Following objections from the defence in the Strovolos double murder, the prosecution called a witness on Friday who told the court police investigators did not violate the main suspect’s rights.
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On Friday, Nicosia criminal court presiding judge Haris Poyiadjis allowed the first witness, crime investigator Savvas Siamoutis, to testify in a trial within trial session, following objections raised earlier by the defence attorney who argued his client, main suspect Loizos Tzionis, had been pressured into giving a false confession.
Tzionis’ court-appointed lawyer, Andreas Anastasiou, argued in a previous hearing that his client had signed a confession just to get out of a situation while experiencing drug discontinuation symptoms.
'What did I ever do to you and you had me put in jail? Because I didn’t help you with the burglary? What kind of a brother are you?'
But Siamoutis testified in court that the main suspect was not pressured by police officers and did not show signs of drug deprivation syndrome, describing Tzionis as well-mannered and cooperative during his interrogation while in custody.
The witness also said they even ate together and at one point Tzionis mentioned an abandoned house in Kornos where the suspect gained entry through a window. Siamoutis also said that Tzionis demonstrated his physical abilities by doing a split in the interrogation room, with the officer asking for permission to film the stunt.
“We joked around with Tzionis. He felt there was a level of understanding coming from me,” Siamoutis said.
Anastasiou had also challenged the legality of a house search in Aglandjia, which produced a plastic bucket as evidence in which prosecutors say Tzionis washed his clothes with chlorine after the murders. Another piece of evidence was a 19-cm knife inside a bag that was hidden in a tree.
But according to Siamoutis, it was clear that there had been an attempt to destroy evidence, telling the court that Tzionis, when asked why he had tried to get rid of evidence, the suspect said he had not done that himself and implicated his half-brother, co-defendant Lefteris Solomou.
“I don’t know who tried to do it, maybe it was Lefteris,” Siamoutis quoted Tzionis as saying, with Solomou crying out loud in the courtroom and shouting at the main suspect.
“What did I ever do to you and you had me put in jail? Because I didn’t help you with the burglary? What kind of a brother are you?” Solomou said, bursting into tears while being comforted in an embrace by third co-defendant Marios Hadjixenofondos.
Witness says Tzionis changed stories
Siamoutis also said that Tzionis had initially told investigators that he was threatened by two other individuals, the Charalambous brothers Andreas and Elias, who forced him to point them to a residence where they could carry out a burglary.
Tzionis reportedly had told investigators that he was outside the Strovolos residence when he heard a woman scream. He then went inside the house and saw one of the brothers stabbing the male victim. According to Siamoutis, Tzionis had told him he was not scared and immediately tried to disarm the attacker, while the other brother also came in.
But later, according to the witness testimony, Tzionis had reluctantly implicated another man, who was described as a drug dealer, but he tried to take it back without even uttering his whole name.
It was understood that he was referring to Hadjixenofondos, with Siamoutis telling the court that Tzionis “implicated a fellow named Hadji” but had given the investigator no further details.
“This guy was on Alexoui’s team and (Tzionis) was worried of that,” Siamoutis told the court.
Back in May, a month after the crime, Nicosia businessman Alexis “Alexoui” Mavromichalis, a vocal critic of law enforcement, made brief references to a series of crimes, including the Strovolos double murder, criticising cops for carrying out searches “just for the show” including against him and his friends.
“It appears that we are being targeted for Mouzos’ crystal, the drug addicts who slaughtered the couple, and the elderly woman who was killed in Aglandjia,” Alexoui wrote, adding that cops focus on high profile campaigns with news cameras but fail to do something about “soft crime” where thieves, burglars, crystal drifters and drug vagabonds go into people’s houses late at night, causing a sense of insecurity among the public.
The Strovolos double murder took place on April 18, where 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou were savagely stabbed to death, while the only other person reportedly in the home was their teenage son. Tzionis was arrested a week later based on statements obtained by police.
Defence will cross-examine witness on Monday
Police believe it was a burglary gone very wrong while a number of legal issues and questions over methodology have clouded the investigation.
Siamoutis maintained that he police did not violate Tzionis’ constitutional rights during his detention and interrogation.
“I would not have made such a mistake,” Siamoutis told the court, adding that the suspect told them he did not want a lawyer.
The defence attorney, who raised objections on a number of evidence exhibits and witness testimonies, is scheduled to cross-examine the prosecution witness on Monday.