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Cyprus

Supreme court upholds acquittal of Paphos developer

Aristo boss Theodoros Aristodemou

The supreme court on Monday rejected a state appeal against the acquittal by the Paphos criminal court of developer Theodoros Aristodemou, his wife, and two others, in connection with a land development project in Skali, Paphos.

The four had been acquitted of charges in July 2015 but the attorney-general had filed an appeal.

Aristodemou, his wife Roulla, company draftsman Christos Solomonides, and former Paphos municipal engineer Savvas Savva had been charged in relation with the demarcation of land in Skali.

The court had heard that the company had been granted a permit for 177 plots but this was allegedly falsified later by replacing the approved architectural plans with amended ones, which ceded the company an additional area of 2,730 square metres for development at the expense of the legally mandated green space and road network.

Aristo Developers said in an announcement on Monday that the hardship both of the company and the Aristodemou couple that started some six years when their family was targeted, ended with the latest court decision.

“The scars however will never fully heal,” it said.

Savva’s lawyer, Elias Stefanou, said that the court agreed with the criminal court’s decision that his client’s actions had been made in good faith and without intent to deceive. Savva was facing charges of corruption.

The state had appealed the court decision to acquit the four who had been accused of forgery, circulation of a forged document, conspiracy, abuse of authority, bribery, and obtaining property under false pretences

The criminal court had ruled at the time that the state prosecutors had failed to prove intent to defraud the public beyond a reasonable doubt.

Despite “certain irregularities” in the paperwork and the manner it was compiled, there was no deliberate intent on the part of the accused to secure a town planning permit under false pretences or to conceal the true dimensions of the green area within the land in question, the court had said.

On the alleged bribery of Savva by Aristodemou, the court likewise said this was not proven.

According to police findings, Aristodemou cashed a cheque for €20,000 in €500 notes in August 2010. Two days later, Savva was found to have deposited the same amount, in notes of identical denomination, to his own bank account.

The court said that although the proximity of the two dates “may create suspicion, it is not sufficient, based on the defendants’ testimony, to lead to a certainty of guilty.”

Savva had said that the money had come from his aunt and uncle.

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