ARREST warrants were issued for two Paphos councillors who failed to appear before the Nicosia district court on Monday as part of an ongoing case against the entire council and the mayor, brought by the owner of a marble factory in the town.
According to one of the defendants, Andreas Chrysanthou, a Paphos councillor, the presiding judge issued arrest warrants for both Giorgos Shialis and Filaktis Constantinides, but due to an intervention by the defendants’ lawyer, she agreed to defer the execution of the warrants until January 16, when all of the defendants, are due to appear again.
“I believe that Mr. Shialis, who is a lawyer was appearing at the Paphos court with a client so could not appear in Nicosia, and Mr Constantinides is unwell,” he told the Cyprus Mail, adding that the judge took a ‘no nonsense’ approach.
Both of the councillors had also failed to attend the initial court action in June, when the entire Paphos council, along with the mayor, Phedonas Phedonos, were formally charged, on 29 counts relating to the destruction of a wall in Paphos. They pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
“The judge noted that she would only grant an allowance this once and that if the councillors failed to appear in January, the arrest warrants would be executed,” he said.
Chrysanthou noted that it took the defendants’ lawyers’ assurance that both would appear at court in January to secure inaction of the warrants.
As well as members of the council and the mayor, Paphos municipality and the contractor who undertook the work are also facing charges.
The legal action was brought by a local businessman, Polys Patatos, the owner of a Paphos marble factory which adjoins the Markideio Theatre in Paphos.
He alleges that the tearing down of a wall, which he says is part of his property, by the Paphos municipality as part of the upgrading works on the theatre and its outside space, is illegal and caused malicious damage. He also said the move put his employees at risk and that demolishing the wall has damaged equipment and his electricity supply.
The defendants are facing charges relating to trespassing onto a property with the intent to cause a crime, causing unlawful damage to property, and conspiracy of undertaking these actions. All the defendants each had to sign a €2,000 bail bond in June.
The case is part of a long-running battle between Patatos and the municipality concerning three pieces of Turkish Cypriot owned land which the businessman was using as part of his enterprise. In the past Patatos secured an injunction on two pieces of the land which prevented any action to be taken at the site by Paphos municipality, as part of the upgrading works. This was then cancelled, as the court found that the businessman was operating on the land without lawfully having the two plots ‘in his possession.’
However, the businessman also legally leases a third piece of Turkish Cypriot owned land, which is licensed by the ministry of the interior, and this is where the wall was situated.
The theatre works are part of massive upgrading project in Paphos ahead of the Capital of Culture 2017 title.
According the spokesman, the Markideio Theatre is also built on Turkish Cypriot land, but with permission, since around 1960.