There are new developments in the Strovolos double murder trial, with reports saying the main defendant wishes to address the court over some of the charges against him and the prosecutor saying there can be no preconditions.
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According to media reports, defendant and primary murder suspect Loizos Tzionis has asked to address the court during the trial regarding charges against him.
His lawyer, Andreas Anastasiou, asked for some time in order to consult with his client, telling the judge he was unable to meet his client a day earlier during what was to be a scheduled visit at Central Prisons. Tzionis then insisted on addressing the court, saying he did not need time, with the judge asking the defendant to explain the reasons he wanted to address the court.
“I want to change answers to charges against me,” Tzionis said.
'Any admission under terms and conditions cannot be acceptable,' the prosecutor said
The judge set the following day, Friday morning, as the next hearing, following a request by Anastasiou, who had a few minutes to consult with his client during a brief recess.
Anastasiou, who is expected to visit Tzionis in prison on Thursday, said he wanted to explain “more things” to his client and discuss some issues that he would also like to mention to the state prosecutor.
But state prosecutor Polina Efthyvoulou raised issue with the defence, saying her team would be opposed to further discussion if the defendant has decided to admit to charges.
“Any admission under terms and conditions cannot be acceptable,” the prosecutor said, adding that she had “nothing to add at this stage.”
The hearing was adjourned to Friday morning at 9am.
Tzionis and two co-defendants are facing multiple charges in the double murder of 60-year-old Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou, both of whom were savagely stabbed to death in their own house on 18 April 2018.
The criminal trial began in June 2018 at the Nicosia courthouse but it had been stalling in the last few months over court proceedings.
The court also has yet to rule on whether it would allow a written statement by the teenage son of the victims to become part of the record of evidence, following objection by the defence attorney. Anastasiou, who would not be able to cross-examine the young witness, raised objection to the statement being read aloud in court let alone submitted into the record.
Tzionis’ former girlfriend, Sara Shams who has been sentenced to four years in prison on burglary charges after a plea deal in the case, was scheduled to testify in court on Wednesday for the prosecution. But a last minute trip overseas by a lawyer of one of the other co-defendants, prompted a delay in her testimony. Tzionis also told the court he was not feeling well, with his lawyer saying he would consult with him in prison later that day.
Earlier this year, the defence had asked to receive additional evidence from the prosecution, including detailed phone records and post mortem exam reports. Previously, Anastasiou accused Efthyvoulou of withholding evidence, with the prosecutor replying that all evidence in the case was being shared promptly with the defence and further hinting at delaying tactics on the part of the defence.
AG: 'delays not a good sign'
In May, Attorney General Costas Clerides reportedly said “delays were not a good sign” following a meeting during a conference in April at the Legal Services department.
Prosecutors say the defendant had confessed to the murders, using his own words during interrogation. An attempt by Anastasiou to throw out the confession based on police pressure backfired when Tzionis was peppered with questions by Efthyvoulou, who raised doubts during cross examination whether investigators did anything wrong.
Tzionis, along with his half-brother Lefteris Solomou and another male, Marios Hadjixenofondos, are facing multiple charges including murder, kidnapping, and burglary.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty while Tzionis, who initially pleaded guilty to murder charges but not burglary, had also claimed in the early stages of the investigation that he had been framed, a position he has not renounced in court to this day.
It was not clear as to which charges Tzionis wanted to address in court on Friday. Last year, the defendant told the court that he was not guilty of burglary because, as he said, the house on Zalongou Street was open when he went there.
Police say they have DNA evidence and depositions linking the suspects to the crime, while no direct evidence has been found linking any of the suspects directly to the actual murders. Prosecutors say all of Tzionis’ co-defendants point the finger at him for the two murders.