Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Three arrested, five more wanted in 2016 murder plot

Alexis Mavromichalis, aka "Alexoui", being taken away by police after a court appearance in 2014

THREE men were remanded in custody for eight days on Friday on suspicion of taking part in a plot to kill an underworld figure last year.

Police told the court they have also issued arrest warrants for five more people – four foreign nationals and a Cypriot – in connection with the case.

The three remanded suspects are a 30-year-old Turkish Cypriot, a 35-year-old Greek Cypriot and a 47-year-old Serb who is currently a convict at the central prisons, serving out a sentence for a drugs-related offence.

They are suspected of having played a part in arranging or mediating for the arrival of two Serb hitmen, whose target is believed to have been Alexis Mavromichalis, aka ‘Alexoui’.

Chief inspector Marcos Nikolettis told the court that on March 22, 2016, the force had received an urgent message from Belgrade Interpol notifying them of an impending contract killing.

The Serbian authorities had been investigating a crime ring when they found out that a number of its members were in Cyprus plotting a murder.

The court heard that one of the wanted men had contacted an unknown individual in Nicosia’s central prison, who eventually hired him to carry out the contract for €100,000.

The pair had agreed that the man would hire the hitmen.

Police said initial investigations showed that the possible target was Alexis Mavromichalis from Nicosia. It also emerged that the contact was Marios Christodoulou, aka Benny, currently doing life in jail for the killing of Phanos Kalopsidiotis and conspiracy to murder Mavromichalis.

On March 24, Serbian authorities notified their Cypriot counterparts that the wanted man had traveled to Cyprus through the occupied areas, and that he was staying at the Saray hotel in north Nicosia.

Serbian Interpol said he had meetings with Benny on March 22 and 23.

On March 29, police were told that the man bought two tickets for two of the other wanted men to come to Cyprus.

Two days later, the two arrived in Cyprus through the north where they were met by two of the suspects.

On April 5, Serbian Interpol informed the police that two of the currently wanted men had returned to Serbia the previous day and would return at a later date to carry out the hit.

On April 13, it was arranged for a down payment to be paid during a meeting in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The two men returned to Cyprus three days later, again using Tympou airport in the north. The men arrived at around 3.40pm, but they left the island some three hours later after they had been tipped off that they were being monitored.

Police told the court that Benny was the one who had sent €1,000 to the first wanted man to pay for his trip. He had also met him on March 22 and March 30.

Benny was charged for Kalopsidiotis’ murder and later changed his plea to guilty and also admitting to conspiring to kill Mavromichalis and two other people.

Police said they determined that on March 31, two of the wanted men were seen outside a cafeteria frequented by Mavromichalis in Nicosia.

The gangland killing in April of businessman Andreas Rodotheou in Limassol coincided with the sentencing of Benny for the murder of four people in Ayia Napa last summer.

Marios Christodoulou was handed four life sentences by the Criminal Court 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 killed on June 23, 2016, in an Ayia Napa restaurant.

Mavromichalis had testified that he suspected Rodotheou and a man named Giorgos Phenek wanted Kalopsidiotis dead because they had professional differences.

Kalopsidiotis, according to Mavromichalis, considered the pair responsible for his father’s murder in 2014 and a gangland hit in the summer of 2012 that saw five people killed.

Benny worked for Rodotheou and had been arrested in February 2015 in connection with a rocket attack in Nicosia that was meant to take out Mavromichalis but killed his 28-year-old bodyguard instead.

The attack followed an incident at the Apoel fan club in which Benny was beaten by Mavromichalis and his men.

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