Cyprus Mail

‘Golden passport’ trial postponed yet again

Former House president Demetris Syllouris

The ongoing trial at the Nicosia court over the ‘golden passports’ took a new turn on Wednesday that led to another postponement until March 8, this time over the composition of the court.

The defendants are former House president Demetris Syllouris, former Akel MP and developer Christakis Giovani, senior lawyer for the Giovani Group Antonis Antoniou, and lawyer Andreas Pittadjis.

The trial proceedings are based on the findings of the Nicolatos investigation into the citizenship-by-investment scheme, prompted by the airing of a report by the Al Jazeera network in 2020.

The defendants face five charges, including conspiracy to defraud the Republic and influencing a public official in violation of the laws criminalising corruption.

Even though the proceedings got underway last October, to date just one defendant – Pittadjis – has entered a plea, having pleaded not guilty. The rest of the defendants have yet to do so, as their lawyers insist the pre-trial objections be heard first.

This time the adjournment request came from the prosecution who said all of the defendants needed to be in court. Only three of the defence lawyers were in court on Wednesday.

During the last hearing on January 30, the judge hinted that the court may not be appropriate to adjudge the case. Its term of office will expire at the end of June.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the prosecution, represented by deputy attorney-general Savvas Angelides said before taking a stand on the merits or demerits of the pre-trial defence arguments, he considered it necessary to raise an issue “for which previously there were only indications but now is a fact” and that legally it needed to be presented to all of the defendants.

He said the current composition of the court would not go beyond June 30 as the president of the current criminal court would be appointed as president of the newly established appeals court, which is due to begin work on July 1. Angelides said all of the defendants needed to appear at the next hearing “for acknowledgment of this”.

The defence lawyers agreed to the adjournment for March 8.




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