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Michaelides denies all charges, tries to discredit witness

Dinos Michaelides

FORMER interior minister Dinos Michaelides, on trial in Greece for corruption, denied all charges on Monday and sought to discredit a key witness who testified against him.

Seven months after the start of the trial of five people, including Michaelides and his son, in connection with money laundering, the former minister claimed he never took part in any dealing and had neither received kickbacks or carried cash in suitcases.

Dinos and Michalis Michaelides are facing charges of receiving kickbacks and money laundering in relation to the purchase of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missiles by Greece during Akis Tsohatzopoulos’ term as Greek Defence minister.

Michaelides denied having a close relationship with Tsohatzopoulos — who has already been convicted – and had never discussed arms matters with him.

The former minister said he met Nicos Zigras, a key witness and Tsohatzipoulos’ cousin, at the Four Seasons hotel in Limassol. The meeting took place after Tsohatzopoulos asked Michaelides to do a service for Zigras.

Zigras asked Michaelides to arrange for his daughter to get a job with Bank of Cyprus in Greece, and explain the procedure of setting up an offshore company on the island.

Michaelides did not say what he did, if anything, about the daughter, but he referred Zigras to his son about the offshore matter.

Asked by one of the judges why a minister would agree to meet an unknown man who wanted something at a hotel and not his office, Michaelides said it “is customary in Cyprus for the first meetings to take place at a café.”

Michaelides said Zigras, who got just six months in jail in exchange for his co-operation, had submitted “false evidence against him to buy his freedom.”
The former minister’s trial continues on Wednesday.

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