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Court to examine pretrial objection of former BoC execs seeking acquittal

THE Nicosia criminal court said on Thursday it will examine a pretrial objection in a case against former Bank of Cyprus executives, similar to one that succeeded in acquitting two other top executives in the past.

According to an interim decision, the issue will be examined pre-trial, after the sides were given the opportunity to submit evidence of a limited scope.

The case concerns former bank executives Christis Hadjimitsis, Nicolas Karidas, Christodoulos Patsalides, Eliza Livadiotou and Despina Kyriakidou who face charges of conspiring to reclassify the lender’s holdings in Greek bonds – with an effective date of April 1, 2010 – with intent to defraud investors.

The bonds were reclassified in a manner as to indicate the bank had suffered fewer losses than it actually did, conveying a better picture of its financials.

The defendants face 16 charges including forgery, circulation of a forged document, market manipulation, drafting false accounts, and conspiracy to defraud.

Former CEO Andreas Eliades and his deputy, Yiannis Kypri, had also been brought on the same charges but were acquitted in December last year after the criminal court accepted a pretrial motion, which argued that the charges had the same basis as two previous cases regarding the BoC, in which the two executives had been acquitted.

The decision was upheld by the supreme court.

Following the supreme court decision, lawyers representing the remaining defendants submitted a similar motion on behalf of their clients, citing the precedent.

On Thursday, the criminal court said it considered rational and practical for the issue to be settled at pretrial after affording the parties the opportunity to submit evidence of a limited scope.

The court cited the precedent created by the Eliades-Kypri motion, saying “it would indeed create a reasonable feeling of injustice and inequality to the other defendants if they were not afforded the same right.”

It said that it reserved the right during the proceedings to exclude any evidence it considered unnecessary, irrelevant or inadmissible.

“Evaluation and extraction of conclusions that will take place as part of the procedure will be limited to the minimum required for the purposes of the request and in the event the case goes to trial, all disputed issues will remain open and any evidence submitted will undergo evaluation from scratch,”  the court said.

The court added that the burden of proof rested with the defendants who would have to summon its witnesses first.

The case continues on September 17.

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