Cyprus Mail

Eight people remanded for eight days by Paphos court in waste scandals (Update 2)

Left: Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis at the Paphos court on Sunday (Christos Theodorides)

Eight people, including Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis were on Sunday remanded for eight days each by the Paphos court in connection with investigations into scandals related to waste management plants in Paphos and Larnaca.

Police investigators requested eight-day remands because they needed take as many as 100 statements in Paphos, Nicosia and Larnaca, the told the court.

Three of the people arrested last week in the wake of revelations that the company involved, Helector, was reporting higher waste volumes resulting in higher charges for local authorities and consumers for the Paphos Marathounda plant, were released on Sunday.

These were Michalis Michael, 52, an employee of Helector; Skevi Protopapa, 50, a female employee of Helector; and Pantelitsa Protopapa, 43, the same company’s accountant.

The other three suspects in the Marathounda case are former Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas – already convicted in the Paphos sewerage board scandal – Demetris Patsalides, 57, the financial controller of Paphos municipality who is currently on suspension in connection with a different probe, and Helector director Ioannis Kokotsis, a Greek national whose testimony in the Marathounda probe led to the issue of 12 new arrest warrants on Saturday.

The 12 new warrants in the Larnaca Koshi case included Vergas, Patsalides and three Greek nationals who are not in Cyprus, leaving seven people plus Patsalides to appear in court on Sunday for a remand hearing for this case. Vergas was not due to appear.

The other seven have been named as Louroudjiatis, 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; a former official at the interior ministry, George Koulappis, and his son Nikos Koulappis.

Louroudjiatis was arrested at around 4pm on Saturday, followed by the detention of the other suspects.

Police investigators told the court that the bribery involved giving percentage of what the company was paid by the government. Vergas was given a 5 per cent share amounting to 646,000 euros, according to CyBC, Louroudjiatis received 138,000 euros, and Patsalides 217,000 euros while the three interior ministry officials received 160,000 each.

They also said that according to Kokotsis’ testimony, Helector was blackmailed into giving the bribes or the company would not be paid for their work.

Some of the charges being faced include conspiracy to commit a felony, conspiracy to commit an indictable offense, conspiracy to defraud, extortion, abuse of power, theft, theft by a public servant, corruption, forgery, bribery of a public official, and money laundering.

During Sunday’s hearing, prosecutor Simos Symeou told the court the lengthy remands were necessary as the case was complex and would need a lot of investigation.

A meeting on the scandal is to be held on Tuesday chaired by the attorney-general with the participation of the auditor-general and the interior minister.

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