Cyprus Mail
Crime Cyprus

Larnaca official tries to influence witnesses at his trial

Larnaca Courthouse

A Larnaca municipal secretary facing corruption charges will be spending the night in jail after a court found there was a risk of him influencing witnesses, as his trial continued on Thursday.

Lefteris Empedocles, 57, had been reported to police by a witness in his corruption trial after he visited him at his shop in June and tried to learn what he had said in his statement.

The court said simply discussing the statement raised justified concerns of him being influenced.

The discussion that took place exposes the defendant’s inclination to talk and guide but also to eventually influence the witness, the court said.

The court ordered the defendant to be held in custody until the next hearing on Friday.

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

The businessman, Theodosis Chrysostomou, took the witness stand on Thursday, denying the defence’s suggestions that he was lying.

Chrysostomou told the court that on September 8, 2015, he went to the bank with a friend and withdrew €35,000 in large notes. He then went to the defendant’s office at the town hall and gave him an envelope with the money he had allegedly asked for.

Empedocles’ defence insisted that his client was not in that day and that the complainant was lying.

Chrysostomou wondered if it would ever be possible to hand over €35,000 in cash to the first person he saw.

“Unless the defendant left a photo on his desk and I gave the money to the photo,” he said.

The businessman rejected the defence lawyer’s suggestions, telling him that he could ask a thousand times and still get the same answer.

“The defendant deceived me and he took the money from me; I had nothing against him and have no reason to lie,” he said.

Empedocles was arrested in 2016 after Chrysostomou 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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