By Constantinos Psillides
PAPHOS Mayor Savvas Vergas along with three other will appear before the Paphos district court on December 11, in connection with threatening text messages sent to witnesses in a suspicious land zoning case involving a prominent developer.
Vergas, along with associate Maria Solomonidou, her husband Constantinos Sifantos and her father Elias Solomonides, will faces charges relating to conspiracy to commit felony, issuing death threats, and interference in judicial proceedings.
Vergas was arrested earlier in October in connection with threatening text messages sent to four people, including himself.
The threatening texts were sent to Politis newspaper Paphos correspondent Costas Nanos, Paphos municipality employee Androulla Efthimiou and council member Faidonas Faidonos.
Two of the recipients were witnesses in a land zoning case involving Aristo Developers boss Theodoros Aristodemou.
Following an investigation, police concluded that Vergas had bought the mobile phone used to send the messages, a fact he did not deny.
After taking a closer look at phone records, authorities determined that Solomonidou and Vergas were at the same location when the messages were sent. Both phones received signals from the same cell tower, a fact indicating that they were within a 60-metre radius of one another at the time, according to a report sent from a UK unit specialising in analysing telephone data.
The facts contradicted Vergas’ statement to investigators, where he claimed that he was in the municipality when he received the threatening text.
Police also found that immediately after the four threatening texts were sent, Solomonidou’s SIM card was used on the same phone for a three-second conversation with Vergas.
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 Greek pop artist Sakis Rouvas 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 the condition that company gave the proceedings to the municipality’s food bank, which never happened.
CyBC reported yesterday that police investigators had a breakthrough in the case, having successfully retrieved deleted files from Solomonidou’s office computer. According to CyBC, the files included the draft of a letter supposedly sent by Rouvas manager to the Paphos municipal council.
Additionally, Vergas is also being 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.