A dozen ENT doctors are facing criminal charges of corruption and bribery following an accidental discovery of illegal kickbacks during an audit of a private company.
According to local media, eight state doctors and four others in the private sector are all facing charges in the Nicosia District Court, accused of financial irregularities in patient referrals from public hospitals to a private hearing clinic. In many cases, patients were coaxed into buying "better hearing aids" from the private company while similar quality was offered in public hospitals.
Eleven of the twelve defendants, some of whom have retired, showed up at the Nicosia courthouse on Wednesday for their arraignment. But the defendants did not answer to charges due to one suspect not appearing in court due to an undisclosed serious illness. All defendants will be called back in again on April 23 to enter a plea.
The case comes as another convicted ENT doctor was due to be released from prison this month but got a presidential pardon last year
The case comes after a Nicosia ENT doctor, whose serving time was due to be completed in March 2019, was in fact released last year after receiving a presidential pardon in April 2018.
Otorhinolaryngologist Yiannakis Kyamides was convicted on corruption charges in 2017, after a court found him guilty of pocketing €130,000 through bribing a civil servant, accepting bribes from a public official, extortion and money laundering.
Kyamides was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for bribery and receiving kickbacks, after he was caught during a sting operation with marked bills.
Even though talk about corruption, kickbacks and bribery in state hospitals had been going on for years, internal investigations often yielded no results. Recently, however, the attorney general’s office and police investigators vowed to get to the bottom of corruption in the public health.
A total of three ENT doctors were convicted in separate cases in the last two years and served their time, according to local media.