Cyprus Mail

Neophytou spills all in Christofias trial, but may be in contempt

Demetris Christofias with Miltiades Neophytou in happier times

CONTRACTOR Miltiades Neophytou may be in contempt of court by commenting in an interview to daily Phileleftheros on key parts of the trial in his civil lawsuit against former president Demetris Christofias, defence lawyer Andreas Papacharalambous said in Friday’s hearing.

Neophytou wants payment for construction work performed at Christofias’ residence in Makedonitissa, holiday home in Kellaki, and campaign headquarters during the 2008 presidential bid in downtown Nicosia.

As well, the contractor is seeking redress for money he poured into Omonia football club – at Christofias’ behest and with the promise he would be paid back in full – from 2008 to 2012, when he chaired its board.

In all, Neophytou is asking Christofias for €22m.

In the interview – one of the very few the media-shy contractor has ever given – Neophytou made several eyebrow-raising claims, including the fact that early on in his stint as Omonia chief one of his associates came to him with a request for €25,000 “to fix a match”, which may have prompted a meeting between police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou and football association head Costakis Koutsokoumnis the next day on corruption in football.

He reiterated his claim that, although he has always supported Omonia, he never thought himself a man with any real knowledge of, or particular interest in, football, and that his actions were the result of direct instructions from Christofias, who aimed at boosting his popularity through Omonia’s success.

Neophytou said that the reason he never bargained the cost of buying players for Omonia was that his instructions were “to do certain things at any cost”.

He claimed that, in signing former star player Yiannakis Okkas, he was instructed to entice him with a promise that he would be nominated for MP by Akel.

His biggest mistake in his involvement with football, the contractor said, was “having trusted Christofias”.

In court on Friday, Papacharalambous argued that, since Neophytou opted to go the legal route, he should stick to it, adding that his interview may have violated article 44 of the law on courts with regard to contempt of court.

“Trials should be conducted and concluded inside the courtroom,” he said.

Neophytou’s lawyer, Charilaos Velaris, said his client was asked to give an interview, in which he talked about his public actions, adding that he has seen no reference to the court in it.

The case resumes on March 24.

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