Cyprus Mail

Contractor’s paid kickbacks in sewerage case because they were ‘afraid’

Paphos court

Officials of Medcon Construction Ltd agreed to pay kickbacks to former Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas and former Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) director Eftichios Malekides because they were “afraid” the Paphos court heard on Wednesday

CEO Demetra Karantoki took the witness stand for the prosecution in the SAPA trial, in which former Paphos Mayor Fidias Sarikas, former Paphos municipal councillors Giorgos Michaelides, Efstathios Efstathiou, and Vasos Vasiliou, as well as sitting councillor Giorgos Shailis, are facing charges of taking bribes, proxy dealings suggesting corruption, and money laundering.

According to Karantoki’s statement to the police, Medcon’s technical director of 20 years Andreas Chimarides had told her that Vergas and Malekkides asked for money in order to allow the SAPA contracts be executed as planned.

She claimed she had been coerced into approving the kickbacks by the fear she felt for herself and Chimarides.

Grilled by defence lawyers during cross-examination, she said contracts are Chimarides’ remit, not hers.

Karantoki said she couldn’t remember whether she, her partner Kyriacos Avraamides, and Chimarides, met after the technical director was arrested and detained by police in December 2014.

Defence lawyers suggested that Karantoki’s statement and testimony in court were the result of a deal with police, in exchange for which she would be a prosecution witness.

Lead police investigator Eleftherios Kyriacou also took the stand and said that a meeting was held during the investigation phase of the case, attended by former deputy Attorney General Rikkos Erotokritou.

In response to a question, Kyriacou said that some of the lesser charges against Malekides were removed from the charge sheet, but none of the serious ones.

The trial will continue on Thursday and Friday, with SAPA employee Sotiria Georgiou and construction company Atlas Pantou CEO Tony Toumazis taking the witness stand.

Vergas and Malekides are already serving six-year jail terms, after confessing taking bribes in connection with SAPA contracts awarded to private contractors.

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