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Most charges dropped for female defendant over Strovolos murders (Updated)

The scene of the double murder in Strovolos (Christos Theodorides)

Prosecutors on Thursday dropped all but one charges against one of the defendants in the Strovolos double murder case, after the court was informed she would be testifying for the state against three men charged in the case.

Sarah Shams, 21, who had only pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery during the previous hearing, had the additional charges of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit felony dropped.

Shams will be sentenced on February 21.

Her lawyer, Thanasis Korfiotis, informed the Nicosia criminal court that his client will be testifying for the prosecution before arguing for leniency.

Earlier, state prosecutor Polina Efthyvoulou told the three-member court that the attorney-general had suspended all other charges apart from count of robbery.

The court acquitted Shams and scheduled her sentencing for February 21.

Shams, along with main defendant Loizos Tzionis, 33, who was her boyfriend at the time, his 22-year-old friend Marios Hadjixenophontos, and his 23-year-old half-brother, Lefteris Solomou, had been charged with killing Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, 60, and his wife Dina Sergiou, 59 in April 2018.

The three now face two counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit felony, burglary, robbery and abduction.

In his arguments, Korfiotis said having studied the evidence, he thought Shams should make a serious decision to distance herself from the “dark and uncertain situation she was in.”

He said his client came from a structured but not well-off family, which meant Shams had to work during her studies.

Meeting Tzionis was a turning point for her that will scar her life for ever, Korfiotis said.

The defendant had offered her drugs the first day they met and she subsequently abandoned her parents’ home to go live with him.

Her father had told her at the time that “this man will put you in jail.”

Shams gradually abandoned her studies and her job and started using drugs.

Korfiotis said the defendant treated Shams badly, oftentimes humiliating. He was pathologically jealous, destroying two mobile phones and a tablet during fits of jealousy.

The lawyer claimed Tzionis locked her in the house, beat her and raped her. He even raped her in Ayia Napa just hours after the crime, the court heard.

Despite the abuse, Shams loved Tzionis, but was also afraid. When she fell ill with stomach problems, the defendant only visited her once in hospital for 10 minutes, to take some cash.

She was trying to help him with his drug problem and every time she tried to leave him, he would not let her.

The defence lawyer claimed Shams went along quietly with the robbery Tzionis had planned, a testament to her mental and physical state.

He said his client had no active participation in the crime, did not think of what they were going to do, did not plan or organise anything and did not take part in the robbery.

Korfiotis said her case was a light form of conspiracy and that she wanted to help by becoming a prosecution witness.

 

 

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