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Auditor calls for probe into Paralimni mayor over beach changes

Work at Kapparis beach

The auditor-general has recommended the interior ministry launch an investigation and involve the police if necessary, into how a footpath paid for by the municipality had been built to access a previously landlocked property belonging to the Paralimni mayor and his family, it emerged on Tuesday.

Citing a letter from the audit service, daily Phileleftheros said the work had been approved by the municipal council following mayor Theodoros Pirillis’ recommendation.

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides also wants the mayor investigated over repeated interventions along the area’s coast, which have sparked outrage among environmentalists and the public in general.

The February 20 letter to the permanent secretaries of the ministries of interior and transport, the mayor and members of the council, as well as the heads of various government departments, initially raised the matter of the acquisition of a piece of land in Kapparis, inside the buffer zone, which had no access road.

According to Michaelides, 20 days before registration of the property, the municipal council, following Pirillis’ suggestion, decided to build a footpath there.

The session was held in a bus, Philelefteros said, with the majority approving the mayor’s recommendation.

It was also decided to plant trees and build a viewpoint from where people could see the abandoned town of Varosha.

Following the plot’s registration, according to the letter, the mayor made public the council’s intention to seek the area’s development, including residential.

Audit service staff who visited the area in December last year found that a dirt walkway had been constructed without following the appropriate registration procedures to determine whether there had been intervention on state land – needing cabinet approval – or private land, which would have entailed expropriation.

The auditor also said that the municipality had intervened on the area’s coast without the council of ministers’ decision or approval from government departments.

In a letter to the district officer the municipality had asked for permission to remove loose rocks. The officer approved the request but prohibited the removal of rocks, construction of dry stone walls, and any earth works, even in mild form, so the landscape would not be altered.

The district officer subsequently wrote a letter to the departments involved, pointing out that some of the work had possibly exceeded the permitted limits stipulated by the permit.

Pirillis denied the allegations, asking the attorney-general to go ahead and investigate him.

Speaking on Active radio, he said there is an anonymous complaint regarding the plot of land, which he described as unfounded.

“Not only am I open to an audit but I have also asked for it,” he said, denying that he reaped any profit from the transaction.

Regarding the coast gentrification campaign, the mayor said reactions were driven by private interests holding on to state land and obstructing free access.

He said the municipality was clearing debris off the coast that had been deposited there in the 80s and 90s and in most cases it didn’t even need permission.

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