Lawyer Andreas Pittadjis denied the charges against him on Wednesday as the hearing of the other three key players allegedly involved in the now scrapped ‘golden passport’ scheme scandal got postponed until next year.
The four defendants, Pittadjis, former House president Demetris Syllouris, Akel MP Christakis Giovanis and Antonis Antoniou, one of the directors of Giovanis group, were called to answer to the five charges against them before the Nicosia district court on Wednesday. The charges emerged from an undercover Al Jazeera documentary and the findings of the Nikolatos committee and concern offences of conspiracy to defraud the republic and influencing a public official in violation of the law criminalising corruption.
However, only the lawyer, who is representing himself, answered the charges.
“I am not seeking acquittal but vindication. In the temple of justice let us all be heard,” Pittadjis said as he denied the charges against him.
The lawyers of the other three defendants raised pretrial objections.
Pittadjis said he respects the positions of his colleagues, but he will not raise any objection himself. His trial was set for March 8-9 next year while for the other three the court will reconvene on January 11.
Demetris Syllouris is represented by lawyer Chris Triantafyllidis and a team of lawyers, while Christakis Giovanis and Antonis Antoniou are represented by lawyer George Papaioannou.
Meanwhile, one of the defendants, Antonis Antoniou, did not appear before the court today as he is ill with covid.
Triantaphyllides, Syllouris’ lawyer, raised the issue of abuse of process at the start of the proceedings. “I have prepared seven points to become admissible facts to base my submission on,” he said.
The abuse consists of charges one, two, three, which, according to Triantafyllides relate to two passports issued to foreign nationals and approved by cabinet in 2019. He claimed there is conflict of interest for Savvides and Angelides who served as justice minister and defence minister respectively, as recently as 2020.
He added that “charges four and five relate to the involvement of a foreigner who is a non-existent person,” and referred to the existence of illegality for the involvement of Syllouris.
The latter was a reference to the fictitious Chinese criminal that Al Jazeera journalists had asked the defendants to issue a Cypriot passport. Triantafyllifes had said he cannot adequately defend his client unless he knows who this foreign national is.
Antoniou lawyer George Papaioannou said the charges one, three and five “lack legal basis” and there is a problem with the charge four since it concerns a “non-existent person”
The representative of the prosecution, Elli Papagapiou, requested time from the court to consider the pre-trial objections and respond to the points made by Syllouris’ lawyer.