Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Former Paphos mayor denies corruption allegations (updated)

MP Fidias Sarikas (c) exiting the Supreme Court with his lawyers

By Constantinos Psillides

EDEK MP Feidias Sarikas dismissed all corruption allegations regarding the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) on Tuesday over the course of five-hours of questioning by police investigators, according to a statement released by his lawyers.

Sarikas, who was the town’s mayor between 1997 and 2006, has been implicated in the case by other suspects. First elected to parliament in 2006, Sarikas is also the chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

The former mayor allegedly received bribes to arrange for a German company to be awarded a contract to build a waste management plant. The accusation came from SAPA manager Eftychios Malekkides, who is currently on trial on corruption charges.

Authorities also questioned Greek professor Giorgos Bafas last week, who according to Malekkides acted as a representative of the German company. Bafas was released after being questioned. Reports said he would be called as a prosecution witness.

Police neither denied nor confirmed those reports.

Sarikas visited police headquarters at around 9.30am on Tuesday – according to his lawyers – and handed a statement to investigators and subsequently answered their questions.

“He was very cooperative. He answered every question but thoroughly denied that he had anything to do with the corruption scandal,” a police source told the Cyprus Mail.

Sarikas left police headquarters at around 4pm. Investigators will now go through his statement and coordinate with the office of the Attorney General to decide their next step.

Police investigators have long wanted to question Sarikas but the MP was protected by his parliamentary immunity.

Despite twice publicly pledging that he will waive his immunity, Sarikas refused to do so when he appeared before the Supreme Court in January. The Supreme Court after hearing arguments made by Attorney General Costas Clerides ruled on Monday to lift Sarikas’ immunity.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said that Sarikas maintained a bank account in Greece, which he used to facilitate his dealings with the German company.

The alleged crimes happened between 2000 and 2006.

Police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou assured the public that authorities are doing everything in their power regarding Sarikas.

Responding to a question on whether the MP would be arrested, have his bank accounts investigated or be put on the stop list, Chrysostomou replied that “all options are being considered.”

Authorities have so far charged six suspects in connection with the scandal: former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, suspended sewerage board 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 conspiring to extort money from private contractors, among others.

Vergas and Malekkides, who are expected to plead guilty, are in the process of returning property and cash to the state.

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