By George Psyllides
A double-murder defendant broke during cross-examination before the Nicosia criminal court on Friday and admitted that he had not been coerced by police to admit involvement but was feeling the weight of his own lies.
Loizos Tzionis, 33, one of the defendants in the murder of a couple in Strovolos in April, had claimed he had been coerced into giving statements and doing crime-scene walkthroughs, and that evidence collection by police was done under duress. The claims were made while he was partly suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms.
His claims prompted the criminal court to hold a trial within a trial to rule whether they held water but under cross-examination on Friday Tzionis broke. “I was not pressured by the police officers, I was pressured by myself,” due to the fact he had been lying to investigators about the events on the night of the murder.
At that point his court-appointed lawyer, Andreas Anastasiou, told the court that he could not go on defending the position that his client had been pressured by the police. He withdrew the claim but he said he would continue to argue on the position that Tzionis’ rights had been violated.
On Wednesday, Tzionis read out to the court a written statement where he listed all instances of alleged maltreatment on the part of the police, beginning with the morning he was transferred from the Ayios Dhometios police station to the crime prevention unit premises for questioning, when he was not offered breakfast, nor was he told where he was being taken.
In the police car, he was informed of the police line-up that would follow, but not of his rights.
Tzionis went on to testify regarding the aggressive behaviour of one of the lead investigators, Giorgos Themistocleous, who had last Thursday denied to the court that any form of coercion was exerted.
Anastasiou requested an adjournment until Monday so that he could see how to proceed following his client’s admission.
Lead prosecutor Polina Efthivoulou did not object to the request.
Earlier, Tzionis said he had been informed of his rights on the day of his arrest, including the right to a lawyer. He insisted however, that investigators had told him he did not need a lawyer if he planned to confess.
According to the defendant, officers told him he had been identified by the couple’s son so it was best not to hire a lawyer.
The main 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 Tzionis, believed to be the mastermind of the crime; his half-brother Lefteris Solomou, 23; Sarah Shams, 21; and Marios Hadjixenophontos, 22.