FORMER Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas and three other defendants on Thursday denied charges relating to threatening text messages sent to witnesses in a land zoning case involving prominent businessman Theodoros Aristodemou, the owner of Aristo Developers.
Vergas, close associate Maria Solomonidou, her husband, and her father, face 11 charges including conspiracy to commit felony, threatening, and intervening in judicial proceedings.
The case was adjourned for May 22. The four defendants were released after posting bail, set at €10,000 for Vergas and Solomonidou who face more serious charges, and €5,000 for the other two.
Vergas and Solomonidou were also ordered to surrender their travel documents and their names were put on the stop list.
The charges relate to a suspected land-demarcation fraud case in Skali, Paphos.
It emerged that the plans for which the demarcation permits were issued were switched with new plans, which seemed to cede approximately 3,000 square metres, worth hundreds of thousands of euros, previously designated as green space, back to Aristo Developers.
Authorities have charged Aristodemou, wife Roulla, former municipal engineer Savvas Savva, and Aristo designer Christos Solomonides, Maria’s brother, in connection with the case.
At some point during the police investigation into the case, it emerged that two witnesses, a journalist, and Vergas himself, had received threatening messages.
Police found out that it was Vergas who bought the mobile phone used to send the messages on September 28.
Vergas admitted buying the phone, but claimed he got it for Maria Solomonidou, a municipal employee and close associate who dealt with social media and cultural events. She has since been sacked by the municipality.
She was arrested by police along with her father Elias, 64, and husband Constantinos Sifantos.
Her father sought to take the blame but authorities quickly confirmed that he had been lying.
Vergas is currently in custody on suspicion of corruption in connection with the construction of the Paphos sewerage system.