By Angelos Anastasiou
The trial of the case of corruption in the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) involving kickbacks paid to municipal officials and misappropriation of public funds, was adjourned and rescheduled for January 23 by the Paphos Assize court on Thursday.
Court president Dora Socratous said the court accepted the six defendants’ request for a continuance so that they could offer their pleas after reviewing the prosecution’s body of evidence.
The six defendants are former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, suspended SAPA director Eftychios Malekkides, former DISY municipal councillor Giorgos Michaelides, former DIKO councillor Efstathios Efstathiou, former AKEL councillor Vasos Vasiliou, and sitting AKEL councillor Giorgos Shailis.
Among others, they are facing the charge of having conspired to extort money from private contractors awarded SAPA contracts.
The Paphos Assize court comprises president Dora Socratous, Senior district judge Lia Markou, and District Assize court judge Michalis Droushiotis.
In its ruling, the court ordered that the defendants be released on bail and under conditions, including handing their travel documents to the police, adding their names to the ‘stop list’ so they cannot leave the country, and present themselves to a police station daily.
Bail was set at €200,000 for each defendant.
Vergas’ attorney Giorgos Georgiou told the court that his client planned to plead guilty, but asked for additional time to study the prosecution’s evidence.
A similar request was submitted by Malekkides’ lawyer Costas Efstathiou, as well as Michaelides’ lawyer Giorgos Hadjineophytou and Efstathiou’s lawyer Loukas Karnos.
In addition to requesting a continuance, Vasiliou’s lawyers raised the issue of their client’s obligation to present himself to a police station daily, which they said they would raise at a later point.
Shailis’ defence, lawyers Alexandros Alexandrou and Costas Shailis, noted that several pre-trial issues would be raised in connection with the charge-sheet, and argued that they had yet to receive the prosecution’s full body of evidence.
For the prosecution, Xenia Xenofontos did not object to the defendants’ request, and added that the evidence would be delivered to them following additional statements.
In total, the defendants are facing 153 charges, including conspiracy to commit a crime, conspiracy to defraud, bribery of a public official, abuse of power, unjust enrichment, and others.
Of the 153 charges, Malekkides faces 67, Vergas 58, Michaelides 25, Efstathiou 15, and Vasiliou and Shailis 7 each.
By Angelos Anastasiou