspicious land zoning case involving a prominent developer.
Along with three others, the mayor faces charges relating to conspiracy to commit felony, issuing threats, and interference in judicial proceedings.
Vergas was arrested earlier in October in connection with threatening text messages sent to four people, including himself.
Two of the recipients were witnesses in a land zoning case involving Aristo Developers boss Theodoros Aristodemou. Threatening texts were also sent to a journalist.
The other three suspects were Vergas’ close associate Maria Solomonidou, who owned the phone used to send the messages, her husband Constantinos Sifantos, and her father Elias Solomonides.
It later transpired that Vergas had bought the mobile phone used to send the messages, a fact he did not deny.
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.
While the Aristo Developers investigation was unfolding, Vergas also found himself the suspect in another case. Solomonidou’s husband –who is the owner of an event planning company- got a tax exemption for the concert of a Greek pop artist in Paphos in August, allegedly at the request of the mayor. A member of the Paphos municipality council told police that they agreed to the exemption on condition the company gave the proceedings to the municipality’s food bank, which never happened.
Additionally, Vergas is also questioned for his role in a Paphos sewerage board investigation. The Auditor-general is looking into a possible mismanagement of government funds, following complaints of irregularities in construction contracts awarded by the board, which ended up running excesses of millions of euros – authorised by the board.