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Cyprus

Sapa suspect threatened former mayor, court hear

Former mayor Fidias Sarikas

Former director of the Paphos Sewerage Board (Sapa) Eftichios Malekkides threatened former Paphos mayor Fidias Sarikas after a row between the two men, defence witness Neofytos Koutalianos testified in court on Tuesday.

Sarikas, along with former Paphos municipal councilors Giorgos Michaelides, Efstathios Efstathiou and Vasos Vasiliou and sitting councilor Giorgos Shailis, face charges of receiving bribes from private contractors who won Sapa contracts.

Malekkides and former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas have already pleaded guilty in the same case and are currently serving a six year stretch in jail.

In his defence, Sarikas claimed he had nothing to do with the case and said he suspected Malekkides implicated him as payback for a personal feud between them.

On Tuesday, Sarikas’ lawyer called Koutalianos, an employee of Edek’s Paphos branch since December 2014, to the witness stand.

He described an incident in which Malekkides visited Sarikas, still an Edek MP at the time, at his office in Paphos and seemed angry when he left, banging the door shut behind him.

Enquiring with Sarikas, Koutalianos was told that Malekkides had tried to pressure him to intervene to stop investigations into the Sapa scandal, which had been burgeoning at the time.

Koutalianos testified that, according to Sarikas, Malekkides “threatened [him] and left”.

State prosecutors Ninos Kekkos and Andreas Hadjikirou submitted that Koutalianos’ testimony was driven by his long-standing friendship with Sarikas, and that his account of events does not reflect reality.

He replied that he would not have appeared in court if he had not been present at the episode.

Sarikas’ next witness was accountant Savvas Michael, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Cyprus.

He testified that Sarikas’ capital statements from 1999 to 2006 were prepared by another accountant but he was aware of their contents.

Referring to items missing from the statements, Michael said that the purchase of a flat in Ambelokipi, Athens is not mentioned in Sarikas’ capital statement in 2006 because it was not delivered to him until 2007.

Kekkos submitted that the capital statement is an opportunity for taxpayers to declare their assets and correct any discrepancies but Michael replied that its purpose is to confirm the declared income not act as a correction tool.

The prosecution then listed items missing from Sarikas’ capital statement, including the undeclared flat, as well as a loan.

Michael was asked whether, as far as he is aware, anyone can take out a bank loan and repay it with illegally-obtained money, to which the witness replied that in his 40 years of professional experience he never became aware of such an instance.

If anyone came to his office with such a proposal either the client would leave, or he would, Michael testified.

However, the accountant admitted that it could conceivably happen.

The case continues on Wednesday.



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