A married couple accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of euro from bank safe deposit boxes is off the hook after a state prosecutor failed to file charges against them properly.
Marios Loizou and Sotira Georgiou were arrested in January 2016 on suspicion of stealing, following complaints by multiple people that huge amounts of money disappeared from their safety deposit boxes in Larnaca.
According to charges filed against the couple, Loizou and Georgiou were accused of money fraud between March 2015 and January 2016, where they made €313,897 in illegal gains.
The crimes took place at two locations in Larnaca, a Bank of Cyprus branch and the Allileggyis Co-operative Credit Society.
But the criminal court judges hearing the case noticed that the charges against the couple did not include a chargeable offence
But the criminal court judges hearing the case noticed that the charges against the couple did not include a chargeable offence.
“Given that in this case the prosecutor chose to file only a charge for making illegal gains without the corresponding charge for a chargeable offence, as it had every right to do so, the question now is whether the chargeable offence is referenced in the details of the crime,” the bench said.
According to sources, the defence team had asked for more details about the committed offence, but the prosecutor argued that the charges were self-explanatory.
The judges ruled that not writing specifically a chargeable offence gave no indication as to how judges should approach the matter.
“Not recording or referring to a chargeable offence on the charge sheet causes an insurmountable legal vacuum as to whether the chargeable offence ought to carry a sentence of one year or it has to do with financing terrorism or dealing illegal drugs, in that it might give substance for the crime but also reveal and substantiate the offence of making illegal gains.”
Knews understands that the judges had made an observation during an earlier hearing of the case.
“When the matter was raised before the court, [the prosecutor] did not attempt to give any details that were requested by the defendants, insisting that no proof of a chargeable offence would be necessary,” the bench said.
The judges also said that the issue was not a correctable error which the court could order be amended.
“The matter is jurisdictional,” the bench said.