By Constantinos Psillides
THE Greek professor questioned by police over his role in the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) scandal never implicated EDEK MP Fidias Sarikas in his police statement, the professor’s lawyer said on Thursday.
Professor Giorgos Bafas, 73, was arrested last week following a statement by SAPA manager Eftychios Malekkides, who is currently on trial on corruption charges. Malekkides told investigators that Sarikas and a Paphos municipal councillor, now deceased, bribed him on behalf of German company Awatec so they would secure a contract in the sewerage construction project.
Malekkides claimed that Bafas represented the company and that he acted as middleman.
However, the professor’s lawyer, Xenios Xenopoulos, rejected the claim that his client had ever been involved in the tender process. In a press release he said that Bafas never acted on behalf of the German company and that his involvement only went as far as to file two studies on behalf of the company, “long after the contract was secured.”
Xenopoulos admitted, however, that he was not in possession of a copy of the statement Bafas gave police.
Bafas was released on Thursday afternoon. Reports said that the Greek professor would be called back as a prosecution witness.
A police source told the Cyprus Mail that in his statement Bafas talked about his relationship with Sarikas while police spokesperson Andreas Angelides told CyBC radio that Bafas “fully cooperated with authorities”.
Legal Services was expected to meet on Thursday with police investigators to decide on their next step.
This is not the first time during the course of this investigation that police released suspects so they could be called as prosecution witnesses.
The CEOs of three construction companies – who admitted to bribing officials in exchange for securing contracts – were released after agreeing to turn witnesses for the prosecution.
Fidias Sarikas has rejected the allegations but has refused to waive his parliamentary immunity, despite a public appeal to the attorney-general earlier on to initiate the procedure.
The case will be decided by the Supreme Court on Monday.
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.
They are facing charges of having conspired to extort money from private contractors awarded SAPA contracts among others.