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Crime Cyprus

Benny handed four life sentences for orchestrating Napa shooting

Marios Christodoulou, also known as Benny, was handed four life in prison sentences by the Larnaca Criminal Court on Wednesday, after admitting to orchestrating the murder of Phanos Kalopsidiotis, police officer Elias and his wife Skevi Hadjiefthimiou, and Albanian Yani Vogli, one of the shooters.

The four were murdered on June 23, 2016, in Ayia Napa.

Vogli carried out the murders with Aleks Burelli, who has since been wanted by police.

At Wednesday’s sentencing session, state prosecutor Elli Papagapiou reiterated the facts of the case, according to which on the night of June 23, 2016, Kalopsidiotis had been having dinner with the couple and their two minor children, as well as riot squad Mmad member Yiorgos Charalambous, at the Stone Garden restaurant in Ayia Napa.

At a nearby table sat one of Kalopsidiotis’ bodyguards, Panayiotis Kallitsionis.

Around 10pm Vogli and Burelli entered the restaurant and fired an AK47 rifle and a Glock pistol, killing Kalopsidiotis and the couple, and seriously injuring Charalambous and Kallitsionis.

Vogli was also killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.

The perpetrators fled the scene, and the getaway car was found burning early next morning near the Ayia Napa-Larnaca motorway.

The next day police were informed that Burelli, abetted by Charalambos Andreou, had been hiding in a flat in Aglandjia, Nicosia, owned by Sotira Neophytou, but police found nothing after raiding the apartment.

Neophytou then told police that Andreou had been involved in the quadruple murder, prompting his own admission to police, in which he also implicated Benny.

Andreou said that Benny asked for his help in early May 2016, when he had been looking for a flat to accommodate a friend of his.

He offered Neophytou’s Aglandjia flat, and Benny took Burelli and Vogli there days later.

Benny, Andreou said, gave them three guns, two of which were later used in the shootings.

According to the prosecution, Benny’s intention had been to have Alexis Mavromichalis, or Alexoui, murdered, along with Christos Demetriou, or Tsiakkas, and Iosif Iosif, or Sifis.

But the plan was foiled when Alexoui travelled to Greece.

Benny also planned on murdering Kalopsidiotis, which is why he arranged for Vogli and Burelli to travel to Ayia Napa in June 2016.

He also scouted the area with the two hitmen, and showed them the getaway route.

On the night of the murders, Benny showed the two hitmen and Andreou a text message he received on his mobile phone, which said “OK1”, and instructed them to gear up to go.

Andreou had been designated as the driver.

After the murders, Burelli returned to the car, where Andreou waited, as Vogli had been killed at the restaurant.

After Andreou confessed to the police on June 30, Benny was arrested and questioned but denied any involvement.

Addressing the court on Wednesday, Benny’s lawyer Michalis Pikis said his client “expresses in the most unambiguous way, through his confession, his full and sincere regret for all the crimes he has pled guilty to”.

“He particularly expresses great sorrow and sincere apologies to the victims of this heinous crime and their families, having realised the consequences of his criminal behaviour,” Pikis said.

“The guilt will haunt him all his life.”

Still, he noted, the “main target of this heinous crime was none other than Theofanis Kalopsidiotis”.

“Of course, my client acknowledges and accepts full responsibility, through his confession, for the murder and attempted murder of others, as acts connected and caused as a predictable and probable consequence of the premeditated murder of Theofanis Kalopsidiotis,” he said.

Pikis argued that his client deserves the same treatment under the law as Andreou, who pled guilty to, and was sentenced for, the exact same crimes.

The presiding judge handed Benny a life sentence for each of the four charges of premeditated murder, five years for each of the three conspiracy charges for the murder of Alexoui, Sifis, and Tsiakkas, 12 years for each of the attempted murders against Charalambous and Kallitsionis, two years for stealing a car, and four years for arson.

All sentences are concurrent.

Hearings for the remaining two defendants in the case, Panayiotis Pentafkas and Loy Dejan, resume on April 28.

 

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