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Cyprus

AG asks for Sarikas’ immunity to be lifted

Fidias Sarikas

By George Psyllides

The attorney-general asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to lift EDEK MP Fidias Sarikas’ immunity so that he can be questioned in connection with the Paphos sewerage board scandal.

Sarikas has already given his consent and has denied any involvement while his was mayor of the coastal town.

He was accused by another suspect of receiving bribes during construction of the first phase of the project.

The Supreme Court will consider the attorney-general’s request early on January 8.

Meanwhile, police released AKEL municipal councillor Giorgos Shiallis, 46, after questioning him in connection with the case.

Shiallis was not charged but police spokesman Andreas Angelides did not rule out him being among the defendants when the case goes to court.

Angelides said investigators and the state legal service decided that his remand in custody was not justified.

“So this individual was released without being charged at this stage,” Angelides said.

Giorgos Shailis was arrested on Monday after he was named by a contractor involved in the construction of a waste treatment plant linked to the system.

Shailis was also arrested two weeks ago after he was named by former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, also in custody for the same case.

But a police remand request had been rejected by a court at the time due to lack of evidence.

Vergas, who resigned after the scandal broke out, is among five suspects held by police in connection with the case.

The others are sewerage board director Eftihios Malekkides, former municipal councillors Efstathios Efstathiou, DIKO, DISY’s Giorgos Michaelides, and AKEL’s Vasos Vasiliou.

It is believed that the suspects had conspired to charge extra – and unnecessary – work, sharing the spoils between them.

The sewerage project that Vergas, as chairman of the board, and Malekkides were handling, should have cost €78 million, but taxpayers have so far paid €109 million, with contractors claiming around €25 million more.

The Paphos by-election will be held on January 11. There are currently seven candidates, one of whom supported by three big parties.

Accountant Aristos Vassiliades, a DIKO member, is contesting the elections as an independent supported by DIKO, AKEL, and EDEK.

DISY municipal councillor Phedonas Phedonos announced his independent candidacy on Tuesday, at the same time resigning his post at the party’s political bureau.

Phedonos said recent revelations have filled people with questions and suspicion regarding the extent of the affair.

“About how far do the tentacles of corruption reach, questions and suspicion whether there will be a cover up or cleanup,” he told hundreds of supporters.

Phedonos said he shared the same feelings but took a shot at the other parties “for going down the same road that brought us here. To choose on the basis of core party planning that do not have Paphos as their focus. Attempting to solve the problem using the same recipe.”

He said this cannot be done, as Paphos had learned the hard way.

DISY said in a statement later that Paphos needed a clean start and an honest person at the helm who would inspire confidence in the office of mayor.

“We believe that the independent candidacy of Mr Phedonos meets these criteria,” the party said.

“We invite residents of Paphos to vote on the basis of the good of the city.”

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