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20° Nicosia,
20 October, 2019
 
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Drug case goes up in flames, literally

Defendants walk free due to unfair trial and destroyed evidence, legal department appeals decision

Newsroom

Judges dismissed a case against two defendants in connection with drug related offences, siding with their defence attorney who argued the trial was unfair because a court fire had destroyed the evidence.

The Nicosia Criminal Court was in hearing proceedings for a case against three defendants from Limassol, when a fire in the courthouse back in February, in the early morning hours, destroyed case files.

On Wednesday, during another hearing, the attorney for his two clients -the third defendant had passed away- told the judges that his clients were at a disadvantage as a result of the fire, adding that lost evidence in the fire could only help the prosecutors at the defence’s expense.

The two defendants argued the cannabis was not legally narcotic but experts could not test the assertions due to the evidence destroyed by fire

The defendants were facing drug trafficking charges with possession of seven kilos of cocaine, five kilos of cannabis, and explosives, as well as accused of making illegal gains from criminal activities.

Evidence destroyed in the fire, besides the drugs, included five mobile phones and an undisclosed number of bullets.

The defendant who passed away had pleaded guilty to the charges, while the two remaining defendants questioned both the quantity and level of a basic hallucinogenic substance, arguing the cannabis in their possession could not have been narcotic by the legal definition.

The judges issued a 129-page ruling, citing technical difficulties over requesting tests by experts to determine whether the assertions made by the defence team could hold in court of law.

As a result, the entire case was dismissed, including charges of illegal gains and possession of explosives, since they were connected to the drugs.

The state's attorney general said on Thursday they would appeal the decision by the criminal court, arguing the rights of the defendants were not affected by the fire and destruction of evidence.

The attorney general's office also pointed out that no measures have been taken from the day of the fire until now to properly guard the building from fire hazards as well as protect people in and out of the courthouse. 

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Cyprus  |  Nicosia  |  court  |  fire  |  courthouse  |  drug  |  cannabis  |  cocaine  |  explosives  |  police  |  crime  |  trial

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