The Nicosia Criminal Court has found a Cypriot lawyer and six others guilty in a human trafficking case, which began to be unraveled when a Greek man had complained that his Romanian sister-in-law was being held hostage in the capital.
The case involved an elaborate scheme where an illegal network was promising Cypriot jobs with good salaries to foreign women, but in reality other associates would take their passports away and lock them up in apartments throughout Nicosia.
Cypriot lawyer Chris Christodoulides was found guilty on conspiracy charges to defraud the Republic of Cyprus in a case involving the arrangement of fake marriages between European women and foreign men from third countries. The aim of the men is believed to be official documents so they could travel and work within the European Union.
The lawyer was found guilty on conspiracy charges to defraud the Republic of Cyprus in a case involving the arrangement of fake marriages
Six others were found guilty in the plot, including the lawyer’s brother-in-law Samuel Scripcariuc, three Pakistani men, Muhammad Talha Farooq, Shoaib Afzal and Zohaib Aslam, as well as two women from Romania, Christina Iordaeche and Elena Duca, according to daily Phileleftheros.
All seven defendants were found guilty and were sent to jail at Central Prisons in Nicosia until Friday, when they will appear in court for their sentencing hearing and their lawyers may raise mitigating factors.
Associates within the criminal network had different roles to play in the scheme, with some of them taking away their passports, on the pretext of preparing job contracts, while others arranged fake marriages.
The case came to light when one of the Romanian victims’ brother-in-law in Greece phoned the police two years ago saying his sister-in-law was being held hostage in a Nicosia apartment. The following day, according to online daily Reporter CY, a fellow hostage victim, a woman also from Romania, contacted the police giving their exact location by sending photos of the street signs she had taken from the balcony.
Police rushed to the residential building and freed three women and learned that they had arrived in February 2016.