By Constantinos Psillides
A 39-year-old petrol station owner was remanded for five days in custody by the Nicosia District Court on Saturday on suspicion of carrying out an arson attack on the car and home of a rival in an alleged move to intimidate him into raising his prices.
The suspect was one of five men – three of them petrol station owners – arrested in connection with the case on Friday evening.
A 59-year-old, also a petrol station owner, also appeared before court but the judge decided not to remand him in custody, for lack of sufficient evidence
The other three men aged 69, 40 and 51 had already been freed by police. According to police spokesman Andreas Angelides, police had secured testimony linking the 39-year-old to the crimes that include charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, arson, and sending threatening texts.#
On June 8 last year, the car belonging to the wife of the petrol station owner was set on fire. Two weeks later, the couple’s home was targeted in an arson attack on June 21. The interior of the house sustained €18,000 worth of damage.
The reason behind the attacks, according to the police, was the fact that the petrol station owner insisted on selling petrol at a very low price and refused to raise it when the threats started.
Friday’s arrests were the culmination of a seven-month investigation by police. All of the suspects has been named by the petrol station owner but police couldn’t find sufficient evidence to build a case at the time.
That changed when investigators were granted access to the suspects’ phone records. Based on those, police believed they had gathered enough evidence to justify Friday’s arrests. .