The chief of police has ordered an internal probe to establish how and when three of the four suspects in the Strovolos double murder case “got high” on the day of their court appearance earlier this week.
The three men, along with a fellow female suspect in the case, appeared before a Nicosia District Court judge on Monday, where the main suspect, 33-year-old Loizos Tzionis, signaled he was withdrawing his guilty plea to murder charges.
Back in June, Tzionis had admitted to seven charges including murder but denied one count of burglary, telling the court the house was left open. Three other suspects pleaded not guilty.
After the hearing, prison wardens suspected the three male suspects were under the influence of hallucinogenic substances upon their return to prison. Reports said they appeared to be “high on drugs.”
Following the incident, authorities said nobody in a courthouse holding cell will be allowed any food or drink except clean water supplied by officers
Police administrative officials are scrambling to find out when and where the suspects could have used drugs, with prison guards insisting the suspects were clean when they left jail.
A question later emerged as to whether the suspects could technically have been supplied drugs at the courthouse while they were awaiting their hearing in a special holding cell.
Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou assigned the task to an administrator to find out whether the suspects got high before arriving or during their stay at the courthouse.
Following the incident, authorities placed restrictions on all convicts or suspects in remanded custody who spend time in a courthouse holding cell, banning them from being allowed any food or drink except clean water supplied by officers.
The four suspects face multiple charges in connection with the murder of a married couple in Strovolos, 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou, who were found savagely stabbed to death in the bedroom of their own home on April 18.
Arraignment and possible sentencing on some charges with a guilty plea could resume Monday, November 5, while some issues of attorney representations remained unresolved earlier this week.
The case has shocked the public and left many questions unanswered, with police saying prosecutors are ready to present evidence in court. Tzionis says he was framed and has maintained from the very beginning through his guilty pleas in June that he was ready to talk.