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Larnaca mayor arrested in connection with waste plants (update 3)

Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis

Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis was arrested on Saturday afternoon in connection with investigations into the operation of the Paphos and Koshi waste management plants.

Louroudjiatis was arrested at around 4pm. He was the first of 12 people being sought for arrest in connection with the case, as following revelations made by Ioannis Kokotsis, the head of Helector – the managing company of the two sites – on Friday, police have received the Attorney General’s approval to proceed with 12 further arrests.

Following Louroudjatis’ arrest, eight more of the 12 arrest warrants were executed.
Police confirmed that the arrested people are: Michael Pantis, who oversees operations at the Koshi waste management plant; three officials of the Interior Ministry: Antonis Kourouzidis, Stelios Papadopoulos and Christakis Petrou, who constitute the tender committee; former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas who is already serving six years in prison for the town’s sewerage scandal, and who had been arrested last week for the waste management case, and Demetris Patsalides, the financial controller of Paphos municipality who is currently on suspension in connection with a different probe, and was too arrested last week in connection with the waste management case.

Later in the day two more people were arrested, a former official at the interior ministry, George Koulappis, and his son Nikos Koulappis.

The remaining three warrants concern a former manager of Helector and two employees of the same company who live in Greece. Police will issue European arrest warrants for the three.

Although the mayor was named among the 12 new warrants an hour before his arrest he said he had no idea why. “I too saw my name mentioned but no-one has said anything to me, until now I don’t know anything,” he told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

Kokotsis, along with other five people were arrested in connection with alleged overcharging related to the Marathounda waste management plant in Paphos. The other suspects are former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas who is in jail for mismanagement of funds concerning the town’s sewerage system, Demetris Patsalides, 57, the financial controller of Paphos municipality who is currently on suspension in connection with a different probe; Michalis Michael, 52, and Skevi Protopapa, 50, employees of Helector; and Pantelitsa Mappoura, 43, the same company’s accountant. The alleged offences took place between 2008 and 2015 in Paphos and Nicosia.

Following the opening of the Marathounda waste management plant case, authorities also began looking into the Koshi waste management plant that serves the Larnaca and Famagusta districts.

The Central committee on changes and claims (KEAA) announced on Wednesday it would recall its decision to extend by three years the existing contract as regards the Koshi waste management plant and that they would discuss further the issue on March 15 with the Legal Services.

The contract concerning Koshi solid waste management plant, came under scrutiny by Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos last year. Following his initiative, the fee for the Koshi plant was renegotiated to €39 per tonne of waste, down from €75 previously. The signing of a new contract has been pending though.
Hasikos had said that when he took over the interior ministry portfolio he ordered an administrative probe into the Koshi contract, in which found possible criminal and disciplinary offences, including by government officials and employees.

It also turns out that Helector was a consultant for the government at the time, and had a say in the tender specifications for the Koshi contract – the very same contract which it subsequently landed.

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