Cyprus Mail
Crime

Police deny coercing suspect in double murder

Police at the crime scene in Strovolos (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

By Elias Hazou

Police on Thursday denied that any coercion was exerted on one of the defendants in the case of the murder of a couple in Strovolos back in April.

The case, being tried at the Nicosia criminal court, relates to the murder of Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, 60, and his wife Dina Sergiou, 59.

The defendants 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.

The defendants are Loizos Tzionis, 33, believed to be the mastermind of the crime; his half-brother Lefteris Solomou, 23; Sarah Shams, 21; and Marios Hadjixenophontos, 22.

They face charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit a felony, burglary, robbery, abduction, and carrying offensive weapons.

The charge of conspiracy to commit murder, initially included in the indictment, has since been withdrawn by the prosecution.

A trial within a trial is currently underway, after Tzionis’s lawyer argued that the testimony and information his client gave to police officers should be ruled inadmissible as it was given under coercion.

On April 27, Tzionis had led police to his father’s house in Aglandjia, Nicosia, where the murder weapon (a knife) and the clothes that the suspects were wearing on the night of the murder were hidden.

Tzionis’ attorney claims also that during questioning police took advantage of the fact that Tzionis was under duress, as he suffering from withdrawal symptoms, being a drug addict.

In court, Giorgos Themistocleous, one of the lead investigators, denied that any pressure was exerted on Tzionis after his arrest and while in police custody.

He said the suspect was fully informed of his rights, and was advised that he could have a lawyer present during his deposition. Tzionis waived the right to have an attorney present.

On the suspect’s mental state, the officer said Tzionis was in a good mood and that, when police asked him whether he was tired and wanted to sleep, he replied no.

Themistocleous said that during the depositions police did not pose leading questions to Tzionis, and that rather the suspect himself volunteered the information.

The officer also denied an allegation made by the defendant’s lawyer that, during one interrogation, he slammed his hand on the desk to intimidate Tzionis.

After the murdered couple’s son recognized Tzionis in a police line-up done behind a one-way mirror, Themistocleous duly informed Tzionis that he had been identified as one of the suspects who broke into the home.

At that point, the officer said, Tzionis muttered “OK” and seemed pensive.

The trial within a trial is set to continue next Wednesday.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Initially Tzionis pleaded guilty to all charges save for that of breaking and entering into the victims’ home. He later changed his mind, entering a new plea of not guilty to all charges.

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