The trial of four former Laiki Bank top officials for allegedly publishing and making misleading statements over the true value of the lender’s goodwill in 2011, was adjourned until September 15 on Thursday, as the two Greek defendants once more failed to appear in court.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the two men, Efthimios Bouloutas and Marcos Foros, claimed that a decision by the Greek Supreme Court to archive, or close, the case they are on trial for in Cyprus, created a precedent at European level, and thus protects them from prosecution.
An earlier ruling by the Athens court ordered that the two men be extradited to Cyprus so they can face trial.
Complicating matters further, arrest warrants issued against them by the Cypriot authorities in February, when they first declined to appear in court, remain unexecuted as efforts by the Greek authorities to locate them have “proven fruitless”.
In court on Thursday, their lawyer Andreas Chaviaras argued the “European precedent” line of defence, but was rebuffed by presiding judge Sofia Hadjikyriacou.
“It is my judgement that the archiving of a case cannot overturn the decision to extradite them,” she said.
“Therefore, the Cypriot arrest warrants, as well as the European ones, remain in force.”
Her view was backed by the Greek Supreme Court, which said that “nothing has changed” with regard to the extradition decision, according to sources cited by the Cyprus News Agency.
Attorney-general Costas Clerides, who logged a surprise appearance in court for the prosecution, said the two defendants should be present, and their lawyer should not be allowed to raise issues of substance with regard to the case in their absence.
Asked by the court where his clients are, Chaviaras replied that he doesn’t know, and that he received instructions through colleagues of his in Greece.
Clerides said the two men continue to be fugitives, and noted that the best thing Chaviaras can do is to advise them to appear before court.
The AG informed the court that the state of Cyprus is working toward having the arrest warrants executed by Greek authorities.
“We received a response from Greek authorities on May 17, informing us that the search has not yet been successful, and that efforts are continuing,” he told the court.
“Perhaps September would be a reasonable date [to resume proceedings], in hopes that the defendants can be brought before court.”
Hadjikyriacou granted the request for a new adjournment for September 15, but warned that the case cannot drag on indefinitely, and asked that efforts to have the warrants executed be intensified.
The decision prompted complaints by the lawyers of the other two defendants, Panayiotis Kounnis and Neoclis Lysandrou, who have been showing up in court since the start of hearings.
Asked by the Cyprus News Agency why he chose to appear in court himself, Clerides said this was due to “the seriousness of the situation and the complications that some are trying to create”.