Kyriacos Syllouris – the 23-year-old son of House president Demetris Syllouris – who was serving a year in prison in connection with a fatal car accident, was freed on Tuesday following a successful appeal.
The court ordered the immediate release of Syllouris, who was sentenced to one year in prison in September for causing the death of 26-year-old Sebastian Petros Karapateas through negligent, reckless, and dangerous driving some three years ago.
The Supreme Court said it disagreed with the district court’s decision, saying Syllouris should instead have been charged with the lesser offence of driving without due care and attention.
Relatives of Karapateas reacted angrily, with the victim’s mother questioning if her son would have been treated the same way had the boot been on the other foot.
“If it was my son, would he have spent his prison time in the (prison) guardhouse and holidaying in the hospital?” Koulla Karapateas told the Cyprus Mail.
“Though for three years after my son’s death he was fine, going about collecting penalty points on his licence. Do the eight penalty points, which were mentioned in court, that he acquired after the accident, show remorse?”
Karapateas said the decision sent the wrong message to the public and was a big mistake.
“The court decision says kill, drive irresponsibly, it’s enough to know a politician. I have been tormented for three years by the loss of my child and ask for justice.”
The victim’s brother George Karapateas told the Cyprus Mail that, in his opinion the House president’s son had received preferential treatment throughout the ordeal.
“They have made a mockery of the justice system. Until the day he was, in my opinion, unjustifiably released, he received unprecedented treatment. He did not spend a single day in a cell. He spent his time in the guardhouse and three weeks in a private room in hospital, for stomach pains, instead of the room reserved for convicts. He came to court straight from the hospital and I doubt he will go back.”
The accident occurred on Kalliopis Street, Strovolos at 3.15am on September 21, 2013 when the Mercedes the then 20-year-old Syllouris was driving, collided with a Vespa scooter ridden by Karapateas, fatally injuring him.
Syllouris was breathalysed after the accident but the alcohol reading was zero.
In the district court’s verdict, it was noted that the accused had claimed there was reduced visibility due to parked vehicles on the road where the accident occurred.
This was why he had attempted to enter the opposite road diagonally. His claims, however, were not supported by witnesses and experts.
Testimony given by Syllouris, who was the only witness to the accident, was rejected by the judge who described it as unreliable, misleading and contradictory.
The case, which took nearly three years and two judges to reach a verdict, was adjourned several times with Syllouris changing his plea from an initial not guilty, to guilty, and then back to not guilty.