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Cyprus

Defence pressures police in Aristo case

Aristo Developers CEO Theodoros Aristodemou

By Constantinos Psillides

THE TRIAL of Aristo Developers founder Theodoros Aristodemou, his wife Roula, draftsman Christos Solomonides, and former Paphos municipal engineer Savvakis Savva continued on Thursday, with defence lawyers cross-examining police officers Andri Georgiou, who is part of the task team investigating the case.

The defendants are on trial relating to a suspicious land-zoning deal, regarding the demarcation of 177 land plots in Skali, Paphos.

Police claim that the plans for which the demarcation permits were issued were switched with new ones, which seemed to cede approximately 2700 sq.m. previously designated as green space, back to Aristo.

The proceedings focused on the statements given by Roula Aristodemou to officer Georgiou during the course of the investigation.

Roula Aristodemou, who heads the design department of the company, had said in her statements, according to Georgiou, that everything relating to the case was above board and that she always acted in good faith when it came to dealing with the municipality. When questioned by Georgiou, Aristodemou maintained that any mistake included in the project plans would be corrected by the Land Registry.

This line of defence has been repeated throughout the investigation by the defendants and is also adopted by defence lawyer Yiannis Papaioannou. The defendants claim that since the Land Registry hadn’t issued a final approval certificate for the project, then the company essentially did not commit a crime. They argue that the discrepancy found in the new plans was an honest mistake that would be picked up and rectified by the local Land Registry.

Police investigator Andreas Tsekouras – a prosecution witness that testified in a previous hearing – had said that the existence of the altered plans was proof enough that the company intended to deceive authorities.

Papaioannou demanded Georgiou answer why she told Aristodemou that she was being questioned about illegal gains, since the company hadn’t made any profits from the project at the time.

Georgiou’s response echoed that of Tsekouras. She told the defence lawyer that while it’s true that a final certificate wasn’t issued yet, there was a clear intention to deceive the state.

The trial was adjourned at 3pm and will resume on Friday.

Theodoros and Roula Aristodemou, as well as Solomonides, are facing 32 charges each, while municipality engineer Savvakis Savva is facing four additional counts in his capacity as a public official.

They are facing charges of forgery, conspiracy to defraud, abuse of power, and legalising money obtained from illicit actions.



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