A Larnaca city official will stand trial on corruption charges, a criminal court ruled on Thursday, in the case of a nightclub owner who paid cash to clear his business citations but the money was never deposited.
City Manager Lefteris Embedoklis, who was arrested back in 2016 and later suspended from duty, was found in the wrong during Thursday’s “trial before trial” on charges involving bribery, theft, kickbacks, and illegal gains.
Embedoklis is being accused by a business owner, who lived abroad and gave the official €35,000 in cash on 8 September 2015, of not taking care of the problems that the establishment at Mackenzie Beach had due to irregularities.
The defence argued that the money did not belong to the state or any public authority, but the prosecutor successfully argued previously that this was never meant to be an issue pertinent to the charges.
The prosecutor said Embedoklis was in a position to request and receive the money due to his position as a municipality official, while the business owner was left in the dark
The prosecutor said Embedoklis was in a position to request and receive the money due to his position as a municipality official, while the business owner was left in the dark as nothing had been done to “fix” his citations.
Questions had been raised in the media in previous reports as to why the business owner had paid in cash such a large sum, however this did not become a focus during the trial.
Embedoklis, who was described as instrumental in increasing tourist weddings in the southern town, has maintained he never received money to make irregularity citations go away and his calendar did not show any meetings with the accuser. A question of whether the official had an alibi on 8 September 2015 became a contested point during preliminary hearings.
The defense also argued that the defendant did not receive a fair trial, but the presiding judge said that the prosecution presented compelling evidence that was sufficiently pointing to possible criminal offences.
This means the defendant will be required to put forth his defence by one of three ways, testifying under oath, providing a sworn declaration, or remaining silent.
The court also ruled that Embedoklis would remain in custody until he has the opportunity to address the court at the next hearing, on November 28.