All charges in the disappearance of an ex-con presumed dead by local authorities have been dropped against two suspects, with one of them accusing prosecutors of pushing him to claim a recent arson in exchange of walking free in the murder and kidnapping case.
According to local media, a key witness in the murder and kidnapping of Ahmed Zaidan, a 31-year-old Limassol resident missing since early 2020, withdrew statements she had made to police months ago, causing the case to gradually collapse against two main suspects.
Two male suspects, a 35-year-old Syrian and a 30-year-old Iraqi, were facing felony murder and kidnapping charges in the case.
One of the suspects, who was behind bars awaiting trial, says investigators were pushing him to accept responsibility for an arson in the Limassol courthouse and a drug case in exchange of having charges in the Zaidan case dropped.
But he says prosecutors already knew about a letter sent by a key witness, who had told investigators she never told police things that were attributed to her and further did not wish to testify in court.
'They were using scare tactics and saying we would end up in prison for life, and so they were pushing us to admit to crimes we never committed'
“After the arson in the courthouse, they were pushing hard for a guilty plea for the drugs and the fire because they had no witnesses, their witness was not feeling well, he had issues,” the suspect was quoted as saying.
Earlier this year, prosecutors in the Zaidan case asked a judge to modify felony conspiracy charges to murder despite having no body to prove evidence in court.
But according to Reporter, the two suspects were only informed last Friday that charges against them in the Zaidan case had been dropped.
“They were using scare tactics and saying we would end up in prison for life, and so they were pushing us to admit to crimes we never committed,” the suspect said.
His codefendant, who is the main suspect in an arson case, had reportedly implicated him in the Limassol courthouse fire in July 2021, where perpetrators used a ladder to gain access to the building by breaking a window.
Reports following the incident said physical records and computer equipment caught fire in the storage room.
But recently police said the codefendant had claimed to investigators that the other suspect was the man behind the fire by directing the operation through video chat.
A controversial search warrant in Central Prisons that was never fully carried out due to protests from prisoners never yielded the phone in question behind bars, while investigators have not been able to track down the alleged video call.