By Constantinos Psillides
Rector of the Technology University of Cyprus (TEPAK) Elpida Keravnou was remanded in custody for three days on Tuesday in connection with claims she had interfered with promotion procedures.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, police had requested the Limassol District Court issue an eight-day remand.
Authorities are looking into potential offences relating to abuse of authority, forgery and conspiracy to commit a felony.
It is understood that a TEPAK committee had drafted a list of those deemed eligible for promotion but a second list later appeared including those who had been excluded.
The TEPAK rector was arrested on Monday after claims she had interfered with the committee assessing lecturers between September and October 2014.
According to the court report, the rector falsified the minutes of a committee meeting tasked with deciding lecturers’ promotions. Following the departure of two members of the committee, the rector appears to have dictated new minutes to the committee secretary, effectively changing the promotions order. The committee chairman signed off on the new minutes, after being assured by the rector that the rest of the committee would sign off on them too.
The rector claims she altered the minutes to correct mistakes in the procedure, arguing that an erroneous procedure would pose problems for the university in the future.
The rest of the committee members refused to sign off on the new document, requesting the document be disregarded.
The new minutes were destroyed, according to the court report, but a copy was emailed to the university senate which on October 8, 2014 promoted lecturers based on the document altered by the rector.
The process was put on hold by Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, who was looking into TEPAK’s various dealings.
In court on Tuesday, the rector’s lawyer argued that Keravnou was merely doing her duty after realising that the original document had “glaring omissions and mistakes”.
The police investigator responded that despite that fact, the rector should not have interfered in the way she did.
In handing over evidences to the police, the rector appears to have handed over a USB stick claiming “on it there are evidence that would help solve the case”.
The rector’s arrest is the latest in a series of scandals to have hit TEPAK.
Authorities have charged the head of the university’s property management service Zenon Achillides, 44, and 51-year-old contractor Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou in connection with mismanagement of funds.
The pair face 20 charges including conspiring to commit a felony, forgery, circulating a forged document and obtaining money through false pretences.
Achillides was also charged with receiving bribes and abuse of authority. Both have denied all charges. Their trial is scheduled for June 3.
The charges concern offences committed between 2005 and 2009 relating to three buildings rented by TEPAK for almost €16m.
Achillides was also arrested last week along with Andreas Malloupas, 66, the former head of administration and finance, for offences relating to other TEPAK property.
Among others, the pair could face charges relating to abuse of power, bribery, forgery and money laundering.
Michaelides said recently that the case of misappropriation of funds at TEPAK might be even bigger than the Paphos Sewerage Board scandal, which has so far seen the town’s mayor and the board’s director jailed for six years.
The TEPAK affair concerns millions of euro in contracts for around 60 buildings acquired to accommodate students.