Aristo trial date set for Oc­to­ber 30

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Paphos Dis­trict Court has sent four of the five per­sons re­manded in con­nec­tion with al­le­ga­tions that Aristo De­vel­op­ers and lo­cal of­fi­cers con­spired in zon­ing vi­o­la­tions, prop­erty fraud and forgery, di­rect to crim­i­nal court hear­ings later this month.

The company’s founder chair­man and his ar­chi­tect wife, Theodoros and Sotiroula Aris­tode­mou, were for­mally charged and re­leased on Mon­day after be­ing held on two suc­ces­sive eight-day re­mands, with state ra­dio CyBC quot­ing po­lice sources as say­ing that suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence has now been col­lected to start a trial.

Another company em­ployee from the ar­chi­tec­tural and plan­ning di­vi­sion, as well as two mu­nic­i­pal work­ers were also held on re­mand, with the town’s tech­ni­cal clerk Soula Kous­pou not charged dur­ing Mon­day’s pro­ce­dures. Mu­nic­i­pal en­gi­neer and Sav­vakis Savva and Aristo plan­ner Chris­tos Solomonides will pro­ceed to trial.

De­spite the pros­e­cu­tions de­mands that all four re­main in cus­tody so as to pre­vent them from in­flu­enc­ing other wit­nesses, they were re­leased on strict bail con­di­tions that in­cluded hand­ing in their travel doc­u­ments.

Chief pros­e­cu­tor An­dreas Tsek­ouras also re­ferred to the threats sent by SMS to the mo­bile phones of four per­sons, in­clud­ing Paphos Mayor Sav­vas Ver­gas who has spear­headed the cam­paign against the Aris­tode­mou cou­ple and the mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees. Threats were also re­ported by the in­cum­bent town en­gi­neer An­droula Eftymiou, mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lor Phae­donas Phae­donos and a lo­cal re­porter, Costas Nanos.

On her way to court, Sotiroula Aris­tode­mou shouted “we are scape­goats, this is jus­tice, let them bury us alive.”

The main sus­pects were ar­rested on Septem­ber 18 on sus­pect deals in the area of Skali on al­le­ga­tions re­futed by Aris­tode­mou that the for­mer Bank of Cyprus chair­man and his company mis­ap­pro­pri­ated some 5-6,000 sq.m. of land ini­tially des­ig­nated for roads and green ar­eas. Aristo is­sued a state­ment say­ing this was all part of a fab­ri­ca­tion and that the truth will pre­vail. The At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice has re­port­edly col­lected all Aristo prop­erty files in­volv­ing stretches ad­ja­cent to Paphos mu­nic­i­pal bound­aries dat­ing back to the year 2000. This in­cludes the King’s Mall, the new multi-mil­lion Aristo de­vel­op­ment in Kato Paphos, where there are al­le­ga­tions that ar­eas des­ig­nated for green were changed to park­ing spa­ces.

Back in July, Paphos Mayor Sav­vas Ver­gas had tabled Aristo De­vel­oper’s file be­fore the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, propos­ing the ap­proval of zon­ing and build­ing per­mits for a to­tal of 177 plots for which the de­vel­oper had se­cured a de­mar­ca­tion per­mit. The case was first brought to the at­ten­tion of the po­lice by a Paphos mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fi­cer. Ver­gas added last month that the al­le­ga­tions were sub­mit­ted by “a cit­i­zen”. It sub­se­quently emerged that the plans for which the de­mar­ca­tion per­mits were is­sued were switched with new plans, which seemed to cede ap­prox­i­mately 4,000 sq.m. pre­vi­ously des­ig­nated as green space, back to Aristo, news­pa­per re­ports sug­gested. Aris­tode­mou had de­nied any wrong­do­ing, ar­gu­ing that mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees, un­fa­mil­iar with reg­u­la­tions, had got their cal­cu­la­tions wrong.

Ac­cord­ing to Aris­tode­mou, the real gap be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s and his company’s cal­cu­la­tions does not ex­ceed 900 sq.m., and his company could not ben­e­fit from it un­der any cir­cum­stances since the Land Reg­istry rou­tinely spots such mis­takes and amends de­vel­op­ments ac­cord­ingly prior to is­su­ing ti­tle deeds.

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