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Updated: Defendants cleared in drugs case after evidence destroyed in fire

August 2, 2018 at 8:06am
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Two defendants were cleared of charges of possessing 12 kilos of drugs after the evidence was destroyed in February’ fire in the evidence room of Nicosia District Court, Phileleftheros reported on Thursday.

The two faced charges of possession with intent to supply seven kilos of cocaine and five kilos of cannabis. They also faced charges of possession of explosives and money laundering.

Three people were initially charged, one of whom pleaded guilty but died before the trial. The other two denied the charges and disputed the quantity of the drugs found and whether the cannabis found was indeed cannabis.

When the fire destroyed evidence, their lawyer raised the issue of a fair trial saying his clients could not examine the evidence —  the drugs, five mobile phones and explosives.

In its 129 page decision, the Criminal Court noted that the defence could not bring in its own experts to examine the evidence and said the destruction of the evidence had put the prosecution at an advantage, and the trial therefore could not be considered fair.

The court cleared the defendants of the charges.

In a written statement on Thursday, attorney general Costas Clerides said that the Law Office of the Republic would appeal the decision. He also noted that six months after the incident, no action has been taken to guard the courts, and particularly criminal courts.

Police countered that a series of proposals have been made to be implemented by the courts to raise security. Instructions have also been given for a permanent guard at Nicosia Court and to increase police security measures at all the courts and these remained in force.