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Cyprus

MP and former Paphos mayor officially charged in sewerage case

By Andria Kades

EDEK MP Fidias Sarikas was charged on Monday at Paphos criminal court for his alleged role in the town’s sewerage scandal.

He faces seven charges, namely corruption, bribing a state official, money laundering, abuse of power, obtaining money under false pretences and conspiracy to commit felony and misdemeanour during his time as Paphos mayor, from 1997 to 2006.

He is accused of receiving bribes to arrange for a German company to be awarded a contract to build a waste management plant in 2000.

Police called him on Friday while in parliament to inform that he would be charged today.

Alongside him, three members of the previous city council were also charged. Former DISY municipal councillor Giorgos Michaelides faced 25 charges, former DIKO councillor Efstathios Efstathiou faced 15 charges, former AKEL councillor Vasos Vassiliou and current councillor Giorgos Shailis, also of AKEL faced seven charges over the same case.

EDEK said in a statement that they trusted the justice system and were waiting for a complete investigation into the matter.

They sought to remind everyone that Sarikas had voluntarily withdrawn from party activities until the matter was cleared.

Former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas and the head of the sewerage board, Eftychios Malekides were jailed last year for six years after they pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering, offences committed during construction of the sewerage system, between 1999 and 2014.

The court hearing was postponed to April 27.

In December, when Sarikas was first implicated in the case, the MP himself sent two letters to the attorney-general giving his consent to the lifting of his immunity so that he could be questioned by police in a bid to clear his name.

However, after the attorney-general decided to press ahead, Sarikas – despite professing his innocence – had his lawyers tell the Supreme Court there was not enough evidence to justify the move.

The attorney-general filed a request and the Supreme Court decided to lift his immunity.  Sarikas voluntarily suspended his party membership pending the court’s ruling.

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