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Cyprus

Vergas taken to hospital during SAPA hearing  (Update 1)

The ongoing Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) trial was interrupted on Wednesday when former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, who is serving a six-year jail term after he confessed to having been paid €0,5 million in kickbacks by project contractors, felt weak and dizzy while being cross-examined.

The court interrupted the proceedings while a doctor was called to the court to tend to Vergas.

Vergas had been responding to a line of questioning regarding his late father’s visits to him while under police custody, when his speech became impaired before he collapsed.

The courtroom was immediately vacated and doctors present – among them, Efstathios Efstathiou and Vasos Vasiliou, two of the defendants – offered the witness first aid.

Shortly thereafter, an ambulance arrived and rushed Vergas to the Paphos general hospital for further examination.

During Tuesday’s session, Vergas was visibly distraught while testifying for the prosecution, to the point where the bench asked him to have some water to regain his composure.

Before the interruption, Vergas had told the court that knowledge of EDEK MP Fidias Sarikas’ – Vergas’ predecessor as Paphos mayor – involvement in the bribery scandal was conveyed to him by SAPA director Eftychios Malekides.

His relationship with Sarikas, Vergas claimed, had always been good, except during the 2006 mayoral election campaign, when the two men were pitted against each other.

Vergas denied having cut a deal with prosecutors, by which his confession would land him a lighter sentence and better detention conditions, saying he was transferred to a safer detention area after he was threatened by a person outside the Central Prisons.

Sarikas’ defence attorney Chris Triantafyllides suggested that Vergas’ testimony can in no way be acceptable to the court, since he acted contrary to his pre-election pledges, indicating his dishonesty, and changed his story “from A to B” after his wife was arrested.

Vergas rejected the suggestion, claiming he confessed without expecting anything in return.

The disgraced former Paphos mayor said he is at ease with his conscience, since he is perhaps the first politician in Cyprus history to have condemned himself.

 

 

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