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Cyprus

Charges imminent in Paphos sewerage case

Former mayor of Paphos Savvas Vergas is serving six years in prison

By Constantinos Psillides

LEGAL SERVICES will be filing charges on the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) scandal on Monday, according to police spokesperson Andreas Angelides.

Speaking on CyBC radio on Saturday, Angelides declined to name either the charges or against whom they will be brought.

Currently under custody in connection with the case are former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, SAPA manager Eftyhios Malikkides and former municipal councillors with DISY, DIKO and AKEL Giorgos Michaelides, Efstathios Efstathiou and Vasos Vassiliou.

Both Vergas and Malikkides are suspected of running a bribery ring, demanding kickbacks from contractors to award them with tenders. The municipal councillors are suspected of receiving kickbacks to keep silent on what was really going on behind closed doors when it came to the SAPA contractors.

Over the last three weeks several contractors have come forth and told police officers that they had given money to both Vergas and Malikkides. All of them were released, presumably to be called as prosecution witnesses.

In his own statement to the police, Vergas blamed Malikkides and claimed that he was working with representatives from all political parties to keep the kickback racket going and that he tried several times to put an end to it. Malikkides on the other hand told investigators the opposite, pointing at Vergas as the man pulling the strings.

Malikkides admitted to taking a bribe back in 2000 but attributed to financial woes he had at the time. He maintained that he was trying to put an end to it ever since but was powerless against Vergas and that he was completely in his control.

All five of the suspects have been remanded for eight days in custody for three consecutive weeks.

 

Malikkides also implicated former Paphos mayor Fidias Sarikas, claiming that the kickback scandal begun when he was town mayor. Legal Services filed a request to lift Sarikas parliamentary immunity with the Supreme Court, which will hand down a ruling on January 7. It should be noted that Sarikas volunteered to have his immunity lifted, dismissing Malikkides accusations.

 

The former mayor will soon have to appear before court on a number of other cases. He is also suspected of a shady land deal with land development company Aristo Developers (where he allegedly gave permission so the company could illegally take green space and use it for building), sending death threats via text message to a municipal councillor, a reporter and a municipality employee, building a tennis court adjacent to his home on public property without permission and green-lighting a tax exemption for a concert organizer that had promised to give all proceedings to charity but failed to do so.



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