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Appeal in Hadjicostis murder case rejected (Updated)

Elena Skordelli (centre) at court on Monday (Christos Theodorides)

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a prior verdict which had found four people guilty of conspiring to murder Sigma boss Andis Hadjicostis in January 2010.
By a unanimous decision, the three-member appeals court rejected all the reasons cited by the four convicts, who pleading their innocence were seeking to have the initial court proceedings declared a mistrial, paving the way for a re-trial.
The appeals had been filed by the lawyers for lifers Elena Skordelli, a former Sigma presenter, her brother Tassos Krasopoulis, plus Gregoris Xenofontos and Andreas Gregoriou.
The four had challenged the judgement of the court of first instance, citing errors of law and incorrect assessment of the facts.
The defence lawyers of the four had cited “inadequate” and “incompetent” lawyering by part of the original defence team, arguing that “one mistake was enough to destroy the defence of an accused.”
They also spoke of “suspicious” testimony from Fanos Hadjigeorgiou, the main witness for the prosecution, claiming that the court of first instance should have sought corroboration for his testimony.
But in its ruling, the Supreme Court reiterated that Hadjigeorgiou was a credible witness. It noted also that the police investigation leading up to the arrests and indictments was unimpeachable.
It further dismissed the argument that the lawyers of the accused during the criminal trial had committed material errors which, had they not been committed, might have led to acquittal in the first instance.
The court was unconvinced by the contention put forth by the convicts’ appeal lawyers, to the effect that certain evidence – such as telecommunications data – had not been allowed to be heard in the criminal trial, where the four were found guilty in June 2013.
The criminal court had said the four were guilty of conspiring to murder Hadjicostis, 41, gunned down as he got out of his car outside his home on the night of January 11, 2010 at around 9pm.
According to that verdict, Skordelli and her brother – 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.
The criminal court said Skordelli and her brother began hatching plans to kill the Sigma boss as far back as October 2009.
It also accepted that a meeting of the conspirators took place at Krasopoulis’ house in December 2009.
Xenofontos was pegged as the shooter, firing off two shots, while Fanos Hadjigeorgiou, the prosecution witness, said he was the one who drove the getaway bike. The murder weapon was never found.
The four convicts will be returning to prison to serve out their life sentence.
Following Monday’s verdict, the sister of Elena Skordelli (maiden name Krasopoulis) and Tassos Krasopoulis, handed out a letter to the media.
In the letter, the relatives of the two siblings said they were “extremely disappointed” with the court ruling and its reasoning.
They would be taking recourse to the European Court of Human Rights, “where we are certain that we shall receive fairer treatment and a decision untainted by expediencies and interests.”
They also demanded the case be reopened, though adding they were fully aware that there was no precedent and that the attorney-general would likely reject their request.
Insisting they had evidence sufficient to acquit Skordelli and Krasopoulis, if only such evidence were allowed in court, the relatives challenged anyone – the prosecution lawyers as well as the attorney-general – to a public debate to discuss the case.

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