Cyprus Mail

Doctors plead not guilty to backhander charges

Three state doctors on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to 308 charges relating to corruption during three separate hearings before the Nicosia Criminal Court.

The three – the head of the ENT department and executive director of Nicosia general hospital Yiannakis Kyamides, Vasken Shahbenderian, who also served at the state hospital’s ENT department, and Dafnis Aristodemou, the head of Larnaca general hospital ENT department – were arrested in May in connection with taking backhanders to refer patients to a private hearing clinic.

The 308 charges include bribery and money laundering.

Kyamides faces 188 charges, Shahbenderian, 100, and Aristodemou, 20.

The doctors are free on bail. They have surrendered their travel documents and have to report to a police station once a week.

Their trials start on three different dates later this year. Kyamides will appear before the court on September 14, followed by Shahbenderian on October 31, and Aristodemou on November 7.

The alleged offences took place between 2008 and 2016. The court heard that the three doctors received a total of €146,000 from a private hearing centre since January 2008. The case was reported to police by the facility’s management.

The suspects were allegedly taking advantage of the state’s policy of subsidising various programmes for people suffering with hearing problems.

Specifically, for people who were born deaf, the state paid a €2,730 subsidy every four years and for pensioners over 65, €175 every four years.

The state granted €23,000 per implant but to be eligible, patients needed to have the approval of a state ENT, and the director.

Kyamides allegedly received €130,000 between 2008 and 2016, while Shahbenderian got €13,000, between 2010 and 2014, according to investigators.

The court heard that Aristodemou received €3,000, between 2008 and 2011.

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