Cyprus Mail

Murder suspect ‘needs more time to ponder plea’

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

The Strovolos double murder trial was on Friday postponed anew on grounds that the main defendant Loizos Tzionis needs more time to assess whether he would like to change his plea of not guilty to the charges he is facing.

The trial is set to resume on Monday.

Tzionis, along with Lefteris Solomou the half-brother of Tzionis, and friend Marios Hadjixenophontos, face two counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit felony, burglary, robbery and abduction. Premeditated murder carries an automatic life sentence. All three have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Nicosia criminal court was expecting to hear Tzionis’ decision on Friday, after Thursday’s hearing where he demanded to be allowed to change his plea, but was obstructed by his lawyer who asked for time to consult with his client before any further details could be revealed.

The trial began taking a dramatic turn on Wednesday, when Tzionis declared himself psychologically unfit after the prosecuting team requested to present in court the written testimony of 15-year-old Constantinos Hadjigeorgiou, son of the couple Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, 60, and Dina Sergiou, 59 who were killed in the botched robbery in Strovolos in April last year.

Initially, Tzionis had pled guilty to all charges except burglary, arguing that the house was unlocked and he did not break in. He then changed his plea to not guilty of all charges.

A fourth defendant, Tzionis’ ex-girlfriend Sarah Shams, was sentenced to four years in jail in February on a single charge of conspiracy to commit robbery. She had agreed to cooperate with the state in prosecuting the other defendants.

Shams was expected to testify before the court on Wednesday, but her testimony was postponed to mid-July due to the absence of the lawyer of Hadjixenophontos for health reasons.

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