A police officer present during a gangland hit with four deaths in an Ayia Napa restaurant last June said he had seen one of the two shooters apparently scoping the place two weeks before the incident.
Officer Giorgos Charalambous, who served at the force’s rapid reaction unit, said he had seen Albanian Aleks Burreli passing next to the kiosk outside the Stone Garden restaurant 15 days before the assault.
“He was a big guy, strong and chubby,” the officer told the court on Friday.
Charalambous was seriously injured during the June 23 attack that killed businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis, police officer Elias Hadjiefthymiou, 46, and his wife Skevi, 39. The couple’s two children were also present but they escaped unharmed.
A second shooter, Yiani Vogli, was also killed in the attack.
Four persons – Marios Christodoulou aka Benny, 39, Panayiotis Pentavkas, 38, Loy Dejan, 42, and Sofia Gregoriou, 28 — are on trial, charged with premeditated murder and conspiracy, among others.
Charalambous rejected the defence’s suggestion that he was the one who shot Vogli dead.
“I did not use my service pistol, which was in my bag because I didn’t have time,” he said.
Charalambous had been sitting next to Kalopsidiotis when the shooting started.
He said he was off duty and Hadjiefthimiou had invited him to go to Ayia Napa to have dinner with Kalopsidiotis, who had christened his son.
At a table next to them were Dejan and Panayiotis Kallitsionis, the businessman’s bodyguards.
“While we were eating, I remember seeing Dejan get up holding his phone and going inside,” he said. Five minutes later he said he heard two gunshots and felt a burn on his hand.
Charalambous said he hit the ground and while there he pulled down one of the children who was in a state of panic and screaming.
The officer said he tried to reach for his bag, hanging from his chair, but did not manage.
“A few seconds later I saw an individual with a black baseball cap, black clothes, black gloves, and wearing something like a mask, armed with a Kalashnikov,” he said. “As soon as he saw me he turned the Kalashnikov and continued to fire while I was under the table.”
Charalambous said he heard numerous shots and felt something like nails in his body.
“Next thing I was in the ambulance and when I woke up I was in hospital,” he said.
The officer suffered injury to his head, both legs, and right hand, which had a piece of a finger shot off. He underwent surgery to remove shrapnel from his head and right leg.