The main suspect in the Strovolos double murder case took the witness stand for the first time, saying he was pressured into signing a statement while feeling unwell during the interrogation process.
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Loizos Tzionis, who is facing murder and burglary charges along with three other co-defendants, took the stand in Nicosia’s Criminal Court on Wednesday, telling the court that he was in a “poor mental state” due to his use of cocaine a few days prior to his interrogation on April 27 but also the abrupt discontinuation of cocaine on that day.
He also said he was constantly under pressure by three investigators, who accompanied him during his mental exam by a clinical psychologist and did not care for his physical well-being.
The defence attorney says investigators did not ask Tzionis about cocaine and did not order blood tests on purpose
“The next day they woke me up early and took me for interrogation. They didn’t ask if I wanted to have breakfast,” Tzionis said.
The defendant also told the court that there was a “constant hastiness” around him and that he was given some papers and told to sign, without given sufficient time to read them.
“Under duress, they were telling me to sign, and I was signing,” he added.
Tzionis also said he was feeling unwell during the interrogation, with investigators sitting very close in his personal space. At one point, he said his eye caught a pistol inside a cupboard and Officer Themistocleous made a comment about it.
“What are you looking at? Do you want to leave? There’s the gun, right there,” Themistocleous told Tzionis according to the defendant.
Tzionis also addressed an issue with standing up on a table in the interrogation room, clarifying he did not jump due to the fact that he was in cuffs. The issue came up earlier during cross examination of Officer Siamoutis who said Tzionis jumped on the table.
The issue was linked to another topic where Siamoutis allegedly recorded a video showing Tzionis performing a split. According to the prosecution, the video was not part of official conduct, and Siamoutis said he never showed it to anyone.
The defence attorney for Tzionis, Andreas Anastasiou, maintains his client, a known drug user, was suffering from a sudden drop of cocaine in his system, causing him to be less than alert during the interrogation.
The defendant also said he was sweating and had to be taken to the washroom multiple times, while investigators said he only asked for one bathroom break. The defence charged that investigators did not ask and did not order blood tests on purpose.
Investigators also said they were unaware of Tzionis’ cocaine abuse, with the defendant telling the court he was afraid to mention it due to a prior arrest but also because the investigators were right next him during the visit to the psychiatrist.
“They were aggressive and I was afraid to say something,” Tzionis said, who added that at one time one of the investigators “banged his hand on the table and put pressure on me.”
They wouldn’t let me read my own handwritten pages
“I didn’t know that they started taking my deposition. I told them ‘let me say exactly what happened’ and they would say they didn’t believe me. They wouldn’t let me read my own handwritten pages. They made me sign them as well as the written deposition,” Tzionis said.
The defendant also said there was no food offered as previously mentioned by Siamoutis, refuting statements by investigators who said there had been an assortment of snacks, fruit, and beverages laid out on a back table.
Anastasiou also told the court he is unable to meet with his client in prison in a prompt and appropriate manner. He asked for a special room within Central Prisons where he can meet with Tzionis whenever he wanted as long as arrangements are made in advance.
The court said it was unable to weigh in on the matter. The next hearing was set for Friday.
The Strovolos double murder took place on April 18, where 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou were savagely stabbed to death, while the only other person reportedly in the home was their teenage son. Tzionis, who was arrested a week later, says he was framed.