Nicosia criminal court threw out the ‘golden passports’ case on Wednesday, citing a change in the court composition. As a result, the case will have to be refiled, but in the meantime, it has left all four defendants temporarily acquitted of all charges.
The defendants are former House president Demetris Syllouris, former Akel MP and developer Christakis Giovanis, senior member of staff at the Giovanis Group Antonis Antoniou and lawyer Andreas Pittadjis.
Representative of the prosecution Elli Papagapiou said the current case “could not continue” due to the change of the court’s composition. “The criminal case must be suspended and a new one filed.”
A new charge sheet will have to be filed to Nicosia criminal court, which will contain the same charges.
These include conspiracy to defraud the Republic, and influencing a public official in violation of the law that ratifies the Council of Europe Convention on the Criminalisation of Corruption.
Previously, deputy attorney general Savvas Angelides appeared in court, urging the case be reassessed under a new composition, as the changes at the criminal court would take place on June 30.
This is because the newly formed Supreme Court announced on January 30, includes Stavros Stavrou, who currently chairs the criminal court.
With the new Supreme Court bench set to begin on July 1, Stavrou will be moving to his new position, leaving his criminal court chairmanship to someone else.
Pittadjis is the only defendant to have entered a plea so far, pleading not guilty. Though his hearing was scheduled for September 7, this was cancelled on Wednesday due to the case being temporarily thrown out.
The case is expected to be filed anew in the next few days and a new court date will be decided.
The trial began 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.