Israeli businessman Simon Mistriel Aykut, who is suspected of developing properties worth €43 million in the north on Greek Cypriot land, will remain in custody until his case is heard in criminal court on September 9, the Nicosia district court decided on Thursday.

Aykut, 73 and a holder of Israeli, Turkish and Portuguese passports, was remanded until the hearing, after the court decided there is a strong chance he would flee if released from custody.

He is the founder of Afik Group, which has been developing properties in Trikomo, Akanthou, Ayios Amvrosios, Gastria, and Kyrenia.

Two other individuals are still wanted in the case: Aykut’s sons, 51-year-old Afik Yaacov and 49-year-old Michael Mistriel Aykut, both directors of the group. Like their father, they hold Israeli and Portuguese passports.

On Thursday, the court, examining the points raised by the prosecution and defence, decided that there are grounds for the 73-year-old’s remand in custody, since there is a visible risk of him fleeing, as was the position of the prosecution, which requested his detention until the trial, stressing that his ties with the Republic of Cyprus “are non-existent”.

The defence of the accused said that the scenario of him fleeing is remote, asking the court to release him by paying a financial guarantee and signing at a police station, while indicating that arrangements were made for him to stay in Larnaca.

In addition, his lawyer referred to his health problems, while he expressed fears for his safety in case he is taken to prison because of his origin.

The court, after evaluating the evidence before it, stated that the existing testimony is sufficient for a possible conviction of the accused.

Aykut faces 124 charges surrounding cases of property development in the north on Greek Cypriot land.

On Wednesday morning he appeared in court, where a case was registered against him, and he was served with the massive indictment.

Previously, the investigative team of the police, as part of its examinations, had also secured a land registry document revealing the value of Greek Cypriot properties on which the 73-year-old’s construction company allegedly made developments, without any legality.

Moreover, police investigators have obtained evidence from the Israeli authorities following a request for assistance.

On Wednesday, the defence lawyers of the 73-year-old, Rikkos Mappourides and Maria Neophytou, objected to a request to keep him in custody. Among other things, they said that the accused is not the owner of the company and that he transferred the shares to one of his two sons through trusts.

Regarding bank cards of these companies that were found in his possession, it was claimed that Aykut received them from his son to cover expenses that would arise from his trip to Israel via Larnaca airport.

Before a case was registered against him, Aykut was suspected of a total of seven offences, including money laundering, conspiracy to commit a felony, conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, fraudulent transactions in real property belonging to another, unlawful possession, ownership and use of land registered to another, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Aykut is listed as the founder of Afik Group a property developer in the north.

Afik Group initiated the Caesar Project in the north, which includes developments such as Caesar Blue, Caesar Beach, Caesar Breeze, Caesar Bay, Caesar Cliff, and Caesar Resort, all on parcels of land in Gastria, Akanthou, Ayios Amvrosios, Kyrenia, and Trikomo.

Greek Cypriots testified against Aykut, claiming they did not give consent for the development of their properties.

Police have been investigating the case against Aykut for four years, since October 2020.