The trial of six people for the bloody June 23 gangland style shooting of businessman Phanos Theophanos Kalopsidiotis began on Monday at Famagusta court in Larnaca, but was adjourned till September 19 after one of the suspects requested legal aid.
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 two other suspects, 30-year-old Sotiria Neophytou and her neighbour Charalambos Andreou, 32.
They face charges of conspiracy, premeditated murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, possession, transportation and use of explosives, theft, arson and being accessories after the fact.
The six were brought to court under very tight security with police trying to defuse tensions between relatives and dozens of others who wished to attend the trial.
Unlike previous court appearances, none of the accused wore bullet-proof vests but armed police lined the corridors leading to the courtroom.
There was bickering and heated verbal exchanges between police and relatives of the victims, after the police told them there was limited space in the courtroom and only two from each family could enter.
As the process began, the judge ordered those standing in the room to leave, allowing only those seated to remain, under a strong police presence.
The hearing was adjourned after Dejan requested legal aid with the judge giving instructions to the welfare department to prepare a report on his financial situation.
The lawyer representing Neophytou told the court that in the next hearing he would argue whether the prosecution had established the case of being an accessory against his client, as the lawyer claimed that no such category exists under the criminal code.
The prosecutor requested all the suspects be held in custody until their next appearance while defence lawyers for the two women said they would argue the case for their release from remand at the next hearing.
Prosecutors say the crimes were carried out between May 8 and June 27 in Ayia Napa and Nicosia.
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 three gunmen stormed in with pistols and automatic weapons, showering the scene with bullets. Kalopsidiotis, the police officer, his wife and one of the Albanian shooters, 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.
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.
The judge ordered all the suspects remain in custody at Nicosia central prisons until their next appearance.