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Lead police investigator testifies at Aristo trial

By Angelos Anastasiou

Aristo Developers filed a request for a planning permit using plans it knew had been falsified, lead police investigator Zonakis Georgiou told the court under oath on Friday, regarding a suspected case of land-zoning fraud by the company.

Georgiou was initially questioned by the lawyer defending the Aristodemou couple – Aristo founder Theodoros and wife Roulla, the company’s chief designer – Yiorgos Papaioannou, who argued that the lead investigator’s assertion that the company had “benefited to the tune of three square metres per 10 square metres of road network” was misleading.

The defence attorney presented evidence suggesting that the length of the road network was set by the town-planning authority, and the company merely obliged with its recommendations.

Further, Georgiou said, two engineers testified that the company contested changes to the original plans, arguing that the law on which they rested had been passed after the submission of its planning permit application, but was forced to comply with them.

“The company is now being prosecuted for these changes,” Georgiou added.

During cross-examination, Zonakis Georgiou said Aristo had filed a request for a planning permit using an old version of the land registry plan, which the company was aware had been updated.

“I cannot accept that the company had objected to changes in the plans and the creation of new ones, since the plans have been changed,” he argued.

He repeated that the defendants were in court because the company filed for a planning permit using a falsified land registry plan, which it knew had been falsified.

The defence lawyer for Aristo’s designer Christos Solomonides, also accused, said that his statement was taken by police in violation of due procedure, asserting that his client had not been made aware of his rights beforehand, nor had he been asked to read and sign the final version of his statement after he gave it.

Defence attorney Ilias Stefanou, representing defendant Savvas Savva, also argued against the legitimacy of the investigation, as changes similar to those in Aristo’s application were also made by a prosecution witness, but were ignored by investigators.

Stefanou also tried to cast doubt on his client’s alleged bribery, presenting a statement by Andreas Papaetis, Savva’s father-in-law, who said that he pays his son-in-law €5,000 per year in cash for various jobs Savva does for him.

In addition, Stefanou referred to a statement by Eleni Savva, the defendant’s mother, who said she has always supported her children financially, and that she had allowed her son to withdraw cash from her accounts due to her health problems.

Presiding judge Dora Sokratous ordered that the trial resumes on Tuesday, March 24, and that defendants be released under conditions.

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