Larnaca district court on Saturday renewed for eight more days the remands of four suspects believed to be involved in the June 23 Ayia Napa shooting, in which four people were killed.
The four suspects, Marios Christodoulou, aka ‘Bennis’ 38, Ayia Napa cabaret owner Panayiotis Pentafkas, 39, Sophia Gregoriou, 29, and one of the dead businessman’s bodyguards, Serbian national, Loy Dejan 42, are believed to have facilitated the gunmen involved in the bloody contract killing of businessman Phanos Kalapsidiotis, 51, which claimed three other lives. They were remanded for eight days earlier in the month, after they were arrested.
The shooting occurred at an Ayia Napa restaurant reportedly owned by Kalopsidiotis, while he was having dinner with 37-year-old Georgios Charalambous, a member of the police anti-riot unit MMAD, another policeman Ilias Hadjiefthimiou, 46, his 39-year-old wife and their two children. Two or three gunmen stormed in with pistols and automatic weapons, showering the room with bullets. Kalopsidiotis, Hadjiefthimiou, his wife and a suspected shooter named Vogli were all killed in the attack.
Police are still looking for the whereabouts of the prime suspect, Albanian Aleks Burreli, 48.
The four suspects were arrested following key testimony by another suspect, arrested in Nicosia for allegedly harbouring Burrelli.
According to police one of the four suspects was responsible for bringing the gunmen to the island and supplying the weapons used in the hit, while the second suspect planned the escape, choosing an unguarded route and avoiding closed circuit cameras.
The court was told that the third suspect, Mario Christodoulou’s girlfriend, had arranged to meet with him and wait for the gunmen in order to facilitate their getaway. According to the police the fourth suspect, who was in the employ of Kalopsidiotis, had been in contact with one of the two hired guns, receiving a call just moments before the hit. He answered uttering the phrase “We are here” in English, after which he came up with an excuse and went to the toilet. He told the arresting officers he had nothing to do with the case.
The four suspects arrived in court wearing bullet-proof vests, and under heavy security.
Police told the court they had secured testimony according to which, both Burrelli and Vogli had stayed prior to the hit at an apartment in Ayia Napa where an employee of Christodoulou also lived. The latter is said to be the owner of the car used to indicate the escape route, which the remaining perpetrators followed after the shooting.
A few days after the killings, police arrested 32-year-old part time Game Warden Charalambos Andreou and his neighbour 30-year-old Sotiria Neophytou who live opposite each other in the Nicosia apartments that officers had searched Sunday following a tip-off that Burrelli, had been in hiding there.
Neophytou, told police investigators that Andreou had brought two foreign men, whom she didn’t know, to her Aglandjia apartment, which she had been trying to rent out, and that he had asked her to bring them food every day. He also had her bring them a gun-cleaning kit, which she borrowed from a relative.
On the day after the murders, the court heard, Neophytou said she was told by Andreou that he had been the driver in the incident, that the two foreign men she had been accommodating were the two shooters, that one had been killed in the shootout, and that the other was hiding in her Aglandjia flat. The couple then took the fugitive into hiding in another area in Nicosia.
Andreou too confessed to his involvement in the murders, police said, and named Burreli as his associate, as well as the four others, who have since been arrested and remanded. He also admitted that he was the person who arranged accommodation for the two Albanians’, furnished them with guns, went on repeated stakeouts with them, and drove the car to and from the scene on the night of the murders, the court heard.
Andreou said that, after the murders, he took Burreli to Limassol in a bid to hide him from police. Police told court that they had so far gathered 86 statements and expect to take 55 more.