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Corruption case to go ahead despite destroyed evidence

Evidence in the case was destroyed in a courthouse fire in Nicosia earlier this year

The Nicosia criminal court ruled on Wednesday that destroyed evidence in a waste management corruption trial will be replaced by copies held by the court, rejecting the defence’s request to reexamine witnesses.

The documents relating to the corruption trial involving the Koshi and Paphos landfills were destroyed during a blaze in February that damaged the building in the Nicosia court’s complex that houses the criminal court.

The judge in the landfills case informed the parties that the fire had destroyed exhibits 1 through 293, plus exhibits 295 and 308.

The rest of the evidence was intact.

Defence lawyers raised issues pertaining to a fair trial arguing that some or all witnesses should be summoned again or even refiling the case.

However, in an interim decision handed down on Wednesday, the court said it would be the best solution to replace the lost evidence with copies that were held by the judges.

The court said reexamining the witnesses was not convenient as that would cause huge delays.

Court president Leonidas Kalogirou said replacing the evidence with copies held by the court was the only appropriate solution, without hurting the defendants’ rights.

He added that the court will rule at the end of the procedure on claims made by the defence that the right of their clients to a fair trial had been violated.

The former mayors of Paphos and Larnaca, Savvas Vergas and Andreas Louroudjiatis, were among 16 individuals and companies indicted in connection with the alleged scam.

As operator of two landfills – one at Marathounda, Paphos, the other at Koshi – waste management company Helector is alleged to have overcharged municipalities – and ultimately the taxpayer – by reporting higher waste volumes, while public officials looked the other way in return for skimming off the top.

Vergas and several others have pleaded guilty and were given custodial and suspended sentences. The trial continues on April 23.

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