THE Nicosia criminal court set March 1 as the day of sentencing for former attorney-general Rikkos Erotokritou, two other lawyers, and a law firm, all found guilty on charges of bribery, conspiracy to defraud, and conspiracy to subvert the course of justice.
Defence lawyers argued for leniency on Friday following last week’s guilty verdict in the high-profile corruption trial involving Erotokritou, Andreas Kyprizoglou, Panayiotis Neocleous and the Andreas Neocleous law firm.
The defendants were released until March 1.
The four were said to have colluded to arrange for Erotokritou to launch the criminal prosecution of five Russian individuals and one company, at the behest and to the benefit of the Neocleous law firm, which had long been battling them in Cypriot and Russian courts over ownership and control of Providencia, a trust-fund worth millions.
In exchange, the prosecution said, Erotokritou was rewarded for his troubles with the Neocleous law firm failing to appear in court on the day a lawsuit the former AG filed against legacy Laiki bank – then represented by the Neocleous law firm – demanding that over €500,000 of his personal loans be offset against his ‘haircut’ deposits.
Pleading for leniency on behalf of Erotokritou, lawyer Christos Pourgourides said his client had not made any financial or other gains.
Pourgourides said it was not a systematic act of corruption but an isolated deed whose starting point was the deposit haircut. No third party had been victimised, he argued.
“You don’t have before you someone who sought financial gain through greed,” Pourgourides said, adding that the object of the conspiracy, offsetting debts against deposits, was impossible to achieve and was never achieved.
The defence said Erotokritou lost €630,000 from the haircut on deposits and that was the reason he sought to offset it against his debts, which he still owed and banks have filed lawsuits against him.
The former deputy attorney-general also spent a substantial sum for his defence, the court heard.
“You have before you today, a man who lost his job as deputy attorney-general. No only did he lose his job, but he is financially stricken,” having no prospect to work as a lawyer, but also due to his age, Pourgourides said of 61-year-old Erotokritou.
The defendant was also vilified for the past two years, a painful experience that took a toll on his family, the defence said. His son has lost the prospect of working at his father’s firm, he added.
Pourgourides also warned that possible imprisonment posed grave dangers for his client because of his former profession.
by GEORGE PSYLLIDES
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