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Cyprus

SAPA trial postponed due to illness of defendant

The scheduled court hearing of the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) trial was postponed for November 11 due to illness of one of the defendants, the presiding judge ordered on Wednesday.

Former Paphos deputy mayor and DIKO municipal councillor Efstathios Efstathiou’s lawyer asked for the postponement, citing his client’s “serious heart problems” and presenting medical documents and doctors’ notes. The prosecution did not object.

Efstathiou has undergone angioplastic surgery to fix a narrowed artery.

Presiding judge Angelos David argued that the law allows for the continuation of a trial even in the absence of a defendant, but Efstathiou’s lawyer countered that the derailment of the proceedings was negligible compared to his client’s right to be present at his trial.

His client, the defence lawyer said, is under extreme stress for the trial’s outcome, but on doctor’s instructions will not be able to attend any hearings for at least 20 days.

State prosecutor Ninos Kekkos said the head of the Cardiological Ward of the Nicosia general hospital confirmed to him that, following such surgery, patients are urged to rest and avoid stressful situations.

He added that “since defendant Efstathiou’s wish is to be present at these proceedings, he should be allowed to be present”.

David approved of the defence’s request and ordered that the trial resume on November 11.

Efstathiou, along with former councillors Yiorgos Michaelides (DISY), Vasos Vasiliou (AKEL), and sitting AKEL councillor Yiorgos Shailis, face trial on a total 42 charges, including conspiracy, corruption and abuse of authority.

The scandal has so far claimed the posts and freedom of former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas and former SAPA director Eftichios Malekkides. Both took a plea bargain, confessed to taking bribes in exchange for giving contracts to private companies and are serving six-year jail terms.

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