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Crime Cyprus

Supreme Court reserves judgement in Skordelli appeal

Elena Skordelli

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgement to a later date having heard the appeals against the convictions for the 2010 murder of Sigma boss Andis Hadjicostis.

Appealing the June 2013 decision of the Nicosia Criminal Court are all four persons then found guilty of conspiring to murder Hadjicostis – former Sigma presenter Elena Skordelli, her brother Tasos Krasopoulis, Andreas Gregoriou and Grigoris Xenofontos.

They are all currently serving life sentences.

Skordelli’s attorney, Giorgos Georgiou argued that his client would likely not have been found guilty during the criminal trial had her trial lawyer at the time not committed errors.

“In a criminal trial, a single mistake is sufficient to demolish a defendant’s defence,” said Georgiou.

A major error by Skordelli’s trial lawyer, he noted, had been the failure to submit as evidence the phone records of Skordelli and Fanos Hadjigeorgiou – the driver of the getaway bike.

Hadjigeorgiou had turned state’s witness in exchange for immunity.

Had the phone records been submitted, Georgiou said, they would have shown that his client and Hadjigeorgiou never met in person.

It is incredible, he added, that Skordelli’s trial attorney at the time seemed unaware of advances in technology, such as the ability to pinpoint a person’s location from their phone.

Moreover, Georgiou suggested, the prosecution in the criminal case ought not to have almost exclusively relied on Hadjigeorgiou, whose own testimony was suspect, and should have secured corroborating testimony.

For its part, the state sought to counter the argument – put forth by the attorneys representing the four convicts – that some of the witnesses in the criminal trial were not credible due to their having criminal records.

State’s attorney Elli Papagapiou observed that it is not uncommon for persons with a seedy past to be called to testify in criminal cases, particularly murder cases.

“For better or worse, in such cases it is this type of people who testify. It is neither priests nor bishops,” Papagapiou remarked.

She also dismissed the notion that the prosecution’s main witness – Hadjigeorgiou – was not credible merely because he had cut an immunity deal.

“It does not matter so much for a witness to give police a statement. What matters is for the witness to appear in court, to testify and not to diminish his or her role. Had Hadjigeorgiou not been granted immunity, he may have kept silent.”

On the question of the telecommunications data, which were never presented as evidence during the course of the criminal trial, the state’s attorney said this could not be attributed to the supposed ineptitude of the defendants’ trial lawyers.

Rather, Papagapiou noted, the defendants’ trial lawyers had not wanted this data to be submitted as evidence as they feared it might expose the communications between the defendants prior to the murder.

According to the Nicosia Criminal Court’s verdict in June 2013, Skordelli and her brother Tasos Krasopoulis – both shareholders in the Sigma television station – masterminded the assassination of Hadjicostis, whom they saw as impeding their plans to gain a controlling interest in the company.

 

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