Six suspects being held in connection with the bloody gangland style Ayia Napa contract killings last month were brought to Larnaca court shortly before 10am Thursday in bulletproof jackets, each accompanied by 12 anti-terrorist officers to be told their trial would begin September 5.
The six face a total of 26 charges with five of them facing the charge of premeditated murder.
Four of the six, Marios Christodoulou, aka ‘Bennis’ 38, Ayia Napa cabaret owner Panayiotis Pentafkas, 39, Sophia Gregoriou, 29, and Serbian national, Loy Dejan 42 were apprehended following testimony police secured after the arrest of the other two, 30-year-old Sotiria Neophytou and her neighbour Charalambos Andreou 32.
It was the first time since their arrests that Andreou and Neophytou came face to face with the others.
Ayia Napa businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis, along with police officer Elias Hadjiefthimiou, 46, his wife Skevi, 39 and the couple’s two children, Charalambos 15, and Andreas 12, were having dinner at the Stone Garden restaurant, said to have been owned by the businessman, when two gunmen stormed in with pistols and automatic weapons, showering the scene with bullets. Kalopsidiotis, the police officer, his wife and suspected Albanian shooter Jani Vogli were all killed in the attack that took place in the heart of the popular resort that is bustling with tourists this time of year.
Wanted Albanian Aleks Burreli, who is still at large and may have fled to the occupied north soon after the murders is believed to be the other gunman who escaped the scene.
The defence lawyers of both the women objected to their being held before the trial and requesting they be bailed. Gregoriou’s legal representative argued she had the least involvement of all suspects in the case. He explained she was physically and psychologically disturbed by the whole affair, due to suffocating pressure exerted on her since her detention, which required constant psychiatric monitoring.
The court will rule next Monday on whether or not Gregoriou and Neophytou would be released on bail but observers doubt this as their testimony is essential to the case and they would have to be put under around the clock protection.
The court room was checked and locked up before the suspects appeared with everyone entering intimately searched by police.
Andreou and Neophytou are suspected of harbouring and assisting the escape of prime suspect Burreli. The others are believed to have brought the gunmen to the island, supplied the weapons used for the hit, and planned and facilitated the escape.