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Cyprus

Defendant in corruption case accused of pressuring witness

Larnaca court

Prosecutors have demanded the imprisonment of Larnaca’s embattled municipal secretary after he allegedly attempted to pervert the course of justice by speaking to a key witness about a corruption case he is involved in.

Lefteris Empedocles, 57, is currently on trial for theft, obtaining money under false pretences and money laundering in relation with €35,000 he allegedly took from a businessman to sort out building code infractions.

On Wednesday, state prosecutor Andri Constantinou asked the court to order the defendant’s detention after a municipal officer, a key witness in the trial, reported Empedocles for allegedly trying to influence him.

Police investigator Alexis Asimakis told the court that on June 20, the municipal officer went to the CID and reported that Empedocles had visited him at his shop the previous day and allegedly tried to extract information concerning the statement he had given police.

Police summoned Empedocles four days later and after taking his statement they charged and released him to appear before a court on Wednesday.

Asimakis said Empedocles had allegedly visited the witness at his shop and asked him questions on key matters.

The state prosecutor told the court that the defendant had told the witness that he would ask him to fill in a questionnaire he had prepared with his lawyer.

“If this is not interference in a court procedure then what is?”

The court said it will deliver its decision on Thursday.

Empedocles was arrested in 2016 after Theodosis Chrysostomou, a businessman who owns a restaurant in the Mackenzie beach area in Larnaca, told police that that he had paid the municipal secretary €35,000 in cash to correct building irregularities.

He had initially met with Larnaca mayor at the time Andreas Louroudjiatis who suggested the businessman should pay €15,000.

A few days later, Chrysostomou met with Empedocles who apparently said that as the size of the establishment was quite large, the amount would actually be €35,000.

The businessman agreed and paid up but the money was never officially received by the municipality and no procedures were initiated to correct the irregularities after September 2015 when Chrysostomou paid the money.

 


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