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Cyprus prison overflowing with state officials

Attorney General Costas Clerides has quashed attempts by disgraced ex-deputy attorney general Rikkos Erotokritou to be released from prison in the latest of a long line of convictions for Cypriot officials in the last six years.

Clerides had objected to a writ filed by Erotokritou to have his prison sentence by the Nicosia Criminal Court reversed. The objection has effectively slammed shut the cell door on Erotokritou, who had instructed his lawyers to file the Habeas Corpus writ. The legal hearing is set to continue on May 4.

The disgraced former deputy attorney had been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail on charges relating to conspiracy, corruption and bribery during his time at the Legal Services in 2013.

Erotokritou had been accused of being in cahoots with a law firm to to appear at a court hearing, in which he had filed a lawsuit against Legacy Laiki in order for the court to award Erotokritou’s clients a half-million settlement.

Erotokritou, in return, launched criminal prosecutions against Russian nationals battling the same law firm in Cypriot and Russian courts over ownership of Providencia – a Russian trust fund worth hundreds of millions of euros.

The recent conviction of Erotokritou brought the total number of state or public officials who have been thrown in prison since the 2011 Mari explosion to 19.

The first wave of convictions began with the jailing of several of four high-ranking officials – including the late ex-defence minister Costas Papacostas – on charges of manslaughter during the 2011 Mari Explosion.

Other major scandals since 2011 – including the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA), the Cyta pension fund swindle and the Focus corruption case – have seen other former directors and banking officials end up behind bars.

Another hot topic, which is currently in court, is the landfill swindle trial which sees a number of civil servants and business officials – including Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroutziatis – facing 104 charges of corruption, bribery and theft.

The scandal began to unravel two years ago after outspoken whistle-blower and current Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos brought to light ‘sinister forces’ within the government bidding to protect a former waste management company in the town at the heart of a huge scandal.

Who is on the naughty list?

Providencia-Legal Services Scandal

3 years imprisonment: Rikkos Erotokritou (Ex-Deputy Attorney General)

Dromolaxia-Cyta Pension Fund Scandal
9 years imprisonment:
Orestis Vasiliou (Ex-Cyta union official)
8 years imprisonment: Stathis Kittis (Ex-Electricity Board Chief)
6.5 years imprisonment: Grigoris Souroullas (Ex-Cyta official)
3.5 years imprisonment: Venizelos Zannetos (Ex-Akel Party Member)
3 years imprisonment: Charalambos Tsouris (Ex-Cyta official)

Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) Scandal
6 years imprisonment:
Savvas Vergas (Ex-Paphos Mayor)
6 years imprisonment: Eftychios Malekkides (Ex-SAPA General Manager)
TO BE SENTENCED ON MAY 3: Giorgos Michaelides (Ex-Disy municipal councilor)
TO BE SENTENCED ON MAY 3: Fidias Sarikas (Ex-Paphos Mayor and Edek MP)
TO BE SENTENCED ON MAY 3: Efstathios Efstathiou (Ex-Diko municipal councilor)
TO BE SENTENCED ON MAY 3: Giorgos Sialis (Ex-Akel municipal councilor)
TO BE SENTENCED ON MAY 3: Vasos Vasiliou (Ex-Akel municipal councilor)

Mari Explosion Tragedy
5 years imprisonment:
Costas Papacostas (Ex-Defence Minister)
2 years imprisonment: Charalambos Charalambous (Ex-Deputy Fire Services Chief)
2 years imprisonment: Andreas Nicolaou (Ex-Fire Services Chief)
2 years imprisonment: Andreas Loizides (Ex-Disaster Response Unit EMAK Chief)

Focus Bribery Scandal
5 months imprisonment:
Christodoulos Christodoulou (Ex-Cyprus Central Bank Governor)

Greek Arms Deal-Money Laundering Scandal
15 years imprisonment:
Dinos Michaelides (Ex-Interior Minister)

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