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17 June, 2024
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Strovolos double murder stalls in court

More delays after defence requests unfettered, digital access to phone data


The Strovolos double murder trial has been stalling over telecommunications data, following testimony by a police officer whose credentials have been called into question by the defence.

There were no new developments in the double murder trial on Friday, almost a month after a police officer presented phone data of the three suspects in the case, primary suspect Loizos Tzionis, his half-brother Lefteris Solomou, and Marios Hadjixenofondos.

The criminal trial began in June 2018 at the Nicosia courthouse, where Tzionis and his two co-defendants are facing multiple charges in the double murder of 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou, both of whom were savagely stabbed to death in their own house on 18 April 2018.

Last month, prosecution called police officer Stella Botsari to the stand and presented telecommunications data of the three defendants as well as phone records for Tzionis’ ex-girlfriend, who had previously struck a deal and is serving time for burglary conspiracy.

But the defence raised objections over Botsari’s expertise, asking for phone company experts to be called in who would have experience with handling phone records. Tzionis’ defence lawyer also pointed out that the phone data had been presented only on paper and not in a digital format.

The defence raised objections over the police officer's expertise, asking for phone company experts to be called in who would have experience with handling phone records

The lawyer also objected to the fact that Botsari had highlighted specific phrases to present in court, with the prosecutor saying the witness simply pointed out the most important exchanges in order to facilitate the proceedings.

Botsari also spoke about messages through Facebook Messenger and SMS text messages, where she had highlighted key sentences as well as keywords that are believed to be slag or code for drugs according to police.

The court sided with the defence lawyer’s request who asked to receive a CD with the phone records, with the prosecutor promising to allow enough time for the defence to compare the paper format with the digital form. The prosecutor also said a witness from MTN phone company, Yiannos Kofteros, would take the stand after Botsari’s testimony is concluded.

However, on Friday, following no significant developments, daily Phileleftheros reported that back on April 23, Attorney General Costas Clerides said “delays were not a good sign” after a meeting during a conference at the Legal Services department.

It was not clear whether phone records of other individuals were also examined in the course of the investigation beyond the three defendants and Tzionis’ ex-girlfriend. Last year, police told Knews that privacy warrants had been issued for only four individuals.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty while Tzionis, who initially pleaded guilty to murder charges but not burglary, had also claimed in the early stages of the investigation that he had been framed, a position he has not renounced in court to this day.

The trial resumes on May 21.

Cyprus  |  Strovolos  |  double murder  |  Tzionis  |  phone records  |  police

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