A former volunteerism commissioner, who resigned his post last year amid allegations he had lied on his school report and professional resume, has pleaded not guilty with his new lawyer arguing his client was not getting a fair shake in the media.
Yiannis Yiannaki, who resigned the position of commissioner for volunteerism and non-governmental organizations in May 2021, had his criminal trial shifted to a district court in Nicosia this week where he pleaded not guilty to eight charges related to forgery.
Yiannaki has been accused of forging documents, such as falsifying grades on a school report, submitting a fake recommendation letter, and presenting a phony university diploma among others.
The allegations were made public last year after President Nicos Anastasiades, who appointed him volunteerism commissioner in 2013, extended his duties through 2023.
Yiannaki’s non guilty plea means he will have to stand trial but his attorney has not revealed any defense strategy concerning possible witnesses who could be implicated in the case
But Yiannakis’ new lwayer, Michalis Pikis, argued this week that his client was not getting a fair shake in the media, saying the foremer commissioner was being openly derided and ridiculed by a barrage of reports.
Pikis, who is also defending former Kition bishop Chrysostomos in a sexual assault case, said he counted over 1100 publications concerning Yiannaki who was also featured many times on prime time television news programs, suggesting his client might not get a fair trial.
The lawyer also questioned the basis for setting bail at €20,000 and having to surrender travel documents.
Yiannaki’s non guilty plea means he will have to stand trial with the next hearing scheduled for October 5. But his attorney has not revealed any defense strategy concerning possible witnesses who could be implicated in the case.
Legal pundits also said it was not clear whether Yiannaki might try to enter a plea change on some charges.
Reports said the auditor general’s office had made a direct inquiry with Yiannaki, asking him to submit evidence proving his college degree, which appeared to be different from the document recorded in his file at the Youth Board of Cyprus where he had worked previously.
According to the allegations, Yiannaki had also edited by hand his translated high school report card by changing numbers but not words of his final high school grades, such as turning the number Thirteen into 19 (out of 20) and Twelve into 17, while his Grade Point Average also appeared to have been modified on the certified transcript.