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Supreme court cuts Paphos sewerage corruption sentences

Former EDEK MP and Paphos mayor Fidias Sarikas

The supreme court on Thursday reduced the sentences of the five people found guilty of corruption in the Paphos sewerage board (Sapa) case.

The decision by the full bench was unanimous.

The five had appealed both their convictions and their sentences earlier this year. They had been pronounced guilty by the Paphos criminal court in April 2017.

Delivering its judgment on the appeals, the supreme court reduced by one year the sentences passed on each of the five individuals, but it upheld the guilty verdicts.

The case relates to the dealings of the Paphos Sewerage Board, which is administered by the Paphos local authorities. According to prosecutors, kickbacks were paid out by private contractors to Sapa members in a bid to secure the construction and operation of waste-management contracts.

Fidias Sarikas, who was mayor of Paphos between 1997 and 2002 and became an Edek MP in 2006, had been found guilty of receiving €40,000 in kickbacks and sentenced to three years in prison. He was also sentenced to four years in prison for legitimizing monies obtained from illicit activities – money laundering.

The sentences were running concurrently.

The supreme court cleared Sarikas of the money laundering charge, accepting his argument that the relevant law cited by the prosecution during the criminal trial was not in existence at the time.

His overall sentence has now been reduced to three years – for bribery – of which he has already served one.

The sentences were likewise reduced for former Paphos municipal councillors Efstathios Efstathiou and Giorgos Michaelides, who had been given five-and-a-half years after being found guilty of 14 and 19 charges of receiving bribes and money laundering over €100,000.

Vasos Vasiliou, also a former municipal councillor in Paphos, had been jailed for four years after being found guilty of seven charges of being bribed with €60,000.

Sitting councillor at the time, Giorgos Shailis, had been sentenced to four and a half years for receiving €27,500 in bribes, totalling six charges.

Explaining its decision, the top court said it found fault not with the severity of the sentences per se, but rather with the fact that the criminal court had tried to make examples of the five convicts, not having taken sufficiently into account the fact that ‘an entire army’ of other individuals, mainly contractors, had taken part in the criminal activity.

In the same case former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, and former Sapa director Eftychios Malekides pled guilty and are currently serving six-year stretches in jail. Both were used as prosecution witnesses.


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