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Defence lawyer demands two new judges in murder trial.


Natalie Hami

ONE OF the defence lawyers in the Andis Hadjicostis murder trial yesterday demanded that two of judges be recused because they were personally acquainted with one of the witnesses.

The implication of such a move would be to begin the trial from scratch.

The president of the court, Haris Solomonides and one of the other two judges, Nikos Santis, informed the defence and prosecution lawyers after the last hearing on August 5 that they personally knew witness Rea Andronikou, who testified earlier that day.

Solomonides knows Andronikou through his wife, and Santis because he is a friend of Andronikou's.

"We thought it right to bring this information to your knowledge," said Solomonides.

The judges were not obligated to disclose the information but the issue cast a shadow over yesterday's proceedings.

The issue of recusing the two judges was raised by Marios Georgiou, the defence lawyer for Tasos Krasopoulis, brother of former Sigma presenter Eleni Skordelli. The siblings are two of the four suspects in the murder of the Sigma boss in January 2010.

The lawyers for two of the other suspects also agreed with Georgiou's stance.

Georgiou defended his demand for a restructuring of the court by suggesting that Andronikou and her husband - jailed high-profile stockbroker Yiannos Andronikou - were the "moral instigators" in the "cruel murder" of Hadjicostis, who was gunned down outside his Engomi home.

During the last hearing Georgiou had accused Rea Andronikou of guiding Skordelli and her brother into buying one fifth of Sigma's shares.

He said this resulted in a number of questions cropping up that ought to be put to the witness, about her social interaction with two of the three judges, and with her telephone communications with them from February 26, 2010 onwards, when it became known that she would be a witnesses in the trial.

Another similar issue brought up by Rovertos Vrahimis, defence lawyer for Gregoris Xenofontos -- the alleged shooter - , was that another witness, Alexis Galanos, would be called up to testify and that he was related to Santis.

"Who will judge his relative and how?" he asked. This fired up Santis who wanted to know why Vrahimis had not told the court that he had already made known that piece of information.

"At the end of the day, with the way things have happened, you cannot continue in this court," said Vrahimis, addressing the two judges.

State prosecutor Elena Kleopa said that an acquaintanceship and some social contact were not enough to justify a judge's non-partiality in themselves, especially in a small place like Cyprus. "If everything the defence is supporting was relevant, then we would never manage to try anyone," she said. The trial has been postponed until a decision is reached on September 26.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2011

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Sep 8, 2011
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