Forty-eight-year-old Yiannis Kyriakides, who drove into the back of a car in Limassol last October and caused the death of its 25-year-old driver, was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday.
It is the first time a driver who has caused a death in a road accident has been charged with manslaughter. The maximum penalty is life in jail.
Kyriakides’ trial, which had been adjourned twice following defence requests for additional evidence, was scheduled for May 10 by the Limassol Criminal Court.
The defendant, who faces 19 charges in total, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. He also denied possessing and using cocaine, driving under the influence of cocaine and speeding.
He pleaded guilty to causing death due to negligent behaviour, refusal to undergo a breathalyser test, impersonation, assault, driving without insurance and while his licence was suspended and disobeying a court order.
Kyriakides, a taxi driver, killed 25-year-old Stephanos Georgiou on October 30 last year when the BMW X6 he was driving slammed violently into the back of the victim’s car, which was stationary at a red light on Enaerios St in Limassol
Test results showed that the defendant had been driving under the influence of cocaine, cannabis and alcohol.
At the time of the incident, Kyriakides had no valid driver’s licence and already had another case pending against him for speeding.
The 48-year-old had previously been given a two-month suspended jail sentence last year for speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol. Both his professional and personal driver’s licences had been revoked for six months.
At present, offenders who cause death due to negligent driving face up to four years imprisonment, but earlier this month Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said that a new bill was in the works providing for up to 10 years in jail for causing death due to negligent driving.
In November, Attorney-general Costas Clerides had instructed police to look into whether manslaughter charges could be brought against Kyriakides since. He said the events concerning the accident were so extreme that he had decided to give instructions for the incident to be investigated as manslaughter.
Georgiou’s father and other family members were present in court on Wednesday. Kyriakides is to remain under custody until the trial.