By Lizzy Ioannidou
A Nicosia criminal court hearing on Friday into the double murder of a couple from Strovolos was disrupted during an outburst by one of the defendants, against his half-brother and co-defendant, who the former claims has falsely implicated him in the crime.
The outburst by Lefteris Solomou, 23, against Loizos Tzionis, 33, who is considered the mastermind of the botched robbery that led to the brutal murder of Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, 60, and his wife Dina Sergiou, 59 in April, was sparked by the testimony of police sergeant Savvas Sammoutis.
Sammoutis said that when he had asked Tzionis during interrogations whether they had used chlorine to destroy evidence, he replied: “No, I didn’t, but Lefteris might have.”
This prompted Solomou to burst into tears and cry out: “How many lies? How many? Enough, what have I done to you. How much do you hate me? Answer me… It’s been seven months that I’ve been wondering what I’ve done to you, you put me in jail without doing anything, just because I didn’t want to help you, because I didn’t help you with that robbery.”
At the defendants table, between the two half-brothers, sat Tzionis’ ex-girlfriend, 21-year-old Sarah Shams, who is also on trial for the same crime, along with 22-year-old Marios Hadjixenophontos, both of whom have denied all charges including premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit felony, burglary, robbery and abduction.
The suspects are accused of killing the couple in what appeared to be a botched robbery on the night of April 18-19. The couple were found in their bedroom stabbed multiple times.
Friday’s proceedings went on to examine the objections raised by Tzionis’ defence on Wednesday, when it was claimed that Tzionis was not of sound mind during the initial interrogation stage due to suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms, and that he was pressured into signing documents concerning his rights and the statements he had given to get rid of the distress.
Sammoutis firmly rejected these allegations on Friday, claiming that during his initial statements to the police, the defendant had told him that he was only an occasional smoker of cannabis “so that his mind can relax and so that he can distance himself from his problems,” adding that his work has brought him into contact with many addicts, but Tzionis did not present such a picture.
Sammoutis added that Tzionis had been examined by a psychiatrist who found that Tzionis was not an addict, asserting that the allegations regarding the defendant not being of sound mind are “mere fantasy”, and that he cannot believe that they are the allegations from Tzionis himself.
He is in a position to know this, Sammoutis said, since he had built a friendly relationship with Tzionis during his interrogation, and had developed an overprotective behaviour towards the defendant which was often criticised by other members of the police.
He added that Tzionis had asked of him to treat his half-brother in the same way and to protect him, because “he’s a good child that has suffered.”
All four defendants had initially admitted their involvement in the crime, according to police, with Tzionis being the suspected mastermind and the person who allegedly killed the couple.
Tzionis had pleaded guilty to the main charges initially and appeared in court without a lawyer but later changed his plea and then asked for legal representation.
On Wednesday, Sammoutis said that Tzionis initially implicated two other brothers in the case, alleging they had threatened him with a gun before changing his tune and naming one of his co-defendants, Marios Hadjixenophontos as the perpetrator, before changing his statement again and naming his half-brother and co-defendant, Lefteris Solomou.
The court set the cross-examination of the witness for Monday morning, giving time to the defence to study Sammoutis’ statements to the court.