The last of four defendants in the Strovolos double murder trial was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, as the case drew to a close on Thursday after a lengthy and complicated criminal trial that shocked public opinion.
Marios Hadjixenofondos was found guilty last month on two counts of manslaughter in the murders of 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou, whose bodies were found in their home brutally stabbed to death multiple times on 18 April 2018. Additional charges included theft, nighttime burglary, conspiracy to commit a felony, transporting of offensive instruments.
The defendant had previously been cleared of premeditated murder charges, while Loizos Tzionis and his half-brother Lefteris Solomou have also been convicted and sentenced in the case, with Tzionis currently serving two consecutive life sentences and Solomou doing six years. Sara Shams, Tzionis’ former girlfriend and co-defendant who later turned prosecution witness, was also handed down a four year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.
The judge, who handed down 15-year sentences to run concurrently, said on Thursday that Hadjixenofondos knew Tzionis was planning to commit armed burglary, adding that the defendant went along with the plan.
The judge, who handed down 15-year sentences to run concurrently, said Hadjixenofondos knew Tzionis was planning to commit armed burglary and went along
Relatives of Hadjixenofondos, who were in the courtroom, were described as “quiet” upon hearing the sentence.
Previously, defence attorney Andis Georgiou argued that Hadjixenofondos, the only defendant in the case who did not admit to any crimes, did not know of any plans to commit murder, adding that he wasn’t in a position to stop Tzionis.
“There is no doubt who was the mastermind,” Georgiou said, adding that the heinous crime was the result of a “sick man, Tzionis, who rightfully today is behind bars.”
Tzionis, who initially denied all charges except burglary, maintained at the beginning that he was framed, saying the door was unlocked and that there was “inside help.” But later he changed his position and finally broke down upon hearing his brother’s sentencing, yelling in court “it was all me” and admitting all charges.
The case shocked public opinion as horrific details quickly emerged over the brutality of the murders while questions were also raised over the way police handled the case from the very beginning.
Police investigators, who were criticized for attempting to interrogate the victims’ teenage son, later described the crime as a burglary-gone-wrong. Prosecutors, who did not rely on DNA evidence, built the case and argued it successfully in court based on incriminating statements by the defendants themselves.