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23 June, 2024
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Cyprus justice comes down hard on foukou drug case

Police say justice 'not corrupt' after Limassol man gets 23 years for ecstasy hidden in Cypriot barbeques


Cyprus’ drug squad chief says he is proud of police officers who worked on the foukou drug case, involving 628 kilos of ecstasy hidden in Cypriot barbeques seized by Australian authorities, after a court convicted a man on the word of another suspect who turned witness under a protection program.

(Click here for an update to the story)

Local media said a Limassol judge on Monday imposed a 23-year sentence on 59-year-old man, after pleading guilty to involvement in the smuggling of 628 kilos of ecstasy hidden in some 200 aluminium Cypriot barbeques, known colloquially as foukou grills, that were equipped with false base plates concealing multiple packages of the drug.

Cypriot drug squad chief Michalis Katsounotos praised the work of law enforcement, telling state radio on Tuesday morning that his colleagues had worked hard on the case.

'This is the largest sentence given in a drug case, with the courts sending the message that the justice system is not corrupt'

“This is the largest sentence given in a drug case, with the courts sending the message that the justice system is not corrupt,” Katsounotos said.

But the case has been nothing but trouble-free as it took investigators two years and lots of pressure to crack the case wide open.

The convicted man, who was linked to a warehouse in Limassol, had been named by another suspect in the case, a 32-year-old local businessman from Limassol, who was offered a deal by prosecutors and testified for the state, pointing fingers at the 59-year-old suspect.

The businessman, described as the person who exported the shipment to Sydney, was initially facing multiple charges including conspiracy, customs and excise violations, and supply and possession of drugs with intent to supply.

But two years after his arrest and detention, the 32-year-old man reportedly gave a statement to police implicating a 70-year-old male who was described as a relative of the 59-year-old suspect. The state then dropped all but one conspiracy charge, resulting to a 4-year prison sentence for the businessman, in exchange of testimony against the 59-year-old man.

Katsounotos praised the work of investigators who managed to reenergize the case, saying the conviction was proof of good work being done by police.

It was understood that the businessman was offered state protection before identifying the 59-year-old male as the person who instructed him to arrange for a large shipment of MDMA by means of exporting 200 grills while stashing ecstasy inside worth some €25 million.

Australian authorities said the shipment, which had left Limassol and transferred to another ship in Singapore, was seized in December 2019 in Sydney.

The case got global attention after a tip from Nicosia authorities and a six-month investigation led to an Australian raid in December 2019, with Cypriot police also under pressure to secure witnesses and prosecute those responsible on their end.

Cyprus  |  Australia  |  ecstasy  |  foukou  |  Limassol  |  police  |  MDMA  |  witness protection

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