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A year in jail for woman involved in Ayia Napa killings

Twenty-nine-year-old Sofia Gregoriou, a defendant in the trial of the gangland hit in Ayia Napa last June that killed four people, was sentenced on Monday to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to helping one of the shooters to escape.

Gregoriou, who was on trial with three other people in connection with the murder of businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis, police officer Elias Hadjiefthymiou, 46, and his wife Skevi, 39, who were gunned down while having dinner at the Stone Garden restaurant on the evening of June 23 last year, had pleaded guilty to the charge of complicity after the fact. She told prosecutors she was willing to testify for the state and was thus considered a prosecution witness. Following her lawyer’s mitigations plea last week, the court upheld a prosecution request to drop 13 other charges Gregoriou had faced.

One of the shooters, Albanian Yiani Vogli, was also killed in the incident while a second police officer at the table sustained serious injuries. A second Albanian national, Aleks Burreli, who took part in the shooting is still at large.

The court heard Gregoriou was the person who had picked up Burreli from the spot where the stolen getaway car had been torched.

Prior to the shootings, Gregoriou was at a villa in Protaras with other individuals, including Burreli. Just before 10pm on June 23, she was told that they were leaving the house and also saw one of the perpetrators wielding a Kalashnikov assault rifle that was used in the shootings.

After the incident, she waited in a field near the exit of the Ayia Napa to Larnaca motorway to pick up the shooters, who had arrived in the getaway car. Gregoriou drove Burelli towards Larnaca, following another car, and had dropped him off along the way, whereby he climbed into the other vehicle, which was driven by another defendant in the same case, Charalambos Andreou.

The court said on Monday that it did not ignore Gregoriou’s involvement in the incident, but that it took into consideration the fact that she had no criminal record, her age, and her willingness to cooperate as a prosecution witness.

It also took into consideration Gregoriou’s statement that she had helped Burelli escape “motivated by intense and immediate fear for her life and feeling that at that moment she was completely helpless, and without any other option”.

Court also took into consideration her fear for her life and the lives of her family from now on, “as a consequence of which, she will be forced to join a witness protection programme”.

Gregoriou’s sentence will begin from July 18, 2016, when she was arrested for the case.

The court said that Gregoriou’s sentence was more severe than that of Sotira Neophytou, 30, who had also admitted involvement in the same case and was jailed for five months last October, as she knew that the two preparators in the villa in Protaras were going to conduct a murder, and had also help Burelli escape. Andreou, 32, had admitted involvement in the case and was jailed for life also last October. Neophytou owned the flat in Nicosia where one of the shooters was hiding prior to the incident.

The three other defendants are Marios Christodoulou (Benny), 39, Panayiotis Pentavkas, 38, and Loy Dejan, 42, who was the businessman’s bodyguard.

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