The trial of the four suspects in April’s shocking double murder in Nicosia is set to continue on Monday, with media reports hinting at a possible major upset in the case.
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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.
The main suspect, 33-year-old Loizos Tzionis, admitted back in June seven charges including murder but denied one count of burglary, telling the court the house was left open.
But there is speculation that Tzionis might change his plea on Monday, according to daily Phileleftheros.
The composition of the bench has also changed, according to media reports, with the criminal court aiming to move swiftly through the trial this week as long as Tzionis’ guilty plea to seven of eight charges does not change.
No direct link to murders
Prosecutors are relying primarily on statements from the other suspects who pointed fingers at Tzionis and each other. They are also basing the case on circumstantial evidence, including DNA samples and other items linked to the main suspect.
Two objects with confirmed DNA belonging to the 33-year-old were found at the scene, although they have not been linked directly to the murders. The suspect also admitted that a pair of shoes without laces, which was found outside the couple’s house, did in fact belong to him but maintained he was being framed.
Three other suspects, Tzionis’ 21-year-old girlfriend Sara Siams, his 23-year-old half brother Lefteris Solomou, and another 22-year-old male, Marios Hadjixenofondos, all pleaded not guilty. Charges include premeditated and consipiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, burglary, breaking and entering, possession of unlawful weapons, among others.
During the read out of the eight charges for Tzionis on June 13, he had been instructed to keep his responses short to either 'yes' or 'no' following his attempt to qualify some of his answers.
Police say they have DNA evidence and depositions linking the suspects to the crime, which is widely believed to have been a robbery gone horribly wrong, while no direct evidence has been found linking any of the suspects directly to the actual murders.
Police have declined to comment on whether a knife with Tzioni's DNA, which was found away from the crime scene, was the murder weapon, while reports have not ruled it out. They also declined to clarify whether the knife or Tzioni's sword found at the crime scene were linked to the actual murder via blood stains from the murdered couple.
Questions still remain
A second autopsy was ordered by the state attorney general in the case, a few days following the murders as well as media speculation about inconsistencies with the investigation.
Police sources previously told Knews that no consideration has been given to the results of the second autopsy, but investigators would re-examine the facts if necessary. Authorities have been heavily criticised for the way they have handled the case, especially not talking to more witnesses in the early stages of the investigation.
Questions still remained as to why certain evidence appeared to have been left behind as well as raising the question as to why the victims were murdered with so much menace, being stabbed savagely over 30 times collectively.
Two forensic pathologists on the case appear to agree there was a single murder weapon, most probably a very sharp knife, and a single individual who committed both murders. But results of the second autopsy have been sealed, including the exact times of death which had not been ascertained reliably during the first autopsy according to statements made by the attorney general’s office.
This point was crucial as some reports suggested the two victims had been murdered separately and later placed next to each other, refuting the burglary theory.
Drug use suspected
One argument presented in court had to do with three suspects painting a picture of Tzionis being under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs the night of the double murder.
The female suspect told investigators during her third deposition, according to statements heard in court, that the plan for the burglary had been put together at her presence where she heard Tzionis say they “might need to kill someone”.
Back in May, prior to her arraignment, Sians’ acquaintances said police asked the 21-year-old woman to cooperate and offered her immunity if she would testify as a prosecution witness. Police denied the allegations, with the prosecutor saying “we didn’t promise anything.”
One eye witness
The teenage son of the murdered couple, whom police later described as an eye witness, told investigators he was taken hostage by masked men. The 15-year-old boy has corroborated some information pointing to Tzionis as the “bearded man” who reportedly told the boy his parents were killed and wanted to know “where’s the money.”
It later emerged that there was no money safe in the home while reports said there was at least one other burglary attempt in the same house in the past.