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Aristo trial court ruling July 28

Theodoros Aristodimou of Aristo Developers

Theodoros Aristodimou founder of Aristo Developers & former Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus

THE COURT’S ruling on the Aristo trial – a suspicious land-development project in Skali, Paphos – will be issued on July 28, presiding judge Dora Sokratous said on Monday, following the prosecution’s closing arguments.

During Monday’s hearing, state prosecutor Ninos Kekkos argued that the defendants – Aristo Developers, founder Theodoros Aristodemou and wife Roulla, the company’s draftsman Christos Solomonides, and former Paphos municipal engineer Savvas Savva – conspired to defraud the public in a land-zoning project of land to be turned into 177 residential plots by reducing the legally-designated green areas.

In order to bring their illegal plan to fruition, Kekkos said, they committed the crimes of forgery – of Land Registry plans and the project’s planning permit – as well as the circulation of forged documents, and securing a building permit under false pretences.

He added that Aristo and the Aristodemou couple were aware of the ownership status of streams, a church, and public roads located within the land under development, which they claimed had been their own property.

Kekkos argued that, although Savva was aware of the Water Board’s view that the stream was not part of the green areas allotted to the development – 18 per cent of the total area under development – he never disputed the blueprints submitted by Aristo, which categorised the stream as a green area.

He added that a blueprint scaled smaller than legally prescribed, the existence of which the defendants denied knowing, was found and seized by police at Aristo’s offices.

According to the state prosecutor, the company purposefully avoided disclosing the net area of the 177 residential plots it planned to develop on the blueprints it submitted with its application for a permit, resulting in a Paphos municipality technician incorrectly transcribing the area given by the company in a letter accompanying the application.

With regard to the alleged bribery of Savva by Aristo and Aristodemou, the prosecution argued that, according to police investigators’ findings, Aristo’s founder cashed a cheque for €20,000 in €500 notes in August 2010.

Two days later, Savva was found to have deposited the same amount, in notes of identical denomination, to his own bank account. Another witness had Savva paid an additional €5,000 from Aristodemou.

The prosecution argued that these sums were paid to Savva as kickbacks for his contribution to furthering the defendants’ joint illegal cause.

In closing, Kekkos argued that the way Aristodemou attempted to present his company’s robustness, by stating that it had made sales of €800 million in the last decade, simply aimed at creating the illusion of prosperity.

Had Aristodemou wanted to disclose the real picture, Kekkos argued, he would have also informed the court of the company’s debt, liabilities, and liquidity.