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European arrest warrants issued in connection to waste scandal (Updated)

Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis, interior minister Socratis Hasikos and attorney general Costas Clerides at a meeting Monday to discuss the waste scandals

European arrest warrants were issued on Monday for Greek construction mogul Leonidas Bobolas and Greek businessman Theofanis Lolos in connection with  their suspected involvement in the Marathounda and Koshi waste management scandals, following orders from Attorney-general Costas Clerides.

According to Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos, the AG also ruled the state could officially terminate its contract with Greek company Helector for the Koshi, Larnaca landfill management site.

“Following the latest developments over Koshi – police inquiries, arrests, and confessions by the Koshi plant chiefs, that they bribed several people, we had no other choice than to ask the attorney-general whether we could immediately terminate the contract with the company.”

Hasikos was speaking after chairing a meeting with Clerides, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis, the Commissioner for State Aid Control Theofanis Theofanous, a treasury official and members of the Larnaca – Famagusta waste management board.

A meeting will be held anew on Thursday, to discuss how this will be done and sort out finer details. Hasikos has said the state would step in to handle it.

A local warrant was issued against Bobolas and Lolos on Saturday along with Paphos Sewerage Board director Eftichios Malekkides, currently serving a six-year jail term for his involvement in a separate bribery scandal.

Clerides denied there were any discussions on setting out certain conditions to serve as incentives for Bobolas or Lolos to come to the island.

“I want to be clear that arrest warrants against any persons are issued to be served” and if someone came of their own will they would still be arrested.

Lolos’ role is being investigated as he was the director of ENVIROPLANT, a firm assigned by the interior ministry to oversee the waste management projects in both Koshi and Marathounda.

The latest warrants were issued after the 13th suspect, Helector CEO Athanasios Katris, arrived in Cyprus and was arrested on Friday.

A total of 19 warrants have been issued in the scandal in which Greek company Helector, responsible for the construction and operation of the waste-management plants in Marathounda and Koshi, is thought to have bribed various officials with over €1.16 million so they would turn a blind eye to its overcharging municipalities for over-reporting processed waste for years.

High profile arrests include Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis and former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, also serving a six-year sentence for his role in the SAPA case.

Suspended Paphos municipality CFO Demetris Patsalides, Interior ministry official Michalis Pantis, tenders committee members Antonis Kourouzides, Stelios Papadopoulos, and Christakis Petrou, former interior ministry official Yiorgos Koullappis, and his son Nicos Koullappis are also suspected of being implicated.

With the exception of Vergas and Malekkides, who are already serving time, the remaining 11 suspects were remanded for five days on Saturday.

Former company director Demetris Yiannakopoulos and Imad Baqleh, a Jordanian civil engineer working for Helector, were also arrested in connection with the case.

Yiannakopoulos’ successor Ioannis Kokotsis, his secretary Skevi Protopapa, Pantelitsa Mappoura who worked as Helector’s accounts chief and Michalis Michail who was Marathounda’s director since 2010 were also arrested and released after serving remand orders.

 

 

 

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